Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Howey, George Capstick (1894–1952)

by L. Lomas

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

George Capstick Howey (1894-1952), dairy farmer, was born on 24 March 1894 at Geelong, Victoria, son of English-born parents Albert Edward Capstick, coach-painter, and his wife Agnes, née Langhorn. He was named George Langhorn Capstick, but, after his father's death (1895) and his mother's marriage (1896) to William Howey, he adopted his stepfather's surname. Educated at Northcote State and Warrnambool Agricultural High schools, George worked in Gippsland before managing his mother's property at Swan Marsh. He employed share-farmers for milking and concentrated on increasing production by improved farming methods. On 25 March 1925 at St John's Anglican Church, Colac, he married Una Elizabeth Beatrice Cowley, a schoolteacher.

Active in social and sporting life, Howey identified with people in the district, and resolved to lift the status of the dairy industry and its hard-pressed workers. He aimed to promote the application of science and new ideas, and initiated or supported such organizations as the Victorian Pasture Improvement League, the Victorian United Cow Testing Association (president 1936-40), the Colac Rye-grass Growers' Co. (chairman 1931), and the Colac and District Pastoral and Agricultural Society. As the Depression deepened and very low returns persisted into the 1930s, he realized that farmers should organize to demand a decent living. In 1933, as the United Country Party's candidate, he stood unsuccessfully for the Legislative Assembly seat of Polwarth.

In 1940-52 Howey was president of the Victorian Dairymen's Association. His sincere, friendly, even-tempered manner, his remarkable memory and intimate and practical knowledge of production and marketing, and his ability to express complex issues in simple terms earned the trust and respect of dairy farmers. By 1943 he had sat on eight different committees and chaired four of them. As a member of the Australian Dairy Produce Board (chairman 1948-52) and a director of the Commonwealth Dairy Produce Equalisation Committee, he was largely responsible for the living standards of dairy farmers. He represented Victoria on the Joint Dairying Industry Advisory Committee. While his reputation and authority grew, so did the influence of dairymen through the V.D.A. In 1946, 1949 and 1951 he travelled to Europe to investigate and report on the industry for the Commonwealth government.

Even as his influence extended to national and international levels—he was foundation president of the Australian Dairy Federation and vice-president of the International Dairy Federation—Howey retained his strong interest in local affairs. The owner of three farms in the district, he was a director of the Colac Dairying Co. Ltd, deputy-coroner, a justice of the peace, borough councillor (1939-43), a Freemason, a Rotarian and an excellent all-round cricketer. Between trips to Melbourne and Sydney, he valued the occasional day of tranquillity when he went fishing. Survived by his wife, son and three daughters, he died of myocardial infarction on 26 August 1952 at Colac and was buried in the local cemetery. Next year he was posthumously awarded the Australian Society of Dairy Technology's gold medal.

Select Bibliography

  • K. Sillcock, Three Lifetimes of Dairying in Victoria (Melb, 1972)
  • I. McIntosh, Forest, Lake and Plain (Melb, 1988)
  • Victorian and South Australian Dairy Farmer, June 1940
  • Victorian Dairy Farmer, Sept, Oct 1952
  • Camperdown Herald, 9 May 1925
  • Camperdown Chronicle, 19 May 1925
  • Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 31 Dec 1943
  • Leader (Melbourne), 20 June 1951
  • Age (Melbourne), 27 Aug 1952
  • Colac Herald, 29 Aug, 3 Sept 1952
  • private information.

Citation details

L. Lomas, 'Howey, George Capstick (1894–1952)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/howey-george-capstick-10558/text18753, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 18 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2018

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Capstick, George Langhorn
Birth

24 March 1894
Geelong, Victoria, Australia

Death

26 August 1952
Colac, Victoria, Australia

Cultural Heritage
Occupation