Australian Dictionary of Biography

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George Kingston Baron-Hay (1895–1989)

by Clement Mulcahy

This article was published:

George Kingston Baron-Hay (1895-1989), director of agriculture, was born on 3 September 1895 at Kingston, Jamaica, son of George Herbert Baron-Hay, Methodist minister, and his wife Edith Mary, née Stuart. Educated at Kingswood School, Bath, England, young George migrated to Western Australia, arriving at Albany on 19 January 1914. As an `assigned’ migrant, he was placed at Narrogin State Farm. In 1915 he was one of the first students to enrol in the faculty of agriculture at the University of Western Australia (B.Sc. Agric., 1922). During his course, interrupted by World War I, he was awarded a Hackett scholarship.

On 26 June 1916 Baron-Hay enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. He served on the Western Front with the 51st Battalion from June 1917 but was sent to England for officer-training in October. Commissioned in May 1918, he rejoined his unit in France. On 4 August he held a defensive position during an enemy attack at Hourges, patrolled the area occupied by the enemy and helped to restore the line. For his `coolness and prompt action’ he was awarded the Military Cross. That month he was severely wounded in the right arm near Bray-sur-Somme and evacuated to England. Returning to his battalion, he was promoted to lieutenant in December. His AIF appointment terminated in Perth on 5 January 1920.

Following a brief period of farm work, Baron-Hay resumed his university studies. Employed from 1922 by the State Department of Agriculture as an agricultural adviser, he gained valuable experience dealing with problems encountered by British farmers who had settled in the lower south-west under the auspices of the group settlement migration scheme. He provided advice to wheat and dairy farmers, and published articles in departmental bulletins on such matters as suitable pasture grasses and legumes, and the kerosene method for eradicating zamia palm. After his promotion in 1930 to superintendent of dairying he wrote about practical aspects of milk production and of fattening pigs using a portion of the farmers’ wheat crop. On 15 July 1933 at Wesley Methodist Church, Perth, he married Vera Robinson, née Cook, a medical practitioner and a divorcee.

In 1941 Baron-Hay was appointed under-secretary of the department. In 1948-52 he was seconded to the Department of Lands and Surveys as chairman of the Land Settlement Board. After his return to the Department of Agriculture as director, he filled both positions concurrently. Under his leadership the department was associated closely with the development of a diverse range of rural industries, particularly forestry, tropical crops in the north, dairying, wool and wheat. He had an enormous capacity for work and sought similar dedication from his staff. In 1960 he retired, and next year he was appointed CBE.

Baron-Hay was president (1936) of the State branch of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science. He was also president (1935-36) and a life member (from 1946) of the Cottesloe Surf Life Saving Club, and a member of Perth Legacy and the Rotary Club of Perth. For recreation he spent time at his weekender at Glen Forrest. Survived by his wife, and their daughter and two sons, he died on 29 September 1989 at Claremont and was buried in Karrakatta cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • Journal of Agriculture of Western Australia, Oct 1960, p 853
  • Countryman, 15 Aug 1985, p 13
  • West Australian, 6 Oct 1989, p 9
  • Perth Legacy, Bulletin, 31 Oct 1989, p 1
  • series B2455, item Hay G K B (National Archives of Australia).

Citation details

Clement Mulcahy, 'Baron-Hay, George Kingston (1895–1989)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 22 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (Melbourne University Press), 2007

View the front pages for Volume 17

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


3 September, 1895
Kingston, Jamaica


29 September, 1989 (aged 94)
Claremont, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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