Sunday, 7 August 2016

Chandler's - the undertaking family in Windsor

James William Chandler was born in Windsor in 1859, the son of James Samson Chandler & Esther Bradley. At the time the family were living in a house on corner of Macquarie and Suffolk Streets. When James was aged fourteen he was apprenticed as a cabinet maker in Newtown (Sydney) with his brother John. About eight years later, the two brothers returned to Windsor to set up a business. After a time the business was dissolved and John moved to Katoomba where he “prospered as a cabinet-maker and undertaker and acquired valuable properties.” John eventually sold his business to Wood, Coffill and Company.  

In the 1880s James expanded his cabinet-making business with undertaking. The business was certified to embalm and prepare bodies for burial and he also built coffins. He also would have transported the coffins to the church for the funeral and to the cemetery for burial. Chandler's was one of the most recognised undertaker’s business in the 19th and 20th century in Windsor. 

This advertisement is from the Hawkesbury Advocate 22 Dec 1899

Marrying twice, he had eleven children. His first wife was Sarah Emmaline Goodsell (1860-1892) and the couple married in 1881. Their children included, Lillian Ann b 1881, Ernest John b 1883, Amy Bertha b 1885, Henry William b 1888 Windsor and Percy James b 1889. His second wife was Alice Hanna Slater (1865-1962) and they married in 1898. Their children were Beryl Ester b 1899, Harold Keith b 1901, Wilton Charles b 1903, Alice Martha b 1905 and Myrna Elsie b 1910. 

A man of many talents he enjoyed sport and played cricket as well as music and was president of the Windsor Municipal Band. He was also a member of the Windsor Rifle Club. 

James attended the Methodist Church in Windsor and was layperson for many years. He was a “prominent Oddfellow and Mason”  and a member of the Hospital committee. He was community minded and was elected as an Alderman on Windsor Council. He held the position of Mayor three separate occasions in 1911-1913, 1915 and 1918. He was Mayor at the time of his death. James died 10 April 1919 at Windsor and is buried at McGraths Hill Methodist Cemetery. Cause of death was Chronic Nephritis and Albuminuria, commonly known as Bright’s disease and he died at his residence in Macquarie Street which was only about forty metres from where he was born. His parents, James, who died in 1871 and Esther who died in 1901 are also buried at McGraths Hill. Descendants of James operated the business until the 1980s. 

The grave of James Chandler at McGraths Hill Cemetery
Photo: M. Nichols

On his death a colleague compiled the following poem which was published in the Windsor & Richmond Gazette shortly after his death in 1919.  

His day is closed, his part is played,
He fought the fight quite undismayed;
He strove to shed a ray of light,
Across some brother's path not bright. 
Did Jim Chandler.

His was a work of love below
(A friend indeed was Jim to know),
His quiet mien, we loved it well,
And all his praises each will tell 
Of Jim Chandler.

Happy hours we've spent together
(Oft in cold and stormy weather),
All for the sake of a good cause —
Not for the limelight nor applause —
Did Jim Chandler.

Farewell, dear brother, a long farewell,
We part on earth — your worth we'll tell
To those with us who still remain —
Thy life was such our loss your gain —
Vale Jim Chandler.
[R. W. F.]


Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Trove Tuesday ~ Boer War Day

Boer War Day has been designated on the 31 May which is the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging. Between October 1899 until May 1902 the South African War, also known as the Boer War, was fought between the Orange Free State and Boer Republics of the Transvaal.The British quickly requested assistance from the Empire and Australia responded with a large contingent.
Approximately 23,000 Australians participated in the battle. Around 1,000 lives were lost. More information about the Boer War can be obtained from the Australian War Memorial.

Part of Boer War monument, Windsor  
Photo: M. Nichols
The Hawkesbury were quick to answer the call and the following were some of the names included in the Windsor & Richmond Gazette during that time. 

