George Leonard Darby

#131, (circa 1850-3 July 1926)
FatherJohn Darby (c 1819-26 Jan 1853)
MotherMary Leonard1 (c 1816-7 Jun 1861)
ChartsAylott Family - descendants
Brett Family - descendants
Darby Family - descendants
Fairclough Family - descendants
Leonard Family - descendants
Wayte Family - descendants
Mike Hill - ancestors
Descendents of Richard Darby

Short Biography

     George was born about 1850 in Morphett Vale, South Australia, the son of an engineer. However, his father died unexpectedly when George was about 3 years old, leaving his pregnant wife, George, and George's younger brother.

After four more years in the colony (and the death of his young sister) George and his brother were taken by his mother to Manchester where her family lived. The Darby boys were raised there by the family; his mother apparently died when he was in his teens.

As a boy he made a life-long friendship with another boy of similar age, William Lever, later Lord Leverhulme, the Sunlight Soap magnate.

He became a clerk in cotton mill, and married Patty Miller, the daughter of a cotton mill over-looker. They had three girls, but George returned to South Australia to take up a public service role. His family joined after a few years.

He spent the rest of his working life in the public service, rising to chief clerk of the Woods and Forest Department before his retirement in the early years of the new century.

His daughters all married in th long years of his retirement.

His wife died in in 1921,a nd his death followed 5 years later when he was aged about 76.
George Leonard Darby
     NOTE: The information on this page is my research to date and is subject to change as I become better informed. I very much welcome any corrections or additional info you might have - my email address is at the bottom of this page - Tim Hill.
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(For a brief history and context on the Darby family see this page)

George was born circa 1850 at Morphett Vale, South Australia. George was perhaps named after his father's father. It also seems like his birth was not registered.2 He was the son of John Darby and Mary Leonard.1

His father died 26 January 1853 at the approximate age of 34. George was about 3 years old.3 George arrived at London before 22 August 1857.4,5

He formed a lifelong friendship with William Lever, who was slightly younger than him. William later became 1st Viscount Leverhulme, the very well-known main founder of Lever Brothers (now UniLever). George and Lever corresponded up until Lever's death in 1925.6

He was recorded as living with his mother's brother and his mother's sister, his brother James, two boarders and a servant in the 1861 census at 37 Burlington Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester. He was recorded as being 11 years old.7 His occupation was recorded as being a scholar in the census.7

His mother died 7 June 1861 at the approximate age of 44. George was aged just 11 when this happened, and now had neither parent living. On 7 August 1863 his uncle Thomas Darby applied on behalf of himself and his two young nephews for their lands at Section 628, in Noarlunga, South Australia to be brought under the Real Property Act.8

He may have been a student of the Bolton Church Institute, as he was close to William Lever who attended this institution.9 His occupation was recorded as being a commercial clerk in a cotton mill in the census.10 George Leonard Darby and Jim Darby had further land that was brought under the Real Property Act on 24 December 1874 at Adelaide.11 George was employed as a clerk on 1 August 1875.12 George lived on 1 August 1875 at 81 Raby Street, Moss Side, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester.12

He married Patty Miller, daughter of Robert T. Miller and Mary Fairclough, in a congregationalist ceremony at the Independent Chapel on Thursday, 5 August 1875 at Ashton upon Mersey, Sale, Cheshire. Witnesses to the wedding were Anna Margaret Breach, Jim Darby and Charles Lewis Brandreth.13,14,15 George and Patty Miller, aged 25 became the parents of Edythe Mary Darby on Sunday, 23 January 1876 at Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester.16,17,18,19

He was recorded as head of household in the 1881 census with Patty Miller as his spouse at 132 Oxford Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester. He was recorded as being 38 years old. Also in the house was their young daughter, two boarders and servant.17 His occupation was recorded as being an umbrella manufacturer, probably for his wife's uncle John Jameson in the census.17 George and Patty Miller, aged 31 became the parents of Mabelle Gertrude Darby on Friday, 23 June 1882 at Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester.20,21,16 After a voyage of a very fast 38 days, George arrived at Port Adelaide, South Australia, on 26 December 1883. There was a number of interesting things about the trip; there was a Melbourne Detective who was returning with an absconding insolvent after arresting him in London. Further, the ship skirted a cyclone and the Captain was nearly washed overboard.22,23

He was employed by the Woods and Forests Department of the Land Office. He secured this job after less than two months in South Australia; at this time, the husband of his Aunt was the Secretary of Land and Immigration on 13 February 1884 at South Australia.24 George and Patty Miller, aged 33 became the parents of Elsie Florence Darby on Friday, 4 April 1884 at Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester. She was likely conceived just before George left England, and he proabably didn't know anything about her existence for many months..25 George Leonard Darby was a cashier on 9 July 1884.26 He he lost a black dressing bag containing a gold ring and wearing apparel between Teatree Gully and Woodville on 23 January 1885.27 He was employed by the Agricultural Bureau as Secretary on 17 July 1888.28 After his wife and children had finally joined him in South Australia, George placed an advertisment in the newspaper that he wished to buy a side-saddle and a honey extractor.29

