The Winney Family
Copyright Carol Baxter 2012
Prepared for Jeanette Bradley (nee Winney)
Generation 6: James Arthur Winney & Millicent Wilson
James Arthur Winney was the eldest son of Thomas James Winney and Clara Maria Sims (see above) and was born on 18 July 1856 at 2 Carlton Road, Stepney, London.
James received his music education from the Tonic Solfa College in London. Tonic Solfa was, according to the Oxford Grove Music Encyclopaedia, “a form of musical notation and a system of teaching sight-singing which depends on it”. It was developed in the mid-nineteenth century by John Curwen, who founded a Tonic Sol-fa College in London in 1869. Curwen’s system used “the syllables doh, ray, mi, fah, soh, lah and te for the notes of a rising major scale (each abbreviated to its initial letter in actual notation); chromatic degrees are noted by changing the vowel (the sharpened subdominant is fe, the flattened leading note ta), and a system of printed punctuation marks indicates rhythm ... Though not a substitute (as was once proposed) for staff notation, Tonic Sol-fa remains a valuable aid for those who cannot read staff notation and for the learning of it.” The system was used extensively for teaching music in nineteenth-century England, and James followed its teachings when he taught music in later years. A newspaper article in 1888 reported that he held the Tonic Solfa College’s certificate for method of teaching to sing, attainment in reading music at first sight, and writing it from ear, as well as other certificates.
In the late 1870s, James worked as organist and choir master at several churches in County Surrey, England. Eventually he decided to emigrate to Australia. He sailed from Greenock in Scotland on board the Te Anau on 17 December 1879. The Te Anau had been launched only a month previously and was a 270 foot steel steamer which carried a schooner rig (two or more masts predominantly gaff-rigged) – just in case. The vessel arrived in Melbourne on 6 February 1880. From there, James shipped to Sydney, arriving on 14 February 1880.
Soon afterwards, James settled in Goulburn where he delighted the community with his skills as an organist. While there, he had two cases shipped from London, which arrived in the Kosciusko early in 1881.
Upon his departure from Goulburn in April 1883, the Southern Argus wrote:
This gentleman who has been in Goulburn for over three years, goes to West Maitland as organist of the Wesleyan Church there. For two-an-a-half years of his stay in Goulburn, Mr Winney was organist at St Saviour’s and occupied a similar position at St Nicholas’, North Goulburn for six months. He was already ready and willing to give his valuable services in connection with any movement got up to benefit any worthy object, and made for himself many friends whilst here, whose best wishes he takes with him for his success and advancement in the new sphere to which he is removing.
Maitland was thrilled to have him join their community:
Mr J.A.Winney who has been appointed to the position of organist in the West Maitland Wesleyan Church, officiated for the first time yesterday, and from all we learn his playing gave the utmost satisfaction to those who had the pleasure of listening to him. Mr Winney comes amongst us with a good reputation, as will be gathered from the extract from the Southern Argus.
James was one of the first, if not the first organist at the church. A church history reported:
Maitland Methodists have always been justifiably proud of their Willis pipe-organ, installed in 1881 … The story is told that in a storm at sea, when the instrument was being transported from England, the pipes were drenched with water. This required that on arrival at Maitland, all affected parts be laid out in the Sunday School Hall to be dried and then painted. These were mounted in an organ case purchased from St Mary’s Church of England, Maitland.
Soon after arriving, James advertised his services as a teacher of organ and piano, as well as French and Elementary Singing on the Tonic Solfa method, and declared that he came with the highest testimonials. He could be contacted at his residence, “Chesterleigh”, Bulwer Street, West Maitland. He advertised again in August 1883.
While living at Maitland, James met the woman who would become his wife. He married Millicent Wilson on 16 September 1884 at St Paul’s Church, West Maitland, before witnesses Isaac Ripley Mitchell and Charles James Mannall. On their marriage certificate, James listed himself as an “Organist and Teacher of music”, while Millicent listed herself as a “Lady”.
Millicent was born on 28 August 1863 at 6 St Andrews Street, Dundee, Scotland to Robert Ellis and his wife Juliana Burnett (daughter of William and Julia Burnett of Montrose, Scotland). Millicent's parents were married on 19 Feb 1861 at Grahamstown, South Africa, according to her birth certificate, which listed her name as Minie Wilson Ellis. Julia/Juliana died on 15 July 1897. To date, it is not known why Millicent called herself Wilson rather than Ellis.
James and Millicent had five known children as shown below. Family members believed that they had a sixth child, Ena, but birth records indicate that this child was born to their daughter Ada. According to family members, both Ada and Ena were “deaf and dumb”.
The Winneys had settled in Raymond Terrace by 1885 where they remained for a couple of years. Upon their departure for Randwick in 1887, the Sydney Morning Herald reported:
Mr J.A. Winney, professor of music and organist of St John’s Church of England choir [Raymond Terrace], was yesterday evening presented with an address and purse of sovereigns, subscribed by the members of the choir and friends generally, on the occasion of his departure from here to carry on the practice of his profession in Sydney.
