Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Abel Hoadley (1844–1918)

by John Lack

This article was published:

Abel Hoadley (1844-1918), manufacturer, was born on 10 September 1844 at Willingdon, Sussex, England, only son of Peter Hoadley, blacksmith, and his second wife Elizabeth Ann, née Wheeler. Abel was apprenticed to a draper and grocer, but his health failed and he migrated to Melbourne in 1865. His first employment may have been with the nurseryman George Brunning. On 14 November 1868 at Fitzroy, with United Presbyterian Church forms, he married Susannah Ann Barrett; they had fourteen children.

By the early 1880s the Hoadleys were established as orchardists at Burwood. According to family legend, jam was first made from windfallen fruit in a copper under a chestnut tree, and the children sold it in the district after school. About 1889 Hoadley opened a small factory in South Melbourne, trading as A. Hoadley & Co. under the trade mark of the rising sun. The business expanded rapidly and five-storey premises, the Rising Sun Preserving Works, were built in 1895: jams, jellies, preserved fruits, candied peels, sauces and confectionery were made by a workforce as large as 200. Late in 1901 there were four preserving factories, and a large confectionery works near Princes Bridge, Hoadley having acquired the old-established firm of Dillon, Burrows & Co. He had extended his products to vinegar, cocoa and chocolate. 800 were employed at the height of the season, and in the early 1900s Hoadley was by far the largest Victorian customer of the Colonial Sugar Refining Co.

Hoadley adopted a paternal attitude to his workers. The premises were praised for their cleanliness, airiness and well-equipped dining rooms. He supported wages boards, but after Federation the intensely competitive nature of business made him favour industry rather than occupational boards, and a State-wide and ultimately uniform Federal system. As a devout and active Methodist, he supported the establishment of the Central Mission in 1893, was its treasurer in 1895-1906, and an executive member thereafter. He was remembered as a prudent, independent committee-man, 'conservative without being retrogressive'. In 1903 when the mission decided to extend its boy rescue work by establishing a country home, Hoadley offered his 38-acre (15 ha) Burwood orchard for £1000, some £500 less than the market price; with another property purchased on similar terms it became the nucleus of the Boys' Training Farm at Tally Ho.

In 1910 the jam business was sold to Henry Jones Co-operative Ltd. When Hoadley retired from business in 1913 Hoadley's Chocolates Ltd was formed. He died of cancer on 12 May 1918 at his home, Bella Vista, Kew, leaving an estate valued for probate at £58,946, and was survived by his wife, four daughters and four sons. All these sons were involved in the business, Charles in a minor way as chairman of directors in the 1940s and Peter as purchasing officer. Walter was managing director at his father's death, but by the 1930s the firm was on the verge of bankruptcy. Albert re-established Hoadley's, largely by imaginative marketing of candy bars, notably the Violet Crumble, named by Mrs Abel Hoadley after her favourite flower. Albert's son Gordon presided over the company during a series of mergers in the post-war period, the last being that with the English firm as Rowntree Hoadley Ltd in 1972.

Select Bibliography

  • A. J. Derrick, The Story of the Central Mission (Melb, 1918)
  • Parliamentary Papers (Legislative Assembly, Victoria), 1902-03, 2 (31)
  • Leader (Melbourne), 6 June 1896
  • Weekly Times (Melbourne), 28 Sept 1901
  • Spectator, 15 May, 26 June 1918
  • Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Records (Australian National University Archives)
  • private information.

Citation details

John Lack, 'Hoadley, Abel (1844–1918)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 24 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (Melbourne University Press), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


10 September, 1844
Willingdon, Sussex, England


12 May, 1918 (aged 73)
Kew, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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