- Click here for information on the name Elgiva.
I would not normally have chosen Elgiva, my 2nd cousin 3x removed, as the subject of one of my lives and times stories. However it is interesting with its identification of some of the challenges faced by immigrants in Australia, in finding work and settling into a society rather different from the home country.
Very soon after their marriage, in fact within a month or two, Charles and Elgiva migrated to Australia, departing London on board the Orient Steam Navigation Company’s steamer, Chimborazo, arriving at either Melbourne or Sydney, 21 December 1882.
It is interesting to note that Charles Wesley’s Father, Charles GWYER, who is recorded in the 1871 Census as a farmer of 860 acres employing 10 men and 6 boys, had died in June 1882 and by Will appointed his Widow Elizabeth the sole Executrix.
His father’s occupation at death was “Auctioneer and Valuer”. This has relevance to the occupation of son, Charles Wesley, in Australia.
Charles is identified in 1888 as “of the Glen, Castle Hill, Sydney”, when he publicly retracts statements in a letter to the Commissioner for Roads, and apologises to the Trustees named in the letter, viz. Mr. J. W. FOSTER, Mr. W. BEST, and A. BLACK.
The New South Wales Census of 1891 records his and Elgiva’s place of residence as “Spencer Street, Camden 4, Woolahra”.
The NSW Police Gazette, 10 August 1892 at page 264, under the head “Deserting Wives and Families, Service, &c.” advises that a warrant has been issued by the Water Police Bench for the arrest of Charles Wesley GWYER, charged with wife desertion. He is stated to be “about 33 years of age, 6 feet high, stout build, brown hair, sandy whiskers and moustache, very strong voice, is known to W.J. Smith, fruiterer, Bathurst-street. Supposed to have gone to the Orange District. Complainant, Elgiva Gwyer, care of Mr Burcher, solicitor, 46, Elizabeth-street”.
He was very quickly found and in September 1892, Charles Wesley GWYER, 33, commission agent, appeared in the Brisbane City Police Court, on a charge of wife desertion. He was initially remanded to Sydney for a week, in order that he might try and obtain work, and later ordered to pay 15s a week for three months towards his wife’s support. Mrs. Gwyer was told by the bench in the Sydney Court to apply for more at the end of that period if her husband’s position was better.
Following this Charles established himself in Cambalego, near Dubbo, New South Wales as a successful business man. The Sydney Morning Herald of 17 November 1903 contains information from the “Government Gazette” which includes Charles’ name in a list of Gentlemen appointed to the commission of the peace. He regularly featured in news of the Police Court.
In 1915, we find him being unsuccessfully sued for defamation of character. The following is from the Western Age (Dubbo), Wednesday 3 November 1915:
“In the Small Debts Court, Robert Albert Yates sued Charles Wesley Dwyer for £10, damages for defamation of character. Mr. Bolton appeared for the prosecution, and Mr.Duffy defended. The Police Magistrate urged a settlement between the parties, in preference to opening their dispute in court. Defendant said that he didn’t refer to the Complainant in any way and he had nothing against the complainant. Complainant accepted this and withdrew the information.”
Elgiva died 30 July 1920 and it would appear she never moved from Sydney to rejoin Charles at Cambalego. Her Death Notice reads “GWYER – at Bankstown, New South Wales, on July 30th, Mrs Elgiva Gwyer wife of Charles Wesley Gwyer of Cambalego, after a prolonged illness.”
The following advertisement showing a status as “Widow” would seem to confirm estrangement and the fact that Elgiva and Charles had not lived together since his desertion of her in 1892.
The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 12 December 1921 p 7:
“IN THE SUPREME COURT OF NEW SOUTH WALES.
Probate Jurisdiction.?No. 102,254. In the Will of ELGIVA GWYER late of Bankstown in the State of New South Wales, Widow, deceased.”NOTICE is hereby given that the Accounts in the above Estate have this day been filed in my office Elizabeth-street, Sydney, and all persons having any claim on the said Estate, or being otherwise interested therein, are hereby required to come in before me at my said office on or before the twenty-ninth day of December at twelve o’clock noon and inspect the same and if they shall think fit object thereto; otherwise if the said Accounts be not objected to the same will be examined by me and passed according to law. Dated this ninth day of December in the year one thousand nine hundred and twenty-one. L. M. ADDISON (L.S.)”.
Charles is variously listed in electoral rolls from 1930 as an auctioneer, and shop keeper and commission agent. He death in 1945 was registered at Cobar, New South Wales, Australia.
Addendum: A snippet from The Western Age Dubbo, Thursday 27 June 1929, reads “In a previous issue it was stated that Mr C. W. Gwyer was having a petrol bowser erected. This has been done and the old warrior appears quite important handling the pump. A number of lads of the village some being owners of cars, rendered assistance in sinking the well.”
The description of Charles as an “old warrior” gives some sign of him as a person and would show that he was held with some affection by the community. Charles would have been 70 years of age at this time.