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George Hall Peppin (1800–1872)

by J. Ann Hone

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George Hall Peppin (1800-1872), pastoralist and sheep breeder, was born at Old Shute Farm, Dulverton, England, son of George Peppin, sheep breeder who acquired some of George III's flock, and his wife Maria née Hall. In 1850 when farming was at a low ebb in England he sailed for Port Phillip in the Ann Maria with his wife Harriet, née Thompson, whom he had married in 1825, and two sons, George (1827-1876) and Frederick (1828-1911). By mid-1851 they were settled at Mimaluke near Mansfield and after years of fluctuating fortune sold out when scab and fluke destroyed their flock. In March 1858 Peppin & Sons bought from W. A. Brodribb South Wanganella station in the Riverina and its 8000 sheep for £10,000. They used the run for fattening sheep for the Melbourne market, and in 1859 when five shearers claimed that tents were insufficient accommodation, George junior successfully sued them.

In 1861 the Peppins, beaten by Riverina conditions, offered Wanganella for sale at Scott's Hotel in Melbourne but found no buyer. They decided to try again and continue their earlier attempts to breed a type of merino suitable to the area, a larger, more robust, stronger woolled sheep and with a bulky back to stand up to summer dust and heat. In 1864 Peppin & Sons exhibited six pens of sheep at the first Echuca Agricultural Show and were awarded four first prizes and one second. This success had been achieved by careful selection of 200 of their best ewes and 100 Rambouillet-sired stud ewes from Nicholas Chadwick of Canally, New South Wales, and mating them with Rambouillet and Negretti rams. In 1866 Peppin & Sons bought the Rambouillet ram, Emperor, who annually yielded twenty-five (11 kg) pounds of greasy or twelve pounds (5 kg) of scoured wool when such weights were almost unknown. They also bought two sons of Old Grimes, a famous Vermont ram, and acquired a few of the best Victorian rams but then bred only from their own sheep, experimenting on a small scale only 'and in such a way that they could do no permanent injury'. Peppin & Sons acquired the neighbouring properties of Morago and Boonoke. Wanganella was managed by George junior and his father and brother lived at Morago. G. H. Peppin died intestate on 16 April 1872 and was mourned as 'a fine old English gentleman'. He was buried in the Deniliquin cemetery with Presbyterian rites.

In 1874 the Peppin brothers formed a double stud selected by T. F. Cumming. They kept careful records of the yields of individual sheep and breeding was methodically conducted. At the Deniliquin show in July 1878 Peppin & Sons won the society's, Goldsbrough's and the president's prizes for sheep. Next year Wanganella sheep won first prize for the most valuable fleeces from six ewes at the Sydney International Exhibition.

George was a magistrate from 1859, regularly attending the Deniliquin bench and vice-president of the Riverine Association formed in 1863 to advocate separation from New South Wales. About 1873 he visited England and on his return the brothers decided to sell the runs. Before this could be done George died on 12 June 1876, survived by two sons and four daughters of his wife Maria, née Brown Smith.

In October 1878 Frederick sold Wanganella, South Boonoke and Long Plains with 28,168 sheep, 837 stud sheep, 200 cattle, 25 horses and 32,857 acres (13,297 ha) of freehold for £77,000 to Austin & Millear. North Boonoke station with 26,788 sheep, 290 cattle, 63 horses and 31,484 acres (12,741 ha) of freehold land was sold for £67,000 to F. S. Falkiner & J. R. Ross in November.

By 1877 with John Webber, Frederick had invested in thirty runs in the South Gregory District of Queensland. He lived in Melbourne where he was involved in the Australian Frozen Meat Export Co. and in 1880 advocated fitting up sailing ships to carry frozen meat to the English market. He was a councillor of the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria and president in 1893-94, and a councillor of the Pastoralists' Association of Victoria and Southern Riverina. He helped to establish the Chamber of Agriculture and was on the original committee of the Flock Book for British Breeds of Sheep in Victoria. He bred Exmoor ponies and Jersey cattle on his farm at Epping which he sold in the mid-1880s. He visited England and on his return in 1888 bought Fernbank near Loch in South Gippsland, where he bred Southdown sheep and dairy Shorthorn cattle. On his Queensland stations 90,000 sheep and all the cattle died in the long drought, and in 1902 the banks took over the stations. A vice-president of the Federation League, he was a manager of the Alfred Hospital, a committee member of the Charity Organization Society and the Austin Hospital for Incurables, and a manager of the Leongatha Labour Colony. He died on 29 January 1911 and was survived by his wife Sarah Ellen Morgan, daughter of a London doctor, and by three sons and a daughter.

The Peppin sheep gained in popularity and predominate among the flocks of South Africa as well as in New Zealand and South America. In Australia over 60 per cent of merinos have Wanganella blood.

Select Bibliography

  • C. McIvor, The History and Development of Sheep Farming From Antiquity to Modern Times (Syd, 1893)
  • H. M. Eastman, Memoirs of a Sheepman (Deniliquin, 1953)
  • J. F. Guthrie, A World History of Sheep and Wool (Melb, 1957)
  • M. L. Kiddle, Men of Yesterday (Melb, 1961)
  • F. Clune, Search for the Golden Fleece: The Story of the Peppin Merino (Syd, 1965)
  • G. L. Buxton, The Riverina 1861-1891 (Melb, 1967)
  • Riverine Herald, 20 Apr 1872
  • Pastoral Review, 15 Dec 1909, 15 Feb 1911
  • Argus (Melbourne), 1 Feb 1911
  • George Peppin diary, 1859 (State Library of New South Wales)
  • newspaper cuttings (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

J. Ann Hone, 'Peppin, George Hall (1800–1872)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 16 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne University Press), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


Dulverton, Somerset, England


16 April, 1872 (aged ~ 72)
Deniliquin, New South Wales, Australia

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