Tag Archives: James Dyson

This author’s great great great great grandfather.

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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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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The Little Boy Lost: Enter Drewy.

He was a monster. That has to be made plain from the start. He could be very funny, he was creative and he was intelligent. He loved animals. He probably loved his family, but he also hurt them. He hurt them a lot. He also hurt many of the animals he loved as well, and he also hurt himself. He could laugh at himself. Others laughed at him too, a lot. He would have been fun to know personally but he humiliated those who had no choice but to share his name. He was the meanest drunk Western Australia has possibly ever known (and I realise that is a bold claim to make) and he was the fattest Western Australian of the nineteenth century. He was Andrew “Drewy” Dyson.

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Secret Squirrel Business

It seems like there was nothing the average man in Australia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries enjoyed more than belonging to a secret society. Of course it’s no fun at all if no-one can know that you belong to that exclusive brotherhood*, so you have to make sure that everyone has got the memo by flaunting your membership of that organisation (you are not able to discuss publicly) in the most ostentatious manner you can manage. Street parades in uniform were best; inviting the…

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Rottnest Island #1: It’s a start

One of the more annoying legends I had to endure when I grew up was how integral Rottnest Island was to the hearts and minds of all true Western Australians. Located only a few kilometres off the coast from Fremantle and easily visible from the continental shore, it was the mythical holiday island of the state. Tradition was, as far as I could tell, you weren’t a true-blue sandgroper unless you’d been conceived there in a boozy, sandy orgy of debauchery, preferably during the school…

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CSI Halifax

18 June 1833. Halifax, Yorkshire. A heinous crime had been committed the previous evening, Mr Robertshaw had been viciously attacked and robbed in the street that night. That Tuesday morning the wheels of early nineteenth century justice began to turn. A suspicious character was apprehended that very morning. He was from across the border in Lancashire, Winterbottom was his name. By useful coincidence there happened to be an officer from the constabulary of that particular county;  Mr Heyward from Oldham, present in Halifax that very…

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Going Postal: The great family rift.

…About half-past nine last Friday night, my attention was attracted by a number of persons standing in front of prisoner’s brothers’ residence, in Murray-street; I was in plain clothes at the time, and Dyson’s sister — a little girl — came up to me and said that her brother Andrew was killing her Father; The evidence of P.C. Grant. The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950) Tuesday 13 January 1885 p 3 When Joseph Dyson junior was thirteen years of age he would…

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