Fremantle Stuff > Early Days: Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Western Australian Historical Society

Early Days, Volume 7, 1969-1976

'Walter Padbury (1820-1907): Pioneer Pastoralist, Merchant and Philanthropist'

Cara Cammilleri

Cammilleri, Cara 1971, 'Walter Padbury (1820-1907): Pioneer Pastoralist, Merchant and Philanthropist', Early Days, Volume 7, Part 3: 51-64.

Walter Padbury was born on 22nd December 1820 at Stonesfield, near Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England, the second son of Thomas and Ruth Padbury. His formal education must have been very slight as he came to Western Australia with his father Thomas Padbury on the Protector, which arrived at Fremantle on 25th February 1830. <1>

In the following July Thomas Padbury became very ill, and realising that he would not recover, placed his son Walter in the care of a married couple with whom he had travelled out in the Protector. This couple were not worthy of his trust, as they abandoned the boy after taking the little money and goods his father had left him. According to Padbury, his father was a small and not very successful farmer in the old country; he decided to emigrate and to send for his wife and other children when he was established.

The boy’s situation was certainly grim; under ten years of age, he was left completely to his own resources. In later life Padbury attributed his success to this fact, as he realised he had to depend on his own efforts. He worked around Perth and the surrounding district doing any job that came to hand, and then, according to his reminiscences, he was sent by Theo Carter to establish the original Half-Way House on the York road.

At the age of sixteen he was employed as a shepherd by the Burges brothers, first at the Swan and later at Tipperary. In the 1837 census he was listed as a shepherd in the employ of Burges brothers at York. He commenced work at £10 per year which he took out in wheat; he remained with the family for six years, by which time his wages had risen to £40 per year cash. During this time he made his own trousers and plaited his hats of rush. At twenty-two years of age he left the Burges brothers to start on his own account. He went fencing, cutting firewood, shearing, reaping, and mowing, and made good wages. He then started droving and walked all over the eastern district; he said he thought he couldn’t afford a horse, so he tramped with the cattle and sheep. He sold stock to butchers and soon found droving a very profitable business. In his own words, he plodded along in the south district until he was in a position to send for his mother and the rest of the family. His mother died at Guildford on 22nd December 1872 in her 83rd year. <2> No doubt she lived in more comfort with her son’s aid than


ever before in her life. It has not been possible to ascertain the date she arrived in the colony.

In April 1844 Walter Padbury married Charlotte, daughter of William and Mary Ann Naim. Bom in England on 14th February 1826, Charlotte came to Western Australia with her parents, brothers and sister on the Marquis of Anglesea on 23rd August 1829. It was a very fortunate marriage for Padbury, as Charlotte Nairn greatly assisted her father and then her husband. They were disappointed in having no children; however they both took an active interest in their nieces and nephews, and children of their friends and employees, and also those in the orphanages, as events will show. As time went on, they must have spent many happy hours together over their fireside, exchanging ideas on charitable projects near their heart. It was providential that they both had warm and generous natures and the community benefited.

In 1845 Padbury opened a butcher’s shop in King street, Perth, between St George’s terrace and Hay street. His home was next door, at the corner of St George’s terrace and King street. He kept this home and lived in it off and on when he was not out on his station properties, and here he spent the closing years of his life. He bequeathed this property to the Anglican church, the rents and profits of which were to be applied to the upkeep of St George’s Cathedral, and he stated that it was his desire that the property should not be sold. The building at this corner is still known as Padbury building.

During the 1840s he turned his hand to whatever proved profitable; for instance, the Inquirer, 12th Dec. 1849, commented that Padbury was boiling down sheep of an inferior description to make tallow. The value of the tallow at the time was 3d per lb, and as each sheep averaged between 11 and 12 lbs, it was a tolerably profitable business. Tallow was in great demand for making candles. Three weeks later the same newspaper, 2nd Jan. 1850, reported that “Padbury had been carting in jarrah logs from the immediate vicinity of Perth; the logs were not very big, but timber was in great demand, so he should reap the benefit of his enterprising effort.”

In his reminiscences, he stated that he ran the butcher’s shop for twelve years, and that "for the first nine years I didn’t do much good; at the end of that time the colony was established as a penal settlement and with the influx of colonists and criminals I did very well”.

