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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Hood, Robert Alexander David (1863–1934)

by Paul H. De Serville

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

This is a shared entry with Robert Hood

Robert Hood (1821-1891) and Robert Alexander David Hood (1863-1934), pastoralists and sheep-breeders, were father and son. Hood senior was born on 12 February 1821 at Longformacus, Berwickshire, Scotland, sixth son of William Hood, farmer, and his wife Martha, née Bertram. Robert's first wife Margaret, née Weatherly, whom he married at Cockburnspath on 22 June 1843, died in 1849. In 1854, with his daughter and two sons, Hood migrated to Victoria where he bought Bolac Plains from Robert Anderson and in 1856 Merrang, West Hexham, from the executors of Adolphus Sceales. On 30 December at Merrang he married Sceales's Scottish widow Jane, née Paton. Robert Alexander David, born at Merrang on 8 August 1863, was their only surviving son.

First cattle, and then merinos had been tried at Merrang. The cold, wet climate and the rich river flats did not suit the latter; but after Thomas Austin had shown at Barwon Park in the 1860s that the Lincoln breed could flourish in similar terrain, Hood formed a flock in 1872-73, importing 11 rams and 33 ewes from Marshall and Kirkham in Lincolnshire, and buying part of the Barwon Park stud (built up from the same flocks). In 1880 he bought the Langi Kal Kal flock, which shared the same bloodlines. Hood's breeding policy paid off: at shows his flock was 'almost invincible' from 1874 and buyers sought his stud rams.

A founder of the Long-woolled Sheep Association and president of the Hexham Show from 1873, Hood was elected one of the first vice-presidents of the Australian Sheepbreeders' Association in 1878. Like many breeders, he was also an acclimatizer, and attempted to propagate trout in the Hopkins River. Hood served on the Warrnambool Shire Council in 1874-83 (president, 1876) and was chairman of the reorganized, but unsuccessful, Warrnambool Woollen Mill Co. Ltd.

In the mid-1880s Hood leased Merrang to his son Alec. Educated at Geelong Church of England Grammar School (where he won triple colours), Alec gained experience on the Queensland property Burenda, managed by his elder half-brother William. After his father died, at Warrnambool on 30 October 1891, Alec bought Merrang from the family trustees. Continuing his father's breeding policies, he introduced rams from the same Lincolnshire studs and their daughter flocks in Victoria. In the 1920s he began a Polwarth stud based on Barunah Plains ewes, Lincoln rams and their progeny mated with Barunah Plains stud merino rams.

Hood bred racehorses and polo ponies. President of the Western District Racing Association from 1924, he was a long-serving committee member and office-bearer of the Warrnambool Racing and Amateur Turf clubs. He captained the Caramut polo team and the Victorian team which toured and beat New Zealand in 1901 and represented the State in other seasons; he played his last competitive game when 63. A member of the Mortlake Shire Council for thirty-three years, Hood was three times president.

Hood died at Hexham of cerebro-vascular disease on 10 April 1934 and was buried in the local cemetery. He had married Edith Mary, daughter of Robert Calvert of Yan-Yan-Gurt, on 18 July 1906 at St George's Presbyterian Church, Geelong; she died in 1907. On 24 June 1909 at the South Yarra Presbyterian Church he married Georgina Martha McCall Anderson, sister-in-law of (Viscount) S. M. Bruce. She survived him with their son and three daughters. Hood's estate was valued for probate at £68,657.

Select Bibliography

  • B. Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Colonial Gentry (Lond, 1891)
  • G. A. Brown, Sheep Breeding in Australia (Melb, 1890)
  • Pastoral Review Pty Ltd, The Pastoral Homes of Australia — Victoria (Melb, 1910 and 1931)
  • R. A. D. Hood et al, A Brief History of the Shire of Mortlake (Mortlake, 1967)
  • R. Osburne, The History of Warrnambool (Warrnambool, 1980)
  • Pastoral Review, 16 Nov 1891, 16 Oct 1929, 16 Apr 1934
  • Flock Book for British Breeds of Sheep in Australia, vol 1 (1898).

Citation details

Paul H. De Serville, 'Hood, Robert Alexander David (1863–1934)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 28 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

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