Late in 1887, while residing in Sydney, James authorized an auctioneer to sell a new American single-seated piano-box buggy with hood and patent Sarran wheels which weighed 210 pounds and was ‘very stylish’.
G6. Family of James and Millicent Winney
1. Arthur Raymond Allan Winney
- Born 1885 Raymond Terrace NSW.
- Married Ellen Tansey, 1914 Newtown, NSW.
- Hatblocker; later Department of Railways
- Had issue: Raymond Arthur, Martin James, Charles Victor, Kevin Stanley, John Edward Allan, Francis Gregory, Valerie Dorothy, Gwenda Ellen and Maurice
- [Src: BDM-Index; BC-brother Ivor]
2. Ada Boatacea Winney (known as Daisy)
- Born 6 Sep 1887, King Street, Randwick NSW
- Never married; was “deaf and dumb” like her daughter
- Issue: Ena Marjorie Burnet (1906-1927)
- [Src: BDM-Index & SMH 17 Sep 1887 p.1; BC-brother Ivor]
3. Juliette Kalatina Winney (known as Tina)
- Born 1890 Kempsey NSW.
- Died 13 September 1950 at her residence 4 Haigh St, Maroubra, NSW
- [Src: BDM-Index; SMH 14 Sep 1950 p.22; Family information held by Jeanette Bradley]
4. Norman Stanley V. Winney
- Born 1894 Kempsey NSW.
- Married 1925 to Hazel Carter, daughter of the late Sergeant and Mrs Carter of Centennial Park, NSW
- [Src: BDM-Index; BC-brother-Ivor; Mg: SMH 28 Oct 1925 p.8]
5. Ivor Victor Winney
- Born 25 June 1897 Kempsey NSW.
- Married 11 July 1925, St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Sydney to Lili Muire Granger Campbell.
- See Generation 7.
- [Src: BDM-Index; BC-brother-Ivor]
By May 1888, James and his family had relocated to Grafton. On Saturday 5 May 1888, the press reported that James, late organist at St Saviour’s, Redfern, was to “preside at the organ at [Grafton’s] Cathedral tomorrow”. A week later, the Clarence and Richmond Examiner reported that James had been appointed organist for Christ Church pro-Cathedral at Grafton and intended to settle in the district. He had submitted to the newspaper a large number of reference letters and press notices “which speak in high terms of that gentleman’s musical abilities as organist and instructor, and also of his uniform diligence and punctuality”. The article continued that:
There is ample room in the district for a high class teacher, and the musical portion of the services at the Cathedral could be considerably improved. We shall be pleased to know that Mr Winney is able to fill the vacancies; and we look forward to the time when high class concerts will be given more frequently than at present.
In June 1888, the Clarence and Richmond Examiner included an advertisement stating that James was the organist for the Centennial Cantata to raise money for Grafton Hospital and Grafton Relief Society. The evening was well attended and James was paid £1 1s for professional services.
Another charity concert was being advertised in August 1888, with James acting as the conductor, however this was not as well attended. Prior to the occasion, the local press reported that the entertainment committee of the School of Arts had improvised a concert for the following Thursday in the Theatre Royal in aid of the funds of the institution. “The services of a number of lady and gentlemen vocalists have been secured and, with Mr J.A. Winney as conductor, the entertainment should be well worthy of patronage. It is unfortunate that the concert should clash with the meeting of the League held at the same hour in the School of Arts. In the aftermath, the local newspaper reported that the stalls were well filled but the other parts of the Theatre Royal were “not well patronized”. It advised that the “concerted pieces”, which had been in rehearsal for some time under the direction of Mr Winney, were well-rendered and that the male voice concerted pieces were given with a “good swing and tone” although the ladies voice chorus was “a little uncertain in starting but was otherwise good”. The report concluded that the attendance at the concert was not very encouraging to the management “who we understand experienced a good deal of trouble in connection with the entertainment”.
A short time later, James was advertising to teach singing to students under the Tonic Solfa system (see ad). He requested that they send their details to his Duke Street home. He was also teacher of music and singing at the Grafton Grammar School.
James was described as the Grafton Cathedral organist when another charity concert was advertised in October 1888 in aid of the Church of England Bazaar Fund, South Grafton. It was aimed at liquidating the debt on the St Mathew’s church and parsonage, South Grafton. The event was held on 16 October, with James playing the piano and pianoforte. Attendance was only “moderate”. More concerts were held in the following eighteen months.
On 1 December 1888 James advertised that he had moved to the cottage, corner of Queen and Bacon Streets, near to the Public School. In January, he again advertised for Tonic Solfa classes (see ad). In May 1889 he advertised that he had found a new, simple and scientific way of teaching vamping “or the art of accompanying songs, violin or other instruments on the piano in any key”.
Evidently James found it difficult to make ends meet as an organist and singing teacher as he appears to have begun his journalism career during this time. An article in June 1890 reported that he had been managing another local newspaper, The Grip, for a few months.