He did so well that he was able to purchase Yathroo. <3> This squatting run was first taken up by William Locke Brockman, who eventually abandoned it and concentrated on Cheriton. Yathroo was then leased by E. Conlin, a shepherd from Toodyay, who found the life at Yathroo very lonely. In 1855 Padbury was passing through


Yathroo with some stock and spent the night with Conlin, who in a fit of depression sold his pastoral rights to Padbury. Padbury wrote a cheque out on the spot to clinch the deal. He was afterwards taken to task by his banker for writing a cheque when he had insufficient funds to meet it and insufficient security. Padbury replied, “What better security can you have than Yathroo?”<4> Needless to say, he didn’t repeat the experiment. Padbury then gave up butchering and devoted himself to station life. He gradually developed Yathroo and established a flour mill there which served the surrounding district. Padbury prided himself on studying the comfort and happiness of his employees; he paid them good wages and supplied comfortable quarters; he expected and usually got good services in return. He was always willing to assist any of his employees who showed the initiative to wish to establish themselves on their own account, and he took pride in their success. <*> He also endeavoured to encourage the right type of immigrant. In later years Yathroo was managed by Edward Roberts, who eventually purchased the property from Padbury in 1891.

In 1863, fired by the glowing reports of that prince of explorers F. T. Gregory, Padbury determined to form a settlement and start a sheep station on the uninhabited north-west coast. This was a gamble, and shows Padbury’s enterprise in risking his capital so hardly won. The Inquirer of 4th April 1863 stated: “Upon the success of Mr Padbury’s adventure will, in part, depend the immediate colonisation of an entirely new country, and it may be hereafter, a separate province.”

Nothing was known of the north except from the reports of Gregory and the earlier explorer Grey. The conditions under which settlement was made were not easy. The early settlers had to do a great deal of their own exploring after they landed. They had to provide ships to convey them up the coast with their provisions and stock, find harbours suitable for landing, and supply arms for their protection. The government made liberal land regulations, but in all respects the settlement was the result of individual enterprise. It was the enterprise of Walter Padbury and John Wellard and little else which led to the north-west settlement. Wellard followed Padbury in August 1863, just four months after Padbury's successful landing. Padbury and Wellard may be called the founders of the north-west; their managers, Charles Nairn and William Shakespeare Hall, who went up to establish settlement and maintain it with a handful of stockmen, were truly the pioneers.

On 4th April 1863 the cutter Mystery, 16 tons, was sent by Padbury under the command of Captain Peter Hedland to Nicol bay and the De Grey river. On board were C. C. Hunt and James Padbury; this was the exploring party. The north-west coast was not well known, and the government, owing to the state of the colony’s


finances, was disinclined to spend money on this adventure. Padbury had purchased the vessel and despatched it at his own expense to examine the coast and take soundings. The services of Hunt, the navigator, were made available by the government, and it also supplied J. B. Ridley, a surveyor, and some native prisoners from Rottnest. Ridley was assisted by the granting of surveying instruments from the Government Stores, and camping equipment, pack-saddles, clothing, and such articles as could be made by convict labour with little outlay of money.

The Mystery sailed to Breaker inlet at the mouth of the De Grey but could not find a suitable landing. The mangrove creeks and salt marshes intersected the coast in all directions. About thirty miles west of the De Grey a beautiful harbour was discovered, later to be called Port Hedland after the Captain of the Mystery. This harbour was difficult in unfavourable weather, and the cutter returned towards Nicol bay.

Meanwhile the main party of settlers had left Fremantle on 24th April in the barque Tien-Tsin, 254 tons, under the command of Captain Jarman. The passengers were W. Padbury, M. Samson, J. B. Ridley (the government surveyor), J. McCourt, C. Naim, D. Brown, W. Jones, G. Sivert, a boy who was entered as “cook”, and five natives — one of them a free native called Dugald, the other four being prisoners from Rottnest. The cargo was 11 horses, 6 working bullocks, 540 sheep and provisions.

The Tien Tsin and the Mystery met in Nicol Bay on 4th May, when Hunt, Turner, and Hedland reported their findings. Then an all-night council was held under the ship’s swinging oil lamps in the cabin of the Tien Tsin. The deliberators knew nothing of the country except from Gregory’s maps and the report of the Mystery. The problem was where to land; consideration was given to the various possibilities and their drawbacks, and it was finally decided to land near the Harding river; the landing is now known as Cossack. The stock were all landed and watered, but the well water turned salt, and they had difficulty in getting to fresh water seven miles away. Forty sheep and a bullock were lost, mainly as a result of drinking salt water.

