Henry Crawford SILVESTER (1864-1935) - Redfern
............................... Mr HENRY CRAWFORD SILVESTER ...
DEATH NOTICE & OBITUARY
The Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday 28 November 1935
... The death took place yesterday of Mr. Henry Crawford Silvester one of the founders of the firm of Silvester Bros Ltd, small goods manufacturers of 71 Regent street, Redfern (Sydney).
... Mr Silvester was 71 years of age and had been ill for six months.
He was born in Kent and was one of the youngest of a large family. He lost his father at an early age and as a youth worked his passage to New Zealand where he joined his brother William at Lake Wanaka.
After a few years in New Zealand he came to Sydney, about 1890, and with his brother, established the firm of SILVESTER BROS.
... The business was successful from the outset and branches were established at the Central Railway Station and in the Strand Arcade.
His brother William Silvester died in 1927 (1928 - see notes below).
... Mr Henry Crawford Silvester was a bachelor and is survived by one sister in Sydney his other surviving brothers and sisters being abroad.
The Sydney Morning Herald, Friday 29 November 1935
The funeral of Mr Henry Crawford Silvester took place yesterday in the Church of England Cemetery, Woronora.
The chief mourners were:
Mrs E. E. (Elizabeth Ellen) Silvester (sister-in-law) and Mr A. Randall (brother-in-law) (Arthur Randall married his sister Ellen Silvester in 1895)
Silvester Bros Ltd were represented by Messrs:
V. H. S. Silvester, S. S. Blake, H. E. Silvester (Horace Edward, see notes) and E. W. Silvester (Eric William) (directors,) Messrs K. T. English (secretary), R. Granger, W. Bates, I. Gibson, E. Ball, W. Hayhow, F. Upton, S. Hayhow, G. Norman, W. Quigg, W. Norman, F. Bonnitcha, M. Fahey, K. Malby, and L. Silvester.
Others present included Messrs:
A. J. Howard Palmer and G. H. E. lynch (representing Messrs Pigott, Stinson, MacGregor, and Palmer), Mr H. Martin (representing A. W. Anderson), Messrs Morrison and Armstrong (Norco Co-operative Society Ltd), A. Webber, A. Hayhow, E. Hooker, Satchell, Shaul, T. Philpott, A. Brunet (Arthur Brunet who married Effie Jane Silvester (daughter of William Craggs Silvester) in 1927), A. Randall Jun., Mesdames V. H. Silvester, Maloy and W. Bates
THE WILL CHALLENGED
The Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday 15 April 1937
... Mr Henry Crawford Sylvester, who died in November 1935, by his will executed on December 9 1927, appointed Messrs Arthur Randall and Sydney Stansell Blake his trustees and executors. Mr Sylvester, a bachelor, left an estate of more than £80,000 in his will, which he gave to two brothers and two sisters.
On the executors announcing the intention to apply for probate, a caveat, against such grant was lodged by Mr. Vernon Henry Sylvester (see notes below), of York-street, Belmore, a nephew of the testator, who submitted that at the time of making his will the testator was not of sound mind and understanding.
The matter was ordered to proceed by way of contested suit, and the executors named in the will now came into court as plaintiffs for grant of probate, the caveator being defendant.
... By his affidavit the defendant said that when the testator made the will he was 64 years of age, had not been engaged in business for nearly 20 years, and had for some time been living an abnormal hermit-like existence. He had been in failing health, showed marked signs of mental infirmity, and such definite deterioration of memory that he did not know what his disposable property consisted of.
... Evidence was entered upon for the caveator, this being directed to support the contention of absence of testamentary capacity on the part of the testator and having reference to his manner of life and eccentricities of conduct.
