Family Ties

Joseph Ladd Mayes & his wife Eugenie met and married at a turbulent time in his career, when the spectre of the Kelly Gang hunt, the Royal Commission and the demands of policing duties kept Joseph Ladd away from home for extended periods.

The end to The Kelly Affair and the conclusion of the Royal Commission would have been welcomed, allowing Joseph Ladd, Eugenie and their now adult children to settle into a pleasant domestic existence. The township of Lancefield was renowned as an idyllic, Victorian country town, servicing a rural population of farmers and graziers, small holders, timber millers, tradespeople and shop keepers. Close to Melbourne by rail, and boasting both a desirable elevation and climate the township was a popular summer destination. It remains a highly desirable locale to this day.

Main Street, Lancefield.

Though Joseph Ladd and Eugenie were approaching middle age, they enjoyed a prolific second round of parenthood, welcoming their first child Florence Marion in 1881. Florence was followed by Dorothy Susan (1882), Eugenie Douglas (1884), Joseph Ladd Jr (1886), Edward Burke (1888), Mary Madge (1890) and Norman Hector (1893).

The region around Lancefield is renowned for its fertility and climate.

The eldest child of Joseph Ladd & Mariann Mayes, John Adolph, appears to have had a thirst for adventure, such that by 1888, he had been living far from his birth place in the town of Wilcannia in NSW. John Adolph is the subject of this article, penned by his descendant Allen Mayes.

John Adolph Mayes – date unknown.

Rebecca Mayes – the second child of Joseph & Marrian provides us with the most tangible piece of their life in the 1870’s. A letter, written by Rebecca to her brother John Adolph, dated 1877 gives us an insight into the life of the Mayes family. It also shows a glimpse of the man Joseph Ladd was – meticulous (pointing out errors in Johnny’s grammar), and his dedication to service.

Letter from Rebecca Mayes to her brother John Adolph Mayes, written from Broadmeadows, dated 1877.

The following is the text of the letter, as best as we have been able to translate;

Dear Johnny,

We received your letter in time; Papa said it was a capital one; you made two slight mistakes; you put two ls~ in holidays and only one h’ in whether. Papa showed your drawing to Mrs. Rodda, she said it was very good. Mr. Rodda gave it out in church on Sunday evening, that he was going to commence a Confirmation class on Sunday the 12th inst. Harriet Dutton, Sarah and I had our names put down. I do not know if there will be any more from here. Papa was at the Williamstown races on Saturday, he was not home till after nine o’clock, he was at the Flemington races today and he will have to attend there on Thursday and Saturday.

Papa left Rhoan in the Depot today as he is quite lame, the horse Papa has now is smaller than Rhoan and is a pretty grey.

We had Mrs. Shannon washing here today, and I had to shut Rhoan in the stable nearly all day because he kept pushing her and flying at her. Momma says that when you buy a hat, get one that will not lose it’s shape the first wetting it gets.

I am getting on very well with my music now, I got a lesson today. Sarah is a good player now, Miss Eliza says she can play the “Reaper’s Polka” and the “Cornflower Valse” very well.

We have given away four of xxnxxx ‘s kittens, there is only one left now, I had to bring it down from the loft, it was meowing so often, its little brother, xxxx won’t make friends with it at all, he spits at it and slaps him in the face. I have no more to say at present so I send our best love to you from,

Your Affectionate sister

R J Mayes.

A guess has been made of the name of Joseph Ladd’s horse – Rhoan. The name of Rebecca’s cat is much harder to decipher therefore x’s have been left in it’s place.

No photos currently exist of Rebecca. So far as we know she did not marry. It is apparent that Rebecca worked as a post mistress at Pakenham in Victoria but for how long is unclear. In Joseph Ladd Mayes’ will he specifically set aside 25 pounds for Rebecca Mayes who was, at the time of his death, living at Brighton, probably at the Union Street residence of her parents. Rebecca died in 1929 at Pakenham.

Sara Mayes, Joseph & Mariann’s third child Sara was barely 16 years old when her mother died in 1878. Some time around 1885 Sara began a courtship with a young mounted Constable named Peter O’Shannassy who – it is believed – was stationed at Kyneton, Victoria and may have even been under Joseph Ladd’s command when he was stationed there. Sara and Peter O’Shannassy were married at Boondara in Victoria on 11th November 1885 and eventually moved to the Tarwin Lower District of South Gippsland, Victoria. Peter and Sara had three children, Marian Cicely born in 1886 at Lancefield, Victoria, Barbara born 1889 at Tarwin Lower, Victoria and Allen Neil born 1895.

