Chapter 14 - Walter Pegler
In previous chapters I have referred to my Mother's family, the Peglers, but I would like to devote some more space to a very fine Gentleman, my Grandfather Walter Pegler who, after my Parents, probably influenced me more than anyone else in this life. Certainly he helped me a great deal when I was at High School and after I started work. In the last few years of his life, as I shall relate in more detail, Jean and I and our family lived with him in his home which he made us feel was our own. Such was his unselfishness.
Walter was born on 21st February 1873 in his Parents' residence at Rosehill Street, Parramatta in the Colony of New South Wales, just around the corner from No 7 (later renumbered 11) Church Street where he spent the last half of his life. When he was about six years of age the Peglers moved to Granville and, in due course, Walter attended the William Street Public School at Granville where, as previously mentioned, he was one of the original students.
When he was 15 years and 3 months old, Walter was indentured to Little & Company, Printers, Parramatta,
“to learn their Art, after the manner of an Apprentice, to serve from September 15, 1887 until the full term of six years be complete and ended, during which term the said Apprentice his Masters faithfully shall serve, their secrets keep, their lawful commands everywhere gladly do; he shall do no damage to his said Masters, nor see it done by others, but to his power shall tell or forthwith give notice to his said Masters of the same; the goods of his Masters he shall not waste, nor give nor lend them unlawfully to any; he shall neither buy nor sell without his Masters' leave; taverns, inns or ale-houses he shall not haunt; at cards, dice, tables or any other unlawful games he shall not play; Matrimony he shall not contract; nor from the services of his said Masters Day or Night absent himself; but in all things as a faithful apprentice he shall behave himself towards his said Masters and all their Family during the said term. And the said Little & Company the said Apprentice in the Art of Printing which they now useth shall and will teach and instruct, or cause to be taught and instructed in the best way and manner that they can, under the following conditions, that is to say: The said Apprentice shall receive wages as follows:
1st year
5/- a week
2nd year
10/- a week
3rd year
15/- a week
4th year
20/- a week
5th year
25/- a week
6th year
30/- a week
for work the usual office hours. And for the true performance of all and every of the said Covenants and Agreements the said parties bind themselves the one to the other, firmly by these presents. In Witness whereof the parties aforesaid to these Indentures have interchangeably set their hands and Seals at Parramatta in this Her Majesty's Territory of New South Wales, the 18 day of April 1885 in the 51st Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lady Victoria, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the Faith, and so forth, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighty-eight.”
The indenture is dated seven months later than the agreed starting date, so presumably he had already served that time “on trial” and had actually started work when he was 14 years and 6 months of age.
The requirement in his indenture papers not to marry during his six years apprenticeship he well and truly kept, but it was only five months after completing his apprenticeship that he married Emily Norford on 27th February 1894, a week after he had turned 21. Emily required the consent of her Guardian, Sarah Butfield because she was under the age of twenty-one years. The wedding was celebrated by a Primitive Methodist clergyman, George Wells Smailes in a private dwelling at Parramatta.
Before further discussing the wedding of Walter and Emily, let us explore a by-way, that is the Norford Family. Norford is not a very common name and, for quite a long while I was unable to turn up much about them. I had found, when we were living with him, that Grandpa Pegler didn't discuss them very much, and each time I found what looked like a lead it ended up as a dead-end. But recently I wrote to a number of Norfords listed in the Sydney telephone directory (there are only eleven of them, but interestingly, two of them still live in Granville.) Then, from John and Ruth Norford of Ermington I received a letter referring me to Mr. Geoff Meyer of Aberdeen in the Hunter Valley. I discovered that he is also descended from the Norford family and has been doing research on them for some time. A good deal of the next few paragraphs are based on information he has very generously provided.
My own research in the Mitchell Library had already led me to the discovery that In the 1828 Census there is a Charles Norford listed. His age was given as 26 and he had arrived in New South Wales on the “Sesostris” in 1826. His occupation was stated to be “Labourer to Elizth Pitt, Richmond”. Whether or not he was related to the Norfords from whom I am descended, I do not know. Perhaps he was. And perhaps he had encouraged them to come to New South Wales. I had also discovered that there is a Norford Park on the west bank of the headwaters of Duck River where it flows under the Sydney Water Supply Pipeline between Chester Hill and South Granville. This was named after Reginald John Norford who was an Alderman of Granville Council for many years. He is “distantly related”.
But the information from Geoff Meyer goes right back to 1803 and beyond. In 1803, or thereabouts, a son was born at Blandford, Dorset in England, to John and Hannah Norford. He was given the same name as his Father, that is John, so we will call him John (II). He took up the craft of a locksmith and, in 1836, took to wife Sarah Cornish who had been born about 1808 in Chudleigh, Devon, to William and Sarah Cornish.