Trooper Pallier, Trooper Hookes, Trooper E. C. Pearce, Col. Cox, Warrant Officer Sullivan, Lt. Simons, Lt. Dight, Lt. Byrne, Major Bennett, Albert Ezzy, Les Ezzy, Fred Ezzy, Walter Smith, Robert Smith, George Smith, D. Hayes, C. Alcorn, E. Day, D. Garland, M. Mitchell, T. Upton, Mr Norris (brother of Fred), Clendon Callaghan, Dr Thomas Fiaschi and his son Trooper Carlo Fiaschi, Dr James Adam Dick, Capt Alfred Joshua Bennett, Trooper "Chum" Holborrow, Lt G. A. H. Holborrow, W. H. Pearce, George Mortimer, Cpl Kilpatrick, Trooper Milverton Ford, T. H. Norris, Lt Heron, George Bush, J. Eggleton and Sgt Major Duke. 

Corp. Pte C. W. H. Coulter wrote a number of very lengthy letters which were published in the local newspapers, including one which mentions a battle in open country near Vredefort. He mentions how the Australians fought bravely and some of the casualties.  Major Moor from Western Australia was shot in the right leg with an explosive bullet, completely smashing the limb at the knee, and died immediately. There were some terrible injuries and mention was made of Sgt. Nicholson, of Albury had his nose blown off by an explosive bullet. A soldier's letter is very detailed and worth checking in the Windsor & Richmond Gazette

Soldier's Letter - Windsor & Richmond Gazette 2 June 1900, p. 7 

Several soldiers connected to the Hawkesbury died whilst serving. They were:

More details can be obtained from the Australian War Memorial and the Oz Boer War site.
Thomas Moore Mitchell is pictured in this image ATCJ 21 April 1900

A number of served in the medical field. Dr Thomas Fiaschi commanded the 1st Field Hospital. In 1900 he led stretcher bearers into Boer territory and accepted 250 Boer soldiers surrender and was awarded the DSO "For conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty"  His son Carlo, also a medical practitioner, served as well. Dr James Adam Dick enlisted with the Army Medical Corps and was mentioned in despatches and awarded the Queen's medal. Julia Bligh Johnston was born in 1861 at Spring Hill, McGraths Hill, daughter of James Bligh and Anne Johnston. She trained as a nurse in Launceston in the mid-1880s and was then employed at Sydney Hospital. Julia enlisted with the Army Nursing Service Reserve attached to the NSW Army Medical Corps in 1899 as Superintendent and was sent to South Africa during the Boer War.

After the war the community in the Hawkesbury district chose to establish a memorial to honour the memory of soldiers from the district that died whilst serving in the Boer War in South Africa during 1899 to 1902.  Local monumental mason, George Robertson was appointed to design the memorial which was paid by public subscription. The monument (pictured above) was unveiled at an official function in November 1902.

The Boer War Day ceremony 31 May 2016 in Windsor.


Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Windsor Boxing match 1836 ~ Trove Tuesday

During the nineteenth century, boxing was a popular form of sport in the colony. The fights were often motivated by betting on the outcome and at times were frowned upon by the law. The following case relates to death in a boxing match at Windsor in August 1836. The death was dealt with as a case of manslaughter in the Supreme Court of NSW. The case of  R. v. GAUDRY & OTHERS took place on the 10 November 1836 with Judge Dowling presiding. Several newspapers provided detailed reports of the court case which in turn gives us a picture of these prize fights. 
A prize fight boxing match was held on the 26 August 1836 at Windsor between George Gaudry and James Bishop. Gaudry was indicted for the manslaughter of Bishop. A group of men were charged with “abetting in the same” Charles Gaudry, Samuel Taylor, John Bates, John Allcorn, John Lucas, George Keys and Thomas Martin. 