... Albert Norman Bibby stated that a house, in which testator lived at Oatley, was crammed with furniture in complete disorder, and the ground littered with boxes and tins, the occupant sleeping on a stretcher among bags. Vegetables were kept rotting in the bath, the occupant explaining that he was saving them for seed. Mr. Sylvester had stayed with him and his wife for a time, and during that period would, on going out, frequently return with parcels of foods hung round his shoulders. After opening the parcels and taking out some of the contents, he would take them to his room. They would eventually have to be thrown out.
Mr. Maughan, K.C., and Mr. J. Bowie Wilson (Instructed by Messrs. Pigott, Stinson, Macgregor, and Palmer) appeared for plaintiffs; and Mr. Mason, K.C., and Mr. Henry Holt (instructed by Messrs. Vindin and Littlejohn) for defendant.
The Sydney Morning Herald, Friday 16 April 1937
(Before the Probate Judge, Mr. Justice Nicholas)
LATE MR. H. C. SILVESTER'S WILL - Testator's Eccentricities
... Yesterday morning his Honor visited a former residence at Oatley of the late Mr. H. C. Silvester, whose testamentary capacity at the time of making his last will is being disputed by a nephew.
The hearing of the suit for grant of probate to the executors named in the will was resumed in the afternoon.
Edwin James Ball, of Burwood, said that when 18 years of age he commenced to work for the late Mr. Silvester at his factory in Regent-street, over 30 years ago. Mr. Silvester would sometimes arrive at the factory at 5.45 a.m. before it opened. He would bring parcels of food which would decay and have to be thrown out. Witness could remember Mr. Silvester coming to his house and stopping, up for nights at a time, listening to test cricket broadcasts. On several occasions he had said "They have tried to put me in an asylum to get control of my estate." On occasions he stayed at witness's house, and during one fortnight he slept in his clothes.
The Sydney Morning Herald, Tuesday 20 April 1937
The hearing was resumed of the suit for grant of probate of the will of the late Mr. Henry Crawford Silvester.
... Further evidence was called in support of the contention of the caveator, Mr. Vernon Henry Silvester, that the testator was not of testamentary capacity. This evidence related to the late Mr. Silvester's eccentricities in conduct and dress, apparent carelessness in regard to financial matters, and the condition of his residence.
... One witness stated that Mr. Silvester had received cheques for many thousands of pounds which were never put through the bank; that after being supplied five times with details of payments required for income tax returns he had said that he had forgotten them.
The hearing is expected to extend over several days further.
DECISION IN PROBATE COURT, SYDNEY
Singleton Argus, Monday 24 May 1937
... Justice Nicholas, in the Probate Court to-day, held that when Henry Crawford Silvester, whose estate is valued at £80,000, made his will he was of sound mind. He added that, the scheme of the will was perfectly rational, and there was strong evidence that it was made by a competent testator.
... The defendant in the action was Vernon Henry Silvestor, a nephew, who lodged a caveat against the estate, alleging testamentary incapacity by Silvester when he made his will.
... His Honor said there was no doubt that at one time the behaviour of Silvester was abnormal and eccentric, but there was no evidence to prove the lack of testamentary incapacity
JUDGEMENT WAS GIVEN
The Sydney Morning Herald, Tuesday 25 May 1937
... Reserved judgment was given in the suit for grant of probate of the will of the late Mr. Henry Crawford Silvester. The plaintiffs were the executors named in the will, Messrs. Arthur Randall and Sydney S. Blake, the former being also the testator's brother-in law and the last named an accountant conversant with the testator's affairs. The defendant was Mr. Henry Vernon Silvester, a nephew of the testator, who had opposed probate on the ground that at the date of makíng the will, December 9, 1927, the testator was not of testamentary capacity and did not understand the contents of the document.
... The late Mr. Silvester, a bachelor, 74 years of age, left an estate of £80,000, which by his will he gave to his two surviving sisters and his two surviving brothers. One sister lives in South Africa and the other, Mrs. Randall, in Sydney. Of the brothers one lives in South Africa and the other in England. Several brothers and sisters had predeceased the testator. Most of their children reside out of the jurisdiction.