A short trip inland was made; the Harding river was found to divide into two branches seventeen miles from its mouth, and, then Padbury, Samson and McCourt left by the Tien Tsin for Fremantle, leaving Nairn in charge of the stock, and Ridley and Hunt preparing to explore. The cutter Mystery, which was to maintain communication with the new settlement, was lying in Butcher inlet.

It was Padbury’s intention to settle, not at the Harding, but on the De Grey, and before leaving for the south, he arranged that Nairn should go with Hunt and Ridley overland to the De Grey;


they were to try and discover permanent water or a harbour there for landing stock in the future, and also to make an overland route for the removal of the stock from the Harding. After various vicissitudes this was accomplished. On 27th July the site for a permanent camp and the first station in the north-west was chosen in the western channel of the De Grey, and on 30th July 1863, the stock were moved over.<6>

On his return to Perth, Padbury was given a public dinner on 25th June 1863 to celebrate the settlement in the north-west and to commemorate his enterprise. It was fully reported in the Perth Gazette the following day. The paper stated that the entertainment took place at the Freemasons hotel. The company of about seventy persons included Governor Hampton and his private secretary, Chief Justice Burt, Lieut.-Col. Bruce, Colonial Secretary Barlee, and most of the respectable and influential residents in Perth and Fremantle. The Surveyor-General (Roe) occupied the chair and Padbury the seat of honour. One and all acknowledged the thorough worth of Mr Padbury and testified to the upright and sterling qualities which had placed him in the foremost rank of Western Australian settlers. Padbury made a brief and modest speech in reply. <7>

It should be noted that at this time, 1863, Walter Padbury was only 43 years of age. It was just 27 years since he started work as a humble shepherd at £10 per year, and little could the boy have thought that he would be honoured later by the most distinguished men in the colony. His success was due to his own application and hard work, and as he said himself, “The colony was advancing, and he advanced with it.”

In 1866 the vessel Emma, 117 tons, arrived from London, having been purchased by Padbury for his north-west trade. Tragedy overtook her the following year between Roeboume and Fremantle; not a trace of the vessel or its 42 occupants was ever found. The calamity caused a great sensation, as a number of well-known young, men were aboard her, amongst them Charles Nairn, Padbury’s brother-in-law and manager of his station.

After this loss, and owing to the low price of wool then ruling, Padbury and his friends were so disheartened that they decided to abandon the country. This was unfortunate, as at first the venture promised to be a great success; stock of all kinds had flourished and increased. However, Padbury had the stock removed in 1868, leaving behind wool press, buildings, and a quantity of other property.

Padbury’s reason for abandoning the station was that it yielded no return but rather was a constant financial drain. When finally he gave orders for the breaking up of the station, one can imagine his regret at having to make this decision after all his high hopes.


The sheep were to be brought overland to Berkshire Valley, a distance of approximately 1,200 miles. This expedition, a very responsible and anxious one, he entrusted to Edward Roberts, who successfully carried out the undertaking. <8> Roberts left the De Grey on 11th April 1868, and the journey down took seven months. He travelled with his flocks the stage from the Fortescue to the Geraldine mines at Northampton in 65 days, thanks to the splendid season. This was an epic journey. The stock consisted of 4,150 sheep, 16 horses, six working bullocks, one horse team, and one bullock team. They had to wait at one camp depot for the lambing, and again at the Burges station, the Bowes, for shearing. To be left with the responsibility of this trek at 24 years of age indicates the confidence and trust Padbury had in Roberts.

The West Australian, 11th May 1885, commenting on developments in the north-west, made reference to Padbury’s contribution to the opening up of the north-west 22 years earlier, and it stated, “Although the venture didn’t meet with the success he deserved, still he paved the way for others who followed in his footsteps and amassed considerable fortunes.”

We now leave the north-west and return to the year 1852. In that year Padbury established a mercantile business in conjunction with J. Farmaner, who bought him out in 1856.

