Royal Reels: Gambling


It is not often that one sees more than 30 covers addressed to the same person over a period of 50 years from 1850 to 1900, particularly from 10 different countries including: Ascension Island, Australia, France, Germany, Great Britain (addressed to 6 different addresses) and Lagos, as well as to several ships in the Royal Navy, including the H.M.S. Alecto. Two covers from Melbourne which are addressed to T.M. Kelsall, and relate to his elder son Conrad Moultrie Kelsall, are featured in this paper.

The first cover is addressed to Capt. T.M. Kelsall R.N., Youngaton , Westward Ho’, Devon, England and the two stamps are both Victorian ‘Stamp Duty’, a green Half Penny and a pale mauve Two Pence, both cancelled with MELBOURNE/ 12 P/ OC 31/ 99, and the reverse was postmarked with a Bideford receiver (Figure 1).

There were 2 letters from Maleson, England & Stewart, Solicitors at 46 Queen Street, Melbourne, Victoria dated 31 Oct 1899 addressed to Captn T. Moultrie Kelsall R.N., at the address on the cover, which read: “Dear Sir, We received a letter from your son Mr Conrad M. Kelsall on the 2nd Instant stating that he had decided to invest in some land near Cairns [Queensland] and requesting to forward him the £500 which you instructed us in your letter of Decr last to hold in case it should be required of him. We therefore forwarded him a draft for that amount and herewith we beg to enclose his receipt. Yours faithfully, Malleson England & Stewart” (Figure 2).

The enclosed receipt read: “Received from Captain T.M. Kelsall R.N. per Malleson England & Stewart the sum of Five hundred pounds being the amount authorised to be paid to me as per my father’s letter to them dated the 28th December 1898. 20th October 1899 Conrad M. Kelsall”, and there was a ‘Four Corners’ orange One Penny Queensland stamp affixed with a manuscript 20/10/99, with a faint pencilled “Please affix Queensland Stamp Duty” placed below (Figure 3).

The second cover was addressed to Capt. T. Moultrie Kelsall R.N., Westward Ho’, N. Devon, England in a similar hand of the first cover, and the Victorian blue 2½d Stamp Duty was cancelled MELBOURNE/ P.M./ 19.8.00/ 3 (Figure 4).

The enclosed letter was written in a similar hand as the first from the same firm of Melbourne solicitors, and it reads: “Dear Sir, We beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 16th Ultimo and we have as requested therein forwarded to your son Mr. Conrad M. Kelsall to the address given in Bank Draft for £50 and debited your account herewith. We ever Dear Sir, Yours faithfully Matheson England & Stewart” (Figure 5).

The Kelsall name is said to derive from the village of the same name in Cheshire, England and the name means “Kell’s nook or recess”. The village is mentioned in the ‘Domesday Book’ (1086) and the name Adam de Kellsall appears as early as 1277. William Kelsall was Sheriff of Chester in 1335 and Stephen de Kelsall was Mayor of Chester in 1350. In 2007 there were 3200 Kelsalls in the U.K. (the majority, 83%, in Lancashire, Staffordshire and Cheshire), 600 in the US, 600 in Australia and lesser numbers in Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa.

The information on Theophilus Moultrie Kelsall is fragmentary, contradictive and confusing for he was born in Fareham, Hants, England on 22 June 1831 (as on gravestone) but also given elsewhere as 1832, the son of John Theophilus Kelsall and Elizabeth Anne Stephens. He had 6 siblings, of whom Ellen Hume Kelsall (married name Fowke) his oldest sister was a frequent correspondent. He was buried in Northam, Devon where his death is inscribed as being 8 May 1910 at Youngaton, Westward Ho! where his wife Marie (Maria) Anna Kelsall (daughter of Professor H.W. Brutger, also spelt Brutzer) is interred. As well, his elder son Conrad Moultrie Kelsall is buried there, with his wife, Piera Migliorini Kelsall.

Theophilus entered the Royal Navy ca. 1851, rose to the rank of Captain and commander of several Royal Navy ships, and he retired in 1870 to the coast guard at Ramsgate. A picture of the young Theophilus in uniform is seen in Figure 6.

Theophilus married Maria Anna about 1845 and they had 9 children, 7 daughters an 2 sons, of which the elder Conrad Moultrie was third in line, followed by his brother Alfred H. Kelsall. Three of his daughters were born in France. The entire family is seen in a later photograph, where Conrad has not yet been distinguished from his younger brother (Figure 7).

This association of the father and son with Australia as described in the two letters is not mentioned elsewhere at the many websites I have researched the family. Why Theophilus had money in the hands of the Melbourne firm of solicitors was not mentioned, and how Conrad decided to buy land at Cairns, in coastal north Queensland was totally obscure. The initial sum of £500 that he received from his father would have afforded him to purchase a large property. It was possible that he was living in Australia in the late 1890s and early 1900s, but this was probably only temporary, for there was evidence that he was buried in Devon, England.

