Commissioner of Public Works
9 May 1860 - 8 October 1861
|Born||12 January 1820|
|Died||4 February 1898 (aged 78)|
Victor Harbor, South Australia
|Spouse(s)||Agnes Kelly (1845-1870)|
Agnes Gosse (1872-1898)
|Occupation||Merchant, pastoralist, politician|
Born in Dunfermline, Scotland, as a young man he gained free passage to South Australia when working as a "wharfer", arriving in May 1839. After working for only two years for the South Australia Company, he could afford to purchase his own land to farm at Gumeracha. He soon acquired or invested in extensive pastoral land holdings throughout south-eastern Australia. He opened a grocery and hardware store on Rundle Street in the Adelaide city centre, specialising in supplying tools and equipment to the new copper mines and the booming building industry. He also became a proprietor of the newspaper the South Australian Register, a director of two insurance companies, two banks, a gas company and a wharf company. He served as vice-president of the Adelaide Zoo, president of the YMCA, an Adelaide City Councillor. He founded the Caledonian Society of South Australia, and was its Chief 1881-1883. He was married to Agnes Kelly in Adelaide in 1845, with whom he had eight children (only four survived to adulthood, a son and three daughters).
In 1857, Hay was elected to the district of Gumeracha in the South Australian House of Assembly. He almost became Premier in 1868, after a collapse in support from farmers resulted in the dissolution of the existing ministry. The Governor invited Hay, as the leader of the liberal land reformers and the only candidate with a clear policy, to form a ministry, but Hay refused. He was asked again the following month, and accepted but was unsuccessful in securing sufficient support.
Except for a five-year break between 1861 and 1866 during which he took his family on a trip to England and had his Beaumont home, "Linden", rebuilt, he served the Parliament until 1890, being elected to the Legislative Council in 1873 and again in 1882.
He is remembered for his commonsense, his support of industry, farmers, and young entrepreneurs, and his steadfast support of free primary education. He is particularly noteworthy for his role as proposer and chairman of the Select Committee on Education in 1868, which recommended a secular and compulsory system (which became law seven years later). He was also a noted supporter of an Adelaide to Darwin railway.
Agnes Hay died in 1870 and was buried in West Terrace Cemetery. Hay married Agnes Grant Gosse in 1872, with whom he soon had four more children.
Hay died at Mount Breckan in January 1898. A memorial window in St. Augustine's Church, Victor Harbor, was erected in his memory.
Alexander had twelve children, eight between 1846 and 1858 by his first wife Agnes, née Kelly (1818-1870, married 1845), and four between 1873 and 1877 by his second wife Agnes Grant, née Gosse (1837-1909, married 1872).
Agnes Kelly (1818-1870) was a bonnet maker in Balhannah in the Adelaide Hills. She had arrived in South Australia in September 1840. In 1845 (aged 27) she married Alexander Hay. Within a short time they had eight children. As was very common in those days, four of their children died before their third birthday. Agnes Hay died on 3 August 1870, aged only fifty-three. She was buried at the West Terrace Cemetery where four of her children had already been buried.
Their children were:
Agnes Grant Gosse (1837-1909) married Alexander Hay in March 1872 (aged 35). He had been introduced to Agnes Gosse at a function in 1867 at which the Gosse family had also been present.
As well as being Hay's second wife, and having the benefits of the Gosse family heritage, Agnes Grant Hay was an author. Her works include:
Works written about her include:
Hay and his second wife had four children:
A reversible lectern was erected in St Augustine's Church, Victor Harbor, in memory of Agnes Grant and Helen Hay.
| Commissioner of Public Works
9 May 1860 – 8 Oct 1861
|South Australian House of Assembly|
|New district|| Member for Gumeracha
1857 - 1860
| Member for Gumeracha
1867 - 1870
Arthur Blyth, William Sandover
| Member for East Torrens
1870 - 1871
Henry Mildred, Jr.