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Stephen, Saidee (1844–1934)

Saidee (R) and Alice Stephen, 1863

Saidee (R) and Alice Stephen, 1863

State Library of New South Wales, P1 / 1656

The death occurred on Monday night at her home at Woollahra of Miss Saidee Stephen at the age of 90 years. Miss Stephen was a daughter of the late Sir Alfred Stephen, formerly Chief Justice and Lieutenant Governor of New South Wales. The only surviving member of his family of 18 children is Mr. Ernest Stephen, solicitor, of Ashfield, who is in his 88th year.

Miss Stephen was a gifted and cultured woman. She was able to speak five languages fluently, and until two years ago was accustomed to read Spanish and Italian literature in the original versions. For many years in the earlier part of her life she acted as confidential secretary to her father, handling all his correspondence and assisting him in his legal work. She accompanied him on his circuit of the courts, at times driving hundreds of miles with him in a carriage to places which were then not connected by railway.

Indicative of Miss Stephen's desire to assist her father in his work was the fact that she copied, painstakingly at first, his handwriting. Her own handwriting was, according to friends, originally the fine Italian type then in vogue among the educated classes, while her father wrote in a script-like legal hand. But so completely did Miss Stephen alter her own handwriting that eventually it could not be distinguished from her father's, and she was able to write all his letters, so that his signature only was required.

Miss Stephen was prominently associated with charitable work. She was on the committee of the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children, and of the Industrial Blind Institution and for many years she was a prominent supporter of the School of Industry, founded by her mother for the benefit of orphan children.

In most of her activities until the commencement of the present century, Miss Stephen had an inseparable companion in her twin sister, Miss Alice Stephen, and until the latter's death, about 30 years ago, it was their custom to do most things in common. The funeral service will take place today, at 10.30 am at St Jude's, Randwick.

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'Stephen, Saidee (1844–1934)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/stephen-saidee-1307/text1299, accessed 21 November 2017.

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