04 June 2016

Harold Selwyn Smith 1828-1891

From the Francis Hayter Album

Case Study: Harold Selwyn Smith


There doesn’t seem to be a family connection between the album owner, Francis Hayter, and Harold Selwyn Smith, however, I did find a connection between Harold’s second wife and the Fetherstonhaugh Album, see further in this article.

Harold Selwyn Smith was the son of the Reverend John Jennings Smith & his wife Anne neé Timberlake, born in Kingsholm, Gloucestershire and baptised in the St Michael’s Church in Gloucester on the 7 Oct 1828.harold-baptism2

Some say the Rev’d John was the illegitimate son of King George IV, although there doesn’t seem to be any proof of that it’s an interesting theory which you can read about in the excellent article on this website here.

On the 11 Jun 1839 John Jennings & Anne Smith, along with 8 of their 11 children, boarded the vessel ‘Amelia Thompson’ in London bound for Australia, they arrived in Port Jackson on the 28 Sep 1839. Amongst their children was 4th son Harold Selwyn Smith who later in various sources is listed as a ‘merchant of Melbourne’.

On 8 Oct 1853 Harold married Camilla Rosa Hart, they had four children:- Fanny Anne Lloyd 1854-1923; William Hamilton 1855-1857; Montague Selwyn 1857-1932 and George Charles 1858-1922 before Camilla passed away in 1860 aged 25, probably in childbirth as there as an unnamed Smith birth registration, with Camilla listed as the mother, in 1860.

Harold remarried on the 18 Feb 1864 to Madeleine Elizabeth Kelly (whose mother was Hannah Fetherstonhaugh & sister of this William Fetherstonhaugh of Grouse Lodge in Ireland, her father was also related to Robert Vandeleur Kelly, both of whom you’ll find in my Fetherstonhaugh Album). Harold and Madeleine had a further six children:- Hubert Selwyn 1864-1881; Alice Caroline 1867-1940; Cecil Selwyn 1869-?; Edward Selwyn born 1871 in Ireland; Emily Florence 1875-? and Madeleine Ethel 1877-1964.

Harold Selwyn Smith was a man of many talents, this is just a short timeline of his achievements:-

1839 - arrived at Port Jackson on the 'Amelia Thompson'
1860 - land & estate agent, accountant & arbitrator at 54 Queen St, Melbourne
1866 - director of The Southern Insurance Co at 31 Queen St, Melbourne
1867 - owner of the vessel 'The Torque' that was lost off North Cape, NZ on 7 Jun 1867
1871 - in Kingstown, Dublin, Ireland where son Edward was born (maybe visiting Madeleine's family)
1875 - arrived in NZ with wife Madeleine (& presumably their children) on the 'Alhambra'
1875 - appointed General Manager of the NZ Shipping Co at a salary of £1500 per annum
1876 - elected a member of the Philosophical Institute in Auckland (where his photograph was taken)
1876 - appointed clergyman's churchwarden at St Mary's Church, Merivale, Christchurch (where a  magnitude-6.3 earthquake struck on 22 Feb 2011 killing 182 people)
1877 - daughter Madeleine Ethel born in NZ
1877 - fined 40 shillings for having two unregistered dogs
1878 - marriage of eldest daughter Fanny Anne Lloyd Smith (her mother Camilla) in NZ
1879 - gave notice of his willingness to act as director (of NZ Shipping Co) if elected at the AM on 13 Aug 1879, still general manager at that stage
1879 - being considered for a select committee of the Diocesan Synod in aid of Church Day Schools
1879 - ceased as manager of NZ Shipping Co, no reason at present
1880 - donated a bust of Bishop Broughton, first bishop of Australasia, to the Canterbury Museum
1880 - bankrupt and left NZ suddenly
1881 - Justice of the Peace in Merivale, Ashfield near Sydney
1888 - member of the Social Purity Society (Australia)
1890 - accountant & arbitrator in Sydney

It seems he may have left NZ under somewhat of a cloud, he tried to explain in his own words "I venture to trouble you with a brief epitome of my introduction to your service, and the manner of my leaving it", in these letters from the NZTEC archives here (be prepared for a long read!). In the many newspaper articles I read about Harold there was nothing more after 1880 so he was obviously not charged with any wrongdoing although I did come across this sentence that leaves me wondering:-

Selwyn Smith proved himself worthy of his detractors' vituperation. He was found to have used the Company's funds to ease his private engagements and was placed in bankruptcy in 1880, owing also a considerable debt to the Loan Company.

Harold died on 14 Mar 1891 and is buried in St John's Anglican Church Cemetery, Ashfield, NSW and Madeleine on 6 Jul 1924 at South Yarra, Melbourne.

References: ancestry.com.au; NZETC; Paterson River History; FindMyPast; PapersPast; Trove; NZBMD Online; Christchurch Libraries.



St Mary’s Church, Merivale, built 1866, photos taken in 1916 and just after the 2011 earthquake.
© Christchurch City Libraries: IMG0046.


Unknown said...

Dear Dawn,

Thank you so much for this remarkable find - Harold Selwyn Smith is my 3rd great grandfather by his first wife Camilla Rose Hart. We do have in the family a stunning portrait of his wife, probably painted around the time of her death, but I had never seen a picture of him - so it is wonderful to see his face. I would really like a high quality digital copy of this photograph if that were possible, so that it could be printed and reproduced? I'm not sure how to contact you other than here but thank you again for unearthing this.


Alexander Ross.

AFT said...

Hello Alexander,

We share a common ancestor in Camilla Rose Hart. Our family has a portrait of her as well. I wonder if it’s the same artist?

Kind regards,


Unknown said...

Hi, I have just come across you reseach on Harold. I have been researching the Hartpury House that he built for Madeline , in St. Kilda., as a wedding present . Their are articles about the garden and it imminent sale in 21 October 1871.
Harold name is also mentioned in a court case, as a witness -the Truth( Brisbane )17 August 1913, as the owner of the brig "Carl', which was involved in 'blackbirding'. Harold had been the owner of 'Carl'till April 1871 when he sold it to Dr. Murray.
Other articles relating to Harold are - THE AGE 23 May 1862, THE AGE 30 June 1862,
NSW Police Gazette 18 September 1867, appointed as a magistrate by Sir Henry Parkes, Leader 4 December 1869, Hartpury House Grounds at Balaclava, The Argus 30 May 1871 , selling of his 2 Sumatra Ponies, The Australian 21 October 1871 'Hartpury House 'being auctioned , Sands and Mc Dougalls 1871 . H. Selwyn Smith living in Inkerman street, St. Kilda. S and McD 1873 , accountant& arbitrate , financial & mining agent , 59 Queens street, Melb. 14 July 1880- Sydney, police report of stolen article including his Irish Frieze coat. Son Hubert died age 16, in NZ. The details that you have thatI have missed, will be included in an article I am writing for St. Kilda Historical Society newsletter on lost mansions of St. Kilda. It is still, there but the surrounding land was sold in 1923, and a multitude of apartments built all around it. Claire