Months after finding the two Melbourne covers, two Queensland covers appeared at auction, addressed to Captain Kelsall R.N., Youngaton, Westward Ho!, North Devon, England. The first had a copy of the rose ‘Four Corners’ 2½d was clearly cancelled with the first Cairns barred numeral ‘227′ as well as the unframed CAIRNS/ B/ MY 11/ 99/ QUEENSLAND with 3 dots each side (Figure 8).

The reverse had a transit cancel of BRISBANE/ MY 18/ 8 45AM/ 99/ Q.L., and a reception postmark of BIDEFORD/ 4.30 PM/ JU 26/ 99 (Figure 9).

The next cover had a pair of the brown-purple on blue paper ‘Four Corners’ 2½d stamp with an illegible barred numeral ‘263′ of Nelson and an unframed NELSON/ NO 29/ ( )/ QUEENSLAND postmark (Figure 10).

The reverse had an unframed transit CAIRNS/ ( )/ 1901/ QUEENSLAND with fleuron on each side, a transit BRISBANE/ DE 5/ (1901) duplex and a reception postmark of Bideford, England (Figure 11).

These two covers were addressed by the same individual who almost certainly was Conrad Moultrie Kelsall who was living near Cairns at Nelson Queensland at the turn of the century. Absolute proof of Conrad’s stay in Queensland came several months later, when Stephanie Ryan of the State Library of Queensland responded to my email, as follows with my additions in square brackets:

“I have searched our biographical files but have not found anything on Conrad Kelsall, however he is on the Queensland Electoral rolls 1903-1919. Before that the roles were done by the State only. In !903, 1905, 1913 and 1919 is at little Mulgrave, sub district of Nelson and his occupation is described as a farmer. In 1913 and 1919 Piera Kensall [his wife] is listed at Deeral, Nelson. Her occupation was home duties.”

“I have searched a number of historical sources on Cairns without success. I cannot find him listed in the Queensland Post Offices Directories 1900-1913 in the alphabetic section for Queensland, under Nelson or Cairns, in the country section.”

There can be no doubt that Conrad Moultrie Kelsall bought property around Cairns Queensland between 1899 and 1903 which he farmed; Conrad and his wife, Piera lived until at least 1919 south of Cairns at Nelson (re-named Gordonvale in 1915 situated 19k south of Cairns) and/or Deeral which is situated 37k SSW of Cairns.

Theophilus Moultrie Kelsall died in 1910 at Bideford, England at the age of 78. Conrad died at the age of 63 in 1936 at Basingstoke, England, and both he and his wife, Piera were buried in the Kelsall family site at Youngaton, Devon.

I am indebted to Stephanie Ryan, State Library of Queensland who provided the key information on Conrad’s stay in the Cairns region; to Angela Cleife, Librarian at the Fareham Library, England for additional information on Theophilus Moultrie Kelsall; to Colin Harding who sold the vast majority of the Theophilus Moultrie Kelsall covers and letters, and provided his photo as well as that of his immediate family.

Addendum: I have now absolute proof that Condrad Moultrie Kelsall had bought land around Cairns, and this was provided by Louise Howard, Reference Archivist, Queensland State Archives. The lot was known as Selection 475 and it consisted of a lease of 110 acres purchased in 1900 for £350 (of his father’s £500). The land was transferred to Conrad Kelsall as an Unconditional Selection and was forfeited by him in 1905. The correspondence regarding his inability to pay the rent refers to the failure of crops in 1902 and the failure of crops in 1903 due to floods. It was reselected by him in 1905 as an Agricultural Farm and Agricultural Homestead and the land was now classified as Selection 707 in the Cairns Land Agents District. No name for the property and homestead was found during the research.

Addendum (January 2012):  I have received an email from Alison Joseph of Campbellfield, Victoria Australia, in which she describes another important connection to Australia.  Roger Kelsall (b. London 1792, d. Geelong 1861)  was an uncle of Theophilus M. Kelsall.  Roger Kelsall was the first Royal Engineer in Australia, arriving in Hobart in 1835.  Roger’s mother, Lucretia, was a ‘Moultrie’, the middle name carried by Theophilus as well as Conrad.  Lucretia’s uncle was South Carolina’s first Governor, her brother its first Attorney General, and her father was Governor of Florida (thus also establishing an USA connection).  I was surprised that Roger Kelsall was well covered in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, but it did not mention Theophilus Kelsall as his nephew.

Alison’s email fired me up to have another look at Conrad Moultrie Kelsall and I found in the Cairns Post, 22 June 1910, page 4 a Marriage Notice:  KELSALL-MIGLIORINI. – On May 3rd at the Church of the Franciscan Convent, Hocking, Essex Conrad Moultrie, elder son of Captain T.M. Kelsall, R.N. of Youngaton, Westward Ho! Devon, to Piera Elena, only daughter of Cavaliere Migliorotto Migliorini, of Florence.

Addendum (February 2012):  I was aproached by the Curator of the Shropshire Regimental Museum, Peter Duckers, and after 3 emails he sent me 6 pages of imformatiom on the Kelsall family.  I have compacted his wonderful information, but have not compared my research with his, as yet, for he will send further information.

