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Chidley, William James (c. 1860–1916)

from Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW)

William James Chidley, who gained considerable notoriety through his weird neck-to-knee costume and the exposition of an extraordinary theory, died suddenly at the Callan Park Hospital for the Insane, Balmain, last Thursday (as briefly reported by telegram in "The Miner").

Chidley was released from Kenmore Hospital some months ago (says the "Evening News"), after a long case in the Lunacy Court, at the suggestion of Mr. Justice Harvey; but in October last he was again lodged in the Reception House at Darlinghurst. "While there he managed to secure some kerosene, and set fire to his clothes, as a result of which he was severely burnt about the body. He was then, on October 27, transferred to Callen Park, where he was admitted to the hospital ward.

Chidley completely recovered from his injuries, and was in his usual mental state, often talking freely with the other patients and giving no trouble to the authorities. Last Thursday he had his breakfast as usual, and about mid-day was on the hospital verandah talking to another patient, when he suddenly collapsed.

Attendant Ball was with the patients, and he immediately went to Chidley's assistance, and called Dr. Jones. The doctor, however, found him to be dead.  There was a small abrasion on the back of his head where it struck the verandah in the fall.

Chidley was 56 years of age, and a widower. He was born in Victoria, and spent a considerable period in Melbourne and Adelaide, where he became well known both for his strange book, "The Answer," and his quaint silk petticoat costume. He was always without hat or boots. When he first arrived in Sydney he became the centre of many inquisitive groups in the streets, but later he came to be regarded as one of the familiar identities of the city. His book was the subject of much litigation, and he was on two or three occasions lodged in a mental hospital, and released again.

Original publication

Other Obituaries for William James Chidley

Additional Resources

  • inquest, Sydney Morning Herald, 29 December 1916, p 8

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Chidley, William James (c. 1860–1916)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/chidley-william-james-5579/text35057, accessed 9 August 2020.

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