Category Archives: Dyson

The antecedents, life and times, and descendants of James Dyson (1810-1888)

Happy Gunpowder Treason Day

Bristol, England at dusk on an evening in November 2015. The pops and bangs were very loud and seemed to be right outside of the tiny bedroom I was staying in. It was right outside my window and I was bemused on investigation to find that a collection of children and their parents were setting off full-blown fireworks in the lane-way outside. Fireworks Day, or Guy Fawkes Day, or (as it was initially celebrated as a public holiday after 1605), Gunpowder Treason Day, has not…

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Dyson’s Hotel

Part 2 of the Dyson’s Corner Story. …previously. Do I have any primary source for life in Western Australia in the 1870’s-1880’s more infuriating than the work of Mr Jesse Elijah Hammond (1856-1940)?(Probably, yes— but one should never let the truth get in the way of a good rant…) He was on the ground when it all dramatically happened for the Dyson family. He even lived next door to the Sons of Australia Benefit Society Club house on Murray Street, so it is inconceivable he…

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Dyson’s Corner (the First)

As a would-be historian, I am always torn between my desire to share the information I have collected and the desire to find that one final piece of the puzzle that will complete the story I want to tell. Most of the time, that final piece is not— and may never be— there, but what to do then? Should I hoard away what I have so far, or publish and be damned? If this is not your first reading of this page and what you…

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Winterbottom’s End

Joseph Winterbottom was the old bastard pursued by Oldham police across the border from Lancashire into the West Riding of Yorkshire in the summer of 1833. Arrested by the Halifax Constabulary, he was immediately identified by visiting Oldham bloodhound Heywood as a known rogue and vagabond, and proceeded to squeal like a pig, identifying the four men who were his accomplices in robbing a local Halifax man on the road that previous night. But when the case went to trial, Winterbottom was not among those…

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The Sons of Australia: Foundation and Foulkes

Sometimes its just a name that piques your interest. Sometimes names are all you have. The Sons of Australia Benefit Society was formed in January 1837 and it’s final meeting was held in August 1897. For sixty years it seemed to be an ever-present feature in the social fabric of Perth, Western Australia— and then it was gone. Most of what there is to know about the society comes from the contemporary press. That there was no mention of it in the Perth Gazette, the…

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I hate Maitland Brown

I aspire to be a historian, but we are not supposed to ventilate opinions like this. Actually, when studying for my degree we were also not supposed to write in the first person (Is there not an “I” in history?). I don’t believe we as historians have any licence to make things up. I also don’t believe we have any right to ignore evidence we find inconvenient to our beliefs. That’s why this particular article I have found so hard to write. But I do…

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Literally —ing the Patriarchy: Introducing Jane.

It should be clear by now that I have no problem mocking my ancestors— when they are bullies, pompous, arrogant, do monumentally stupid things, or are just so completely and utterly full of themselves it is all too easy. Of course, most of whom I have written about so far have been blokes. That’s because the blokes loved talking about themselves (and other blokes) to the exclusion of all else. Their life’s details were recounted by yet more blokes with very fixed ideas about what…

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Steam Powered Luddites

James Dyson had built something of an empire in Western Australia on the back of supplying timber sourced the old fashioned way—by hand. Pity the other pit-sawyer though, who had to stand in that pit when the logs were being sliced into planks, and pity also the poor sap (pun intended) whose on-the-job-training did not include lessons where not to stand when the tree fell. Dyson’s business portfolio included more than just being a timber merchant, so his decline from being one of the largest…

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Timber!

Timber was the business of James Dyson from his earliest years in Western Australia. A year after his arrival in 1841 he was working as a labourer. Of the few people from this time we know for sure that he associated with, Stephen Hyde was a carpenter, and his next door neighbour in Perth for the next ten years.  By 1845 James was describing himself as a sawyer, and the earliest mention of him in the newspapers of the Swan River Colony was as the…

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