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ARTHUR MIDGLEY, ‘LARCHMOUNT’, LONDON RD., SAFFRON WALDEN, ESSEX

Two items came on Ebay addressed to Arthur Midgley, the first a N.S.W. Letter Card with the printed red 1d ‘Shield’ stamp, cancelled with a roller cancel SYDNEY/ N.S.W./ 16 JE/ 11-AM 1913 addressed to Mr. A, Midgley, J.P. at Saffron Walden, Essex, England (Figure 1).

The reverse had an arrival postmark of SAFFRON WALDEN/ 10PM/ JY 19/ 13 (Figure 2).

The second item was a printed REGISTERED LETTER with the red 1d KGV head stamp cancelled by a TUMUT/ 10.15 PM 10 OC 17/ N.S.W. postmark as well as a registration label for Tumut N.S.W. The address was the same as before for Arthur Midgley (Figure 3).

The reverse had three strikes of the same Tumut cancel on the front, an oval transit REGISTERED/ 24 NO 17/ LONDON, as well as two strikes of the arrival SAFFRON WALDEN/ 11.15 AM/ 24 NOV/ 17 (Figure 4).

The Midgley family tree has been traced back in England to Will Midgley at the end of the sixteenth century, but my interest in the family starts with a William Midgley born near Rochdale, Lancashire in 1758 and he died in 1834. He was the great-grandfather of Arthur Midgley who was born in 1852 at Saffron Walden, Essex and Arthur died in 1919. Presumably Arthur’s parents (James Howarth Midgley and Elizabeth Gibson) moved to Saffron Walden or his mother’s family originated there. I could find no record of Arthur’s early years, but he traveled to Australia as a young man, probably as a tourist. Arthur’s Quaker friend, Walter Robson introduced Arthur to his future father-in-law, Dr. George Cox of Fairy Meadow near Wollongong. Walter Robson had married Cox’s eldest daughter, Christina and they had returned to England. Arthur married Mary Doncaster Cox (1854-1934) in 1876 in Wollongong.

To celebrate the marriage union he painted a family tree, and much has been written concerning the content and the meaning of the symbols and devices pictured. The motto is ‘VERITAS VINCIT’ (‘Truth Conquers’, not very original), the art work is fine, and the meaning of the residence with a verandah, top right, is said to represent Australia. The left half of the centrally-placed shield represents the Midgley family and the right half of the shield is for the Cox family. This ornate painting is seen in Figure 5.

Arthur and Mary had 4 daughters, all born after their return to Saffron Walden. There is a family story that Mary Cox married Arthur on the condition that they would remain in Australia, but this was not to be. Arthur had received advice from his doctor that he must return to England for his health, so they returned to Saffron Walden. Arthur and his family appear in England in the 1881 census, and his age is shown as 28, his‘occupation’ is shown as an ‘Annuitant’ presumably from a family inheritance, and he was rich enough to have a nurse and under-nurse residing with the family. Later Arthur was described as"a gentleman of independent means who pursued no gainful occupation".

There is a surprisingly large amount of data on the Midgley family in England, but no convincing evidence that the senders of both items from Australia were members of the same family.

 
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