Category Archives: History

Take him down….

Daniel Blyth

Daniel Blyth

Agnes Blyth

Agnes Blyth

Melbourne was a tough place to be in the early 1850’s.  Daniel Blyth was married to Agnes Staley, her father being Jonathon Staley (born 1794). Daniel and Agnes were married in Whitburn, Scotland in 1838.  They arrived in Port Phillip in October 1848.

Please check out the article from The Argus which details an awful incident at Agnes’ home in Brunswick, Vic in June 1852. Agnes was 35 years old when this incident took place. Continue reading

Mr & Mrs Staley at the Fancy Dress Ball, 1877

The Staley’s have always enjoyed the good life with the elite.

From The Australasian (Melbourne) Supplement, page 2S on Sat. Sept 1, 1877.

Mr & Mrs Staley were guests of the Mayor of the City of Melbourne to his 1877 Fancy-Dress Ball, Allan was Mayor of the Borough of Brunswick at that time. Alan Staley was D’Oreo and Jessie Staley was Leonora D’Oreo who were characters in the “Leonora D’Orco V1: A Historical Romance (1857)” by George Payne Rainsford James

Click on either images to see Jessie and Alan in full costume.

Travelling through the archives of newspapers at the National Library Trove website, we found the following article. It sounds very weird to us, but you never know how sneaky thieves can be….

All extraordinary burglary was perpetrated at Yandoit on last Sunday morning (1867).  The following particulars we glean from the Daylesford Mercury :-

“Two brothers, of the name of Staley, keep a large and general store there, the building being of wood. On Saturday night it was locked up all safe, one brother retiring to sleep in a building at the rear of the store, the other in an apartment off, yet forming part of, the store.  On Sunday morning, on one of the brothers getting up, he was surprised to see some goods lying about, and on examination it was found that without disturbing the brother sleeping in the room in the store, or a single growl from a ferocious dog that will not allow, even during the day, anyone to approach him, and who was locked up in the store, several holes were bored in one corner, and on opening then sawn out opposite a quantity of goods, which were lifted aside, and an entrance effected.  A careful and deliberate selection had been then made for the best goods by the light of two candles, and thirty pairs of trousers, hats, Crimean shirts and other property, including some silver in the till, to the value in all of about £70, carried off, and without leaving the slightest clue for the detection of the offenders.

It seems scarcely possible that such an offence could have been committed without having in some way stupefied the man and dog, and yet both seemed all right in the morning.  The dog is noted as a ferocious and faithful watch, that will not allow anyone to play with him.”

Maybe it’s time to get a new dog!!!

From the Argus, 5 Dec. 1867, Page 5.

Staley Graves at Vaughan, Victoria

David Gray Staley was a  successful Storekeeper at Yandoit in the Central Goldfields of Victoria. His children too were successful, some son’s along with Helen’s (nee Blyth) husband Denis Connell, had a large emporium in Swan Hill.

Daniel Gray Staley was chairman of Staley & Staley, hosiery manufacturers. They obtained a licence to manufacture some of the US Holeproof range in Australia in the early 1930’s.

The Staley’s and the “Bourneuf”

The Bourneuf docked at Liverpool, UK before sailing to Australia

The Bourneuf docked at Liverpool, UK before sailing to Australia

The year 1852, saw another departure, that of the fifth child Robert Staley and his wife Jane Gillies with their two children, Elizabeth 1, and baby Jonathan, they sailed from Liverpool on the “Bourneuf” a ship of 1495 tons, it left on May 26 arriving at Geelong on 3 September 1852, this was an horrific voyage and many children died.  Also on the ship were many others from Scotland, some Irish and some English passengers.  When the ship reached Geelong over three months later on 3rd September, 88 passengers had died of measles, diarrhoea, scarletina and marasmus. Most of the deaths were amongst the Scottish children under seven years old.

The deaths were the subject of an investigation by the Victorian Health Officer. This report from “Who’s Master Who’s Man?: Australia in the Victorian Age, Michael Cannon (1971) pp 159-160” gives us further indication of what they went through.

Five women had died of consumption, puerperal fever, or been lost overboard. Of the 180 children under seven years of age who embarked, nearly half died of diarrhoea, measles, and other complaints….

Arrangements for hygiene were primitive or non existent. The main deck leaked, so that the two migrant decks were usually damp. The water-closets were ‘of inferior construction and leaky’…

The upper immigrant deck had a ‘disagreeable smell’ while the lower deck was dark and ‘difficult to ventilate’. There was insufficient hospital accommodation or spare bedding, so that infected mattresses had to be used again. The matron was almost useless ‘owing to physical want of activity or energy’, while Surgeon McKevit was accused by the passengers of being ‘so grossly intoxicated that he could not attend to his duty’….

Robert W Staley – A Great Comrade in Arms

Bob Staley (1916-2006) was a very gentle man, but what a man to have on your side during war. He received the Military Medal for his great courage under fire. The following is the lead-in to the following item in the The Argus, Weekend Supplement on Saturday, 12 Jan 1946.


Click to enlarge this picture…

Grandchildren of Daniel Blyth and Agnes Staley during WW1

Informal family portrait of the four siblings of the Malcolm family, all of whom served during the First World War and returned home to Australia.

Left to right: Lieutenant (Lt) Norman Harty Malcolm, 2 Pioneers, enlisted on 20 May 1916 and returned to Australia on 4 June 1918; Sister Stella Agnes Blyth Malcolm, Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS), enlisted 6 December 1916 and returned to Australia on 7 May 1919; Lt Eric Hamilton Malcolm, 3 Division Artillery, enlisted on 11 July 1916 and returned to Australia on 4 July 1919; Staff Nurse Edith Eileen Malcolm, AANS, enlisted 12 June 1917 and returned to Australia 30 August 1918.

(Donor Y. Kelley)

The Diary of Thos Law McMillan

In a supplement to “the Argus” newspaper published in Melbourne in December 29, 1950, a diary of Thos Law McMillan was published. This was due to the preservation  and editing of his diary by Mary L Turnbull, the granddaughter of Dr McMillan. As it says in the preface to the article:-

Dr McMillan left Edinburgh University in 1850 to try his hand at mining. He was 24 years old and a medical student. He came to Australia by way of Pennsylvania and California working his passage as a ship’s surgeon. Upon arriving in Melbourne, he set off for the Bendigo diggings with his friends, writing his journal from day to day.

You will find the diary very interesting and I really suggest you take the time to read it. He later gave up mining and became a physician and was also the President of the Medical Society of Victoria.

It’s available as a PDF and you can download it here.

Staley – Craftsmanship in Hosiery

Well we should all know the Holeproof brand. It came after the Staley name disappeared in the Hosiery game.

Here’s a picture of a shop, probably from around the 1930’s showing craftsmanship of Staley hosiery.

The Descendants of Margaret Staley and Thomas Law McMillan

The latest update of the Staley Family History includes recently discovered information on the descendants of Margaret Staley and Thomas Law McMillan, this was sparked by the finding of a monumental inscription at the Melbourne General Cemetery. Thomas had a big career change from teenage lead miner in 1841 to medical student in 1851, by 1854 it seems he’d graduated as a Doctor, arrived in Victoria and married, eventually becoming President of the Medical Society of Victoria in 1878, there was possibly a trip back to Edinburgh in the 1860’s for the family as daughter Edith Agnes’s marriage certificate gives her birth place as Edinburgh, Scotland.

There were 4 daughters, 3 of whom grew to adulthood, 1 didn’t marry, the families of  daughters Mary and Edith are there for you to see. We would like to hear from anyone connected to these families