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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Hopkins, John Rout (1828–1897)

by J. Ann Hone

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

John Hopkins, by E. Gilks, 1874

John Hopkins, by E. Gilks, 1874

State Library of Victoria, 51835410

John Rout Hopkins (1828-1897), pastoralist, was born on 18 August 1828 at Hobart Town, the second son of Henry Hopkins and his wife Sarah, née Rout. The family lived in England in 1840-42 and after their return to Van Diemen's Land John received a thorough grounding in sheepbreeding, spending some time at David Gibson's famous stud. In 1845 he was sent to manage Murdeduke, one of his father's Western District runs, and then became owner of Wormbete, also near Winchelsea. In 1850-55 Hopkins acquired freehold of 20,000 acres (8094 ha) and bought the adjoining St Stephen's and River stations.

In 1854 and 1855 he occupied the Mount Hesse run. Hopkins greatly improved his land and developed a special Wormbete merino which he inbred successfully from then onwards, shearing up to 26,000 sheep a year.

Hopkins was on the Barrabool Shire Council for thirteen years and its first president, and on the Winchelsea Shire Council for thirty-two years and president in 1870-71, 1878-82 and 1884-88. He was a justice of the peace and took a great interest in Geelong's growth, fostering both religious and sporting activities. In 1850 with John Gray and Rev. Ben Cuzens he secured land at the corner of Ryrie and Gheringhap Streets for the use of the Independent Church. In later years Hopkins was a prominent Anglican layman and synod member. A keen oarsman who thought nothing of riding twenty-five miles (40 km) to Geelong for training, Hopkins was president of the Corio Rowing Club. He was an enthusiastic sailor and for a time was commodore of the Royal Victorian Yacht Club. He was also president in 1884 of the Geelong Cricket and Football Clubs. In 1871 he became a provisional director of the newly-formed Geelong Meat Preserving Co. which collapsed in 1874.

Hopkins had a long and uneventful political career. In the Legislative Assembly he represented South Grant in 1864-67 and 1871-77 and Geelong in 1892-94. In parliament he was concerned mainly with the issues of local government. In 1880 he was vice-chairman of the Geelong Group of the Municipal Association and was elected mayor of Geelong in 1892.

Hopkins was married first, on 1 August 1850 to Eliza Ann (d.1885), daughter of George Armytage, by whom he had six sons and seven daughters; and second, to Mrs Susan Emily Rucker (d.1890). Hopkins died on 20 December 1897 survived by his third wife Alice Roberta Purkiss, whom he had married in 1892. His estate was valued at £74,700.

Select Bibliography

  • A. Sutherland et al, Victoria and its Metropolis, vol 2 (Melb, 1888)
  • Pastoral Review Pty Ltd, The Pastoral Homes of Australia, vol 1 (Melb, 1910)
  • A. Henderson (ed), Early Pioneer Families of Victoria and Riverina (Melb, 1936)
  • W. R. Brownhill, The History of Geelong and Corio Bay (Melb, 1955)
  • Hobart Town Courier, 13 Dec 1839, 1 Aug 1850
  • Geelong Times, 21 Dec 1897
  • 'Wormbete', Pastoralists' Review, vol 19, no 5, July 1909, pp 470-71.

Citation details

J. Ann Hone, 'Hopkins, John Rout (1828–1897)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 30 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

View the front pages for Volume 4

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