26 April 2020

Vicissitudes of a Remarkable Career

So many stories of ancestors and relatives are mentioned in the newspapers of the past. During April 2020 for the A - Z blog challenge, I am listing the types of stories or information I have found in newspapers with examples for each letter of the alphabet. My clippings include a variety of articles about relatives of my children's ancestors.

Visitors to a town or city were often reported in the gossip or About People columns of newspapers. The results of Voting for committees and organisations are excellent finds where relatives may have been listed. Veterans of wars are commemorated through In Memoriam notices and on ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day. This is about a veteran of a different kind.

A most elusive character - A veteran of the goldfields

When Edward John William Payne died in Birmingham, England in 1932 a variety of newspaper articles recalled his life and career. How much of that is true? Was it poor management of money and interpersonal relationships? Will we ever know? These were the headlines of the day, choose the links to read any of the long articles.

Western Argus (Kalgoorlie, WA : 1916 - 1938), 17 January, p. 28.

1933 'LIFE OF ADVENTURE.', The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954),
18 March, p. 5. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32466716
That lengthy article talks of his education and explorations as well as his time in Africa before ending up in England. It does make some fantastic claims, so let's step back a few years and trace his earlier days.

Confectionery, Marriage and Bankruptcy

In August 1884, Ted as he was known, married Mary Agnes Walmsley in Auckland, New Zealand. She had arrived there with her parents aboard the Hydaspes as recounted in an earlier post. The first newspaper mention is of the birth of their daughter in 1885. In 1886 a fire broke out in their premises where Edward was running a confectionery business. His father in law, John Walmsley, had taken over a previous confectionery premises from Payne in 1884.
Volume XXIII, Issue 7552, 3 February 1886
The article goes on to describe the circumstances of the fire and the rescue of family and servant with no apparent reason for the fire being found. Just one month later Edward is declared bankrupt and appears to have left Auckland and perhaps even New Zealand. 
Auckland Star, Volume XVII, Issue 78, 27 March 1886, Page 7
By September of 1886 when his second daughter Natalia is born, he can be found in Western Australia seeking his fortune looking for gold. When the final dividend of 4s 11½d in the £ was to be paid to creditors in December 1886, he was long gone. (1)

In September of 1887 notices appeared in Western Australian newspapers noting that a Mr Anstey was putting together an expedition for the purpose of prospecting for gold.
He will be accompanied by Mr. Richard Greaves and Mr. Edward Payne, both of whom have had several years' experience on the colonial goldfields. For travelling purposes, Mr. Anstey has had constructed by Messrs. Donegan A Flynn a cart specially designed for his purpose. It is divided into compartments for carrying water and specimens and rations (2)
This raises the question of where was Edward's previous experience in the goldfields? Perhaps in Ballarat as a very young man before he went to New Zealand. He had studied chemistry and mineralogy at the Ballarat School of Mines where he is listed as a 24 year old in an enrolment book (3) but he also claimed to be 24 on his marriage certificate in 1884.

Nevertheless the expedition was successful with the discovery of gold at Yilgarn, not Payne's Find as family folklore thought. Payne's Find is attributed to a Thomas Payne not Edward Payne.

A 1906 article reflecting on early gold prospectors in Western Australia comments:
How Greaves and Payne were rewarded for their exertions is a standing disgrace to the State. They got nothing while the feather-bed prospector, Anstey, received the then Government reward.of £500. At this time Dick Greaves was lying on what all the doctors in Perth thought was his dying bed, and , it was only after years of painful operations under the surgeon's knife that he recovered... Payne cleared out to Africa in disgust. (3)
This poster reprooduced at the end of that article commemorates  those who discovered the Western Australian goldfields. His photo appears just to the left of centre.
courtesy State Library of Western Australia
So no fortune thus far, a bankrupted confectionery business in New Zealand followed by a very successful gold find in W.A. but without adequate compensation.

1889 finds Edward and his wife Mary Agnes with the two small girls in Queensland where their first son Edward John was born on September 8th of that year. By 1892 they had returned to to Ballarat where by this time Mary Agnes' father John Walmsley had a confectionery business. Son Norman George was born there in 1892 followed by the birth of Grace Walmsley Payne in 1893.

Edward was still not settled and this advertisement signalled his intention to leave Ballarat.
Was it another failed confectionery business or itchy feet to get back to mineral exploration?
1893 'Advertising', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 25 October, p. 3. ,
By 1902 the family or some of them are in Adelaide as youngest son, Francis Leo was born there in 1902.  Some time after this Edward leaves his family in Adelaide and from the article previously mentioned which was written in 1906, he had left for Africa.

The accounts of his life after this time are variously reported in the articles listed below. John Michael Galvin in his 1968 memoir claimed that his wife Grace knew nothing of her father's whereabouts until the articles about his death in Birmingham came to light in Australian newspapers.

Edward John Payne m. Mary Agnes Walsmsley
Grace Walmsley Payne m. John Michael Galvin
John Dominic Galvin m. Phyllis Yvonne Stirling  - my children's paternal grandparents

Some unresolved issues

Who were the family he left behind in Birmingham?
Did he really make and lose fortunes or was that just hearsay?
Who were his parents and where was he born?

1. New Zealand Herald, Volume XXIII, Issue 7827, 22 December 1886, Page 8, https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZH18861222.2.62.5

2. 1887 'GOLD PROSPECTING IN THE EASTERN DISTRICTS.', The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954), 29 September, p. 3. , viewed 25 Apr 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3113834

3.  Clare Gervasoni, October 2007, updated January 2008, Federation University https://federation.edu.au/about-us/our-university/history/geoffrey-blainey-research-centre/honour-roll/p/edward-francis-john-william-michael-payne-1853-1938

4. 1906 'PIONEERS OF PROSPECTING.', The Sun (Kalgoorlie, WA : 1898 - 1929), 14 January, p. 9. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article211739588

Lengthy newspaper articles detailing the life of Edward John William Payne
Kalgoorlie Miner https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/95024397
Western Argus, Kalgoorlie https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/34610904
The West Australian https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/32466716
Queensland Times, Ipswich https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/113447024
Smith’s Weekly, Sydney https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/235069602

This post first appeared on earlieryears.blogspot.com by CRGalvin


  1. I guess going to Africa wasn’t so strange from WA but it’s not somewhere I’d have looked. Love your header images btw.

  2. He certainly covered a lot of distance in his years! Given the rudimentary travel available he must have spent months on ships and horseback.


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