George was tasked with drawing up a new set of books for the whole Land Office, which were seen as in a poor state of affairs. George's work for the Forestry Department was seen as a good example. However, there was some cloud over his practices as well on 18 June 1890:
"Chief Clerk, G. L. Darby, £200.— This officer states that he is not responsible for the existing state of affairs, he having, under instructions, continued the system of book-keeping which he found in operation when appointed to the position he holds. He has also been somewhat hampered by the absence of full information from the Conservator as to the nature of the transactions into which the latter has entered, and by the frequent introduction into the office of inexperienced lads. In bestowing blame, therefore, upon Mr. Darby for the present state of the office all these facts must be taken into consideration. Should the changes proposed by us not result in a speedy improvement it will, however, be neccesary to place some more experienced officer in charge."30



George was one of a deputation that met with the Minister of Education on 25 August 1892, calling on him to release funds for the building of the school at Mylor, South Australia.31,32 In December 1892 the Darby family had a grand piano at home, as it was lent for the cause of a fundraiser to build an institute and hall for the 700 or so residents.33 On 5 December 1892 there was a visit by legislators (including an M.P.) to the Darby property at Mylor where someone noted that George and his family had the best house in the district. There was perhaps a suggestion that this was inappropriate give George's position in the Land Office. Later that night, George and his wife and daughters contributed items to the programme of the concert in the evening.34 A suggestion that the Darbys had the best house in the district was refuted by a T. Murphy (and in a different newspaper, 'Thomas H. Winkworth') who said that Mr. Hughes had a much finer house and that the Darby House was only 2 stone rooms, like several other houses.35,36

George and Martha as well as two of their daughters took part in a concert on 24 April 1893 in aid of the Cotton Memorial Homestead Institute.37

On Sunday, 10 September 1893, Martha hosted at home "an excellent repast for between 60 and 80 juveniles" who had come to an Arbour Day event organised by the Mylor Wesleyan Chapel.38

Patty hosted a picnic at home on 19 January 1894 for the Mylor Wesleyan Sunday School, and the event with "concert, bright with song and recitation, was enjoyed by all" extended into the evening.39,40

George was injured in an accident on 29 January 1894:
"Accident to Mr. G. L. Darby.— Our Mylor correspondent writes : — A rather alarming accident occurred to Mr. G. L. Darby, of the Woods and Forest Department, near his residence, Holmsdale, on Saturday morning. Mr. Darby was holding a horse preparatory to driving his family to the Cotton Memorial Festival, when the animal reared and plunged, and Mr. Darby losing control over it was knocked down. The wheels of the buggy passing over his neck, causing a severe abrasion of the skin and cutting the lobe of the right ear. Luckily the injuries are not serious, and none of the family were in the buggy. The horse, after dashing through the paddock, struck the drive and emerged on to the main road, where he was stopped."41



George was nominated as a member of a fruit growing association in Aldgate, South Australia.42

The Darby family was represented at a social to commemorate the opening of the new Mylor School, and one of the Darby daughters took part in the concert.43

George was a executive committee member of the Mylor Homestead League.44

The Mylor Wesleyan Sunday - school scholars held a very successful picnic and concert on 9 March 1895. Martha is credited with being the one who brought the school together in her home and being the Superintendent.45,46

In February 1896, Mabelle and Elsie Darby joined The Children's 'Sunbeam' Society of South Australia.47

On 13 February 1896 Sir Fowell Buxton vistited the area and 12 year old Elsie Florence Darby was one of two girls chosen to present the Governor with a basket of apples and grapes to give to his wife.48

George was the Treasurer of the Mylor Institute, and a trustee of the library committee which were seeking a "properly conducted library and reading room."44

On Wednesday, 16 September 1896, he was one of thousands who attended the funeral of Mr. Hartley, the Inspector General of Schools.49

In January 1898 there was a bushfire in Mylor that affected the Darby's place. This occurred on a hot and windy day, and there were about 35 people fighting the fire, which saved the house, trap and horse. In all, about 100 acres were burned. Whilst initial reports said that fruit trees, sheds, clothing etc were destroyed, another correspondent said about a dozen fruit trees were burnt. On the contrary, the worst sufferer seemed to be a Mr. Wake who had moved some of this things to the Darby's that day.50,51 His wife was seriously injured when she was thrown from a buggy in Aldgate on her way to pick him up from the train.52

The Darby's sufferred another unsettling incident involving a horse carriage on 4 May 1902:
"SERIOUS VEHICLE ACCIDENT. Mr. G.L. Darby (chief clerk of the Woods and Forests Department), whilst driving to his home from Aldgate station on Monday evening with his daughters, met with a serious accident. The horse stopped suddenly, and in doing so broke a portion of the harness. The animal then bolted round a curve at the foot of a steep hill, throwing out all the occupants of the vehicle. Mr. Darby's ankle was broken, and he was removed to the Adelaide Hospital. His daughters received a severe shaking and abrasions."53,54

