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Peacock, Frederick Hood (1886–1969)

by Bruce Brown

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

Frederick Hood Peacock (1886-1969), businessman, was born on 13 November 1886 at Franklin, Tasmania, son of Charles Morley Moffat Peacock (d.1892), schoolteacher, and his wife Sarah Maria, née Hood. Educated (on a scholarship) at The Hutchins School, Frederick was apprenticed to a jeweller before being employed as a clerk with George Adams's Tattersall's lotteries. In his youth he stoked the boiler in his uncle's jam-manufacturing firm, W. D. Peacock & Co. By the time H. Jones & Co. (Pty) Ltd bought the company in 1920, Peacock was factory manager. At St George's Anglican Church, Hobart, on 9 March that year he married Lydia Cripps.

Sir Henry Jones sent Peacock to manage the company's newest factory at Oakland, California, United States of America. The venture was intended to spearhead Jones & Co.'s entry into the seemingly limitless North American market, but it struggled against the powerful monopoly of local fruit suppliers and jam manufacturers. In 1924, on Peacock's recommendation, the plant was sold; he returned to Tasmania to become head-office manager at the Old Wharf, Hobart. After Jones died in 1926, Peacock was appointed managing director of the firm, which had expanded its interests to include shipping, insurance, hops and timber. He was also a director (from 1927) and chairman (1965-67) of Henry Jones Co-Operative Ltd; it was renamed Henry Jones (IXL) Ltd in 1966.

Peacock was widely acknowledged for his capacity to turn around an ailing business. In the late 1920s he had revived the Australian Commonwealth Carbide Co. Ltd's works at Electrona and become one of the firm's representatives. A director (from 1934) and chairman (from 1965) of the National Executors & Trustees Co. of Tasmania Ltd, he was a local director of the National Mutual Life Association of Australasia Ltd and of the Union Steam Ship Co. of New Zealand Ltd. In addition, he served on the Tasmanian committee of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.

Quiet and almost self-effacing in manner, Peacock was humanitarian in outlook, with a genuine interest in the welfare of his workers and suppliers. When a poliomyelitis epidemic had swept through the State in 1937, he helped to found the Tasmanian Society for the Care of Crippled Children, of which he was president and a life member. He was also a Rotarian and sat on the board of St John's Hospital, Hobart. During World War II he was a consultant to the Commonwealth government on industrial and economic matters, and directed much of his factories' production towards the war effort. In 1940 he joined the committee of the Hobart Savings Bank (president 1951-64).

Peacock was well known for the familiar adages which he repeated to his staff and business associates, such as 'don't try to carry the load; ride on top of it' and 'figures never lie, but lies sometimes figure'. He advised State Labor ministers and senior public servants, who chose to visit him at his home. In 1961 he was appointed C.M.G. He retired in 1967. Survived by his wife, daughter and four sons, he died on 29 December 1969 at St John's Hospital and was cremated. His estate was sworn for probate at $300,929.

Select Bibliography

  • G. V. Brooks, 30 Years of Rotary in Hobart (Hob, 1955)
  • B. Brown, I Excel! (Hob, 1991)
  • Papers and Proceedings (Tasmanian Historical Research Association), 20, no 1, Mar 1973, p 21
  • Mercury (Hobart), 10 June 1961, 31 Dec 1969, 6 Jan 1970
  • Examiner (Launceston), 30 Dec 1969
  • private information.

Citation details

Bruce Brown, 'Peacock, Frederick Hood (1886–1969)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.online.anu.edu.au/biography/peacock-frederick-hood-11355/text20283, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 22 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

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