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Rosa Hawker – School Mistress at Clare

"Miss Hawker had many accomplishments and was a great reader.
She was an excellent musician, and also an excellent teacher of the piano." *

Family


Rosa Hawker was born in Cornwall in the 1830s and migrated to Australia with her family in 1853 on the ship ‘Agra’. They lived in Strathalbyn for a few years before

moving to Clare to be closer to another branch of the Hawker family who owned the station at Bungaree.

Rosa’s father was a doctor and he practiced in Clare until his death in 1859, afterwards leaving Rosa and her mother to make their own living.

Although the two different branches of the Hawker family had migrated from England at different times and held different levels of social status in the community, they shared a warm relationship and Rosa was close friends with the heir to the station, Charles Hawker.


(Rosa Hawker with dog, year unknown)


Boarding School

Rosa’s mother, also named Rosa Hawker (nee Edwardes), established a boarding school for girls in Clare. This school was in operation for 15 years up until 1874 but in 1866 a ‘Mrs Hawker’s Boarding School’ burned to the ground in a fire which spread into the District Council Office next door. This fire destroyed important Council papers and Freemason’s documents which had been held there.


Teacher of French

Rosa was well-rounded in a range of subjects which she taught to her students. She had learned French from an early age with help from her mother’s French background. Her mother had spent time in Belgium as well and had been present in Brussels during the battle of Waterloo in 1815, witnessing the wounded being brought back into the city. Alongside teaching French, Rosa was a talented piano player although her nerves prevented her from performing in front of crowds. She instructed many piano students over her lifetime, helping them pass their piano exams into her 80s!


Bungaree


Rosa and her mother moved onto Bungaree station in 1874 where Rosa took over the small station school. Her improvements to the quality of the children’s education were noted in the inspections and later printed in the Northern Argus. An article from an 1876 edition said “It must be very gratifying to Miss Rosa Hawker, the principal of the above school, to find that her teaching and the management of the school is so highly spoken of. Two previous inspectors expressed a very high opinion of the school.” The school closed down in 1877 and Rosa and her mother moved back to Clare where she opened a new school in the building next to the Old Town Hall. She taught music there until a few years before her death.


(The Bungaree School House, also used as the Council Chambers, built 1868,

attached on the left is the house for the school mistress, Photo: Simon Casson)


After living for more than 90 years, Rosa Hawker died in 1927 in Clare Hospital. She had

married Dr Thomas Hawker and had a son, also Thomas, who had joined the SA mounted

police. Sadly her son’s marriage bore no children and Rosa died, having outlived both her

husband and son. She had been a resident of the area for 75 years.


References:
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