Padbury purchased the barque Bridgetown in 1865, and started trading with India, Singapore and London. To India he took horses, to Singapore sandalwood, and to London wool; this undertaking paid well. In 1867 he was joined by W. T. Loton, and they purchased Farmaner’s business and traded as W. Padbury & Co., both at Perth and at Guildford. As an indication of Padbury’s shrewdness, he retained a two-thirds interest in the business; the partnership agreement reads:—

“William Thorley Loton admitted as partner to the extent of one third share in the business, carried on under the name and style of W. Padbury & Co. at premises in Perth and Guildford as from 1 January 1867.”<10>

In 1874 they took delivery of the Charlotte Padbury, 650 tons, which had been built for Padbury at Falmouth. The firm owned several other vessels including the Helena Mena which was acquired in 1876. This venture in the shipping trade proved very successful for a while, but about 1890, when competition became keener, they withdrew from this type of business.

In 1898 Peerless Flour Mills Ltd was established at Guildford and proved an immense advantage to the farmers in the surrounding districts, as their grain could now be converted to flour at a minimum cost. Padbury built the mill with that object in view,


and it was the third flour mill he established in the colony. The first was at Yathroo; later in the 1850s he took up blocks of land in the newly opened Greenough district and developed farms which he leased to tenants, and in this vicinity he built a second flour mill. This too was a great help to the surrounding settlers, and at this time the Inquirer commented: “If his plan is followed by others there will be an agricultural community to the northward.” <11>

When advanced in years, Walter Padbury was joined by a brother and his family from England. First in 1888 came a nephew, M. T. Padbury, who travelled out on his uncle’s sailing ship, the Charlotte Padbury. He gained experience at Glentromie and Yathroo, and began farming at Koojan in 1892 with his uncle’s help. He remained in the district for 30 years and in his later life lived at Guildford. He married Esther Nairn, but they too had no children.

In 1892 the Oriental brought out William P. Padbury, brother of the venerated pioneer, and with him another son, William, and daughter, Lizzie. The elder William lived with his other son at Koojan and died there in 1905. He must have been well on in years when he arrived in the colony.

The nephew William took over Walter Padbury’s stores at Guildford in 1896, and later he also managed the Peerless Roller Flour Mills nearby. He married Evelyn Mary Wellman and had a son and four daughters. The son, Albany William, married E. M. Lee Steere and had four sons and a daughter. The eldest son, Walter William, is at present the manager of Elder Smith Goldsbrough Mort in Melbourne. The second son, Thomas Albany David, is the manager of the Collinsville stud in South Australia; a ram from his stud brought $23,000 at the 1970 Royal Show in Perth. The third son, Albany Richard, is farming at Kojonup, and the youngest, Matthew David, is a director of he Peerless Flour Mills which still flourishes at Guildford. Thus the name of Padbury is still well represented in the State's business and farming community.

To return to Walter Padbury, in 1872 he and his wife sailed for Sydney to visit the inter-colonial exhibition held there early the following year.

The Inquirer of 20th November 1872 observed the occasion:—

“We learn that it is the intention of our fellow colonist, Mr W. Padbury shortly to proceed to the neighbouring colonies and this we believe will be the first time our old friend of nearly 43 years acquaintance in this colony has ever left the land of his adoption for a foreign port. The object of Mr Padbury’s visit will we understand be twofold, namely on matters connected with his extensive commercial business and for the purpose of forwarding, as far as possible, the interests of the colony at the Sydney Exhibition for which purpose we are sure, there is no


one more sincere, more energetic or who has the welfare of Western Australia more at heart than our old friend Walter Padbury. We are informed that Mrs Padbury will accompany him and we heartily wish them a pleasant voyage to the World’s Show in Sydney.”

He was later to make several visits to the eastern colonies, chiefly to purchase stud stock.

From the commencement of his career, Padbury was associated with the Agricultural Society, having won its award for the best shepherd in the colony during his youth. He was elected its president in 1875-76 and again in 1885, and was a vice-president at the time of his death in 1907. In the Swan Agricultural Society’s annual report for 1876, Padbury’s recent importation of stock was noticed “as being something out of the common, showing the interest our President manifests in the improvement of the breed of stock. Mr Padbury also sent down several other specimens for exhibition which we believe cannot be surpassed in any part of the colony.”

This tribute must have pleased him, as he would have been less than human if he had not received great, satisfaction from his success at agricultural shows in competition with the Brockman, Burges and other families, who were well established when he was a boy, and on some of whose properties he had been employed.

