Peter Hawker (Mounted on Grey) talking to Joe Manton 1st September 1827.
|Known for||Diarist, Sportsman, Soldier, shootist.|
Colonel Peter Hawker, (24 November 1786 – 7 August 1853) was a celebrated diarist, author and sportsman who was accounted one of the "Great Shots" of the 19th Century. His sporting exploits were widely followed and, on occasion, considered worthy of report in The Times. Born in London of Colonel Peter Ryves Hawker and Mary Wilson Hawker (née Yonge) he was educated at Eton and then entered military service in 1801 with the purchase of a commission as a cornet in the First Royal Dragoons, soon gaining a promotion to captain. Hawker notes in his diary that: "I was a Captain of Dragoons soon after I was seventeen years old. but paid dearer for it than anyone in the service."
Hawker served with the 14th Light Dragoons under the Duke of Wellington during the Peninsular War. He led his squadron during the battle of Douro (6 May 1809), his regiment thereby earning the battle honour "Douro" for its colours. He received a serious thigh wound during the following battle of Talavera (28 July 1809) and was consequently declared unfit and so resigned and sold his commission. Hawker was awarded a modest pension of £100 per annum (approximately equivalent to £3500 a year in 2005) in recognition of his service. Despite his injuries, and consequent ill health, he was later (in 1815) able to accept an active commission as major of the North Hampshire Militia; he was recommended for the post by the then Duke of Clarence, heir to the throne and future King William IV. Hawker was made lieutenant-colonel of the militia 1821 and ultimately became deputy lieutenant for his county.
Sportsman and Author
Hawker is best known today for his published works on the sports of shooting, wildfowling and fishing. Hawker published his “Advice to Young Sportsmen” in 1814, a popular work having nine imprints in his lifetime with the latest paper edition printed in 1975. Forty years after Hawker's death an Australian book reviewer states that "Probably no book on the subject of sport ever enjoyed so wide or so long sustained a popularity as the "Instructions to Young Sportsmen". Hawker kept a regular diary (published in abridged form) which contains observations of pre and post-Napoleonic Europe, wildfowling, game-bird shooting and details of hunting techniques and conditions prevalent in the late 18th and early 19th Century. His diary, printed in two volumes, was also a popular work with the last paper edition printed in 1988.
Hawker also published an (originally anonymous) memoir on the Peninsula War.
Revisionist views of Hawker & his works
Hawker's attitude to guns and shooting has been criticised and parodied from a modern perspective, e.g. in The Economist (with respect to the teaching of children to shoot), The Times (as being overly bloodthirsty) and he was even mildly criticised by Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey (who describes Hawker as "something of an egotist" albeit a "good natured" one) in his introduction to the 1893 edition Hawker's diary. Colin Laurie McKelvie, in his forward to the 1988 edition of Hawker's diary, states that he finds Hawker's personality "unattractive" and observes that Hawker "... appears unacceptably self-absorbed, cock-sure and downright arrogant"; McKelvie however mitigates his criticism with praise for Hawker's knowledge, fairness, energy and enthusiasm.
Hawker the musician
Hawker was an keen amateur musician, studying the piano under Henri Bertini and he regularly played the organ at his local church. Hawker's interest in music was not limited to playing however, he devised and patented a device to assist the teaching of the piano; namely his “hand moulds”.
Hawker and the development of firearms
Hawker’s inventiveness went beyond musical matters, he was active in the development of “detonating” firearms (i.e. the percussion lock), punt gunning and also claims (in his diary) to have invented a “smokeless chimney”. Hawker was a firm friend of the then and now celebrated gunsmith Joe Manton; Hawker was not just a user of Manton’s guns he took an active interest in their design and participated in the manufacture of some of his own commissions.
In later life Hawker designed a "military musket" and commissioned the manufacture of several prototypes at his own expense. Hawker's musket was favourably received by the Board of Ordnance but was not adopted, being set aside in preference to the Enfield Rifle-Musket, although elements of Hawker's design were incorporated into the final version of the Enfield.
Hawker was married twice, firstly in 1811 to Julia the only daughter of Major Hooker Barttelot making the family home in Longparish with a cottage in Keyhaven. Following Julia's death in 1844 Hawker then married Helen Susan Symonds (née Chatterton), herself a widow. Colonel Hawker had two sons and two daughters by his first wife. Hawker's granddaughter, Mary Elizabeth Hawker, was a famous late Victorian authoress who wrote under the pseudonym of "Lanoe Falconer". Hawker's cottage in Keyhaven still stands (and is named "Hawker's Cottage"), it is located immediately north of the "Gun Inn" public house; reportedly originally named in commemoration of Hawker's punt gunning exploits.
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- Kings Of The Trigger - Biographical Sketches Of Four Famous Sportsmen: The Rev. W.B. Daniel, Colonel Peter Hawker, Joe Manton and Captain Horatio Ross, by Thormanby, Published 1901, London
- The Times, Tuesday, Sep 18, 1827; pg. 3; Issue 13387; col D
- The diary of Colonel Peter Hawker, (Volume I) 1802-1853
- Oakleigh Leader (North Brighton, Vic. : 1888 - 1902) Saturday 16 December 1893
- Journal of a regimental officer during the recent campaign in Portugal and Spain under Lord Viscount Wellington, Colonel Peter Hawker, Reprinted 1910.
- "(Why Shoot Coot?)...to regard them as quarry seems an outmoded idea, belonging more properly to the era of Peter Hawker and his contemporaries of 150 years ago who's principle of "If it moves, shoot it" has happily long died out." The Times, Saturday, Feb 5, 1966; pg. 11; Issue 56548; col C
- Colin Laurie McKelvie, a modern author of books on wildfowling, game shooting, fishing and wild cooking.
- The Times, Monday, Nov 03, 1958; pg. 12; Issue 54298; col C
- Specification of the Patent granted to Peter Hawker, of Long-Parish House, near Andover, in the County of. Hants, Major in the Army; for a Machine, Instrument, or Apparatus to assist in the Attainment of proper Performance on the Piano-Forte, or other keyed Instruments. Dated November 1, 1820
- A History of Firearms: From Earliest Times to 1914 By W. Y. Carman, 1955, Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd, londonP74
- PH's diary Vol 2
- Lanoe Falconer author of "Mademoiselle Ixe" her first novel, published by Unwin and author of several other novels & short stories.
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Paywall) 
- The diary of Colonel Peter Hawker, (Volume I) 1802-1853 
- The Diary of Colonel Peter Hawker (Volume II) 1802-1853 
- Journal of a regimental officer during the recent campaign in Portugal and Spain under Lord Viscount Wellington, Colonel Peter Hawker, 1910.
- Instructions to young sportsmen in all that relates to guns and shooting, Colonel Peter Hawker, 1910.
- Specification of the Patent granted to Peter Hawker, of Long-Parish House, near Andover, in the County of. Hants, Major in the Army; for a Machine, Instrument, or Apparatus to assist in the Attainment of proper Performance on the Piano-Forte, or other keyed Instruments. Dated November 1, 1820 Page 266.
- Oakleigh Leader (North Brighton, Vic. : 1888 - 1902)