John (II) and Sarah had nine children, four boys and five girls of which two boys and four girls died in England. Their surviving children, all born in Bristol, were Sarah Ann born in 1837, John (III) born in 1844, and Joseph born in 1846.
On 24th June 1853 John (II) and Sarah, with their three surviving children, arrived in Sydney on the “Malvina Vidal”, a sailing ship, and settled in the Parramatta/Granville area. John (II) had a younger brother, Edward Norford, who with his wife Eliza (nee Geal) had earlier arrived in New South Wales on the “Trafalgar” on 22nd February 1853 and, after moving around quite a deal in the first twenty years, settled in the Hunter Valley (Sandy Hollow, Gungal, Muswellbrook, Aberdeen, etc.) where there are many descendents.
Getting back to John (II) and his family who had settled in the Parramatta District, their youngest son, Joseph, married in 1873 Mary Jane Durden. Later the same year they had a baby girl, Emily. She was my maternal Grandmother. Tragedy, however was soon to strike. Before little Emily was two years old her Father died (in 1875). Unfortunately, I do not know what happened to Joseph's widow, Mary Jane. It is clear that little Emily's Aunt, Sarah Ann (nee Norford born 1837, died 26th August 1896 in Granville) and who was married to George Frederick Butfield, took Emily into her family which, by 1875 comprised seven children ranging in age from 19 years to 3 years! Two more were to follow in 1876 and 1878! (It is interesting to note here that one of Sarah Ann and George Frederick Butfield's children was named Lydia (born 1865) who in 1886 married a William Kay. This would very likely be the W.F. (Billie) Kay with whom Grandpa Walter Pegler was so very friendly and for whom he worked as a Real Estate Salesman for three years from 1913 to 1915, and about which I shall have more to say later.)
Referring back to Emily's Aunt, Sarah Ann Butfield, an entry in Sands Directory for 1887 shows that by 1886 she was living in Woodville Road Granville not far up the hill from where Joseph Pegler and his family were living on the Corner of Woodville Road and Railway Terrace. The fact that she is listed as “Mrs Emily Butfield” suggests that she was then widowed.
I have a copy of the Wedding Certificate of Walter Pegler and Emily Norford (married 27th February 1894) and the following personalities were involved:
Walter Pegler of Granville, Bachelor, Printer.
Emily Norford, Spinster, General Servant, of Granville, daughter of Joseph and Jane Norford, Granville.
Sarah Butfield, Guardian (of Emily Norford).
George Wells Smailes, Minister.
Elias Grozier, Witness.
Harriet Mary Butfield, Witness.
(Harriet was the seventh child of Sarah and George Butfield and was born in 1872, that is, she was a little older than Emily Norford. One can only assume, fairly safely I think, that she was the bridesmaid!)
After their marriage the Walter Peglers lived in the end one of six attached dwellings known as “Stanley Terrace” in Factory Street, Granville in behind Clyde Engineering Co's old works. I have an old photo with Grandpa Walter Pegler leaning on the front fence of this dwelling, and with what appears to be Uncle Les and my Mother, Nellie, standing in front. Whether this was their first residence after marrying, I do not know, but I believe Mother was born there. Later they moved to a cottage “Aola” at 14 Spring-garden Street, Granville which is still standing and has been owned for many years by the Jenkin family. In late 1918 or early 1919 the Peglers moved to 7 Church Street Parramatta and named the house “Norford”, Emily's maiden name.
Walter and Emily had three children, the eldest, born on Nov 2 1895, being Joseph Leslie (known as Les but whose signature was usually given as Jos. L. Pegler). Next was my Mother, Nellie Agnes (known as Nell) born at Granville on 27 August 1898. The third was Beatrice Emily (generally known as Beat or Beattie). She was born on 1st January 1904, New Years Day!
Grandfather Walter did not remain a printer for very long after his marriage. His indenture papers had been discharged by Thos. D. Little and R. Richardson, Printers & Publishers at the Argus Office, George Street, Parramatta on Sept 16, 1893. They were publishers of the well-known “Cumberland Argus” Newspaper. The certificate on the back of his indenture papers states that he had “duly served an apprenticeship of six years at our printing office in Parramatta and is now a competent workman.” After completion of his apprenticeship he appears to have continued to work for them for some time, but he tried other occupations as well, either by choice or through hard times and unemployment as there was a financial recession in the early 1890s which was at its worst in 1893. The slump was caused by many factors including the shearers' and seamen's strikes of 1890, the Broken Hill strike in 1892, and by reduced primary production coinciding with falling prices In overseas markets. Business languished and industry was almost at a standstill, but I am unable to find out what Walter Pegler did to support his young family at this time. I think it probable that he continued with The Argus for at least a portion of the period.