Padbury was active in public life. He was first elected to the Perth City Council in 1864, and was elected member of the Legislative Council for the Swan district from December 1872 to January 1878. In 1883 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace. In 1884 he was chosen as chairman of the Guildford Municipal Council. In 1887 the dignity of a mayoralty was conferred on Guildford on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Queen Victoria's accession, and as chairman of the municipal council, Padbury became first mayor. He also served on the Victoria Plains Roads Board from its establishment in February 1871, and in September 1871 it was reported that he was "second only to Macadam himself at roadmaking, and that he was urging the Victoria Plains Roads Board to take over the 25 miles of the Bindoon-Gingin line of road if they wished to keep the main route to Perth in order, since the Swan Board did nothing ! to it." <12>

Walter and Charlotte Padbury determined to return to England to retire in 1878, but found the climate too severe and decided to go back to Western Australia. They arrived at Albany by the Siam on 29th January 1880. An account of their travels was published in a series of articles in the West Australian between 13th February and 19th March 1880. They journeyed across the United States from New York to San Francisco. Padbury’s comments on the American


countryside, methods of farming, soil and stock, and the various cities visited was indicative of his alert personality.

From his return in 1880 until he retired from active business towards the end of the decade, Padbury was much taken up with his own business interests and with municipal matters in Guildford. He also took a great interest in the general affairs of the colony and frequently contributed letters to the current newspapers on such subjects as the controversy between protection and free trade (he was a strong protectionist) <13>, immigration, land regulations, the jury system, overstocking of runs, education, orphanages, and so on. His views were shrewd, tolerant, and well-expressed. Quotations from his letters illustrate his style. Thus, in reply to a letter in a newspaper about the jury system, he wrote:

I know that judges are not always infallible any more than juries. But in judges in this colony as a whole I think we have been especially blest. <14>

The judges to whom Padbury referred would have been Mackie, Burt (the first Chief Justice), and Wrenfordsley. Padbury had a low opinion of the jury system, and stated that if he had to be tried civilly or criminally he would sooner be judged by a judge alone. He gave this opinion in a letter published three days after eulogy of the judges:

I believe the last jury I sat on in this colony I was foreman of. We were trying a man for stealing sandalwood. The case was clearly proved. The man’s dray was seized by the owner of the wood and the police. The wood was branded with the owner’s brand. A log was produced in court and sworn to. I believe I was the only man of the jury who knew the man we were trying, and up to that time, I had never known anything against him. He was a customer of ours and owed us money. Four of the jury men out of the twelve of us determined not to find him guilty. I asked them the reason why, whether they were not satisfied the man took the wood. They said yes they were satisfied the man took the wood, but it was nothing but wood in the bush and they would not agree to find him guilty. It was getting night and nearly a lock up case. At last they said if I would stand up and give him a good character they would agree to find him guilty. I said what I had formerly known of him and that I would give him a good character but nothing would induce me not to find him guilty. And on these conditions we went into the court and the man got six months instead of three years. Now if such juries are not a farce I don’t know what is. <15>

He commented on the desertion of children:

I quite agree with you that it is much better for the state


to spend some money in trying to prevent crime. We pay plenty for its punishment and often enough then, too often, the ends of justice get defeated, those who ought to be punished escaping. <16>

Padbury opposed the suggestion that the government should provide assisted passages for immigrants from the other colonies:

It would not be neighbourly of us towards the other colonies who want population as much as we do. Getting emigrants from England is different, it is an old overstocked country and they come from lower wages and worse living. <17>

But he was not so keen on assisted migration even from England, as was shown in his reply to a letter published when Governor Broome changed his opinion and dispensed with an emigration agent in England:

I don’t wish to be understood that I am standing up as the Governor’s champion, for I don’t know that I have any reason to care for him more than he has for me. I am no Government House guest; but I respect His Excellency as a gentleman and the Queen’s representative. I would refer you to my stations at Yathroo and Dandaragan and there you will see some of as good farming men as England possesses and these are all nominated immigrants. The fact is we want the Government to do too much. They pay the passage of emigrants for us, they give us money to make and repair roads etc. and surely it is our own duty to lay the money out as economically as possible for after all it is our own. <18>

He compared the quality of the land in the Darling range with that of southern California:

In the latter place plenty of families are making a good living on as little as 10 acres. I feel sure from what I have seen and read that hundreds of these valleys within our Darling Range will be found to be some of the best land for fruit growing. <19>

How right he was! And these are the valleys which are in danger of destruction by the extraction of bauxite or other minerals.

