Edgell Family

Henry Edgell (18361909) arrived in Launceston in about 1871 to manage an insurance office. He served on various boards and the Municipal Council and was well known as an after-dinner speaker. His wife, Charlotte Packer Gordon, was active in the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and for this had a horse drinking fountain dedicated to her.

Of their five children the eldest, Robert Gordon (18661948) gained renown as a designer of bridges for the New South Wales public service. In his retirement and with the assistance of two sons, Maxwell and Hampden, he pioneered the canning of asparagus at Bathurst, New South Wales. This business grew to become, in 1930, Gordon Edgell and Sons Limited. A third son, Broughton, who had established copra plantations in New Guinea, later joined the company.

The company expanded rapidly to supply canned food to the armed forces during the Second World War. Further post-war growth included, in 1955, the purchase of the HJ Heinz factory at Devonport. Canned and frozen peas became a significant agricultural industry on the North West coast. The JR Simplot organisation now own the Edgell brand.

Henry and Charlotte's second son Henry Mordaunt took up land on King Island after training as an accountant. He later joined the Imperial Customs Service in China. Their daughter Theodora Grace was a military nurse in Europe during the First World War and was for many years the Matron of the Campbell Town Hospital.

The youngest son, Bayard Hazlewood, became a pastoralist on Dennistoun at Bothwell, moving there in 1913 to rent and in 1917, in partnership with Phillip Oakley Fysh, to purchase the properties of John Dennistoun Wood. He established one of the earliest Polwarth sheep studs. Bayard was active in farmer organisations and local government and did much to inaugurate the fat lamb industry. He married Hannah Ethel Gibson and they had two sons and a daughter. The eldest son, Geoffrey, carried on as manager and became sole owner of the Dennistoun property in 1956. He was also active in agricultural and business affairs and was a long-serving member of the Bothwell Council.

Further reading: 'Memories of R. Gordon Edgell, Bathurst NSW, born 6 th February 1866', 1945, and 'Memoirs, Maxwell Gordon Edgell 18971969', both unpublished, copies held by HRC Edgell, Bothwell; Mercury, 26 April 1949.

Henry Edgell