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Frederick Holkham Dangar (1831–1921)

by Louise T. Daley

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DANGAR BROTHERS: William John (1829-1890), pastoralist, Henry Cary (1830-1917), barrister, politician and sportsman, Frederick Holkman (1831-1921), merchant and financier, Albert Augustus (1840-1913), pastoralist, and Francis Richard (1845-1873), landowner, were sons of Henry Dangar and his wife Grace, née Sibley. William John was born on 16 March 1829 at St Neot, Cornwall, England, and as an infant went to Sydney with his parents. They lived at Port Stephens until 1833 and then moved to Neotsfield, Hunter River. In 1846 on his return from school in Sydney he was confronted with his father's overriding ambition to make him a squatter. Although unco-operative and independent, he was sent to work on his father's stations under (Sir) Arthur Palmer. While his parents were abroad in 1852-55 he managed Neotsfield under the guidance of his uncle William who wrote regretfully 'he wont confide in anyone'. On his father's return he left home and on 14 February 1856 married Marian, daughter of John Phelps of Paterson. After his father died he inherited Neotsfield, and in 1874 withdrew from Dangar Brothers. He died without issue on 3 August 1890, leaving an estate valued at £214,900.

Henry Cary was born on 4 June 1830 at Port Stephens and educated at Sydney College. In 1846 on the advice of his uncle Richard he sailed for England in the Persian. In 1849 he entered Trinity College, Cambridge (B.A., 1853; M.A., 1857). After touring the Continent with his parents he was admitted to the Middle Temple and to the Bar in 1854. Back in Australia he was a stabilizing influence in the troubled family affairs although unwilling to practise law. In 1861 by his father's will he inherited the family properties at St Neot, Cornwall, but they had all been sold except one cottage. As compensation his mother gave him Grantham, the family home at Potts Point, Sydney. On 19 September 1865 he married Lucy, daughter of Commander John Lamb, R.N. A silent partner in Dangar Brothers, Dangar Gilchrist & Co. and other enterprises, he represented West Sydney in the Legislative Assembly in 1874-77 and East Sydney in 1880-82. Although conservative he supported the revision of the land laws. When appointed to the Legislative Council in 1883 he was known as 'a regular attender and serious debater' who worked for colonial expansion, but was attacked by the Bulletin as a 'Tory' on the immigration issue. He inherited Neotsfield from William John in 1890. A member of the Australian Jockey Club for forty-two years his racing colours were well known as was his generosity in sending the New South Wales Rifle Team to compete in Philadelphia. He donated the cloisters of St Paul's College in the University of Sydney and was a founder and trustee of the Union Club, a director of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and a councillor of the New South Wales Academy of Art. He died at Potts Point on 25 April 1917, survived by four sons and four daughters.

The third brother, Frederick Holkham, was born on 23 October 1831 at Port Stephens. In 1846 his parents smiled at his love of the sea and his voyage to Calcutta in the Royal Saxon; his willingness to examine progressive ideas was encouraged by his uncle Richard, and he became the family financial adviser. At 17 he was exporting kauri gum from New Zealand to London. In 1855 with an advance of £2000 from his father he joined Rundle, Dangar & Co., general merchants of Sydney and London. In 1858 he married his sister-in-law Elizabeth Phelps. With a wedding present of £15,000 from his father he bought in 1859 a partnership in Dangar, Gilchrist & Co., established on 1 December 1858 by his uncle Richard and James Gilchrist, merchant of Armidale and Glen Innes. From his father he inherited properties at Muswellbrook and Maitland, and Holkham station at Aberdeen which had been sold, but he was compensated by cancellation of the £2000 debt. In 1868 he inherited the Australian estate of his uncle William and bought a half share in the Hawkesbury, 1100 tons. Later, with George Dibbs, he bought the Gladstone, an iron screw barque, to carry wool to the London sales. In 1889 the Neotsfield was built to his specifications and designed for the comfort of the crew. He also supported the training ships, Medway and Port Jackson, operated by Devitt & Moore. In 1870 Gilchrist retired from the firm and was replaced by C. T. Gedye. In 1879 Frederick Dangar also retired and after disposing of his colonial interests made his home at Ealing, London. He died there on 26 March 1921, predeceased by his wife and survived by two sons and one daughter; his estate was sworn at £76,000. He was well known for his generosity and his ready friendship with people in all walks of life. In New South Wales he had been president of the National Shipwreck Relief Society and the Cricket Association, and director of the Commercial Banking Co. of Sydney, the Australian General Assurance Co., the Sydney Infirmary and Dispensary and the Shale & Oil Co. Ltd. He was also a member of the Royal Colonial Institute for forty years.

The fourth son, Albert Augustus, was born on 8 June 1840 at Neotsfield. A delicate child, he attended school at Newcastle; at 12 he went with his parents to England and studied at the Truro Grammar School, Cornwall, and in Germany. After three years at sea in the service of Duncan Dunbar he returned to New South Wales to work under A. H. Palmer in the management of his father's properties. In 1863-97 he was general manager of the pastoral holdings of Dangar Brothers. From his father he inherited 'properties at Newcastle and within 5 miles [8 km] thereof', valued at £3000 in 1852 but worth £108,181 in 1906. He married Mary Phoebe, daughter of Edwin Rouse, at Windsor on 11 September 1866. In that year he also bought Baroona station near Singleton. Although called a 'Perigrinating Plutocrat' in 1903 he was highly respected at Singleton, where he donated a cottage hospital in 1906 and generous funds to rebuilding the Church of All Saints in 1911. He was a founder and president of the Pastoralists' Union, a principal in the Cobar Copper Syndicate and first donor to the Dreadnought Fund. His major hobby was the breeding of pure stock. He died at Baroona on 5 April 1913, survived by four sons and four daughters; his probate was sworn at over £300,000.

The youngest son, Francis Richard, was born on 14 February 1845 at Neotsfield and educated at The King's School, Parramatta. By his father's will and codicil he received a life interest entailed to his descendants in 'leasehold properties in the Gostwyck group without stock and equipment', and the squattage of Yarrowyck. After his mother died in 1869 he leased the stations to Dangar Brothers in which he held a fifth interest for £480 and went to England. He died unmarried in London on 12 October 1873, leaving an estate worth £51,000.

Select Bibliography

  • A. D. Fraser (ed), This Century of Ours (Sydney, 1938)
  • E. M. Dangar, The Dangars from St Neot, Cornwall (Sydney, 1966)
  • E. C. Rowland, ‘The Life and Times of Henry Dangar’, Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society), vol 39, part 2, 1953, pp 49-76
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 4 Dec 1880, 4 Mar 1882, 27 May 1885, 26, 27 Apr 1917, 30 Mar 1921
  • Bulletin, 6 June 1885
  • Truth (Sydney), 11 Oct 1903
  • Dangar papers (University of New England Archives).

Additional Resources

Citation details

Louise T. Daley, 'Dangar, Frederick Holkham (1831–1921)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 20 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (Melbourne University Press), 1972

View the front pages for Volume 4

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


23 October, 1831
Port Stephens, New South Wales, Australia


26 March, 1921 (aged 89)
London, Middlesex, England

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