He wrote in regard to the fostering of immigration through the land regulations providing for special occupation leases:

But as I have said before if we want people to settle on the land we must show them that there is a chance to live by their occupation. Without this we may throw away thousands of pounds on immigration as we have done before and to no purpose. Of course every man who tries farming is not going to make a fortune — such is the case all over the world: but


let the people see that by industry and economy there is a chance to live and we may then expect to see them coming here. I am glad to say I know of many men in the colony — men who have been servants to me — who are now settled on farms of their own varying from 500 to 1,000 acres and who have reared their families respectably and are doing very well. But these are good men. <20>

In 1883 Padbury wrote to John Forrest, then Commissioner of Crown Lands on behalf of a man named Bashford whose block was to be forfeited when through mistake he had omitted to pay his rent on time:

This block of land was purchased some two or three years back for £90 by Bashford who is now living on it. He is an industrious and hard working man and I am sure there is some mistake with reference to its not being paid for and if His Excellency will kindly take the matter into consideration and still allow Bashford to retain the land I will pay the back rent together with the fine of £25, as I should be sorry to see the poor man lose his land. <21>

The matter was satisfactorily adjusted, with sympathetic treatment by Forrest and the Governor.

Another story still remembered tells of Padbury attending some function where he met an old friend who, like himself, had come up in the world, but who, unlike Padbury, was trying to impress the company. Padbury listened for some time, then at last with a twinkle in his eye he lent over and said “Do you remember when we were both young, how we used to mind so and so's pigs!”

He was particularly interested in the welfare of children, especially orphans. In the Legislative Council he introduced a bill to empower the government to take charge of all half-caste children between the ages of four and ten and bring them up in an institution; this was defeated. He also offered as a gift to the government 200 acres of first-class freehold land and a 4,000-acre run on the Blackwood river for the purpose of establishing a home for the destitute, a reformatory, or an orphanage, but this offer was declined.

He greatly admired Bishop Salvado and his administration of the mission at New Norcia. He often discussed ways and means with the bishop and considered that he “should be an example to we Protestants.”

A commission on agriculture was appointed on 14th September 1887 <22> and made its final report on 20th March 1891, having functioned for three and a half years. Its members were H. W. Venn, chairman, A. R. Richardson, J. H. Monger, W. Padbury and E. R.


Brockman. This was equivalent to a royal commission, as the royal appellation was not used until after the introduction of responsible government Amongst other settlers, Padbury was interviewed by the commission in 1888 and stated that he owned a station at Yathroo, consisting of 13,000 acres freehold and 19,000 leasehold, and a farm at Dandaragan, 6,500 acres freehold and 30,000 leasehold. Both properties were fenced and subdivided and were situated near Moora. He gave a lengthy description of his methods of cultivation, management of stock, labour conditions, and wages paid, which gives a good sidelight into his character and approach to life. In the final report of the commission tribute was paid to Padbury:

“Mr Padbury has been most indefatigable and kind and the minutes of the evidence will show that he has scarcely been absent during the whole series of investigation and has been invaluable with his quick and rapid practical ability.”

In 1888 Padbury, Loton & Co. bought another station, Glentromie, for £11,000. <23> Later Padbury acquired Yere Yere, Koongan and Baskerville. In 1902 when interviewed by a journalist, he described these properties and who was in charge of them. They were mostly managed by family connections. He also mentioned that his nephew William was leasing the Guildford stores. <24>

Charlotte Padbury died in February 1895. After so many years of happy companionship, the widower of seventy-four would have missed her sadly. The West Australian, 4th February 1895, carried a tribute:

“She was dearly esteemed and many grateful recollections of little acts of kindness which in times of trouble have cheered many a heart and gladdened many a home . . . Mrs Padbury’s motherly heart led her to take a keen and active interest in all works of charity for the benefit of her sex, whilst her private charities were numerous and secret. She was one of the earliest members of the House of Mercy and a foundation member of the Dorcas Society.”

The House of Mercy was later the Alexandra Home and now Ngal-a Mothercraft Home and Training Centre.

The sincerity of this obituary with its heart-warming statement, “her private charities were numerous and secret”, shows how truly fortunate Walter Padbury was. At times the following years must have been lonely and dreary. Nevertheless the courage and fortitude which distinguished him as a young lad would not have deserted him. He lived on in his home at the corner of King street and St George's terrace. At the time of his 81st birthday he was interviewed by a journalist from the Morning Herald newspaper <24>, and his reminiscences from boyhood to the time of interview appeared


in the press. This is an invaluable document from which many of the above quotations are taken. The details agree with earlier references and are consequently very reliable.

