HERBERT J. RUMSEY, SEEDSMAN, EDITOR, AUTHOR & GENEALOGIST
This O.H.M.S. stampless cover had a frank stamp of the POSTMASTER-GENERAL, VICTORIA, and was postmarked MELBOURNE/ AM/ 11/ 26/7/01/ 3. It had a printed admonition about punishment for the private use of the cover at top left, a purple handstamp with a large crown over an oval Postmaster-General/ Dominion of Australia, and a printed General Post Office, Melbourne, manuscript 25/7/1901, at lower left. It was addressed to Mr. Herbert J. Rumsey, “Boronia”, Barbers Creek, New South Wales. The vendor did not mention that it was a mourning cover (Figure 1).
The reverse had an originating Melbourne July 26, 1901 postmark and a reception postmark of BARBERS CREEK/ JY 26/ 1901/ N.S.W and at point of the flap there was an albino embossed double oval VICTORIA/ [crown]/ ( ? ). Unlike the front, the reverse gave no evidence that it was a mourning cover (Figure 2).
From both the address and the reception backstamp there is no doubt that the cover was sent to Rumsey at Barbers Creek. Barbers Creek opened in 1881 as a receiving office, became a telegraph office in 1890, and a post office in 1892 at the railway station. It then went through a series of changes and closures, until it changed its name to Tallong in 1905. In the period from 1881 to 1905, Hopson & Tobin described 3 cancellations, the number ‘1659', the type 1D(i) as above from 1893-98 (thus the present example is the LRD) and BARBER’S CREEK 1D(i) with apostrophe, in 1904.
Herbert John Rumsey, seedsman, horticulturist and genealogist, was born on 4 February 1866 at Leamington, Warwickshire, England, eldest child of John Herbert Rumsey, plumber and gasfitter, and his wife Mary Ann, nee Downes. He reached Sydney with his parents and sister in 1872 and attended Gilchrist's school at St Leonards and Fort Street Model School. His father taught physics and electricity at the Sydney Technical College, and installed the first electric lighting on the North Shore of Sydney. Herbert was apprenticed to a plumber, then worked as a printer before setting up a printing business at St Leonards, Sydney about 1888. Next year he opened a circulating library in Parramatta, but soon became a bookseller, stationer and newsagent.
By 1895 Rumsey had started a nursery and seed business on his father's selection at Barkers (sic) Creek (Tallong) near Marulan. He married Mary Jane Rippon in1900, and the next year he moved to Dundas, N.S.W., where he lived for the rest of his life. His principal interest was importing and growing seeds. Rumsey was honorary secretary of the N.S.W. Chamber of Agriculture (1904-05), president of the A’sian Association of Nurserymen and Seedsmen (1912) and of the A’sian Nutgrowers' Association (1932-33). He wrote books on fruit and vegetables, Australian Nuts and Nutgrowing in Australia (1927), and contributed several articles to the Agricultural Gazette of N.S.W., in 1897, about the value of crimson clover for restoring the fertility of worn-out soils. From 1896 he published seed catalogues and in 1920 The Pommies, or New Chums in Australia. He was a fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society, London. Management of Herbert J. Rumsey & Sons Ltd (set up by 1930) passed to his sons in 1940.
Rumsey visited the U.S.A. in 1915 and Britain in 1924, 1931-2, 1938 and indulged his interest in genealogy and was elected a fellow of the Society of Genealogists, London. He was the founder in 1932 and first president (until 1943) of the Society of Australian Genealogists in Sydney. Under his presidency the society increased in membership and importance, and the library, started with Rumsey's own books, expanded into a valuable reference collection. From mid-1933 until December 1943, he edited the Australian Genealogist.
In 1937 Rumsey produced Pioneers of Sydney Cove in a limited edition of 150 numbered copies, priced at £3.30, it sold quickly. A teetotaller and non-smoker, Rumsey was a trustee of Dundas Methodist Church. While working in the District Censor's Office in 1941-45 he collected postage stamps, taken from letters to prisoners of war and internees, which he gave to the Australian War Memorial in 1948. Survived by two sons and three daughters, he died at Dundas on 1 February 1956. Rumseys Seeds Ltd was sold to Arthur Yates & Co. Pty Ltd in 1966 but his sons and grandsons continued as nursery and seedsmen at Galston and Dural, N.S.W.
Unlike the description in the Australian Dictionary of Biography where it is stated: “Next year (1901) he moved his operations to Dundas, where he lived for the rest of his life”, there was a much longer association with Tallong (the former Barbers Creek) for his father John Henry was buried there in 1907, and his two sons were inscribed in the Tallong War Memorial (both served in WW2), and Herbert described a new species of Acacia at Barbers Creek. Surprisingly the ADB got it wrong, when they gave the name of the village as Barkers Creek. The site of Barbers Creek, Tallong is shown by a blue arrow in Figure 3.
I wish to acknowledge that this paper was derived from the entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography