Hume, Walter Cunningham

Hume 1902
Hume in 1902

Name: Walter Cunningham Hume
Known as:  –

Date of Birth:  1840
Place of Birth:  England

Date of Death: 1921
Place of Death: 

Rank & Details: Lieutenant

Additional information:

Colonial Queensland was the stage on which the Hume family achieved success between 1863 and 1901. Walter’s family lived at Drayton, Toowoomba, and Brisbane.

Walter Cunningham Hume entered the Queensland Civil Service as a second-class surveyor in the Lands Department in June 1864. In the following year the office was abolished, but in May 1868 he was reinstated; and was appointed Mineral Land Commissioner at the Stanthorpe Tin Mines in 1872; District Surveyor and Land Commissioner at the Darling Downs in 1875; and Under-Secretary for Public Lands and Chief Commissioner of Crown Lands in March 1885.

After serving in the merchant marine with the P&O Line, Walter Hume migrated to Queensland from England in 1862 to train as a surveyor. Soon he was joined by his widowed mother and four siblings; then in 1866 by his fiancée Katie Fowler. The varying fortunes of each family member reveals how the social, economic and political conditions in the colony and each individual’s personal attributes and social background determined success in the colonial context. Walter and Katie Hume coped with isolation from family and the deaths of five infants while working to establish their financial future, secure promotions for Walter and create a place for themselves among the colonial elite. They attained the ideal middle-class family life with Walter’s career success providing sufficient income to educate their children overseas, reside in elite homes, and engage in genteel and philanthropic pastimes. In1901, following almost four decades of service in the Department of Public Lands, Walter retired to England with his family and commenced travelling widely. They visited family and friends from India to Argentina, returning once more to Queensland in1907 where they noted many changes since federation.

A keen photographer

Walter Hume was a keen photographer from the 1870s until at least 1909.   As a member of the Queensland Marine Defence Force Volunteers, Walter took part in naval exercises and photographed the ships and crew of Queensland’s navy in the 1890s.

The Humes were great travellers and Walter has left a great legacy in “The Hume Family Collection” held by the Fryer library at the University of Queensland.  The collection contains more than 600 images of Queensland and British places, as well as photographs from India, North Africa and Argentina.

Hume, taken in frontof his house in 1902Presumably a self portrait.
Walter Cunningham Hume, August 1902.
“A certain person…” Likely a self-portrait.

 Learn more

The University of Queensland Library has re-digitised the Hume Family images at a higher resolution and added them to espace. Go to: then search using ‘Hume family’ or simply click here


If you want to know more about the Hume family and their life in Queensland between 1863 and 1901, see Hilary J. Davies book Surveying Success: The Hume Family in Colonial Queensland, which is available from:  Boolarong Press (as a hard copy or e-book) and Google Books  (ebook)


Another fascinating insight into Walter and his wife can be found in A Victorian engagement – letters and journals of Walter Hume and Anna Kate Fowler during the 1860s. Edited by Bertram Hume, Published 1975, University of Queensland Press.