Provisional School Teacher Walter Alexander Hore

Occupation: School Teacher; Dairy Farmer
Birth: 14 December, 1843 at Polehore County Wexford, Ireland
Immigrated: 19 April, 1870 the “Maryborough” arrived at Brisbane from London.
Death: 14 August, 1923 North Arm, Queensland.
Burial: Eumundi Cemetery
Father: Herbert Francis HORE  (Historian, Archaeologist, Author)
Mother: Dorothea Lucretia LIGHT
Marriage: 19 May, 1868 at St Martin-In-The-Fields, London, Westminster, England

Spouse: Frances Elizabeth JOSEPH
Birth: 3 December, 1846 at Marylebone, Middlesex, England
Immigrated: 19 April, 1870 the “Maryborough” arrived at Brisbane from London.
Death: 4 December, 1917 at North Arm, North Line, Queensland
Burial: Eumundi Cemetery
Father: Charles JOSEPH (Cordial Maker, Artist)
Mother: Charlotte Smith FILER

Children: 12
Eliza Lily (1868-1950) = John Stanley SOMMERVILLE
Edith Mary (1870-1949) = Rev. James Lyon WALTON
Frances Elizabeth (1872 – 1917)
Henry Charles (1874-1949)
Florence Annie (1876-1927)
Victor George (1878-1878)
Capt. Victor Thomas George M.C. (1880-1942) = Ethel HERAPATH
Dora Frances (1882-1971) = Arthur Edward BODYCOTE
Ismay Eleanor (1885-1929) = Charles Harold HEATHCOTE
Charlotte Ethel Kathleen (1887-1887)
Augustus Herbert Sydney (1888-1889)
Montague Ruthven (1890-1890)

Walter Hore, Gentleman, was a descendant of  Sir William Le Hore, one of the Norman knights who invaded Ireland in 1170, and subsequently on receiving-grants of lands, settled there. Walter and his family lived at Belvedere Street, Westminster, London before they immigrated to Queensland in 1870. Soon after their arrival Walter was appointed to the Department of Public Instruction. His first posting was as the first Provisional School teacher at Rosewood Gate. The school was subsidised by the Government and parents.

In 1870 a provisional school, subsidised by the Government and parents, was opened in the old Rising Sun Hotel on the main Toowoomba-road. This old wayside inn had fallen, with others, into disuse, with the passing of the carriers and the advent of the railway. It was used for residential purposes, and its big dining-room served as a church, meeting hall, and school. Mr. Walter Hore was the teacher. [Q.T. 10 February, 1925 page 11]

Their first daughter Eliza was born in London in October, 1868 and when they came to Rosewood Gate their second daughter Edith, born 24 May, 1870 was only three months old. What did that gentile lady Frances Hore think when she arrived with a toddler and a newborn, and saw her home was to be an old Inn, one of a few structures in sight in a place with only a handful of residents and few facilities? So very different from whence she came. How marvellous these women were!

Another daughter, named Frances Elizabeth after her mother, was born at Rosewood Gate. Walter ran his school at the Gate until he moved on to a similar position at the new Samford Provisional School when it opened on 14 November, 1872. He stayed there for six years.

Meanwhile, John William Vance saw the need for another school at Rosewood Gate and started a provisional school with 52 children on the roll in the same building in September, 1873. It was also the family’s residence.

Samford Provisional School, opened 1872. Frances and Walter Hore are sitting in the middle.
(Photo: Pine Rivers Library)

In 1880 Walter was assigned as a Government Agent on the supernumerary staff (term of 6 months) to accompany vessels licensed to carry Pacific Islanders. His duty was to see that the provisions of the Acts and the Regulations for the protection of these people were strictly observed. The Masters and Officers of the ship could not interfere with him performing his duties. He was put on the permanent staff in 1882. 

In September 1884 he was appointed to be the schoolmaster at St Helena, a penal settlement in Moreton Bay. He received £120 per annum, with board and rations. The first passenger tramcar in Queensland was built on the island the next year and a District Inspector named Shirley conducted his first inspection of St Helena school since it had come under the tutelage of Walter Hore. The Inspector noted 31 pupils attended, and the new teacher was “intelligent”, “fairly well informed”, “made fair decisions” and “taught with some successes”. Shirley concluded, “As a whole the teaching has been solid and intelligent.” 

