Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Hugh Frank Pennefather (1894–1964)

by G. P. Walsh

This article was published:

Hugh Frank Pennefather (1894-1964), sheepclasser, was born on 5 April 1894 at Pyalong, Victoria, third child and eldest son of Melbourne-born parents Hugh Claude Pennefather (d.1951), wool valuer, and his wife Mabel Annie Rose, née Irving. Edward Curr was his great-grandfather. Hugh Claude joined the Australian Estates & Mortgage Co. Ltd (Australian Estates Co. Ltd from 1936) in 1899 as wool expert. From 1914 he concentrated on sheep-classing. 'Old Penny' travelled about 40,000 miles (64,374 km) a year until the 1930s, classing over forty leading studs and flocks in eastern Australia. Educated at Scotch College, Melbourne, Frank spent two seasons working under his father at the A.E. & M. Co. He jackerooed on Terrick Terrick station, near Blackall, Queensland, for two years, then managed his father's property, Ardsley, near Bathurst, New South Wales.

A member of the 41st Australian Infantry, Militia, Pennefather enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 1 June 1915. He served in Egypt, where he was commissioned (March 1916), and in England. In April 1917 he was sent to the Western Front as a lieutenant in the 56th Battalion. Appointed the 14th Brigade's bombing officer, he remained on duty at a critical period in March 1918, despite suffering the effects of gas. In August-September he established and maintained forward dumps while under heavy shell-fire. He was awarded the Military Cross and mentioned in dispatches. After World War I ended he spent some months in England with a Bradford wool firm. His A.I.F. appointment terminated in Sydney on 12 September 1919.

Pennefather ran Widgery Wah, near Trangie, in partnership with his sister, before selling out. At Holy Trinity Church, Kelso, on 7 July 1922 he married Mary Udy Jordan (d.1951) with Anglican rites; they were to have a daughter. Based (1926-58) at Darling Point, Sydney, he travelled extensively, understudying his father who favoured quality, medium wool on a sound frame; like him, he held that sheep-breeding was a total concept. He advised on such interrelated matters as nutrition, pastures, health, management and the special requirements of different areas.

Among the many merino studs and flocks that Pennefather classed were the Australian Estate Co.'s studs Terrick Terrick, Queensland, Raby and Oolambeyan (1930-57), Wanganella (1920s and 1930s), Bairnkine (1946-63), Goolgumbla, Buttabone Stud Park, Deniliquin Stud Park and Uardry, New South Wales, and Mawallok, Victoria. He kept abreast of modern developments by making several trips abroad. Following World War II, he ran a high-class Peppin merino flock on his property, Llambeda, O'Connell, where he carried out extensive pasture improvement. On 24 September 1953 at St Columba's Church, Woollahra, he married with Presbyterian forms Marion Eleanor Little, née Friend (d.1962), a 48-year-old divorcee.

Quiet, unassuming, sociable but somewhat reserved, Pennefather always wore a tie at dinner and addressed men as 'Mr'. Once asked what he looked for in a ram, he replied—'Lust!' He was a keen tennis player, and a member of the Royal Sydney Golf Club and the Australian Club, Sydney. While at Uardry, Hay, for the classing, he died of a coronary occlusion on 11 March 1964 and was cremated with Anglican rites. The daughter of his first marriage predeceased him.

Select Bibliography

  • C. Massy, The Australian Merino (Melb, 1990)
  • G. Walsh, Pioneering Days (Syd, 1993)
  • Pastoral Review, 16 Aug 1922, 16 Mar 1951, 18 Mar, 18 Apr, 17 July, 17 Aug 1964.

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'Pennefather, Hugh Frank (1894–1964)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 21 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (Melbourne University Press), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


5 April, 1894
Pyalong, Victoria, Australia


11 March, 1964 (aged 69)
Hay, New South Wales, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.