William Gaudry’s testimony was recorded:
I live at Windsor, and recollect the 24th of August last, was at a fight that day about two miles from Windsor, my brother George was one did not know the other, but had seen him on the previous evening, took no part in the fight; Dutch Sam (Taylor,) was second to deceased, and George Ray second to my brother, there were bottle holders also, saw Bates, my brother Charles and Allcorn there, someone kept time, the fight lasted about an hour, my brother won the fight. Bishop became insensible soon after the fight, I then spoke to Dr. Rutter who bled him, he was taken into Windsor but died the same evening, there was a regular ring formed by the crowd, a great number of people were there, saw nearly all the prisoners there.
Supreme Court where the case was heard from 'Sydney in 1848' by Joseph Fowles.
Courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW

Others that were examined as part of the case, included, Christopher Flynn, dealer in Sydney, provided his assigned servant James Bishop, a pass to go to Richmond. Flynn had not seen him since. Under examination Flynn said Bishop “had been with me four years, complained sometimes of a head ache.” Robert Smith, a publican at Windsor, recalled the day of the fight. As a result of the fight the injured man was taken to Smith’s house where he died later that evening. 

John Hibbert attended the fight & saw deceased fall a few times, “he was very much beaten”. Apparently Gaudry “threw him frequently, the last time thrown he laid on the ground speechless a considerable time.” He was taken by chaise to Smith's house and Hibbert stated that he thought it was a “fair fight” while Richard Crampton, a witness stated “I was at the fight in August between Gaudry & Stringybark, I believe Lucas was one of the parties who kept the time, Taylor & Haddygaddy were the seconds.” John Earl, a Cabinet maker, was also at the fight. He said he saw George Gaudry and Bates at the fight. He also mentioned a Mr Dight who held the stakes. Apparently both Bates and Gaudry gave £10 as the stakes. He thought that as Allcorn and Lucas both held watches that they were the time keepers. However when cross-examined, it was noted that other people had watches as well.

Charles Kelly stated that he attended the fight and “saw John Allcorn was one of the time-keepers; saw him act as such; a round or two had taken place before he was called into the ring.” William Maughan was the local constable and was on duty on the day of the fight. He did try and stop the fight but was unsuccessful. Dr. Rutter the doctor that treated the deceased lived in Parramatta but was in Windsor on the day in question.  After the fight the doctor was to examine him. He stated the man “was insensible, labouring under a concussion of the brain; I bled him; the injury I imagine was the effect of a fall; death was occasioned by a profusion of blood on the brain; his head had received an extensive blow, which might produce compression of the brain.” When cross examined, the doctor stated a “fall was more likely than a blow to produce compression; over exertion might produce it.”

Another doctor, William John Whitethorn was also called upon to give evidence. He examined the deceased and stated “death had been occasioned by extravasated blood on the brain; there were several wounds on the scalp which might have been caused by either blows or falls.”

William Henry Gaudry stated “I heard Bishop say that he came up to Windsor on purpose to fight somebody, and mentioned the name of my brother in particular; he was about the same size as my brother.”  Apparently there was some question about the identity of deceased, as no-one who knew Bishop, identified the body. However it was thought the pass was evidence enough. Those being charged did not say anything in their defence but did provide character witnesses. The judge stated that six of the prisoners were born in the colony, and it was “absolutely necessary that prize fighting should be put down, it was a brutal practice and tended to disgrace all parties concerned.  It was also high time that the young men of this Colony should be taught to respect the laws of their country.”  

Interestingly as Taylor was already a convict, his punishment (two years to a penal settlement) was harsher. George Gaudry received six months whilst the others Charles Gaudry, Bates, Allcorn, Kay and Lucas were sentenced to three months imprisonment in Windsor Gaol.

(1836, November 15). The Australian, p. 2. Retrieved from
(1836, November 12). The Sydney Gazette & NSW Advertiser, p. 3. Retrieved from
(1836, November 14). The Sydney Herald, p. 2. Retrieved May 10, 2016, from

Sunday, 3 April 2016

The old Richmond Post Office

Prior to the official appointment of Isaac Nichols as postmaster in 1810 the settlers in the colony made their own arrangements regarding the circulation of mail. An official post office was established in Windsor in 1828 and mails were delivered three times per week from Windsor to Richmond. 

RICHMOND. The Australian  newspaper  13 January 1844, p. 3.
A Post Office was officially established in Richmond on the 1 January 1844 and the first postmaster appointed was William Edward Brew.    

