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Francis Hart

As Brendan Kelly writes, Francis Jerome Ernest Hart (c. 1859 – c. 1929) was 'a self-starter, free thinker, opinionist, editor, actor, public speaker, raconteur, press agent, punter, singer, musician, librettist, journalist, committeeman and organiser; a sometimes dishonest, scheming, brilliant, and ultimately, dissolute man.' He was the son of a British physician and journalist, and began his career in the colony as a teacher at Bishop Hale's school, but soon moved to Bunbury and then York, where he worked as a magistrate's clerk but played as an amateur entertainer. He was soon in trouble, having fraudulently obtained money in 1882 from Fred Caesar at the Emerald Isle Hotel Fremantle, by passing him a dud cheque. His case was heard by the Chief Justice, the disreputable Henry Wrenfordsley, who let him off without even a slap on the wrist. Among the friends he made were Governor William Robinson, Attorney-General and Judge Alfred Hensman, and A.C. Onslow, who followed Wrenfordsley as Chief Justice. All of them were members of the Perth Musical Union. He worked as a journalist for the (first) Fremantle Herald, which led to him becoming editor of the Victorian Express in Geraldton, and even, briefly, of the West Australian. In 1885, he married Lilian Mitchell, who was also an amateur entertainer, but he was not faithful to her, and later left her in Perth while he went to England. She divorced him in 1905.

References and Links

Clifton, Mrs K. 1946, 'Reminiscences of Mrs. K. Clifton', Early Days, Vol. 3 Part 8: 41.

Hart, Francis 1893, Western Australia in 1893, Govt of WA, London.

Honniball, J.H.M. 1987, 'The celebration of Queen Victoria's Jubilee in Western Australia', Early Days, vol. 9, part 5: 40.

Kelly, Brendan 2018, 'Francis Jerome Ernest Hart', Early Days, no. 102: 49-61.


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