A Work in Progress..
The Sons of Australia Benefit Society was an ever present yet idiosyncratic presence in the early years of Western Australia’s colonial history—simultaneously vital yet utterly irrelevant to most of the community it was supposed to serve.
The Sons of Australia Benefit Society was founded in 1837 and dissolved in 1897. It never had more than 92 members at any one time and sometimes there may have been as few as 37 on the roll, nevertheless over the sixty years of its existence it provided medical care, limited income protection, funeral expenses and a basic pension for some of its members, when they required it, during an era when such services were utterly unavailable for workers on a lower scale of income.
While their numbers may have been few, the Society had acquired some choice assets such as the Perth residential block Q2 upon which was constructed some cottages that were rented out, and the society’s club house. In the Society’s last years they stopped signing up new members altogether and the last cohort of younger members bided their time until enough of the old guard had died off so they could liquidate the society’s assets for their own (dubious) profit.
It should come as no surprise that a Dyson— Joseph Dyson the Elder, in this instance, — was involved in the shenanigans surrounding the society’s last days. But this is not what this article is about. The records of the society are lost and to recreate the member-list of the society it is necessary to comb the newspapers for mentions of the society’s activities. This list of names are confirmed members of the Sons of Australia Benefit Society from it’s founding to its dissolution. The problem is that this list is not quite comprehensive. Charting the fluctuation in member numbers over the decades (when they were made public) there were probably not more than 120 members of the Sons of Australia Benefit Society over the course of its life. So far I have 100 confirmed member names and 10 possibilities:—
|Member Name:||Member from:||till:||First Mentioned:||Cause of
|H||Baker||–||1897||1897||dissolution of SOA|
|Frederick William||Brittain||–||1897||1888||dissolution of SOA||Secretary|
|Frederick||Caporn||1897||1852||dissolution of SOA|
|George Frederick Whidby||Chipper||1878||death|
|1897||1880||dissolution of SOA
or resigned 1895)
|Joseph Charles||Farmaner||1897||1852||dissolution of SOA||Chairman|
|Charles||Foulkes||1837||1845||1837||resigned, left colony|
|Frederick||Glaskin||1897||1885||dissolution of SOA||Last Trustee|
|John Joseph||Glaskin||1897||1885||dissolution of SOA|
|Joseph||Harris||1839||1897||1837||dissolution of SOA|
|Harry Burningham||Lousada||1887||1885||left colony|
|John A||Mellows||1894||1897||dissolution of SOA||Vice-Chairman|
|James||Nairn||1837||1897||1837||dissolution of SOA|
|Thomas Henry Strang||Poland||1842||1896||1842||death
|John James||Roper (Ropper)||1876||1876||death||Trustee|
|Moses||Stokes||1838||1897||1838||dissolution of SOA|
(may have resigned 1845)
|Henry||Tichbon||1849||1897||1849||dissolution of SOA|
|John Trevithick||Tredrea||1897||1887||dissolution of SOA||Secretary,
|S||Woods||1897||1897||dissolution of SOA|
These gentlemen might also be members but I can find no independent corroboration :—
Can you help?
If you have an ancestor who was a member of the SOA and is not on any of these lists please let me know. If you do have an ancestor who was involved in the society I would very much like to hear your story as well.