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Thomas Hardy (1830–1912)

by Sally O'Neill

This article was published:

Thomas Hardy (1830-1912), vigneron, was born on 14 January 1830 at Gittisham, near Honiton, Devon, England. He arrived at South Australia on 14 August 1850 in the British Empire and worked for a year with John Reynell. He then went to a cattle property at Normanville where he joined a butchery business after gold was discovered and drove cattle to the Victorian diggings. In 1853 he returned to South Australia and bought Bankside on the River Torrens three miles (4.8 km) from Adelaide, where he planted ¾ acre (0.3 ha) of Shiraz and Grenache vines, two acres (.8 ha) of fruit trees and built a wine cellar. In 1857 his first vintage was sent in hogsheads to England and in 1859 he visited England with wine samples. He bought more land in 1863, enlarged the vineyard to 35 acres (14 ha) and planted olives (Hardy's Mammoth), oranges, lemons, almonds and vines for raisin and currant production. By 1865 he was producing 14,000 gallons (63,645 litres) of wine and by the mid-1870s 53,000 gallons (240,943 litres) from his own vines and from about forty other growers.

In 1874 Hardy bought a disused flourmill at McLaren Vale. About 1876 he bought the adjoining Tintara vineyard from Alexander Charles Kelly (M.D., Edinburgh, 1832) who had arrived from Scotland on 11 March 1840, was assistant surgeon at Adelaide Hospital and after visiting Scotland in 1846 settled at Morphett Vale where he took up vine-growing. In 1861 he bought what became the Tintara vineyard, cleared the land, planted vines and in 1864 built his home. In 1876 he retired to Norwood and died on 9 October 1877 aged 66, survived by his wife, two sons and three daughters. He published The Vine in Australia (Melbourne, 1861), Wine-Growing in Australia, and the Teachings of Modern Writers on Vine-Culture and Wine-Making (Adelaide, 1867) and his 'Wine-Growing in South Australia' was included in the Chamber of Manufactures' South Australian Industries (1875). One of his sons worked for Hardy.

In 1884 Hardy bought 480 acres (194 ha) next to Tintara and by 1885 had 40,000 gallons (181,844 litres) of wine maturing, most of it bought by P. B. Burgoyne & Co., London. By 1901 Hardy held 540 acres (219 ha) of vines, had made his sons partners and as Thomas Hardy & Sons Ltd owned stores at Mile End and cellars in Currie Street. His wines won many awards in Australia and overseas, the first a trophy worth £100 at Sydney in 1880.

Hardy was chairman of the wine committee of the Adelaide display in 1886 which led to the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London. He often lectured on wine-growing, joined the Phylloxera Board in 1889 and was president of the Wine Growers' Association in 1891. His many tours abroad included the Continent, America and South Africa; he visited laboratories in Britain and Montpellier Viticulture College to look at research on wine diseases, and examined the working of the Covent Garden fruit market. He was vice-president of the South Australian Horticultural Society and the Chamber of Manufactures, chairman of the West Torrens Board of Advice and a justice of the peace. He published articles first in the local press and then as Notes on Vineyards in America and Europe (1885) and A Vigneron Abroad. Trip to South Africa (1899). Hardy had married Joanna Holbrook in 1853. He died at Bankside on 10 January 1912, survived by two sons and two daughters. His estate was valued at £46,000.

Select Bibliography

  • J. J. Pascoe, History of Adelaide and Vicinity (Adel, 1901)
  • E. Whitington, The South Australian Vintage 1903 (Register reprint, Adel, 1903)
  • Hardy & Sons Ltd, The Hardy Tradition (Adel, 1953)
  • Register (Adelaide), 3 Nov 1877, 11 Jan 1912.

Citation details

Sally O'Neill, 'Hardy, Thomas (1830–1912)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 21 June 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]


14 January, 1830
Gittisham, Devon, England


10 January, 1912 (aged 81)
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

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