The old Richmond Post Office when it was single storey (right) adjacent to the Court House and old Police Station, 1879
Courtesy State Library of NSW

In 1875 a single storey post office building was erected in Windsor Street, a little known fact. A second storey was added to the building in 1888 and in 1906 the walkways were filled in. The first Telegraph Office opened in Richmond in 1867, nine years after the first line opened in Sydney.   

The building adjacent is the Court House and Police Station, located on the corner of Windsor and West Market Streets, and was built in 1877. There had been an earlier building on this site, called the Watch House, built in the 1820s.

ROBBERY FROM A POST-OFFICE. (1895, December 17). The Sydney Morning Herald 17 December 1895, p. 5. 

In 1895 burglars broke into the Post Office through a side window. They opened the safe and stole a cashbox which contained £120 worth of notes, gold and silver. Rather daring considering the Post Office was next door to the Police Station. 

Postal history of NSW 1788-1901 p.21 
Richmond Post Office, notes from Australia Post Archives
RICHMOND. (1844, January 13). The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848), , p. 3. Retrieved April 3, 2016, from
ROBBERY FROM A POST-OFFICE. (1895, December 17). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), , p. 5. Retrieved April 3, 2016, from

Historic St. Peter's Church of England, Richmond

Travelling down Windsor Street, in Richmond is the historic St Peter's Anglican Church, which has changed very little over the years.  The church with its adjoining rectory and coach house, and across the road, the burial ground and hall, sits in a small ridge, with a view to the mountains.

St Peter's Church of England, Richmond 1879
Courtesy State Library of NSW

In 1789 Governor Arthur Phillip explored the area around Richmond Hill. Five years later, settlers were granted land and given permission to reside in the Hawkesbury. The first services were conducted in Richmond in 1808 by Brother Youl but regular services were not customary until after the appointment of the resident chaplain, Reverend Robert Cartwright to the Church of England in the Hawkesbury in 1810. He served both Windsor and Richmond until 1814 when the parishes separated.  

Governor Lachlan Macquarie travelled to the Hawkesbury in 1810 and named the five towns of Richmond, Windsor, Wilberforce, Pitt Town and Castlereagh. In Richmond he selected the location “on a very beautiful elevated Bank and overlooking Pugh's Lagoon and adjoining rich lowlands." He visited again, about a month later, and recorded in his Journal in 1811: 
...the scite(sic) of the church, schoolhouse and burying ground were marked out by strong posts...The name of the town, painted on a board and nailed to strong lofty post was put close to the beautiful bank immediately above and overlooking Pugh's Lagoon and adjoining rich lowlands where it is intended to erect the Church at Richmond.[1]

The Richmond church lands were consecrated by Rev Samuel Marsden in 1811 and in that same year, the decision to construct a brick building was made at a meeting.  The community went about raising the funds, over two hundred pounds, to do so, however the schoolhouse-come-chapel, was not constructed until several years later. 

The two storeyed schoolhouse, similar to the one surviving at Wilberforce, was constructed next to the burial ground, measuring about 12 x 18 metres in size, and could seat up to one hundred people. It had accommodation on the ground floor with schoolroom upstairs which doubled as a chapel on Sundays. The first schoolmaster appointed to Richmond was Matthew Hughes and he taught at the school from 1813 until 1839. This was at a time when schooling was provided by the church, public education did not come about until much later in the nineteenth century.

As the town grew, it was evident a more substantial church building was required. A public meeting was held at the schoolhouse in 1835, headed by Rev Samuel Marsden. A Committee was formed, and a subscription list commenced where people could pledge donations. The church was designed by architect Francis Clarke (1801-1884) who was responsible for the design of several others churches including Mulgoa and Prospect. Tenders were advertised to construct the church in 1836 with local builder James Atkinson the successful builder. Construction of St. Peter's church was underway by late 1837 and took several years to build. It opened on 15 July 1841.

