Royal Reels: Gambling


The cover has a red 2d KGV head OS perfin stamp with a roller cancel Sydney 1931 and is posted to J. Parkinson, Esquire, Crystal Fountain Aerated Water Works, Kenny Street, Wollongong. The reverse has the black crest of the Attorney General, N.S.W. (Figure 1).

The enclosed letter has the same Attorney General, N.S.W. crest, now in blue. The letter reads:

SYDNEY. 31st March, 1931.

Dear Mr. Parkinson,

I am in receipt of your letter of the 26th instant respecting the application being made by Mr. T.M. White for a position as Inspector Under the Electricians Licensing Board, and desire to say that I shall be pleased to do what I can in regard to the matter.

Yours faithfully

(Signed) Andrew Lysaght

J. Parkinson, Esquire,

Crystal Fountain Aerated Water Works,

Kenny Street,


The small cover has a red 1½d KGV head stamp with a roller cancel SYDNEY/ JL 27/ 1927/ NOON/ N.S.W. with an admonition: POST EARLY EACH DAY. It is addressed to W. Parkinson, Esq., Cordial Manufacturer, Atchison Street, Wollongong (Figure 3).

The reverse shows a blue crest on the flap for the Minister for Education, N.S.W. (Figure 4).

The enclosed letter has the identical insignia on the top, and the letter reads:

SYDNEY: 26th July, 1927.


Cordial Manufacturer,

Atchison Street,


Dear Bill,

Enclosed please find a letter from the Premier granting the use of the launch “Premier” on the 2nd August, for the purpose of entertaining delegates to the Conference of Cordial Manufacturers.

I trust your party will have a pleasant outing.

Yours faithfully,

(Signed) W. Davies (Figure 5)

The letter from the Premier had a larger crest in red than that used by the two parliamentary ministers, and the contents were:



SYDNEY 20 July 1927


Dear Mr. Davies,

I have your letter of the 18 th. July asking that the launch “Premier” be made

available on the 2 nd. August for the purpose of entertaining delegates to the conference of

cordial manufacturers, and desire to say in reply that I have given instruction for the launch

to be at Fort Macquarie steps at 2 p.m on the afternoon in question.

Yours faithfully

(Signed) John T. Lang


The Hon. W. Davies, M.L.A.,

Minister for Education (Figure 6)

The next letter was hand-delivered in a brown ON HIS MAJESTY’S SERVICE envelope addressed to Pte. W. J. Parkinson, 50 Atcheson St., Wollongong and the return address was Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence. As it did not go through the post, it will not be shown. It is safe to presume that the recipient was the son of W. Parkinson at the same address. The enclosed letter was of interest, particularly in view of September 1939 date:


34 Bn. Drill Hall


2 Sep. 1939.



A special Camp of Continuous Training will be commenced at PORT KEMBLA on 4 th. Sept. 1939, which will continue for sixteen days. You are ordered to attend.

You will report to the Drill Hall, WOLLONGONG, on 4 th. Sept. 1939 at 9 a.m.

Dress – Marching Order. You will bring the following articles and necessaries:-

Cleaning gear, shaving gear, change of underclothing, two pairs socks, toilet requisites, soap, towels, two plates (tin), knife, fork, spoon, tin mug.

Sgd. T. Rodham, Lieut. A.I.C. Adjutant 34 Bn. (Figure 7).

It is not suggested that any special favours were received by Private Parkinson, who may have finished up as a WW2 combatant. However, although there were 7 men named Parkinson who served in World War 2 from the Wollongong area, the name (Private) W.J. Parkinson could not be found at the Australian War Memorial website.

Andrew Augustus Lysaght, of the first letter was born on 08 August 1873 at Mount Ousley, near Wollongong, N.S.W, the son of Andrew Lysaght, publican and Johanna Carroll. He was educated at Wollongong, then Newington College, Sydney and the University of Sydney. He was articled to N.M. Manning in 1891 and was admitted as a solicitor in 1896 and also as a barrister (called to the bar in 1923). He married Margaret O’Dwyer in 1906 and they had 2 daughters and 1 son. He practiced in Sydney and Wollongong, specialising in industrial law and worker’s compensation. He represented miners before the Royal Commission on the Mt. Kembla disaster from 1902 until 1903, and also in cases brought against Unionists.

His earliest political experience was as an alderman and later mayor at North Illawarra Council from 1900 until 1902. He was a member of the NSW Legislative Assembly commencing in May 1925 and represented Wollondilly, Illawarra, and Bulli successively up until May 1933. Between May 1927 until June 1931 he was successively acting Minister of Justice, Attorney General, Minister of Justice and Attorney General. He represented the Australian Labour Party and he resigned from J.T. Lang’s second ministry because of the failure to carry law reform proposals in caucus. His picture is shown in Figure 8.

