Beecroft-Cheltenham History Group

The Seale family

John (1844-1923) and Edward Henry (1859-1927) were sons of Joseph Seale (1819-1888) who with other family members had emigrated from Ireland in 1836. Joseph had been a farm labourer but in Sydney made his money from hotels. John and Edward both worked in the Department of Railways, John becoming Chief Clerk.

John and his wife Maria (née Colless) moved from the Enfield district to the higher altitude of Beecroft in the 1890s on doctor’s advice for Maria’s weak chest. Beecroft agreed with her and she lived to the age of 92 years after bearing ten children between 1869 and 1886. After living for a time in Beecroft Road, John purchased 4½ acres of land on the southern side of Malton Road in 1895 and in the following year he and Maria moved into a new home there. He named it ‘Mindaribba’ after a small station on the Maitland line where he had been stationmaster. The house was conservative in style, typical of the late Victorian period, but its colourful leadlight windows of Australian flora and fauna were unusual.[1]

Edward and his wife Mary (née Taylor) (1860-1954), with their five children born in Leichhardt between 1887 and 1895, also moved to Beecroft in the late 1890s. They lived at first on the corner of Copeland Road and York Street. In 1901 Edward purchased two acres of land adjacent to John’s property and built on it his home, ‘Boronia’, a spacious brick cottage set in a large and lovely garden with many Australian plants. The house was built by Frederick Mason of Beecroft and the native rocks in the garden were decorated with carvings of Australian wildflowers by Mary Seale’s brothers, monumental masons by trade and early users of wildflowers in funerary designs.[2]

The younger Seales entered into many aspects of Beecroft life: the Literary and Debating Society, the Progress Association, the Parents’ and Residents’ Committee, dances at the School of Arts and St John’s Church committee. Cricket was a special interest, and in 1909 a match on Anniversary Day saw an Eleven made up entirely of the Seale family. Oswald Seale (born 1882), son of John, practised as a dentist first in Sydney, but in Beecroft from 1905. He had a long-time practice at first in Malton Road, then in Beecroft Road and latterly from the early 1930s, in Hannah Street. Os and his wife Jean for many years were organiser and pianist at local dunces and youth clubs.[3]

Herbert Percy Seale (born 1872), a son of John, studied engineering at Sydney University and took up a position as Mine Engineer and Surveyor at the Mount Morgan Mine, Queensland, in the 1890s. By 1907 he was Assistant General Manager but in 1908 he died in Queensland after an operation. Fellow workers erected a monument to Herbert’s memory in the Mount Morgan cemetery and set up a trust fund for the Seale Prize to be awarded to the top apprentice of the year.[4]

Joseph (born 1875), a younger son of John, became an architect and in 1903 built for himself and his bride, Mary Hilda Noad, a modern two-storeyed home in Mason Avenue, Cheltenham. He named the house ‘Boonga’, an aboriginal word meaning ‘Our Home’. The leadlight panel in the front door bearing the name was a wedding gift to the young couple. Joseph’s parents from the conservative ‘Mindaribba’ house were amazed and amused as they watched the innovative ‘Boonga’ being built. Joseph died in 1949 and Mary in 1964, both being buried in St Paul’s Cemetery, Carlingford.

Two of John’s sons joined the Australian Imperial Force during the First World War. Harry Vernon (born 1886) rose to the rank of lieutenant and was wounded in France in 1916, and Frank (born 1884) was killed in action in France in 1917. Edward’s sons, Eric (born 1890) and Edward Henry (born 1895), also saw war service overseas.[5]

After Edward (Ted) returned home he worked from ‘Boronia’ as a wholesale nurseryman. During 1930 he travelled around the bush with his friend Ernest Abram, taking their hives of bees with them to find native trees in blossom.

The house ‘Boronia’ was sold in 1976 and shortly afterwards pulled down. Seale Close was put in to record the family name. The Seale family was a much respected and integral part of the Beecroft and Cheltenham communities for many years, descendants still living in the district.[6]

 

 

                  

[1] Land Titles Office 1137/195.

[2] Land Titles Office 1139/247.

[3] Cumberland Argus, 4 October 1902, 1 November 1902, 12 November 1904, 6 February 1904, 22 December 1906, 28 August 1909, 4 May 1912, 19 April 1913, 23 January 1909, 20 May 1905.

[4] Cumberland Argus, 26 September 1908, 10 October 1908.

[5] Cumberland Argus, 29 July 1916, 6 October 1917, 13 May 1916, 16 September 1916, 2, 9 December 1916.

[6] Information from Alan and Peter Seale of Beecroft, 1992, and Mrs Isabelle Beer of Carlingford, 1994.

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