It was reported that: 
The new church, called St Peters was officially opened on Thursday and consecrated by [Bishop Broughton] the Lord Bishop of Australia, when all the responsible families in the town and neighbourhood were present. After the ceremony, a very large party of the gentry and clergy, with the Bishop, police magistrate, &c, were received at Hobartville, and entertained most hospitably by Mr. & Mrs. W. Cox. These meetings on such occasions do great good: they promote harmony, inspire confidence, and tend to unity; and it is a fair example of the really good feeling of the Australian community…[2]

The rectory, also designed by Clarke, was not completed until 1847. It is supposed to be similar to an English parsonage in Farnham Surrey, where Bishop William Grant Broughton lived for a period. A number of changes were made by the well-known architect Edmund Blacket to the rectory in 1863. The nearby coach house and stables have also survived.

The church was originally lit by candle and then kerosene lamp. Shortly after the end of the First World War, the electricity was connected. In 1849 a barrel organ was installed followed by an American styled organ in 1877. This was replaced in 1904 with a pipe organ. There have been a number of changes to the church including the addition of a side-porch, designed by Edmund Blacket, the construction of a chancel and gallery, and reorganisation of the pew layout occurring during the 1850s. Coloured glass windows were introduced in the 1870s, and in 1891 the gates and iron railing were erected. Several remarkable stained glass windows also adorn the church.

Church of England Schoolhouse circa 1870s
Courtesy State Library of NSW
The old schoolhouse was used until about 1874 and a new Sunday School Hall was built next to the cemetery facing Windsor Street. [3] The schoolhouse was demolished sometime later and a number of the bricks were used to build an obelisk outside the church, commemorating the early pioneers of the church and unveiled in 1933.

During the twentieth century the church experienced several disasters. In 1933 a heavy hailstorm smashed over thirty panes of glass from the windows. A wild storm demolished most of the spire in 1956 and it was necessary for it to be replaced. In 1964 the original ceiling was significantly water damaged.  

Burial entry for Margaret Catchpole who died in 1819 and is buried at St Peter's.
Photo: M. Nichols
The earliest recorded death in St Peters burial ground is that of five year old George Rouse who drowned in 1809. As this was before the cemetery was officially marked out and consecrated it is not known if he was actually buried or just commemorated on the headstone. 

View of rear of St Peters Cemetery
Photo: M. Nichols, 2016
There are a number of pioneers who came with the First Fleet in 1788 buried in the cemetery. Ex-convict Margaret Catchpole who arrived in 1801 and died in 1819 is also buried in the cemetery in an unmarked grave. William Cox junior and Andrew Town, both of Hobartville; Benjamin Richards who established the Riverstone Meatworks and botanist, Louisa Calvert nee Atkinson are some of the notable pioneers found in the cemetery.  
Hordern monument, St Peter's Cemetery
Photo: M. Nichols
The Hordern family monument (pictured above) with its exquisite angel is a feature of the cemetery. One bizarre fact is that the famous ornithologist John Gould, captured his first pair of Wonga Wonga pigeons in the cemetery in Richmond.

1. Lachlan Macquarie, Journals of his tours in NSW and Van Diemens Land 1810-1822. p.28
3. Macquarie Country by D. G. Bowd

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Where Hawkesbury buried their dead ~ Trove Tuesday

Windsor Catholic Cemetery. Photo M. Nichols
Prior to 1810, inhabitants of the Hawkesbury buried their dead in various places including their properties, or along the riverbanks. There was also an early burial ground on the banks of South Creek at Green Hills (which was the original name of Windsor) but no records survive and the exact location is not confirmed, although a small plot of land has been set aside to commemorate early burials.

In 1811, the following Government Order, decreed by Governor Lachlan Macquarie was published in the Sydney Gazette stating that all burials were to take place in consecrated cemeteries. The Order stated:

The respective burial grounds which were sometime since marked out for the accommodation of the settlers in the several townships of Liverpool, Windsor, Richmond, Pitt Town, Castlereagh and Wilberforce having lately consecrated by the Principal Chaplain, His Excellency, the Governor is pleased to give this public notice, thereof and at the same time directs & commands that in future all settlers and other residents within those townships, or in their respective vicinities shall cease to bury their dead as heretofore within their several farms, & shall in a decent and becoming manner inter them in the consecrated grounds now assigned for that purpose in their respective Townships.