George lived on 22 August 1902 at at Werneth House in the Adelaide suburb of Malvern. The house had the same name as a house in Romiley, Cheshire, owned by Charles Richardson (Patty's brother-in-law.)55 A picture was taken of George and Patty Darby in their final years.
George and Patty Darby in their final years
(source: Tim Hill collection)


On 21 January 1908, a large fire at Mylor threatened the Darby home, but a number of fire fighters come to the property and it was saved by back-burning. Ultimately, only a few fence-posts were burned.56,57

Again, in February 1912 the district faced serious fires and residents worked hard to stop the town being overwhelmed.58

In April 1915, George registered his Humberette (number 5625) in Mylor, one of 33 cars registered in the state that week.59 He was in impaired health and had lived in retirement after 18 years with the Woods and Forests Department circa 1916.6,60 George and Martha (and presumably his spouse Martha) lived in July 1920 at Malvern. The house had the same name as a house in Romiley, Cheshire, owned by Charles Richardson (Patty's brother-in-law.)61

His wife Patty died 22 December 1921 at the age of 71, leaving him a widower. George Leonard Darby attempted to sell on terms a cottage of 4 rooms on a large block, including a stable. By this stage he seems to have had the telephone connected in April 1925.62

George lived in January 1926 at the Adelaide suburb of Fullarton. He was in the last stage of his life.60

George died on 3 July 1926 at Fullarton, South Australia. The cause of death was a combination of senile decay and cerebral haemorrhage (usually associated with high blood pressure) at the Home for Incurables in Fisher Street.60,63,64 His body was interred at North Road cemetery on 5 July 1926 at the Adelaide suburb of Medindie Gardens. The funeral was held at All Souls', St. Peter's.65,66

George His life was encapsulated in an obituary on 7 July 1926:

"Mr. George Leonard Darby, whose death occurred on Saturday, was for many years employed in the Woods and Forest Department, and was greatly esteemed by those who knew him. He was born at Morphett Vale in 1852, and was sent to England when a boy. Some years were spent in Manchester. He married Miss Miller, of Preston, and about 1880 he returned to Adelaide. For a long period he was a well-known figure at Mylor where he took a great interest in his garden, which, unfortunately, was destroyed by fire. He travelled a good deal in country districts. During the last ten years he had been in impaired health, and had lived in retirement. He leaves three daughters, Mesdames S. L. Brown, W. W. Gilbert, and J. A. Smith. Mr. Darby was a man of cheerful disposition, and was a life-long friend of Lord Leverhulme, with whom he regularly corresponded up to the time of the death of the latter."6,67

Timeline

DateEventPlace
Family
Family
1850BirthMorphett Vale, South Australia2
1
1861Occupation7
1871OccupationBolton, Lancashire10
1875Employment12
1875Residence81 Raby Street, Moss Side, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester12
1875Marriagethe Independent Chapel, Ashton upon Mersey, Sale, Cheshire13,14,15
1881Census (Eng) 1881132 Oxford Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester17
1881OccupationChorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester17
1883Immigratn-newPort Adelaide, South Australia22,23
1884EmploymentSouth Australia24
1884Occupation-hideChorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester68
1884Occupation26
1885Employment-hideSouth Australia27
1888Employment28
1890Quotation type 130
1894Quotation type 141
1902Quotation type 253,54
1902Residence at Werneth House in the Adelaide suburb of Malvern55
1920ResidenceMalvern61
1926Residencethe Adelaide suburb of Fullarton60
1926DeathFullarton, South Australia60,63,64
1926Burial at North Road cemetery in the Adelaide suburb of Medindie Gardens65,66
1926Quotation type 16,67

Family

Martha Alice Miller (3 Nov 1850-22 Dec 1921)
Children

Citations

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  52. [S244] The South Australian Register, 1898 'No title', South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), 29 January, p. 5. , viewed 03 Jan 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article54518811 Buggy Accident. -Our Mylor correspondent wrote on Friday:— 'Mrs. J [sic]. L Darby and a lady friend were the victims of a buggy accident last night at Aldgate. Mrs. Darby was driving up to the Aldgate Railway Station to meet her husband, Mr. Darby, Chief Clerk in the Woods and Forests Department, when the horse shied at a passing trolley and jumped tho fence that flanks the turning of the road. The ladies were thrown out and severely shaken. The shafts of the buggy were broken and other damage done. Mrs. Dairby is one of the most popular ladies in the district, and enquiries have elicited the painful fact that she is seriously injured.'
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  65. [S240] Cemetery transcript (microfiche) transcript rerads "George Leonard Darby" (no dates).
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  67. [S688] The Chronicle (Adelaide), 1926 'Obituary ', Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954), 10 July, p. 44. , viewed 04 Jan 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article89790424
  68. [S228] General Register Office, England - Birth Certificates, Certified copy of an entry in a Register of Births 1884 Book 137 No. 263.