Sara Augusta Mayes & husband Peter O’Shannassy – dates unknown.
Sara & Peter O’Shannassy – date unknown.
Sara O’Shannassy (Mayes) with grandson Harold Mountain, c.1930’s.

Peter O’Shannassy died in 1919 and was buried at the Tyabb cemetery near Hastings in Victoria. Sara O’Shannassy (Mayes) died on August 8th 1940 and was buried with her husband at Tyabb. Apparently no headstone was erected.

Florence Marion Mayes – the first child of Joseph Ladd & Eugenie Mayes was born at Broadmeadows in 1881 though the exact date is unknown. Florence Marion spent much of her early life at Lancefield.

Florence Marion Mayes – date unknown

She married a divorcee Augustus Henry Sandford in January of 1909. Sandford was a Lieutenant Colonel in the British military who signed up at the outbreak of WW1 and seems to have gained some notoriety. At the very beginning of the 1914 – 1918 conflict Sandford was commander of a fort at Queenscliff on the western tip of Port Phillip Bay in Victoria. A German steamer called the “Pfalz” which was docked in Melbourne attempted to leave upon hearing of the outbreak of war. Sandford urgently requested an order to fire on the “Pfalz” to stop it from escaping through Port Phillip heads and was given it. Thus Augustus Sandford was regarded as having ordered the first Australian shots of the war.

The German steamer SS Pfalz – it was rebadged as an Australian ship after it was captured at the outbreak of WW1

Augustus and Florence possibly had two daughters but this needs confirmation. Sandford had two adult sons from a previous marriage, Horace & Arthur – both of whom had notable military careers.

Florence Marion was recorded as 21 when her father died in 1902 and she was 58 when her mother died in 1939. At this stage it is unknown when Florence Marion died but it is possible she resided in Sydney.

Dorothy Susan was born in 1882 around the time when Joseph Ladd was participating in the Police Royal Commission. Very little is known of Dorothy other than she was 20 when her father died in 1902 and was 57 when her mother died in 1939. Dorothy married a Lieutenant Bruce Hyde Cates of the 53rd Sikhs in Polwatte, Colombo Sri Lanka on August 3rd, 1917 and the couple honeymooned at Kandy in Sri Lanka. We don’t know if they had children, nor do we know when Dorothy died.

Dorothy Mayes – date unknown.
Dorothy Mayes on ladder with Mary holding their mother Eugenie. These photos were taken on New Year’s Day 1918 at Brighton, Victoria by Cicily O’Shannassy.

Eugenie Mayes was born in 1884 probably at Lancefield. Eugenie married one Gerald McLeod – originally from the town of Donald in Western Victoria – on the 20th August, 1904 in Coolgardie, Western Australia. She was 18 years old when her father died in 1902 and she was deceased by the time her mother died in 1939.

Eugenie Mayes – date unknown

Joseph Ladd Mayes Jr. was born in 1885 at Kyneton in Victoria. Joseph Mayes is the subject of his own article, which can be found here.

Joseph Ladd Mayes Jnr., taken New Year’s Day, 1918 at Brighton, Victoria.

Joseph Ladd & Eugenie’s 5th child Edward Burke Mayes was born sometime in 1888, however the exact date is unknown. As with others in his family Edward’s life is mostly a mystery. He was 14 years old when his father died in 1902 and 51 when his mother died in 1939.

Mary Madge Mayes was born in 1890, probably at Brighton in Victoria. She was 12 years old when her father died in 1902. Mary was known affectionately as Mollie. She is known to have married Henry Brockington Coles, an insurance broker. She was listed as 48 years old on her mother’s death certificate however this should read 49.

Mary Mayes posing with her husband Harry Coles on New Years Day, 1918 at Brighton, Victoria.

The last of Joseph Ladd’s children, Norman Hector was born in 1892 making him only ten years old when his father passed away in July, 1902. Norman Hector was known the Mayes family currently residing in Gippsland, Victoria. Dorothy Mayes, wife of Joseph Ladd Jr’s son George, recalls Norman Hector being a kindly bachelor who almost always wore a suit, was very well spoken and who looked after his mother in her later years. Norman Hector lived nearly all of his life in Brighton, Victoria. He died on September 4th, 1962.

Norman Hector Mayes – date unknown.

As Joseph Ladd approached his 60th year, this second round of fatherhood proved an invigorating one. The family bible Joseph Ladd kept recorded his children’s milestones and the intimacies of family life, growing ever larger as the years passed.

Under a Lancefield sky.

Their presence in the Lancefield district was a constant, aside from the brief Kyneton posting. As the decade turned and rolled on, Joseph Ladd’s thoughts turned towards life beyond his beloved career.

Next: Twilight by the Sea…