Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Richard Colin Campbell Hungerford (1865–1931)

by Ian Carnell

This article was published:

Richard Colin Campbell Hungerford (1865-1931), contractor and trotting official, was born on 1 January 1865 at Dunedin, New Zealand, elder son of Thomas Walter Hungerford, contractor, and his wife Elizabeth Mary, née Delaney, both from Kildare, Ireland. He attended the Otago Boys' High School and then began working with his father. His extensive sporting interests included cricket, Rugby Union, athletics, trotting and racing. As the first secretary of the Greymouth Trotting Club, he uncovered several swindles and at the 1896-98 New Zealand trotting conferences was actively involved in framing the rules. He was also a committee-member of the Greymouth Jockey Club and represented it at the racing conference in 1894.

In August 1898 Hungerford moved to Sydney to join Hungerford & Sons, the family's contracting firm, and was the managing partner for harbour works at Cape Hawke. His love of horses led him to resign in October 1902 to become the first salaried secretary of the newly formed non-proprietary New South Wales Trotting Club.

From 1904 Hungerford edited the Trotting Register annually, and was involved in the production of the Australian Stud Books for Trotters which appeared from 1910. He was ruthless in tracking down 'ring-ins' and uncovering crooked practices at race meetings. He had dark wavy hair and a handle-bar moustache; although a relatively short man, it was said that 'many a strapping horseman quaked in his presence such was his overbearing demeanour'. For many years he was handicapper, starter and time-keeper for the club's race meetings and was known to be scrupulously fair. Clubs outside Sydney benefited from his encouragement and willingness to act as stipendiary steward. He also travelled interstate to foster good relations with trotting bodies.

After difficult early years, the New South Wales Trotting Club raised trotting from a disorganized, disreputable and waning sport to a firmly established, popular one. Hungerford played a central role in this process. While his opponents accused him of being dictatorial, his overall achievements were widely recognized. At a public presentation, following his retirement because of ill health in October 1923, the formal address maintained that his slogan was 'Favours to all, privileges to none'.

For many years Hungerford was a member of the New South Wales Rugby Union council, a vice-president of the Sydney Bicycle and Motor Cycle Club and a judge at the pony and galloway meetings at Kensington and Rosebery. He was also an active Freemason and frequented the Commercial Travellers', Tattersall's and City Tattersall's clubs. In June 1908 he was appointed a justice of the peace.

At the Registry Office, Christchurch, New Zealand, Hungerford had married Florence Mary Eliza Lawes on 4 March 1897, but they separated later; Florence moved to Melbourne with their daughter. Hungerford died in Manly of myclocythaemia on 13 February 1931, and was buried in the Roman Catholic section of Randwick cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • Cyclopedia of N.S.W. (Syd, 1907)
  • M. J. Agnew, Australia's Trotting Heritage (Melb, 1977)
  • G. Brown, One Hundred Years of Trotting 1877-1977 (Syd, 1981)
  • Australian Trotting Record, 21 Nov 1923
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 16 Feb 1931
  • Sydney Sportsman, 17 Feb 1931.

Citation details

Ian Carnell, 'Hungerford, Richard Colin Campbell (1865–1931)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 24 July 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]


1 January, 1865
Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand


13 February, 1931 (aged 66)
Manly, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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