Padbury died five years later on, on 18th April 1907, at his home in St George's terrace, in his 87th year.<25> He retained his interest in the development of the north-west and also in his various farming properties. He took a great interest in church work and in charitable institutions generally, to which he was a liberal subscriber. It was almost entirely due to his generosity that the Church of England was able to establish the diocese of Bunbury in 1904. He also contributed liberally to the Parkerville Waifs Home. The West Australian Church News of September 1905 referred to his donating money for a brick house at Parkerville for the orphans “as he does not wish them to be housed any longer in wood and iron as some of them are delicate"; (He considered a brick house would be warmer). “Mr Padbury has done many kind and generous actions in his life time and now in the eventide of his life he still keeps meditating what further good he can do." <26>

The West Australian commented at the time of his death that “of his kindly, considerate and generous acts not only to institutions but to persons in distress of whatever kind, many stories could be told".

In his will he left numerous legacies to relatives and friends and also money in trust for the upkeep of St George's cathedral. The balance of his estate, approximately £90,000, was to be divided in equal parts between the diocesan trustees of the Church of England, the trustees of the hospitals and lunatic asylums and the trustees of the poor-houses. The money left to the poor-houses (which now stands at approximately $98,000) is still held in trust and has been well and ably invested. The interest only is distributed to supply extra comforts to the aged both in institutions and elsewhere. These distributions take place at Christmas and Easter and on Father's and Mother’s day. Recently the distribution has been widened and takes in the East Perth Social Centre and the Swan Districts Senior Citizens Club. Known as the Walter Padbury bequest, it is an enduring memorial to one of Western Australia's outstanding pioneers. <27>

In 1910 the Walter Padbury memorial church was built at Moora. Dedicated in the name of St. James, and consecrated by Bishop (later Archbishop) Riley in 1911, it is a fitting tribute to the memory of one who worked so hard for his church and for the district. A simple memorial stone marks Padbury's grave in the East Perth cemetery, where he rests surrounded by many he knew from early boyhood and by whom he was loved and respected.



(*All manuscript items are in the Battye Library of West Australian History, which houses the State Archives and the manuscripts of the Royal W.A. Historical Society.)

(1) Morning Herald, 28th December, 1901

(2) Inquirer, 25th December, 1872

(3) West Australian, 1st February, 1886

(4) Erickson, Rica, The Victoria Plains (Perth, 1971), p. 23

(5) Inquirer, 30th April, 1879

(6) Hasluck, P. M. C., ‘The First Year in the North West', in Early Days (Journal of the R.W.A.H.S.), vol. 1, pt. 4, 1929

(7) Perth Gazette, 26th June, 1863

(8) Richardson, A. R., Early Memories of the Great Nor-West . .. (Perth, 1914)

(9) *Roberts, E., Diary of an Overland Journey from the De Grey to Murchison, June-August, 1868

(10) *Loton Papers

(11) Bain, Sister Albertus, Ancient Landmarks (A History of the Victoria District), (in course of publication)

(12) Erickson, op. cit., p. 38

(13) Possum, 5th November, 1887

(14) West Australian, 3rd March, 1885

(15) Ibid., 6th March, 1885

(16) Inquirer, 16th April,1884

(17) Ibid., 16th April, 1884

(18) Ibid., 12th December, 1883

(19) West Australian, 13th November, 1883

(20) Ibid., 3rd November, 1883

(21) *Lands and Surveys Dept., File 1739/83

(22) W.A. Parliament, Votes, and Proceedings and Printed Papers, 1891-2. Paper 1: Final Report of the Commission on Agriculture

(23) Inquirer, 23rd February, 1888

(24) Morning Herald, 28th December, 1901

(25) West Australian, 19th April and 9th May, 1907

(26) Western Australian Church News, Jan. & Feb., 1903, Sept., 1905, Nov., 1906, May, 1907

(27) *Crown Law Dept., Papers relating to the Padbury bequest, 1907-53


Western Australian Church News, 18th February, 1903 Possum, 5th November, 1887

Gibbons, L., Guildford 1829-1929: A Century of Progress (Guildford, 1929) The Story of Guildford 1829-1951 (Guildford, 1952)

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