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T. LYONS, BANKER, MINER, LOTTERY PROMOTER, RACEHORSE BREEDER

The cover was addressed to Thos. Lyons Esq., 69 Collins Street, HOBART, Tasmania and the pink pair of the ‘ONE PENNY’ stamp of Victoria was cancelled with a duplex DAYLESFORD/ AP 30/ 04/ VICTORIA associated with the barred numeral ‘173'. The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

Thomas Lyons, businessman, banker, gold miner, lottery promoter, race horse breeder & owner, stock broker tin miner was born on 3 January 1861 at Hobart Town, son of William Henry Lyons, master mariner, and his wife Charlotte, née Priest. He was educated at The Hutchins School. In 1882 he was appointed accountant to the Hobart Gas Co. and next year joined the Bank of Van Diemen's Land, becoming inspector of branches before the bank was forced to close in 1891.

Lyons suggested that much freehold property to which the bank held title be disposed of by lottery. The necessary legislation was passed in September 1893 and George Adams, who had conducted sweeps in New South Wales and Queensland, agreed to organize the lotteries. In January 1894 Lyons accepted a position with Adams and played an important part behind the scenes in persuading members of parliament, despite intense public opposition, to support further legislation in 1896 that allowed the establishment of Tattersall's in Tasmania. He remained 'a confidant, advisor and close friend' of Adams, taking an active part in the management of the business. Lyons purchased a seat on the Hobart Stock Exchange in February 1896 and for a short period carried on a commission agency with Peter Facy. In 1900 he became a committee-member of the stock exchange.

Mining interested Lyons greatly and he worked leases for tin, nickel, gold and other minerals, particularly in the north-east and on the west coast. When Adams died in 1904 he left Lyons a share of the annual net proceeds of Tattersall's sweeps. In 1907 Lyons left the firm and entered into partnership with H. W. Bayley, whose old-established stockbroking company had several overseas agencies, as Bayley & Lyons. He became a director of many enterprises including the Derwent & Tasman Assurance Co. Ltd and Perpetual Trustees & National Executors of Tasmania Ltd as well as a trustee and general manager of Tattersall's in 1927-38.

Another important facet of Lyons's life was his involvement with horse-racing, both as breeder and owner. His horses won many classic races including six Hobart Cups. His interest began with the purchase of Oakdene in 1912 from whom he bred many notable winners including Talisman and Prince Viol. A committee member of the Tasmanian Racing Club since 1900, he was chairman or deputy chairman in 1915-38 and a life member. An annual handicap race and a grandstand bear his name.

Lyons was a tall man, dignified and dapper. He was patriarchal with his family but popular in public, credited with being as shrewd a judge of men as of horses and with a deserved reputation for generosity. From 1908 until his death he was president of the Athenaeum Club and from 1920 either patron or president of the Sandy Bay Regatta Association; he was also foundation president of the Autocar (later, Royal Automobile) Club of Tasmania.

He worshipped in turn at Presbyterian, Anglican and Congregational churches, abandoning St Stephen's Church of England following an attack from the pulpit on lotteries. He had married Maud Beatrice Stanfield (d.1890) on 13 March 1889 at Rokeby, then on 28 June 1899, in Hobart he married Elizabeth Turnbull Robertson Riordan. Lyons died on 6 July 1938 at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney; as an expression of regret there was no morning call on the Hobart Stock Exchange.

A surprisingly short obituary was in The Argus (Melbourne) on Thursday 7 July 1938 on page 11. It read Hobart, Wednesday: In the death in Sydney early to-day of Mr. Thomas Lyons, Hobart has lost a leading figure in financial and sporting circles. Mr. Lyons was one of the oldest members of the Hobart Stock Exchange, and was senior partner in the firm of H.W. Bayley and Co. He was also supervising trustee of Tattersall’s Geo Adams Estate. He resigned the position of general manager of the Geo. Adams Estate last April, but retained the position of supervising trustee.

Mr. Lyons had a long association with the Turf in Tasmania, and five times won the Hobart Cup with Talisman, Prince Moeraki, Royal Simon (twice) and Prince Viol. His horse Nadir Shah dead-heated in the 1920 Hobart Cup with Trusty Blade, Prince Viol also won the Mooney Valley Gold Cup in 1929. Mr. Lyons was chairman of the Tasmanian Racing Club from 1916 to 1932, when he retired because of pressure of business. He was elected a life member of the club many years ago. He has left a widow, 3 daughters and 2 sons.

He was cremated in Hobart. His wife and their five children, to whom he largely left his estate sworn for probate at £77,639, survived him. At least 3 photographs seen at the Trove newspaper site labeled as being Thomas Lyons were not of him, but the photo taken for an admission ticket to the Tasmanian Exhibition of 1894-95 is currently (May 2011) being researched as the most likely candidate (Figure 2).

David McNamee in his ‘Catalogue and Handbook of Tattersall’s Covers’ has a fine cover with a printed address of MR T. Lyons addressed to the Hobart Club, Hobart, Tasmania which is franked with 2 singles of the ‘Four Corners’ Queensland stamp canceled by the duplex MARYBOROUGH/ 1/AP 25/ 03/ QUEENSLAND with a QL obliterator (Figure 3).

The text gives additional information about Lyons, and the number of addresses that he used is seen in Figure 4.

I acknowledge that the main body of the text is derived from the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

 

 
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