William Davies, of the second letter, was born on 01 January 1883 in Abertillery, Wales the son of William Davies, coal miner and Mary Williams. At 12 he was a trapper in coal mines and from night school he won a miner’s scholarship to a summer school at the University of Oxford, but he was educated only to the primary school level. He became a Methodist lay preacher, and in 1903 he married Edith Hartshorn. They came to N.S.W. in 1912 and, after working as a labourer in construction, he became a miner in the Wollongong area. He soon became an official for the Illawarra District of the Australasian Coal and Shale Employees’ Union., and remained active in the Miners’ Federation until 1917.

He won the seat for Wollongong in the Legislative Assembly for the Labour Party in March 1917 and he retained the variously named seat for the next 32 years, 7 months and 5 days. He was a loyal supporter of J.T. Lang and became minister for public instruction in Lang’s second ministry from May to October 1927 and held the education portfolio in the 1930-32 government. In local internal Labour political machinations, he was Lang’s agent in attempts to dampen criticism by purging the branches of the Labour radicals. He resigned his seat in the State parliament to contest the Federal seat of Cunningham in 1949, which he held for 6½ years until his death at Wollongong on 17 February 1956. He was survived by his wife, a son and daughter. He was remembered by Herbert Vere Evatt as ‘a great orator who had helped to inspire coal miners during industrial troubles’.

The controversial N.S.W. Labour Premier John (‘Jack’) Thomas Lang was the leader of the above two Wollongong members in the Legislative Assembly. Lang’s political biography is far too extensive to be dealt with within the framework of this paper, which will only deal briefly with Lang’s premiership and a few personal details.

Jack Lang (1876-1975), estate agent and politician, was born on 21 December 1876 in George Street, Sydney, son of James Henry Lang, watchmaker of Edinburgh, and his wife Mary, née Whelan, of Galway, Ireland. His father’s illness and financial problems in the mid-1880s forced him to live with an uncle at Bairnsdale, Victoria, where he went to the local convent school. He came back to Sydney, sold newspapers and attended St Francis Marist Brothers’ School, Haymarket. In 1889 he worked on a poultry farm, later drove a horse-bus, and served in a bookshop. At 17 he became an office-boy in an accountant’s office.

By 1899 Lang was an accountant’s clerk in a real estate office at Auburn, and in 1901 he became land agent and an auctioneer partner there. Lang and his wife lived at first in Carnarvon Street, and from 1912 in a stately house in Adderley Street, Auburn where he remained for most of the rest of his life. In1901-13 Lang consolidated his contrary traits of uncouthness and a yearning for respectability, and he grew into a large, solid man, 6 ft 4 ins (193 cm) tall. His auctioneering produced a crude but effective public speaking style: a rasping voice, snarling mouth, flailing hands, sentences and phrases punctuated by long pauses. He was alderman for Auburn 1906-14 and mayor 1909-11.

He entered the N.S.W. Legislative Assembly in December 1913 and served continuously up until August 1946 (32 yrs, 8mths, 10 days) in the seats of Granville, Parramatta and finally for the longest time at Auburn. Whilst at the State level he had served as Colonial Treasurer five times, Acting Minister for Agriculture, Secretary for Lands and Minister for Forests and Premier. This was followed by his entry into Federal politics as a Member of the House of Representatives for Reid in 1946-49. He was expelled from the Labour party in March 1943 and readmitted in 1971.

Lang died in St Joseph’s Hospital, Auburn, on 27 September 1975, survived by three of his four daughters and one of his three sons. After a requiem Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral he was buried in Rookwood cemetery. His estate was valued for probate at $38,594. If in the future, a further cover/letter becomes available, I might attempt to do justice to Jack Lang’s tempestuous career.

A picture of Jack Lang is seen in Figure 9.

I have never known what the latin motto for the State of N.S.W. was, and what it meant. King Edward VII granted a Coat of Arms to the State in 1906. The description of the Arms embodies the motto, Orto Recens Quam Pura Nites (Newly Risen, How Bright Thou Shinest).

I have just come across a poem I bought on eBay’s Australian stamps’ site entitled “Our Jack is not a builder”. It consists of 10 stanzas, each of five lines, the fifth line in each stanza ends with : “the State that Jack wrecked.” Verse 5 reads:

“This is Davies , the boss of the schools,

Just another of Jack’s blunt tools

Who obeys without question the mad Mullah’s rules

And sums up the people as blanky fools

Who live in the State that Jack wrecked.”

Part of this paper is derived from the on-line Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Categories: Political