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Captain Hancock
Title : Captain Hancock Captain Hancock
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Source : Australian Christian Commonwealth, 24 January 1919, p. 663
Date of creation : 1919
Format : Newspaper
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Description :

Captain Hancock of Moonta was a legendary figure. Born Henry Richard Hancock in 1836 in Devon, England, he began to work in mines as a teenager. He came to South Australia in 1859 and worked as an assayer at the Wheal Ellen mine at Callington. He intended to return to England but instead Thomas Elder persuaded him to join a mining company at Moonta on Yorke Peninsula. In 1869, at the age of 28, he was appointed superintendent of the mine, a position he held for 34 years. Later he simultaneously held the position of superintendent of the nearby Wallaroo mine.

Under Captain Hancock the 'Monster Mine' at Moonta went from strength to strength. When more workers were needed, a steamship was sent to the Victorian goldfields to bring back workers. With more miners and deeper shafts, production doubled. To increase yields, Captain Hancock developed a rock drill which came to be used all over the world. He also invented the 'Hancock Jig'.

As well as his role as manager of Wallaroo and Moonta mines during their heyday, he was a devoted member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. He encouraged his employees, in the strongest terms, to attend 'chapel' regularly. He fathered 13 children. This earned him the dubious rhyming title, 'King of the Kapok'. (Kapok was once used as a filling for mattresses.)

He retired in 1898 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Lipson. Captain Hancock died at Burnside in 1919.





Coverage year : 1919
Region : Yorke Peninsula
Further reading :

Hancock family. Personal papers, PRG 1185

Payton, Philip. 'The cult of Captain Hancock, the man and his mines,' Making Moonta: the invention of Australia's Little Cornwall, Exeter : University of Exeter Press, 2007

'Peninsula recollections: death of Capt. HR Hancock,' Register, 15 January 1919, p. 7; p. 9

Robinson, Mandie. Cap'n 'Ancock: ruler of Australia's Little Cornwall, Adelaide, S. Aust. : Rigby, 1978

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