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William Henry Selway (1825–1899)

The death of a well-known pioneer citizen, Mr. William Henry Selway, of Gilberton, took place on Sunday evening. Mr. Selway was born at Limehouse, Middlesex, England, on May 26, 1825, and was therefore in his 75th year. His father, who belonged to the Royal Navy, intended that he should enter the Greenwich Hospital School, with a view to a nautical career, but that design was frustrated owing to his death taking place before his son was ten years of age. Mr. Selway subsequently came to South Australia, where he arrived after a short call at Tasmania, on September 1, 1845, so that he had seen the ups and downs of this colony for 54 years. Soon after his arrival he ventured out into the bush, and was at Mount Remarkable on September 15, 1845, that being then the most distant station north of Adelaide. At that time the blacks were a source of considerable uneasiness and danger, and life was none too secure. On his way back to Adelaide, towards the end of 1846, he passed the late Mr. Horrocks, bound north on his exploring trip. Subsequently he had experience on the stations of the late Mr. Christopher Bagot, the late Hon. G. C. Hawker, and particularly of Mr. J. H. Angas, who had ever since remained a firm friend, and who, only a day or two before Mr. Selway's death, sent a letter of sympathy, regretting that his own severe indisposition had prevented him visiting his acquaintance of so many years. Soon afterwards Mr. Selway settled in Adelaide, taking business premises as a commission agent in King William-street. Like most other men in Adelaide at the time, Mr. Selway went to the Victorian gold diggings in 1851, and met with a fair amount of success. He belonged to the first defence force formed in South Australia, joining the artillery branch, and was one of those who fired the salute at Glenelg on the coming of age of the colony. In the year 1856 Mr. Selway went to England, taking a shipment of Australian birds, including over 1,000 shell parrots, then a great rarity in London and very valuable, and for four months occupied a position in the Crystal Palace, his feathered friends being a source of much attraction to the nobility, foreigners, and other frequenters of the palace. While there he formed an intimate friendship with the late Mr. A. D. Bartlett, who died a year or two ago, after occupying for a long time the position of superintendent of the Regent's Park Gardens. For many years Mr. Selway used to act as a judge at the Agricultural Society's shows, chiefly of dogs and poultry. He was frequently asked to be a candidate for municipal honors, but preferred the quiet of domestic life, nor did he take an active part in political matters. He was held in high esteem for his strict integrity in all business matters, and had a high sense of honor and rectitude in his dealings with his fellow-men. In social life he was genial and entertaining, having a fund of anecdotes as to the difficulties of pioneer life, and the disabilities under which early residents suffered, and which are unknown to the present generation. He was unfortunate in his mining transactions, having lost heavily ever since the earliest South Australian ventures, such as the New Cornwall, as well as in the Northern Territory and other booms. He was more successful in his land investments, and at one time he owned some of the best acres in North Gilberton. where so many tine residences are now situated. About a month ago, after consultation with Drs. Fischer, Symons, and Poulton, he decided to undergo an operation for a growth on the eye-lid, and what was thought to be a simple case developed more serious symptoms, and the removal of an eye was found to be necessary. He rallied well after the operation, but on Saturday last a state of coma set in, and he passed away on Sunday. Mr. Selway leaves a widow, a son (Mr. W. H. Selway, paymaster in the Treasury Department), two married daughters (Mrs. T. Paqualin and Mrs. G. H. Cargeeg, the latter of whom now resides in Perth), and two unmarried daughters. There are also several grandchildren, and one great grandchild. The funeral will take place this afternoon at the North-road Cemetery.

Original publication

Citation details

'Selway, William Henry (1825–1899)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


26 May, 1825
London, Middlesex, England


12 November, 1899 (aged 74)
Gilberton, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

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