It was also recorded that when someone died, "notice of the event shall be immediately given to the Constable at the District wherein it has occurred, and the Constable receiving such information is hereby directed to communicate the same with the least possible delay to the nearest Resident Chaplain, in order that he may attend and perform the Funeral Service."

This order was not to be neglected and ignoring it could result in severe punishment. Further it became a "sacred duty ... to guard and protect the Remains of ... deceased Friends from every unnecessary Exposure."

Governor Lachlan Macquarie was keen the burial grounds be made available soon after and donated ten pounds towards the erection of a fence, to be built as quickly as possible. The first of these burial grounds to be established was at Windsor. Many people do not realise that the burial ground came first and was established adjacent to what was eventually to become St. Matthew's Church of England, which began construction in 1817.  Andrew Thompson who died in 1810 was in fact the first person buried in the burial ground. Henry Antill was responsible for selecting Thompson's burial site. 

Shortly after Windsor, burial grounds were established in Richmond, Wilberforce, Pitt Town, Castlereagh and Ebenezer. They were surveyed, marked out and then consecrated. 

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Shopping on the Hawkesbury - Trove Tuesday

The Hawkesbury district covers a wide area and many inhabitants had to travel long distances to access businesses and shops. A characteristic fairly unique to the Hawkesbury were the floating store boats which travelled up and down the Hawkesbury waterways in the late 19th and 20th century, providing provisions to remote communities. 

The store boats came in varying sizes; there were smaller vessels as well as those that were very well set-up selling drapery, groceries, ironmongery and other commodities. Some were fitted with counters and the boats travelled up and down the Hawkesbury, Colo and Macdonald Rivers. Some of the early operators included John Dennett, Henry Walker, as well as brothers William and Charlie Wood. Entrepreneur Charles Hatte, a Newtown merchant, took over Theodore Chaseling’s store boat and general store at Wisemans Ferry in the 1890s. Along with Henry Macnamara, who was in charge of operating the boats. At a later stage, Henry in conjunction with Robert Cameron, established a new partnership trading along the river. One of their main vessels was the ‘Camac’ named after a combination of their surnames Cameron and Macnamara. 

Shop boat on the Hawkesbury.
Illustration from the 
Evening News  24 December 1904

The local newspapers on Trove are a wealth of information about the boats. In years gone by, farmers grew most of their own food but in an article in the Evening News newspaper in 1904, an old resident who lived along the Hawkesbury River stated "in the early days we knew nothing about new fangled things" - she was trying to decide "between the purchase of 'cold drawn' castor oil" or patent pills. All sorts items were sold including clothing, millinery and shoes and boots. Alcohol, soft drinks, are sold next to babies' teething soothers, crockery and hardware lines. The newspapers of the day state that the trader must be exceptional - not only must he carry everything, but he also has to "convince his customer of her needs and his complete ability to meet them." The prices must also be competitive particularly as transport improved in the early 20th century and settlers were able to more easily journey into Windsor or Richmond shopping. 

Several businesses also supplied residents along the river with the necessities of fresh bread and meat. The Moses family operated one of the bread boats for many years from 1910 whilst Walter Singleton, Barney Morley and Wal Jones are remembered as popular identities from the 1920s-1930s and later.

The boats provided a much needed service and also brought with them news. It wasn't always the women who wanted to find out was was happening. According to an article in the Windsor & Richmond Gazette in the 1930s, "men always stay to gossip, probably because men run the boat. Pipes are stuffed firmly and a comfortable seat is found on a sack of something. Then the news of the day is checked."

The storeboats are long gone, people drive to local shopping centres for their supplies or order things via the internet. It is hard to imagine the time when one had to wait for the storeboat to make its weekly journey up the river.