Who was David Gavine Hunter?
By 1904 the Anglo-Boer War had come to an end, and from the British perspective it was time to get back to business in South Africa. There was a surge in activity along the Witwatersrand goldfields and a demand for both skilled and unskilled labourers. This attracted workers from all over the globe to seek a new life in the now burgeoning city of Johannesburg.
One of these immigrants was David Gavine Hunter. Born in 1965 in Dundee, Scotland – the second child of James and Ann Hunter – David arrived in South Africa towards the end of 1903 and the beginning of 1904. He was joined there a short time later by his wife Nellie – whom he had married back in Dundee in 1890 – and their two young sons, Alex and David, who were only 6 and 3 years old respectively at the time they arrived in South Africa.
David had started working in the jute mills in Dundee by the time he was 15. His occupation was listed as a factory mechanic in 1890 when he got married and it is clear that he developed quite an aptitude for working on machinery. By 1901 he was listed as a foreman mechanic and was forging out a decent life for himself and his young family in Dundee, living in a two room house less than a mile from the home he group up in with his parents.
Yet by 1907 he was living in Germiston on the east side of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, where he and Nellie would go on to have two more children: daughters Annie (born in 1907) and Jean (born in 1912).
David quickly began carving out a career with the Simmer & Jack Gold Mining Company which had been co-founded by another Scottish immigrant to South Africa. In 1910, along with a colleague from the mining company, David registered his invention of a mantle designed for the heads of rock-crushers used in the mines, for which a U.S. Patent was issued in 1913. He was one of the many Scotsmen to have contributed to the development of technology in the mining industry which would ultimately help make the South African mining companies the biggest gold producers in the world for most of the 20th century.
The object of our invention is to obviate this waste, and thereby effect a material reduction in maintenance costs or the expense of keeping such machines in good running order.David G. Hunter, ever the thrifty Scotsman, from his 1910 patent application.
David was still employed on the gold mines as a fitter at the age of 65 when he passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage in August 1930 in Germiston. He was survived by his wife and four children, three of whom were married already by the time he died.
 “Scotland Statutory Registers—Births” >County: Dundee City >District: Dundee >Ref: 282/1 1027, David Hunter, born 6 June 1865
 “Scotland Statutory Registers—Marriages” >County: Dundee City >District: St Andrew (Dundee) >Ref: 282/4 96, David G. Hunter married to Ellen S. Adamson, 4 April 1890
 “Scottish Census, 1881” >County: Dundee City >District: St Andrew (Dundee) >Ref: 282/4 22/1 11, David Hunter, 16 Malcolm Street
 “Scottish Census, 1901” >County: Dundee City >District: St Andrew (Dundee) >Ref: 282/4 36/5, David Hunter, 7 Morgan Street
 “US Patent 1066277A” “Mantle for crushing-heads of gyratory rock-crushers and the like”, filed: 31 October 1910, granted: 1 July 1913
 “South Africa, Transvaal, Civil Death, 1869-1954” David Gavine Hunter, died 12 Aug 1930, Germiston, Transvaal, South Africa