On 14 June 1890 the press reported that James was to leave Grafton for Kempsey:
Mr J.A. Winney who for some time has filled the capacity of organist at the Cathedral, is about to leave Grafton, having accepted a position on the literary staff of the Macleay Chronicle. Mr Winney’s services will be missed in Grafton as accompanist at entertainments, in which capacity he has appeared frequently during his citizenship.
The Winney family remained in Kempsey until at least the early 1900s. James described himself as a journalist in 1897 and was listed as the editor of the Chronicle newspaper in 1900. A directory in 1899 also described him as an agent at Kempsey.
James became involved in local affairs. He was secretary of the Railway League Meeting in September 1891. He was installed as secretary of the Kempsey Masonic Lodge Tarrant No. 203 in November 1892, and as organist in November 1900.
In May 1901, the Clarence and Richmond Examiner reported that James “formerly of Grafton and latterly of the Macleay Chronicle” was now “attached to the Queanbeyan Age”.  The Queanbeyan Age itself advertised in May 1901 that James had been appointed “reporter and canvasser” for the newspaper and that “Any orders given him will be faithfully executed and any receipts given by him will be duly accepted”.
He was listed as the temporary speaker at the Queanbeyan School of Arts Debating Club in August 1901.
At some stage in the early 1900s James settled in Sydney where he worked for the Daily Telegraph. His marriage was evidently struggling as he and Millicent separated, possibly during these years as she lived out her days in Sydney while he had settled in Taree by 1915.
In January 1915, the Taree correspondent for the Clarence and Richmond Examiner reported that James had been voted Secretary of the Eight-Hour Association.
James had many interests and in 1917 the Sydney Morning Herald reported on his experiments with cotton culture, during an investigation into whether cotton could be successfully grown on the North Coast.
Mr J A Winney has proved by actual experimentation that cotton can be successfully grown on the North Coast, writes our Wingham correspondent. In 1895 and 1896, when residing in Kempsey, he grew an experimental plot of the Virginia long pod variety. The produce from this plot he exhibited at the Macleay A.H & I Association’s show, and was awarded a certificate of merit. Subsequently, in 1898[?] a sample was submitted to the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, who stated it was worth 3 pence per pound or nearly double the then ruling value of American cotton. Mr Winney has, since then, seen the class of cotton grown by Miss Macdonald of the Bight near Wingham, and contends that its quality is equally as good as that produced by him at Kempsey in years gone by.
James remained in Taree for the rest of his life where his chief occupation was the teaching of music and voice production. Quite a number of his pupils competed, some successfully, at the annual eisteddfods “before the advent of the widespread popularity of radio and canned music”, according to his obituarist. He also “rendered assistance at times in the compilation of the eisteddfod syllabus, his knowledge being of considerable assistance to the committee”. He was also “an organist of more than average ability and loved to be engaged thereat”.
James also did some freelance journalism for the Wingham Chronicle and also assisted in their office when they were shorthanded. He was reported to have retired from journalism by 1925, but apparently continued to write copy. In 1941, a newspaper reported:
Mr J.A. Winney, probably the oldest working journalist on the North Coast, celebrated his 85th birthday last week at Taree. He came to Grafton as a reporter on the “Grip”, before it was taken over by Mr E.J. Brady. In Grafton, Mr Winney, who is a church organist, was teacher of music and singing at the Grafton Grammar School. Later he joined the old Sydney “Daily Telegraph” but over 30 years ago made his home at Taree, where he follows journalism and music.
In the late 1930s a newspaper reported hearing that he had survived influenza:
Mr J.A. Winney, of Taree, writes to say that, so far, he has successfully dodged Old Man Flu. He attributes his success in this direction to the fact that he takes a cold shower early each morning with about the same ease and pleasure as a hungry shark would take the legs off a fat Chinaman. Mr Winney, it might be remembered, has passed the 80th milestone on the road that leads to everlasting rest and happiness. Mr Winney (Taree) and Mrs Scrivner (Wingham) will most assuredly wear haloes in the Great Hereafter – but whether cold baths will be on the programme there, we are not just now in a position to say.
James was reported to have a very likeable nature:
Unkind words or thoughts never escaped his lips, for he loved to see the good in fellow beings and if he saw the other side of human nature he did not talk about it. Wherever he went, he made many friends but no enemies. He loved to delve into the history of old friends on the Manning and stories of the early days, which he committed to paper.
James was admitted to the Manning River District Hospital on 24 May 1943 (Empire Day) and in the two months that followed would praise the hospital for the care and attention he was receiving. He died there on 5 August 1943, his cause of death listed as gastro-enteritus, haematemesis and old age from which he had suffered for two months. James had expressed the wish that he be cremated and his body was accordingly delivered to the Crematorium at Beresfield in the Newcastle district on 7 August where he was cremated on 10 August 1943. The witnesses included his son Ivor.
James’ death certificate refers to a deceased daughter. This child was in fact the above-mentioned grandchild, Ena Marjorie Burnet, the daughter of his daughter Ada.
Millicent died on 26 October 1952 at 4 Haig Street, Maroubra Junction.