Chapter 9 - The Hunt & Pegler Families
A glance at the family trees of both the Hunts and the Peglers reveals fairly large families, at least by present-day standards. The two generations before my own comprised eleven sons and five daughters in the Hunt family and five sons and seven daughters in the Peglers. It is therefore not surprising that with twenty-four Aunts, Uncles, Great-aunts and Great-uncles I often come across people with whom I am “Distantly Related”. Some of these are quite well-known, even famous. For example my son Philip discovered a couple of years ago that we are related to the Musician and Conductor Richard Bonynge, married to Joan Sutherland. Grandfather Hunt was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly for almost thirteen years and his younger brother, Alfred, was a member of the Legislative Council for almost fourteen years. Both Hunt and Pegler families seem to have been active in all manner of public affairs, members of Shire Councils, prominent in Church Affairs (particularly Methodist), Municipal Bands, Schools of Arts, School Councils, Musical Societies, Agricultural and Horticultural Societies, etc.
The two Hunt Brothers already mentioned as having been in the New South Wales Parliament may be taken as an example of their public activities:
John Charles Hunt is listed in the “Who's Who” as: Orchardist and Grazier; Member Firm Hunt Brothers Ltd., owner of Burdenda Station on Bogan River; J.P. 1892; President Castle Hill Agric. and Hort. Assn. (1907); Vice-Pres. Fruitgrowers Union (1907); Member Carlingford-Dural Railway League (1903); Orangeman; Methodist; Councillor Hornsby Shire 1906-07, Pres. 1907; Liberal & Reform; National; MLA for Sherbrooke Sept 1907 - Nov 1913, for Camden Dec 1913-Feb 1920 (retired).
Alfred Edgar Hunt is listed as follows: Grazier Dural; At seventeen went to Bogan Dist., selected land in sheep country near Dandaloo, prospered; Owned Wyoming Station, Nevertire; J.P. 1908; Dir. Land Newspaper; Executive Member Farmers & Settlers Assn from 1912, Pres. 1914-1916, Treas. 1916-1930; Executive Member Graziers Assn 1917-30, Pres 1921-22, vice-pres 1922-25; Member Aust Wool Council 6 years; Pres Australian Farmers Fed Organisation (1930); Pres New Settlers League 1929-30; active in recruiting campaign during 1914-18 war; supported Far West Mission; Helped found Far West Children's Scheme, Hon Treas; Member Meth. State and Aust Conferences; Progressive; Chairman 1921-25 Country Party, councillor 1925-30; MLC Dec 1916-Aug 1930. Brother-in-law of Brunsdon Fletcher, editor of Sydney Morning Herald.
One of the surprising things about these lists of associations is that music is not mentioned, for the Hunts were a very musical lot. Probably the best-known after Richard Bonynge would be Terence Hunt (born 1911, died Sydney 1981) who was a music educationalist. He was Supervisor of Music for the N.S.W. Education Department from 1948 and Inspector in charge of Music 1959-75.
I recall a concert in the Sydney Town Hall in about 1956 at which our eldest daughter, Judith, was a member of the choir and Terence Hunt was the conductor. Judith was a pupil of William Street School, Granville, at that time. The School Concerts are now held in the Opera House where we enjoy seeing our Grandchildren taking part! Terence Hunt was also Chairman for sixteen years of the City of Sydney Cultural Council and in 1972 was awarded an MBE for his services to music education.
So, with all these relatives, some of them with a claim to some measure of fame, it is not surprising that I can echo an ecstatic cry of our younger Daughter, Ann, when her Aunty Lois had a cookery book published, “It makes me feel famous!”
But it is not only to the more famous members of the family to whom I am pleased to be related. There have been scores of occasions when, having been introduced to someone, they have asked “Oh. Are you related to the Hunts at Toowoomba?” or Geelong, or Murwillumbah, or Cowra, etc. etc. In most cases I have been unable to answer with confidence, but have said, “Well, I expect I am distantly related!”
On the Pegler side of the family I can claim equal pride of relationship. My Grandfather, Walter Pegler, was an extremely well-known man in the Parramatta and Granville Districts, as was his Father, Joseph Pegler, before him. Joseph was married to Anna Ruse Chapman, a name to conjure with! Great-grandfather Joseph and Great-grandmother Anna lived in Granville for forty-three years. He was an alderman of Granville Municipal Council where, according to a contemporary report, he showed himself to be a man of keen intellect and sound ideas. He was one of the founders of the Congregational Church in Parramatta and a member of the original School Board of Advice in Granville. He was a Trustee of the Granville Methodist Church and a Vice-President of the Parramatta Citizens' Band.
His son, Walter, my Grandfather, followed his Father as Vice-President of the Parramatta Citizens' Band and was also closely associated with the Granville School of Arts, which he visited almost every evening during the latter half of his life, taking an active interest in the library, the billiards and the letting and supervision of the meeting rooms and hall. He was at various times, President, Secretary and Treasurer and was invariably elected to the Committee. He was also a Trustee. He was a foundation member of the Granville Brotherhood, which had a tremendous membership during its period of popularity in the early 1900s and met at 3 p.m. at Granville Town Hall on Sundays. Grandpa was convenor of the programme committee. He was a member of their musical group, having a fine tenor voice. He was for many years a member of the Leigh Memorial Church Choir at Parramatta and, even after he ceased to attend regularly, was frequently called upon for solo work at Leigh Memorial and other Church choirs. He was a life-long member and financial supporter of the Granville Methodist Church, although he mainly attended only on special occasions, particularly in later life. He was also actively interested in the Parramatta Bowling and Recreation Club.
Many people knew him mainly through his work, particularly as a Collector for the Australian Gas Light Company. Originally the Company employed collectors to go around and read the meters and then collect the money for the gas account, but in later years Grandfather's duties involved calling at homes to collect outstanding accounts. I believe he was the last of the collectors employed by the Gas Co. They discontinued the debt-collecting service a year or two before Grandfather retired and he was moved into the Parramatta office of the Gas Co to do clerical work. He had previously worked as an Estate Agent for some years and became widely known in that capacity. He was an original pupil of William Street Public School at Granville and maintained an interest in the Old Boys Association. I will have more to say about him later.
There is a Pegler Street in Granville, believed to have been named after Great-grandfather Alderman Joseph Pegler. Besides his son Walter, his four other surviving sons (Mother's Uncles) were also well known in their different ways. One was a watch-maker, another a baker. Pegler's Bakery was well known in the Auburn District. I have fond memories of visiting Uncle Charlie's bakery as a small boy and being given a small hot loaf of bread in the form of a little man, like a gingerbread man. Probably the best-known Pegler in the Sydney area today is the grandson of Charlie Pegler, that is James Pegler, the well-known singer of ballads and love-songs.