Chandos Wyndham (1827-1858)

By Rob Wuchatsch

Chandos Wyndham died in the Stony Rises in 1858. From an aristocratic English family, Chandos appears to have led a very interesting, if short life. We only know of his presence in the Stony Rises from his death certificate which states he was ‘Killed accidentally by the falling of a tree’ at Pirron Yaloak and was buried on ‘Roadknight’s Station at the Stony Rises.’

Chandos Wyndham was born at Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire in England and baptized on 30 August 1827. He was one of fourteen children of Wadham and Anne (née Stanley) Wyndham of Beech Lodge, Great Marlow, where his father was a magistrate. His paternal grandfather was Colonel Wadham Wyndham (1737-1812), who was born and raised at Salisbury in Wiltshire, but later moved to Bloomsbury in London where he died in 1812. Colonel Wyndham apparently left eldest son Wadham (1793-1849), Chandos Wyndham’s father, a fortune. Another son, Chandos’ uncle Colonel Charles Wyndham (1795-1872), served in the army, but ended his career as Keeper of the Royal Regalia at the Tower of London, which included the Crown Jewels.

Chandos Wyndham was named after his godfather, his father’s cousin Richard Plantagenet Temple Nugent Brydges Chandos Grenville (1797-1862), a Conservative MP for Buckinghamshire from 1818-39. Wadham and Anne Wyndham were close friends and political supporters. Grenville was known as the Marquis of Chandos from 1822-39 then succeeded his father to become the 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos. He entered the House of Lords and was Lord Privy Seal when he retired from politics in 1842. As Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire he appointed Chandos’ father as his Deputy Lieutenant and Captain in the 2nd Bucks Regiment of Yeomanry. The 2nd Duke’s expensive habits, however, eventually caught up with him and financial ruin came in 1847, with debts of over £1,000,000.

In 1835 Chandos Wyndham’s father Wadham sold Beech Lodge and moved back to London, although he later returned to Great Marlow. The 1841 English census recorded Chandos and his brothers Penruddock and William as boarders at the Prospect House Academy at Great Marlow. In 1845 Chandos’ mother Ann died at Great Marlow and was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery in London with four children who predeceased her. Wadham died at the Deanery at Great Marlow in 1849 and is buried there in the All Saints Churchyard. Although Wadham owned the Deanery and other land at Great Marlow, little remained after the settlement of his estate, so his children had to make their own way in the world.

On 5 January 1850, 22 year old Chandos Wyndham arrived at Port Adelaide as a steerage passenger aboard the Coromandel. On 16 January he signed a letter with five other passengers complimenting Captain Brown of the Coromandel for their safe and agreeable voyage. His application to the South Australian Government for a clerk’s position was rejected on 26 January, but on 6 February 1850, he was appointed a Mounted Constable in the Police Force. This appointment suggests he was a good horseman.

In mid-1850, Chandos and another constable received a gratuity payment of £1 ‘for their good conduct in their recent overland journey.’ In July 1851 Chandos made another overland trip, this time to Port Lincoln. In November 1852, he was promoted to Corporal, then Sergeant and finally on 21 July 1853 to an Inspector of the Gold Escort. The South Australian Gold Escort had been established by Police Commissioner Alexander Tolmer in 1852 to carry gold found by South Australian diggers in Victoria to Adelaide. By offering a safe overland gold escort service and a higher price than was paid on the diggings or in Melbourne, the South Australian Government managed to attract a considerable amount of gold. This helped restore the state’s economy which had been affected by an exodus of workers to the Victorian goldfields.

Gold Escort by W Drummond – National Library of Australia

From March 1852 to December 1853, eighteen gold escorts carried 328,502 ounces of gold from the Mount Alexander goldfields to Adelaide. Depending on the weather and the state of the tracks the trip took anywhere between 11 and 29 days. Chandos Wyndham transferred to the overland gold escort service around May 1853 and undertook four successful round trips, the last three as commander. The escort consisted of a spring cart which carried the gold and a troop of armed constables who rode ahead and behind it. By the time Chandos joined the Gold Escort, however, the value of gold being carried was declining and he commanded the final Gold Escort into Adelaide on 21 December 1853.

The South Australian Government announced on 29 November 1853 it had decided decided to discontinue the Gold Escort service. As a result, Wyndham was discharged on 23 December, two days after he arrived back in Adelaide. He appears to have been a casualty of the abrasive Police Commissioner Tolmer, who had gained public popularity for his conception and implementation of the Gold Escort in 1852, but was very unpopular with many officers and men because of his summary treatment of them. During 1853 he was responsible for the resignations or dismissals of several police officers. Following a Government inquiry Tolmer himself was demoted to Inspector in November 1853.

Chandos’ application is rejected

In January 1854, disappointed his application of 22 December 1853 for an Inspectorship in the Mounted Police was rejected, Chandos wrote a long and bitter letter of complaint to the Adelaide Times which was published on 19 January 1854. He concluded by stating:

Adelaide Times 22 December 1853

Chandos Wyndham’s letter was not the only one to appear in the Adelaide Times that day criticizing Tolmer and over 30 years later, T. A. Naughton, a former Sergeant of Mounted Police, wrote in 1885 that ‘Mr Tolmer has the same effect on men that a hot wind has on the vegetable world – they are sure to suffer from the contact’.