By 1898 he was working for J. Paul, General Carrier of Parramatta as a delivery van driver. They specialised in a daily parcel delivery service between Parramatta and Sydney. In those days vans were, of course, horse-drawn and Grandpa more than once told me about the problem of getting the van up Taverners Hill on Parramatta Road at Petersham. What they did was to hitch on extra horses which were kept for the purpose by an entrepreneur at the bottom of the hill. Apparently these same horse-teams were used until well into the motor lorry era as it was quite a formidable hill! Mr. Paul, the Carrier, gave Grandfather a reference saying that he always found him “honest, sober and trustful, and that in the handling of much money was always correct in his accounts.”
He then went to work for The Clyde Engineering Coy. Ltd. and received from them a reference dated 28/6/1901 saying he had worked there for two seasons as a Comb Maker “and has given satisfaction.” The foreman who gave the reference, a Mr. A. James, also added “He makes a good comb” which I can well believe because Grandpa was very skilled with his hands and with hand tools of which he had many in his home workshop.
After leaving Clyde Engineering he worked for Goodlet & Smith Ltd., Timber and Glass Merchants for twelve years as a storeman. At that time Goodlet & Smith's main premises were at Harris Street, Pyrmont, but they had both a cement manufacturing plant and a “Steam Brick and Terra Cotta Works” at Granville. They still have premises there, of course, in Crescent Street on the Western side of the railway line. I am not certain, but I think Grandpa worked at the Granville plant. They gave him a reference when he left which said “During his time he gave every satisfaction, is thoroughly trustworthy, and possesses a good knowledge of the materials passing through his hands. He leaves us of his own accord, we understand, to enter business on his own account.” That was dated 7th March 1913.
However, instead of his own business he went to work for W.F. Kay, Property Salesman, at 40 Hunter Street, Sydney. They specialised, apparently, in farm properties and Walter was a property salesman and clerk, part of his three years with the firm being spent as manager of their Fairfield Branch Office. Then the war came and, with the turndown in business, possibly for the first and only time In his life he “ got the sack”. In a reference dated 13th September 1915 Mr Kay says “The depression caused by the war has made it imperitive (sic) for me to reduce expenditure to a fine point otherwise he would still be in my employ. As it is, he was the last member of my staff to be dispensed with.” Mr. Kay went on to say, “A better man it would be hard to find, as he is not only an earnest worker, but has initiative as well, which he has often turned to good account. His honesty is beyond question, and I had a sufficient confidence in him to open an account at the local Fairfield Bank, giving him full power to sign cheques on my behalf. This confidence was well placed and abundantly proved. I never recommended a man more earnestly.”
Walter Pegler's next job, from which he retired on a pension in 1937, was with the Australian Gas Light Company about which comment has been made in an earlier chapter. Grandfather was a good financial manager. I doubt if he ever received other than average wages or salary but he appears to have wisely invested what inheritance he received from his Father's estate. With this he entered into some business ventures with his son, my Uncle Les, about which I shall have more to say in another chapter. He owned his own home and had the ability after he retired to save from his pension enough to buy a few hundred pounds worth of Gas Company shares. In later life he always favoured the Gas Company as an investment and his judgement proved to be sound.
All of Walter and Emily's children married in the early 1920s. The first to marry was their second child, Nellie, to George Thomas Hunt, as previously discussed, on 3rd April 1920. Their children were:
John Morris Hunt
7th March 1921
Walter George Hunt
14th July 1923
Lois Nellie Hunt
1st February 1927
Neil Norford Hunt
31st March 1929
    Then Nellie's older brother, Leslie, married Ellie Darknell Green, usually called Gwen, on 28th August 1920. They had three children:
Roy Leslie Pegler
21st June 1921
Marjorie Gwendoline Pegler
19th December 1925
Gwennyth Norford Pegler
11th July 1933
Finally, the younger Daughter, Beatrice Emily married George Allan Jordan on 23rd September 1925. I can remember this wedding, although only four and a half years old at the time, as I was the Page Boy, who carried the wedding rings on a silk cushion down the aisle as part of the wedding party. I was dressed in a very smart black velvet suit! Beattie and George had three children:
Lynette Beatrice Jordan
11th May 1928
Colin George Jordan
13th October 1935
Richard George Jordan
16th May 1944