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Edward Mayhew (1855-1933)

Edward Mayhew was a pharmacist, and acted as American Consul. Mayhew Street (no longer extant) was probably named after him.

His house, Riverview, at 75 Tuckfield Street, was later a Sacred Heart convent and school.

Edward Mayhew: Pharmacist, business man and scholar
By Geoff Miller
Edward Mayhew, a founding member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Western Australia, as well as its first president, was also the first pharmacist to be registered in this state under the Pharmacy and Poisons Act of 1894.
For over 30 years he held the position of registrar of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society, the body responsible for the administration of the Act, as well as lecturing at the Perth Technical college to pharmacy and dental students for a similar period.
Edward William Mayhew (Teddy) was born at Hitchen, in Hertfordshire, in May 1855. He
was a descendent of a very old and distinguished Essex family. His father was a surgeon, and his grandfather was a member of the House of Commons for Colchester.
When Edward was 15 years old he was apprenticed with a well known London firm, described as ‘Oil and Colonial Brokers’ and attended London University College, probably on a part-time basis. This introduced him to the world of botanical and organic chemistry and it would have been there that he learned the rudiments of materia medica, which enabled him to speak so impressively on the subject in later years. 1
On account of ill-health Edward went to New Zealand in 1875, and in the following year he arrived in Western Australia. For a time he was with his uncle Dr William Mayhew of Toodyay, before he obtained a position as clerk to the Superintendent of the Fremantle prison.
This job depressed him, so in 1878 he resigned to join the staff of the Western Australian Bank. At the time the bank’s staff consisted of seven officers.
However, Mayhew felt stifled in the confines of the banking world, so in 1881 he teamed up with Mr William Sandover to establish the hardware and wholesale druggist business of
Edward Mayhew, 1899.
With gold fever just starting to grip Western Australia, this business was very successful, and in 1884 they branched out and set up two retail pharmacies, one in Fremantle and the other in Perth.
It was not long before their own diverse interests saw the partnership dissolved, and Mayhew took over the ownership of the pharmacies as well as the wholesale druggist business.
He soon diversified even further by manufacturing pharmaceuticals, starting the Pelican Confectionary Works and setting up the first soap works in the State.
He sold these businesses in the 1890s and then turned to establishing an export business from the distillation of sandalwood and other essential oils. His experiences during his apprenticeship in London no doubt encouraged this decision.
In those gold rush days it was extremely difficult to find qualified pharmacists to employ and Mayhew with his own limited qualifications, had to employ unqualified people in his businesses.
This concerned him greatly, as well as the overall lack of any legislative control over the practice of pharmacy and the indiscriminate sale of poisons and other hazardous substances. Mayhew then decided to use his stature in the pharmacy world to interest a number of influential pharmacists in pressing for a Pharmacy and Poisons Act in Western Australia.
In October 1892, the Pharmaceutical Society of Western Australia was formed and Edward Mayhew became its first President.
He was largely responsible for drafting the Pharmacy and Poisons Act which was assented to in November 1894 and took effect in March 1895.
As the new Act required pharmacists and their premises to be registered, it is appropriate that Edward Mayhew became the first person to be registered as such in Western Australia. It was through his efforts that the highly professional and moral tone of the Society was set, and which endures in large measure today, despite the onset of rampart materialism.
For a period Mayhew held the dual roles of Society President and Council Registrar, but his anxiety for the welfare of the Society saw him retire as President as well as divesting himself of all his business interests.
He joined the staff of Perth Technical College in 1903 as its lecturer in Botany and Materia Medica to pharmacy students, and he also lectured to dental students on the drugs and chemicals necessary for their work.
Sometime prior to this he had decided to acquire some form of academic recognition by seeking membership of suitable or professional learned societies.
He became a member of the Society of Chemical Industry, Fellowship of the Chemical Society and the highest accolade was his award of a Fellowship of the Linnean Society of London in 1888.
He combined the roles of teacher and Registrar until his death in 1933, at the age of 78.
During his time as the Society Registrar he represented Western Australia at many interstate conferences, and he was well respected by colleagues nationally.
He was a member of the Perth Mounted Artillery and later became the commanding officer of the Fremantle Artillery.
For a number of years he served as consular officer in Western Australia for the United States of America.
Mr Mayhew was intimately associated with many of Western Australia’s public men, and he was a friend of Lord Forrest and Sir Winthrop Hackett.
At his funeral in January 1933, which was attended by many pharmacists and other dignitaries, the President of the Pharmaceutical Society, Mr FP Gulley, described Edward Mayhew as a ‘loyal, diligent and lovable man, and the profession and the State are much poorer by his death’.
Other tributes referred to ‘his long and busy life – a life spent mainly in the service and interest of others’.
He was affectionately known by students and colleagues, simply as Teddy!
He was survived by four daughters and three sons. 2
1. EP Walsh, The Mayhew Inheritence, 1922. Privately published.
2. Australasian Journal of Pharmacy, February 28, 1933:154-156. Australasian Pharmaceutical Publishing Company, Melbourne, Victoria.

Pharmacy History Australia, volume 3 , no. 25, March 2005: 15-16.

'Riverview', 75 Tuckfield Street, not extant. Stephen Stout's photograph 1860s.

References and Links

Walsh, Eric 1992, The Mayhew Inheritance, Pharmaceutical Society of WA.

Garry Gillard | New: 6 July, 2022 | Now: 3 November, 2023