Frank Hubert Hall

Frank Hubert Hall
(b. 16 June 1891) was the son of Frank Hall and his wife Mary Ann Hinde and the grandson of James and Elizabeth (née Sparrow) Hall and John Hinde. According to shipping records, his parents, both aged 22 at the time, travelled from London to Australia as assisted passengers on the Scottish Line’s 895-ton barque, Scottish Prince (Captain David Moore), accompanied by their infant daughter Lavinia Annie.

The vessel left Gravesend on 6 September 1878 and arrived in Townsville, where the Halls disembarked, on 15/16 December 1878. Before the ship proceeded to Rockhampton (its last port of call in Australia) on 11 January 1879, some of the crew deserted. The Scottish Prince, after a delay en route, dropped anchor in Keppel Bay near Rockhampton on or about 26 January and remained there until 23 April when it set sail for London.

The newcomers to Townsville must have found the extremely hot weather very trying, especially mothers who were nursing children. One passenger, Benjamin Thomas, died at the Government Depot; and the popular Scottish-born First Officer, Charles Muir, died suddenly from sunstroke at the Prince of Wales Hotel on the morning of 22 January, leaving a wife and three children.

Records indicate that Birmingham-born Frank Hall Sr was variously employed in Townsville, Ingham and Charters Towers before the family eventually decided to settle in or near Brisbane. In addition to Lavinia and Frank Hubert, Frank and Mary Ann’s children were: Albert Bertram (b. 31 October 1880; d. 17 June 1882), Gertrude Eliza (b. 25 January 1883; d. 27 June 1961), Alfred (b. 19 December 1885), Edith Florence (known as Edie, b. 11 March 1888), Maud Rosamond (b. 11 August 1889), and George Robert (b. 5 October 1893).

Frank Hubert Hall died as a result of a shooting accident on 17 January 1903; and his untimely death led to questions being raised in the Brisbane Courier about ‘the cheap rifle nuisance’ and the inadvisability of making firearms available to young people. Frank’s funeral in the Cooper‘s Plains Cemetery took place on 19 January 1903 in the presence of FC Braithwaite (minister of religion?), John Bruce and George Boyland (witnesses).

Before presenting the newspaper report of this tragedy, it would be well to clarify a few points. Some time before his son’s death, Frank Hall Sr separated from his wife and had been farming in the Gympie district for about two years when, suffering from phthisis and in failing health, he was admitted to the Brisbane General Hospital. Three weeks later, on 27 May 1902, he was transferred to the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum on Stradbroke Island. He died there on 24 August 1902 and was buried in the facility’s cemetery on the following day. At the time of his demise Lavinia and her husband John Joseph Tompkins, whom she had married on 7 June 1899, and her brother Alfred were living in Regent Street, Thompson Estate—probably on one or both of the allotments that Frank Hall had purchased there. Edie and Maud were working as ‘house girls’.

Finding it increasingly difficult to cope with her situation, the widowed Mary Ann Hall had to seek assistance in raising her children. Her son Frank Jr was committed to the care of the Inspector of Orphanages, Mr Walter Scott, who admitted him to the Diamantina Receiving Depot (also known as the Diamantina Orphanage), then located at Sandgate in the former Brighton Hotel, on 16 April 1902. A week later, on 24 April, he was entrusted to the care of Mrs Margaret Boyland of Cooper’s Plains who fostered many ‘State children’ over the years, including Frank’s companion on the day of the shooting, George Lee. The policy in those days was to place such boys in employment when they reached the school leaving age of 12 years. Had he lived, Frank would have been ‘hired out’ to an employer after June 1903 and would probably have left Mrs Boyland’s residence.

The following accident report appeared in the Brisbane Courier:

On Saturday afternoon a lad named Frank Hall was fatally injured by a stray shot from a pea-rifle while in Deshon Paddock, near Cooper’s Plains. From the information available, it appears that two boys, named Frank Hall and George Lee, who were at one time inmates of the State Orphanage, but latterly had been working for a Mrs. Boyland, were sent to the paddock during the afternoon to collect firewood. A young fellow of 16, named Fred Norup, was in another part of the paddock, which is in places densely wooded, shooting with a pea-rifle. He fired two shots, and, after the second, thought he heard a cry. Going to investigate, he made his way through a dense ti-tree scrub, and found he had shot Frank Hall. The bullet had entered the right breast, and Hall, who was 10 years of age [11 actually], expired almost immediately afterwards. The distance between Norup and the two lads was about sixty-nine yards, and the ground was so densely covered by scrub and undergrowth that it could not possibly be seen through. The most thorough investigations by the police have failed to discover anything to disturb the opinion that the affair was purely accidental. First-class Constable Balaam was given charge of the investigation, and reports that it is impossible to see from one spot to the other. Norup, it appears, had fired first at a wallaby, and missed. Then, according to his own statement, he saw a black bird sitting low on the branch of a tree. He crept up, and, dropping on one knee, fired at the bird. Hearing a cry, he forced his way through the undergrowth, and seeing the lad Hall on the ground, rushed up with the single purpose of doing what he could to help. He started to carry Hall to Mrs. Boyland’s but the lad died before he had proceeded many yards. The lad Lee stated that they never at any time during the afternoon saw Norup till he came through the scrub. The two boys were on a clear patch of ground gathering the wood. When they heard the first shot, they cooeyed [sic] to give the man with the gun warning that someone was in the neighbourhood. Apparently the cooey [sic] was never heard. The second shot quickly followed, and Hall fell. The bullet is said to have passed through the heart, and to have been found under the skin on the right side. The body was taken to the Hospital Morgue, and was removed by the deceased’s relatives yesterday afternoon. A magisterial inquiry will be held in due course.

A simple death notice is the same newspaper announced the sad event:

HALL.¾On the 17th January, accidentally shot at Cooper’s Plains, Frank Hubert, aged 11 years and 7 months. Inserted by his loving mother, brothers and sisters.

“Safe in the arms of Jesus.”

The newspaper reports on the magisterial inquiry into the accidental death of Frank Hall are much too long to quote in their entirety. The inquiry, held in the presence of Mr Robert D Neilson JP, was conducted by Senior-sergeant Bain and was spread over two days, 21 and 26 January 1903. Those who gave depositions were: First-class Constable Balaam of the Moorooka police station who had acted on a report from ‘a young man named Boyland’ that Frank Hall had been shot; George Lee, Frank Hall’s 10-year-old companion, who ran across Robinson’s paddock to break the news to Mrs Margaret Boyland; Frederick Norup, a 16-year old labourer who fired the fatal shot; John Joseph Tompkins, a packer at the Ferndale Estate, who was the brother-in-law of the deceased and who identified the body at the morgue; Margaret Boyland, a widow who was the foster-carer of the deceased and George Lee; Hans Jorgen Norup, a Cooper’s Plains bricklayer, who had purchased a Bayard rifle for his son; George Boyland, a Cooper’s Plains farmer; and Friend (Fred) William Robinson, a labourer, who, having heard the commotion, ran to the scene and carried the body to Mrs Boyland’s house. Mr Walter Scott of the Orphanage Department sat in on the proceedings. ‘Before closing the inquiry Mr Neilson complimented the police on the completeness of the evidence that had been procured’.

Mary Ann Hall survived her husband by more than 30 years. She passed away on 4 November 1932 and was laid to rest in the Toowong Cemetery (29 38 13) on the following day.