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Arthur Wellesley Bayley Early Pioneer of Avenel (1860)

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Arthur Wellesley BAYLEY

b. Newbridge Vic 1865 d Avenel 1896.

Arthur Bayley, outstanding runner, boxer, horseman and knockabout all round good bloke. He was a gambler and adventurer who appears to have had a profound impact on all those who came into close contact with him.

At his death his obituary in the Seymour Express of Friday November 6th 1896 described him thus: " Although he possessed a goodly share of the world's goods, he was unostentatious and ever mindful of the needs of those less favoured than himself." and "He was a man; take him for all in all and we shall not look upon the likes of him again".

Anecdotes from family and associates indicate a man who was wild and had great courage and strength with perhaps excessive appetites.

Arthur was the son of John Francis Grunidge Bayley who as born in the West Indies and had migrated to Australia from England with his family. The name "Arthur Wellesley " is said to have been given as a result of the Bayley family hearing the bells ringing for the death of the Duke of Wellington (The Iron Duke) as they were leaving England in 1852.

His Mother, Rosanna Sarah Dowdall/Williams was descended from John Hatton and Ann Colpitts, both first fleet convicts whose crimes had been stealing of assets (John) and cotton handkerchiefs (Ann). They were granted 30 acres of land in 1792 at Kissing Point near Sydney, later known as Eastern Farms and now Ryde. Their dwelling "Hatton Cottage" (located behind the current Ryde Civic Centre) built 1808 has been restored and is classified by the National Trust.

His father had been a miner at Tarnagulla and had a butchery business at Newbridge.

Arthur's Mother died in an asylum at Ararat and his Father died in the same year at Newbridge when Arthur was 8 years old and he was subsequently cared for by his Grandmother, Mary Jane Williams (Nee Hatton) at Rupanyup where she had a pub. He went to school there and stayed until at 15, he left by coastal steamer for Charters Towers Qld. He worked at a number of jobs before finding himself on the North Queensland goldfields, mining at Normanton, Croydon and Palmer River.

During this time he was often short of cash and resorted to backing himself in boxing matches and foot running races to keep him going, buy horses, equipment and so on. It was also during this time that he met his mining mate William Ford who he was to join up with again years later in Western Australia.

Following his Queensland escapades, he returned to Rupanyup for a few months before leaving for Western Australia in 1887. He mined with various partners at Geraldton, Ashburton, Murchison, Nanine (where nearby Bayley's Island was named after him) and was quite successful. He again met up with William Ford and after some time struck gold at Coolgardie. In September 1892 , Bayley lodged 554 ounces of gold and registered their claim to their mine "Bayley's Reward". On this occasion, Ford had instructed Bayley not to go to the Hotel because they were attracting a lot of attention from claim jumpers. He did pass the hotel on the way in to the Registrar's Office but the temptation was too much on the return journey and he did not arrive back at the mine for several days.

By the end of October the partners had taken over 3,000 ounces and the total for the first six months was over 50,000 ounces. This remains the largest find ever in Western Australia and was credited with saving the colony from bankruptcy.

The name Bayley means a great deal in Coolgardie and the main street is named for him. He is also credited with arranging the first horse race on the gold fields in 1892.

His own horse "Ben" won and later came back to Victoria with him.

Difficulties with claim jumpers and other problems led Bayley and Ford to sell their claim and Bayley returned to Victoria in 1893. He bought the Avenel Estate of around 3000 acres from C. E. Wallder MP. for twelve thousand pounds ($24,000). At the time of his death he owned butcher businesses in Avenel and Seymour. He also established his brother Thomas (who had been with him on many of his adventures) on 1,000 acres of land and another brother, school teacher Frank in the Imperial Hotel (corner Murchison Road and Bank Street). He also assisted Harry Sidebottom to establish himself in the district and probably many others who are not known.

Harry had gone to Western Australia to bring Bayley' horses back and remained with Bayley at Avenel and began a large and well respected family dynasty.

He was very close to Mr & Mrs Harry Sidebottom - both strict teetotallers. A wardrobe kept in the Sidebottom family for many years had been given to them among other furniture when they assisted in the rescue of belongings from the burning Avenel homestead. The wardrobe bore testimony to Bayley's hard drinking - he had when drunk, taken his own reflection in the wardrobe mirror for an intruder and shot the mirror.

It appears that his drinking habits brought him undone for he died of dropsy in 1896 aged 31 years.

Thomas and Frank Bayley lived on in the district long after Arthur's death and both raised families here. Rachel Marsh, the sister of Frank Bayley's wife Carrie married Joseph Gadd who lived in Bank Street and whose children were Sylvia O’Shea, Ivy Underwood and May Kibble.

In 1992 at the urging of Barbara Dwyer of Shepparton East ( Hatton descendent), the Coolgardie Council paid for Bayley's memorial in the Avenel cemetery to be restored for the Centenary celebrations.

The inscription on that memorial seems most apt.

"His life was short in years but long in deeds".

Ken Kibble, Sept 1997 with thanks to Barbara and Catherine Dwyer and Joyce

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