A year later he inspected again and his impression of Walter had changed. “Hore governs well, however he fails as a teacher”. In 1887 District Inspector Daniel Macgroarty remarked, “Hore gives his duties due care and attention, works with pretty fair method and skill, but with no marked insight into his profession”. The following year he said Walter was “honest and plodding” and that “he does his best”.

St Helena had a fearful reputation as ‘the hell hole of the Pacific’ and ‘Queensland’s Inferno’ because it housed some of the country’s worst criminals. Living on the prison island Walter didn’t enjoy many of the rights and pleasures enjoyed by other teachers, and his family life and work life were intrinsically interwoven. He also shared the duties of a Warder and was forced to take up arms when needed. When illness spread among the residents Walter was rightly concerned for his family’s heath. Their daughter Charlotte died there in 1887 aged 5 months from dysentery and their son Augustus followed in August 1889 aged 7 months and 17 days and Montague succumbed in December 1890 aged 19 days, also from dysentery. 

In June 1890, Walter became aware that the authorities intended to terminate his employment at St Helena. The General Inspector, David Ewart, wrote, “Hore was unsuccessful as a Provisional School teacher at Rosewood and Samford” and further noted “he is an objectionable kind of man to deal with”.

The Department had difficulty in finding an appropriate Provisional School for a man with a family as large as Walter’s. His fate remained unresolved until October 1890 when Inspector Shirley was sent again to investigate whether Walter was suitable for the work of properly educating others.

After questioning most of the free residents he reported: “Mr Hore is a man of gentlemanly birth and breeding and has had what is commonly termed a middle-class education, having been four years at the Grammar School, St Helier, Jersey, two years at a school in Paris, and the same period as external at Kings College, London. He is a very fair French scholar and his mental qualifications are sufficient for the work required in the St Helena School”. He did take issue with Walter’s attitude to the job, “the failures arise chiefly from a want of energy and industry”. [Understandable perhaps?]

Over the 6 years that he taught at St Helena, the school averaged 25 pupils with the numbers at inspection ranging between 20 and 31 and the exam results for the children were a consistent 61 per cent. He shared his teaching load with his assistant teacher and daughter, Miss Florence Hore, who possessed considerable energy and ability. 

They dismissed Walter from service in December 1890 and the St Helena Provisional School closed. Walter and Frances left three of their children behind to rest in the children’s cemetery.

In January 1891, a month after the school closed, there was an outbreak of scarlet fever among the families of the warders and they were taken off the Island. Included in the intake of prisoners that year were 17 murderers, 27 men convicted of manslaughter, 26 men convicted of stabbings and shootings, and countless individuals responsible for assaults, rapes and similar violent crimes. St Helena had to be a secure prison, and it was, through its isolation and its iron rule. The Hore family had made a timely departure.

Walter worked hard to be reinstated and he was ultimately re-admitted to the Department of Public Instruction as the teacher at Eumundi Provisional School. He became the first Headmaster on its opening on 23 January, 1893 and remained there until he retired to his dairy farm in 1896. His farm was located between North Arm and Eumundi, and he lived there for the rest of his life. Walter had worked for the Department of Public Instruction for about 22 years.

You may gain an insight into the character of Walter by reading an article he wrote which was published in the Worker in 1898 titled “Pandering to Public Curiosity”. 

The following children survived him.
Mrs. J. Summerfield (Emerald), Mrs. J. L. Walton (London), Mrs. D. Bodycote (Bega, N.S.W.), Mrs. E. Heathcote (London), Miss F. Pole-Hore (Eumundi). Mr. H. C. Hore (Eumundi), and Captain Victor Hore, M.C. (London). The latter, who fought in the South African War with the fourth contingent, also served right through the Great War without receiving a scratch. For conspicuous bravery he was promoted from the rank of Second Lieutenant to that of Captain, and also awarded a Military Cross. [Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser, Friday 7 September, 1923]

Walter’s eldest sister Edith Katherine Hore, who predeceased him by three months, married Admiral Hon. Augustus Hobart Hampden, the third son of the Earl of Buckinghamshire. He played a prominent part in the British Navy’s operations in the Black Sea during the Crimean War, and was first cousin of Earl of Hampden, one of the early Governors of New South Wales.

Researched and compiled by Jane Schy

Trove – The National Library of Australia
England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975
Westminster, London Church of England Marriages and Banns 1754-1935
Queensland Registry Births Death and Marriages
“Raw, free”, and “almost rude”: educating warders’ children on St Helena Penal Establishment – Tony James Brady (2016)


One comment

  1. Great reading as always Jane. The days researching
    these story is incredable! Thank you!

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