The defendant is one of four children of the late Mr. William Cragg Silvester, a deceased brother and former partner of the testator.
The will was prepared by the late Mr. Macgregor, of the firm of Messrs. Pigott, Stinson, Macgregor, and Palmer.
... The hearing of the suit had extended over several days, a great deal of evidence being tendered by both sides, this including evidence given at certain other proceedings in which a Judicial decision was given shortly before Mr. Silvester executed the will propounded by the executors. From this evidence it appeared that Mr. Silvester was born near Gravesend, England (in Northfleet, 3km west of Gravesend), and from there went to New Zealand. He worked there on a lake steamer for a time (see notes), and then came to Sydney with his brother William, and founded a smallgoods business which became very successful. After 1910, however, he had not taken any active part in the business.
He had lived a secluded, penurious life.
... In the course of judgment his Honor said that on its face the will bore strong evidence of having been made by a competent testator. The scheme of the will was perfectly rational. The children of Mr. Silvester's then deceased brothers and sisters were, with a few exceptions, unknown to him personally, and he might well have thought himself justified in excluding the children of his deceased brother, William, on the grounds that the brother was well-to-do and that he had initiated proceedings in lunacy against the testator, which his son had continued. The petition in lunacy asking that Henry Crawford Silvester was, through mental infirmity, incapable of managing his affairs, was heard by Sir John Harvey and he, on March 20 1928, dismissed it.
... His Honor went on to say that the evidence which had been put before him, and of which the greater part had been before Sir John Harvey, could be grouped under different headings - extreme carelessness in dealing with cheques received as dividends; extreme discomfort in manner of living, whether from parsimony or carelessness; care in collecting trifles of little or no value; living for long periods in the houses of other people on whom he had no claim, and disregard for the comfort of other people; beginning enterprises such as building or draining but not finishing them, and working without any properly conceived plan; beginning but not finishing a huge stone building of no praclical value; buying large quantities of useless second-hand material and buying a motor car of which he neglected to take delivery; investing large sums in the purchase of land without any adequate knowledge of its value. "I do not," continued his Honor, "intend to examine this evidence in detail. There is no doubt that the behaviour of the testator was abnormal and eccentric. Sir John Harvey, after seeing him, held that his conduct had justified instituting proceedings under the Lunacy Act, though it did not require the appointment of a committee. I think the testator's carelessness in money matters, as instanced by his neglect to bank, or use large cheques while living in extreme discomfort, and his neglect to complete buildings or draining schemes which he had begun, are both instances of the same mental condition. He never accustomed himself to the handling of money, and he would not brace his mind to the mental effort necessary for decision or action. These characteristics were relevant to the question of his ability to manage his own affairs, and were referred to in the lunacy proceedings. Sir John Harvey refused to make any order on the petition holding that Mr. Silvester was sufficiently protected by Mr. Blake and by his own parsimonious habits. In my judgment these acts would not have furnished lack of testamentary capacity even had they stood alone."
The evidence of the alienists who had given evidence, had afforded him very little help, said his Honor. Of the eight examined in connection with the lunacy proceedings, five gave evidence at the hearing of the suit. Of these, two were confident that the testator was capable of making a will. Another had grave doubts on the subject, and inclined to the opinion that the testator was not competent. A fourth, whose evidence was taken on commission, said that his inquiry had been directed solely to the question raised in the lunacy proceedings. On this point he was satisfied to accept the evidence of the doctor to whom Mr. Silvester spoke as a rational man, though his answers were not these of an efficient man of business, and he held that when he made his will, Mr. Silvester was of sound mind, memory, and understanding.
The order of the Court was that the will be admitted to probate, costs of the plaintiff executors as between solicitors and client, out of the estate. No order as to the costs of the defendant.
• Vernon Henry Sylvester (1887-1977) was born in Wellington, New Zealand, the first born of Henry's brother, William Craggs Silvester & Elizabeth Ellen Thomas.
