Royal Reels: Gambling


Over the past five years I have seen at least 5 covers addressed to one of the De Salis family members, but I have not felt that I could do justice to the Australian family members until now. This was not because of insufficient information, of which there is an abundance, but because much of it is difficult to access by way of the internet. However with 2 covers addressed to George or his wife, I felt that I should make an attempt to chronicle some aspects of their lives.

The first cover is an enigma as far as the way of the address, which takes him away from his country abode, and he appears to be living at ‘Carisbrook’, Macley (sic) Street, Potts Point, a suburb of Sydney. To date I have been unable to identify Mrs. Fraser or Carisbrook, Macleay Street. Two red 1d ‘Shield’ stamps of New South Wales are postmarked with a fine example of Rays ‘371′ of Canberra and separately there is a Type 1D (i) CANBERRA/ JY 10/ 1879/ N.S.W on the front of the cover. The day ‘10′ has been added in manuscript, and the year of 1879 is the earliest recorded date for this type of date-stamp, the previous use being 1886 (Figure 1).

The reverse shows a transit postmark of Type 1D (i) YASS/ JY 10/ 1879/ N.S.W which also is the earliest recorded for the type of date-stamp, the previous earliest use being 1900 (Figure 2).

The second cover is an advertising envelope which is addressed to Mrs. G.F. De Salis, Queanbeyan N.S.W. and the 2d blue N.S.W. stamp is cancelled with a duplex SYDNEY/ K/ OC 31/ 87/ 13 with the 3 ring oval NSW obliterator. It was sent from Kerry & Jones, Portrait & Landscape Photographers, 308 George St. (Near Hunter St.), Sydney. The left hand one-third of the cover extols the virtues of the company: “Old & fast-fading photographs copied or enlarged to any size….” (Figure 3).

The reverse shows a reception postmark the next day at QUEANBEYAN/ NO 1/ 1887/ N.S.W, Type 1D (i), the previous usage was recorded as 1887- 1905, but the month/day is not centred over the year (Figure 4).

The history of the De Salis family in Australia starts with Leopold Fabius Dietegan Fane de Salis (1816-1898) who was born in Florence Italy, the second son of Jerome Fane, the fourth Count De Salis. Leopold was educated at Eton, studied sheep farming in Scotland and he reached Sydney in November 1840 in the Royal George. He acquired property at Darbarlara N.S.W. on the Murrumbidgee and in 1844 he married Charlotte MacDonald.

He and his partners took up several runs and by 1855 he sold out, intending to return to England. Instead he bought ‘Cuppacumbalong’ property at Tharwa (near Queanbeyan). He had been a magistrate since 1844 and in 1874 he was appointed to the Legislative Council, and increasingly he left the management of his stations to two of his sons, including new properties he acquired along the upper Murrumbidgee.

In the 1870s de Salis Bros took up extensive land in Queensland near Bowen, but they lost all their holdings to the Union Bank by 1895. Leopold had visited England in 1893 to transfer entailed estates to a younger brother, and on his return he lived with his daughter Nina, wife of William J. Farrer, (the famous wheat researcher) at ‘Lambrigg’, Tharwa. With debts of over £100,000 Leopold became insolvent in 1898 and he died at ‘Lambrigg’ in November 1898, and was buried at the family cemetery at ‘Cuppacumbalong’, survived by 3 of his four sons and his only daughter Nina.

Leopold William Jerome Fane de Salis (1845-1930) was the oldest son of Leopold senior and George Arthur Charles Fane de Salis (1851-1931) was the second son, and the two of them were principals of de Salis Bros that largely took over management of their fathers properties, and both were the Member of the NSW Legislative Assembly for Queanbeyan, Leopold in 1872-74 and George in 1882-85. George was born at Darbalara Station near Gundagai, he was educated privately, and he spent most of his life as a pastoralist, initially at ‘Cuppacumbalong’ at Tharwa and later at ‘Soglio’, Michelago, N.S.W. He married Mary Gailliard-Smith on 28 February 1878 in Canberra and they had 4 sons and 4 daughters. The following verse was written by George Fane de Salis documenting the effect of drought on his land:

Will the raindrops never patter

On the thirsty fields again

Could those roots ever quicken

Were there weeks of soaking rain.

George died in1931 at Michelago, N.S.W. and was buried at the Michelago cemetery.

I have not been able to account for the first cover bring addressed to George Fane de Salis at a Sydney address, for the year of the cover, 1879, did not correspond to the time he was a N.S.W. MLA requiring him to reside in Sydney when the Parliament was in session.

I was much more successful in discovering the addition of Fane to the de Salis name. On 7 January 1734 Jerome (a.k.a. Hieronimus) de Salis was married to the Hon. Mary Fane, eldest daughter of the Rt. Hon. Charles, the first Viscount Fane, by the Archbishop of York. On 4 April 1809, King George III by Royal License “granted and gave the second Count de Salis’s descendants, of both sexes, those who were Subjects of the Realm, the right to fully avail themselves of the title of the Count of the Holy Roman Empire”. The right of using Fane before that of de Salis was granted, by Royal License and Authority, on 11 December 1835. This was before Leopold Fabius, the son of the fourth Count de Salis, set sail from England and arrived in Sydney in 1840. There are still members of the family in Australia using the Fane de Salis name.

This paper is still a work in progress for there is much more to be learnt about the Fane de Salis family.

Addenda:  To my surprise I found 2 mourning covers in my collection, the first again addressed to Mrs. G. Fane de Salis at The Parsonage, Canberra and it had a red 1d N.S.W. ‘Shield’ stamp postmarked QUEANBEYAN/ JU 21/ 1899/ N.S.W, and the reverse had a transit mark of Yass and a reception mark of Canberra, both for June 22, 1899 (Figure 5).

The second was probably addressed to one of George’s 3 daughters at ‘Lambrigg’ , Tharwa and the red 1d N.S.W. ‘Shield’ stamp was postmarked with a rays ’38’ of Queanbeyan and there was a faint reception mark for THARWA/ MY 5/ 1903/ N.S.W as well as a QUEENBEYAN / MY 4/ 1903/ N.S.W originating mark (Figure 6).

Yet another another cover addressed to Mrs G. Fane DeSalis at the property Soglio, Michelago (N,S,W,) sent from George St. North, Sydney in 1911 (Figure 7).

The on-line Australian Dictionary of Biography and the Parliament of N.S.W. Parliament Members’ Records were both used for the research of this paper.