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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Early Residents: Coyle family, three generations

Thomas and Bridget were the first generation of Coyle's to live in the Springwood district.  It is believed they had four children namely John (James?), Mary Amee born c1862, Louisa and Jane born c1866.  Thomas is listed on the 1868-70 electoral roll, however, it seems that he may have died between then and the 1891 census because only Bridget was listed.  In 1876, son John  was responsible for supporting the establishment of a primary school in Springwood and listed the names of his younger siblings.  John was probably working to support the family.

Mary Coyle is thought to have married Patrick Cummins, the licensee of the Royal Hotel, in 1884.  John married Theresa Helen/Helena Lawrence in 1886.  She was the daughter of Samuel and Ann Lawrence who lived on Hawkesbury Road.  Louisa Coyle married Theresa's brother Frederick the following year. 

John, a quarryman, and Theresa had three children; Thomas born c1887, John born c1888 and Mary born c1892.  Tragedy struck in 1893, when John passed away after a sudden and very short illness.  He was buried in McCarthy's Cemetery Cranebrook.  

The Nepean Times attested to his integrity, suggesting he had been hardworking, and in every respect a good citizen.  The family, including his widowed mother, were left in straightened circumstances so residents of the district arranged a fund raising benefit.  The event was held on the premises of Mr Stace the local blacksmith.

More on the Coyle Family

John and Theresa’s children were Thomas, born in Springwood in 1887; Mary A. (Molly), born in 1892, and John S. (Jack) born in Springwood in 1888.  Molly (later Mrs Frazer) became a dressmaker in Springwood before marrying and moving to Melbourne.  Jack was educated in Springwood and became an experienced bushman. He married Ethel Quinn in a quiet ceremony in 1921, and they lived at 17 Raymond Road, Springwood. Ethel was the only daughter of Mr and Mrs Quinn of Melbourne.
Jack was a crack shot, and he and his brother went on shooting expeditions. Akin to his mother, Jack was a lover of bush birds, flowers and animals, and many received this nature lover’s daily attention. Perhaps due to the influence of his mother, Jack developed a talent for breeding lyrebirds in captivity, and held the distinction of being the first to ever do so. He held a license to breed the birds and they became a source of local pride and admiration. He was a member of the football club in 1900, and in 1911 was voted the ‘handsomest man’ in a fundraiser to aid the Catholic Church.

It is believed that Jack was the subject of a painting produced by well-known artist Wynne Davies. The painting, which hung in the Springwood School of Arts building for many years, was a bush scene, and depicted Jack talking to two small boys. Anecdotal information says that the painting was put in the Royal Hotel when the School of Arts was demolished. Licensees have since come and gone, and recent investigations have failed to locate the painting’s whereabouts.

A 1924 edition of the Nepean Times carried a story headed ‘Woman’s Tears—a Springwood House’, and went on to relate a case that had gone before the court whereby Ethel Coyle had pleaded guilty to the charge of using the house known as The Pines for the purpose of gaming. She stated, when interviewed, that her husband was caretaker for Mr Stewart Dawson at his country residence and the bookmaking was a sideline of hers. Ethel was fined £40 and an amount of £9 was retained from £18 seized by Sergeant Gimbert. Ethel was made to give surety that she would ‘cut this business right out’.

Anecdotal information says that John and Ethel supplied Norman and Rose Lindsay with enough sandstone to finish off their home in Chapman Parade, Faulconbridge. Lindsay is thought to have given them several paintings in return for the favour. However, Ethel burnt all but one because she objected to the nudes.  Jack and Ethel were champion ‘old time waltzer’s’ of the mountains and held the title for 25 years.

Jack worked for Stewart Dawson for approximately 15 years.  Like his father and grandfather before him, Jack died at the very young age of 50. His obituary appeared in the Nepean Times dated 8.6.1939, and it would seem that Jack’s death was the result of an accident sustained while working at St. Columba’s College. He is buried beside his mother Theresa, wife Ethel (died 1972) and brother Thomas (died 1951) in the Catholic section of Springwood Cemetery.

Pamela Smith

From The Making of a Mountain Community: a Biographical Dictionary of the Springwood District.

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