T. M. Kelsall was born in Fareham on 22nd June 1831, the son of Lieut. John Theophilus Kelsall, naval officer and Elizabeth Anne Kelsall, nee Stephens. His father served in the RN from 1809, being promoted to Lieut. in 1819 and then on half pay for a long period. He saw extensive service during the Napoleonic Wars. Died 1856. He was part of the extensive Kelsall family which had settled in the United States in the early 18th (c. 1712) and then fled to the Bahamas as loyalists after the American Revolution. They settled the area around Exuma, where T.M. Kelsall’s father was born in 1796. The Kelsalls married into the wealthy Moultrie family of South Carolina.

Both families were well-known in civil and military affairs and as landowners in the Bahamas and South Carolina and produced some distinguished members. T.M. Kelsall’s family also married into the Fowke family.

Kelsall entered the RN in December 1846 on the recommendation of Admiral Dundas, no doubt aided by the fact that his father was a naval officer and his grandfather a Vice Admiral (Stephens).

His service record only survives from 1852, when he was promoted to Mate.

“Trafalgar Mate”:  09.12.52 to 14.04.55 Medtn., incl. Crimea service.

“Spiteful”  :15.05.55 to 02.09.55 Lieut. 06.08.55. Mediterranean.

“Arachne”: Lieut. 23.10.55 to 27.11.55 N. America & West Indies.

“Horatio”:  10.01.56 to 12.05.56 Sheerness

 “Cressy “: 13.05.56 to 14.05.57 Mediterranean & St. Petersburg.

“Cumberland”:  17.09.58 to 17.08.59 S.E. coast of America

“Weser”:  18.10.59 to 26.01.60 Mediterranean

“Alecto”:  27.01.60 to 25.06.62 West Africa : Porto Novo 1861

“Phoebe”:  26.09.62 to 29.06.66 Commander 11.04.66. Mediterranean.

Coast Guard Cmdr. 29.06.70 to 13.10.73 Ramsgate area.

Retired with the rank of Captain, 1st Oct. 1873 and he served as Lieut. of HMS Trafalgar in the bombardment of Sebastopol in October 1854 and ashore with the Naval brigade. Crimea medal and Turkish Crimea medal. Commended by Commdr. Raby (“Alecto”) for the “great assistance” he rendered during the attack on Porto Novo, West Africa, 1861. Kelsall married Maria Anne Brutzer, daughter of Professor Brutzer; she was born in Germany on 23rd March 1845 and died at Youngaton on 12th Nov. 1924. They had nine children – two sons and 7 daughters.

1. Conrad : born Ramsgate 14th Feb. 1873 and died in Basingstoke, 26th April 1936; m. Piera Migliorini on 3rd May 1910 in Hocking, Braintree. Attended The Colonial College (which taught the skills of farming and was sponsored by the Canadian and various Australian state governments) at Woodbridge, Suffolk, in 1890-91 and he farmed at Rosedale, California in 1890s and in Queensland, Australia. Retunred to UK ca. 1919.

2. Alfred H. : born in Somerset 1874. Worked in business in Glasgow at one stage and was later an electrical engineer in Manchester as well as and seven daughters :

3.. Frances Ellen : born Fareham, 1865; died Winchester, 9th Apr. 1938

4.. Nina Marie : born in Germany in 1871; died Youngaton 15th June 1949. Unmarried.

5. Ellen Louise Eveline : born in Ramsgate in 1874; died Youngaton 18th Feb. 1950. Unmarried.

6. Ida Lucretia: born in France in 1876; died Youngaton, 5th May 1956. Unmarried.

7. Isabel Mary : born in France in 1877; died 5th Sept. 1950. D. Youngaton; unmarried.

8. Lillian B. : born in France in 1879. Married John L. Gubbins of Ennisfanre in Bideford,1913. Died 1934 in East Preston. Son, Martin C. B. Gubbins died 1944.

 9. Kathleen Ethel. : born in Northam, Devon 1881. Lived Harrow. D. Youngaton 24.2.1949. Unmarried.

The family lived for some years at La Chapitre, in St. Servan in Brittany in the 1870s, after T.M. Kelsall’s retirement, and some of his daughters were born there. They moved to the old farm of “Youngaton” in Westward Ho!, Devon, in 1880.  T.M. Kelsall died on the 8th May 1910 at “Youngaton”, Westward Ho!.and a Notice of his Death was published in The Times on 12th May 1910.

 His family had lived at “Youngaton” in Westward Ho! (the house now “The Village Inn”) since 1880 and he and most of his family are buried in the churchyard at Northam nearby.

The name of this very old house (one of the earliest farms at Westward Ho!, long before it became a popular seaside resort), is preserved in “Youngaton Road” on which “The Village Inn” stands.

The two sons, Conrad and Alfred, both had land and farming businesses in Australia and in the USA.

A very large archive of family correspondence was broken up and sold in 2011, incl. Kelsall’s letters from the Crimea, his son’s letters re Australia and other family correspondence, especially with the related Fowkes family.National Archives of Australia10020 Conrad M. Kelsall and Alfred M. Stephens Correspondence.


Youngaton Farm was founded about 1750.  The census of 1881 showed the farm was occupied by T.M. Kelssall  and famly in 1880.