Chandos Wyndham’s service record stated he had been ‘An active intelligent officer whose conduct has been very good.’ Soon after writing to the Adelaide Times, Chandos moved to Victoria, where his brother William had arrived aboard the Lady McNaughton in May 1853. Chandos may have met William on the goldfields during his overland escort duties and decided to try his luck at the diggings.

No further references have been found to the Wyndham brothers until March 1856 when William placed a notice in the Melbourne Argus asking Chandos to write to him at ‘the Wardy Yallock, by Geelong.’ The address Wardy Yallock suggests William may have been gold digging or working on a pastoral run. In April 1857 Alexander Wyndham, another brother, advertised in the Argus that he was ‘anxious to hear from them’ and gave his address as  ‘G.P.O. Melbourne.’  It is not known, however, when Alexander arrived in Australia or the name of the ship.

Wyndham brothers attempt to make contact in 1856 and 1857

Although Chandos was killed at Pirron Yallock on 9 June 1858, his death was not registered until 8 November, months after it should have been. Given he is said to have been killed by a falling tree, it is also strange no inquest was held, the required procedure in such cases. When his death was eventually registered, it was in the name of Thomas Wyndham, which suggests Chandos may have used that name for some reason. Charles Pike of Pirron Yallock was the man who informed the Colac Registrar. Perhaps a death certificate was required for probate purposes in England, although Chandos’ probate was not administered there until 1865, when his assets were valued at under £1,500.

As he was buried on William Roadknight’s Station, Chandos may have lived and worked on the Stony Rises Run. The witness to his burial was Thomas Riches, Roadknight’s overseer. On his death certificate, Chandos was described as a surveyor, which may have been the occupation he trained for in England; the work he was engaged on when he died; or what he said he normally did. He may have been working for Edward Bage, the Victorian Government surveyor based in Colac who in September 1858 prepared a plan of Roadknight’s Pre-Emptive Right, the 640 acre block on which the Stony Rises Homestead stood. As an experienced horseman, Chandos may have been working for Roadknight as a horse handler, but he could also have been a shepherd, hutkeeper or labourer – we will never know. Perhaps he was only passing through the Stony Rises, but this seems unlikely, given the information known about him.

William Wyndham settled in Colac a few years after his brother’s death. On 23 April 1863 he married Mrs Johanna Rose Watkins at Colac. A widow with eight children, Johanna’s late husband Charles Watkins had been a doctor at Pittong, near Wardy Yallock, from 1855-61 so William and the Watkins family may have met there.

In September 1867, William wrote to the Australasian newspaper in Melbourne, advocating the use of Persian Wheels for irrigation purposes. He said he had seen them work well on plantations in Jamaica, where he had spent a ‘length of time’. Shortly after, he was a member of the local reception committee for the December 1867 visit of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh. Given William’s aristocratic background this was hardly surprising. A cavalcade of 200 horsemen was planned and the men were reported to have been drilled daily by William. This confirms that William, like Chandos, was an accomplished horseman and suggests the brothers may have had cavalry training in England.

Johanna Wyndham died of heart disease at Canterbury Cottage, the Wyndham’s home at Colac, on 31 August 1869 aged 43 and was buried in the Colac Cemetery. In 1870 William’s occupation was given as drover but his movements from then until his death at Morgan in South Australia on 25 December 1884 are not known. He had apparently fallen into his campfire on the Murray River while intoxicated, resulting in burns to his shoulder and armpit, which soon proved fatal.

Alexander Wyndham, the third brother to come to Australia, married Emily Harriett Peacock at Bathurst in New South Wales in 1866 and settled at Forbes, where they raised a large family.  Alexander worked at various occupations, including farming and market gardening. In 1890 he was also appointed by the Department of Mines as a Warden’s Bailiff at Forbes. Emily Wyndham died on 21 October 1914 and Alexander died six months later on 15 April 1915 aged 83. A grandson, Sir Harold Stanley Wyndham (1903-88), was Director-General of the New South Wales Education Department.

A distant relative, George Wyndham (1801-70), emigrated to New South Wales in 1827 and settled on a 2,000 acre farm in the Hunter Valley which he named Dalwood. He later enlarged this property and also owned pastoral runs in northern New South Wales. As well as mixed agriculture and grazing, George established a vineyard at Dalwood, now owned by Penfolds Wines.

About the Author: Robert Wuchatsch is an award winning writer of nonfiction books. In 2023 he met with Ben Wyndham, a descendant of Chandos Wyndham’s brother, Alexander Wyndham, at the family history group.

Robert and Ben discussed the history of the Wyndhams in Colac and South Australia and Robert kindly shared his extensive research.

Ben Wyndham (left) and Author Robert Wuchatsch