BONNER, JOHN FRANCIS (Jack)

1905 - 1958 from Falkland Islands


landowner, was born at San Carlos on 27 May 1905, the youngest child and only son of George BONNER and Frances, née Rigg. He grew up at San Carlos and received his early education from his mother and governesses. In 1913 when the family moved to England he was sent to Stanmore Park Preparatory School in North London and subsequently to Harrow School from 1918 to 1922. He returned to the Falklands in 1922 and after assisting his father for three seasons went to work as a cadet for the Patagonian Sheepfarming Company at Estancia Condor, Río Gallegos in Argentina. He was there during 1925 and 1926, returning to San Carlos after the 1926 season and taking over the management in 1927. In 1928 he married Vickey Baseley, daughter of RB BASELEY, who had been director of public works in Stanley. They lived in San Carlos for the next 28 years until their retirement to Stanley in 1956. There were two children of the marriage, Christopher BONNER (b1929) and Rosemary (1933-72).

0050
50 Group at San Carlos: 1935 Left to...

Jack Bonner's life and main interest was the family property at San Carlos. He was an excellent stockman, a good horseman, and a keen sportsman. His main concern, however, was always to improve San Carlos. He ensured that the best breeding stock available was purchased and was in the forefront of the move into the Corriedale breed when it became apparent that the finer wool they produced yielded a better price. He participated in the import of stud rams from New Zealand, the UK and Chile and was immensely gratified when this investment was reflected in the wool prices which were consistently among the best in the Islands. He also imported pedigree pony stallions and stud bulls from England to improve breed of horses and cattle on the property. After the end of the war in 1945 and when materials became available, he spent considerable funds repairing and replacing old fencing and putting in new subdivisions to improve the stock-carrying capacity of the property and to make the gathering and mustering of stock easier. When funds allowed he improved living conditions for his employees. During his time running water and indoor sanitation were installed in every house on the station and several new houses of an improved standard were built.

Jack Bonner never really sought public office. He served his time on the Sheep Owners' Association committee, occasionally as joint chairman, and also served on the committee that met annually with the FI Labour Federation to sort out working agreements for each forthcoming season. He was elected to serve on the LegCo in 1950 as member for East Falkland. However, he resigned in 1951 due to a disagreement over Government policy and dissatisfaction over the Government's official majority on Council. He did not seek re-election. He was appointed to the ExCo in 1955 but had to resign due to ill health in 1956. He was reappointed by Governor ARTHUR in 1957 and was a councillor at the time of his death in 1958. He was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1937 and was made a trustee of Christ Church Cathedral in succession to his father in 1940.

0051
51 Jack Bonner.

Jack Bonner was always concerned about the monoculture practised at the time in the Islands which placed so much dependence on the price of wool and the consequent heavy taxation burden on the farms. When in 1949 Governor CLIFFORD approached the Colonial Development Corporation about the possibilities of setting up a refrigeration plant for the processing of sheepmeat in the Islands, Jack Bonner gave the scheme his wholehearted support. He made land available at Ajax Bay for the plant and gave up much time as chairman of the local board of directors to attempt to get the enterprise going as an economic and viable concern. Its failure to operate economically and subsequent bankruptcy were a great disappointment to him.

Jack Bonner, as his father before him, was first and foremost a Falkland Islander. It was therefore a great honour for him when he and his wife were asked to represent the Falkland Islands at the 1951 Colonial Conference held in conjunction with the Festival of Britain. They were entertained for a fortnight in London and attended many meetings and receptions with the other delegates. His untimely death at the age of 53 deprived the colony of a very devoted resident who could have given the community many years of useful service, as he was looking forward to doing in his retirement.

Authors

Christopher Bonner