Royal Reels: Gambling


The cover the blue 6d ‘Laureate’ and a lilac 2d stamps of Victoria canceled with the barred numeral ‘602′ and there was an unframed ALEXANDRA/ FE 23/ 75/ VICTORIA alongside. There was an orange crayon ‘2′ and a red hand-stamp LONDON/ PAID. The cover was addressed to R.S. Appelbe Esqr, Barrister &c, Milton, Ontario, Canada (Figure 1).

The reverse had 3 postmarks, a transit MELBOURNE/ 2 A/ FE 25/ 75, a transit in Canada of HAMILTON/ MY 7/ 75/ ONT and a reception postmark of MILTON/ MY 8/ 75. The flap had an albino oval imprint of ALFRED H. EMERSON/ SOLICITOR/ ALEXANDRA (Figure 2).

To date I have been unsuccessful in obtaining information on the Alexandra solicitor, Alfred Emerson, but Alexandra is an interesting Victoria town. It is located 130 km northeast of Melbourne, quite close to Lake Eildon, and the dam by that name. The town probably takes its name from Alexandra, the Princess of Wales, wife of the man who was to become King Edward VII. This replaced the original name of Redgate in 1867, which was first used when the area was settled by gold miners who were trying to win their fortunes from the Red Gate diggings.

The area was explored by Hume and Hovell in 1824 as they made their way from the Murray River to Corio Bay, and at this time it was inhabited by the members of the Taungurong Aboriginal group. There was some settlement in the 1830s and 1840s, but the area grew overnight when gold was found by Alexander McGregor, Alexander Don and Alexander Luckie in 1866. The town was surveyed in 1867, the shire formed in 1869, and the gold diggings spread over nearly 90 square kilometers by the mid 1870s. The whole area was deserted by 1884, but the town did survive. The railway arrived in 1909 and in spite of the collapse of the gold industry, agriculture sustained the town as an important service centre for timber and mixed farming. The town of Alexandra is shown on the map as a red balloon in Figure 3.

James Appelbe was descended from a family of French Huguenots who left for Ireland during the religious persecutions of the seventeenth Century. He was born the son of Pierce and Patience Appelbe in 1802 in County Cork and he migrated to Canada around 1820 with his widowed mother and older brother, William. James was apprenticed to a merchant in Hamilton and later taught school. In 1831 he married Jemima McDuffy, a granddaughter of an United Empire Loyalist originally from New Jersey, and they settled near 257 Dundas Street East in Postville, Ontario. James Appelbe was one of the most successful figures in the area of Trafalgar Township, and he eventually became a man of influence and means, known by all as “Squire” Appelbe. He became an owner of a store and the post office, and in time he owned most of the land in the village of Postville. His home still stands at 257 Dundas Street East.

James was one of the first directors of the Bank of Toronto, a Justice of the Peace, Treasurer of Trafalgar Township; and, he had a brief foray into the world of politics, and was Recording Steward of the Nelson Circuit for many years until his death in late June 1878. The children of James and Jemima Appelbe, who were brought up at 257 Dundas Street East, became important people in their own right. Robert Swanton Appelbe was born in Oakville in 1834 and he established himself as a solcitor and barrister at 159 Trafalgar Road, Oakville and also later in Milton in the early 1860’s. Robert married Clemintina Robertson and in 1879 he acquired the Frontier House, a former hotel in Navy Street, Oakville, as seen now in Figure 4.

Robert’s older brother John Kaitling Appelbe was born in 1832, and he followed in his father’s footsteps as Clerk of Trafalgar Township. Robert’s sister, Sabina Appelbe was born in 1846, and she married an English man, Charles Hanson who had come to Canada in 1867. The Hanson family returned to England where Charles became an alderman and Sheriff of London, later the Mayor of London and he was knighted by King George V. Sabina, after Charles’ death, was Lady Hanson of Fowley Hall, Cornwall, England.

There are people living in Victoria now with the exact spelling of the surname of Appelbe, and one wonders whether their ancestors originated in County Cork, Ireland, with a Huguenot background. I might get lucky, if they contact me!

The search for more information on Robert Appelbe is ongoing, particularly in regards to his early schooling as well as his education as a barrister and I am indebted to Michelle Knoll and Christine Marvell, for their assistance.

Addendum: Robert Swanton Appelbe ca.1878 practiced law in partnership with D.O. Cameron. In 1885 he worked at the office of William Hixon Young, a local merchant, who held several offices in Oakville, including that of Mayor, Police Magistrate and Postmaster.

Addendum (June 2010):  The following is a major part of an email sent byCynthia O’Keefe, of Highton, Victoria, Australia:

“I’m an Appelbe descendant and have put together a comprehensive family tree from a single ancestor in Bandon Co Cork which now extends to Australia, NZ, Canada and USA.There are 2 main branches – one descended from Pierce/Sarah & his second wifePatience (who was related to a Robert Swanton, a New York attorney) and the other from his brother Edward & Isabella. A significant number of the Pierce/Patience descendants emigrated to Ontario and made up quite a large ‘clan’ although there are very few left there now. There is another group in Vancouver who are descendants of Edward (as am I).

You commented on the Appelbes in Victoria and I can confirm that they are from the same line as Robert Swanton, although they are relatively recent emigrants. Dr Fred Appelbe, who was born in Co Cork, brought his family out from UK about 1954 and he is a descendant of John, brother of ‘Squire James’ of Oakville, Ontario. Two other Appelbes lived briefly in Australia about 100 years ago but they were in NSW & Queensland and moved on to Canada and (then) Ceylon. I can think of no family connection with Alexandra”.

Categories: Family History, Legal