The Late Mr WILLIAM CRAGGS SILVESTER
The Sydney Morning Herald, Friday 6 January 1928
... The estate of the late Mr. William Craggs Silvester, managing director of Silvester Brothers, Ltd., butchers and smallgoodsmen, of Sydney, who died at his residence, Burllngton-road, Homebush, on September 27 last, has, for probate purposes, been valued at £114,213, of which £69,356 represented shares in public companies and £22,000 Government stock. The testator, who was 68 years of age, appointed his son, Vernon Henry Silvester, and George Pitt Wood, company directors, of Redfern, his executors and trustees. The estate is divided between members of the family.
• Northfleet, a town in the Borough of Gravesham in Kent, where Henry was born
• The paddle steamer that Henry worked on at Lake Wanaka, New Zealand, was the 'Theodore' which sank at her moorings, by the jetty, on the night of 22 July 1891. It had been laid up for about 2 months when the lake was high. When the lake receded the bow was on dry land which threw the weight on to the stern and sent it down, the level reaching the entrance to the cabin
OF INTEREST - a man had been sleeping on board for the 2 months it had been laid up and the first he knew of the impending danger was when the Captain woke him the next morning. One wonders if that man was Henry and if, now out of work, he decided to return to Australia (his obituary above says:- 'after a few years in New Zealand he came to Sydney, about 1890')
• Horace Edward Silvester (1895-1948) was born 7 Jan 1895 in Wellington, New Zealand to William Craggs Silvester (Henry's brother) & Elizabeth Ellen THOMAS.
He married Ereni Alice Nina Talbot in 1915 in Burrowa, NSW.
* Ereni was born in Wanganui, New Zealand 12 May 1896, to Herbert Harry TALBOT (1863-1896) & Alice Broughton BROTHERS (1870-1907).
* Her father Herbert, a compositor in a newspaper office, had died in Wellington 3 months prior to her birth, aged 33, from head injuries in a fall whilst engaging in a 'friendly' wrestle in the local Hotel on the Saturday night.
* Her mother Alice remarried in 1904 to (Sergeant Major) Arthur Henry COE, a Saddler and Harness Maker, of Taylorville, near Wanganui
Wanganui Herald, 3 November 1904 COE-TALBOT - On November 3, 1904, at St Laurence's Church, Aramoho, by the Rev E. T. Wynne Bond, Arthur Henry Coe, second son of Wm. L. Coe, of Wellington, to Alice Broughton Talbot (nee Brothers), third daughter of the late Edward Wright Brothers, of Auckland. (Auckland and Wellington papers please copy) Edward Wright Brothers served with the 4th Waikato Regiment in 1863
* Her mother Alice died 3 years later aged 37 (20 Dec 1907) from head injuries in a fall when their horse bolted going down Durie Hill, Wanganui and she was thrown from the trap.
* A brother of Ereni, Herbert William Talbot was born in 1885 in NZ.
* A brother, Arthur Sydney Talbot (1890-1917) was born in Sydney, NSW & served in WWI as Lieutenant 5085 (1551 AIF), with the Royal Flying Corps, 48 Squadron, 198 Depot Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, Australian Imperial Force. He was Killed 27 Sep 1917 whilst flying (an instructor) at Rochford (crashed) & is buried Rochford (St. Andrew) Churchyard
* From 1930-1936 Ereni was in Parkes, NSW. In 1943 she was in Dalley, which was an inner suburb of Sydney abolished in 1969
* Horace & Ereni divorced in June 1944. She remarried in Woollahra, New South Wales in 1946 to Frederick COOPER
• HENRY CRAWFORD SILVESTER is buried at: Position 0026, Section R, Anglican Monumental at Woronora Cemetery (121 Linden St, Sutherland NSW)
REDFERN Railway Station
where Henry had a smallgoods branch