William Chapman – Letter Carrier & Band Leader – Part One

William Chapman Snr was my maternal 3x great grandfather.  He was born in Sevenoaks, Kent, England on 10 Aug 1820 and died in Adelaide, South Australia on 1 Jan 1897.  Before coming to Australia William was an apprentice tailor.  The day before Christmas 1843 William married Julia Wigzell in Halstead, Kent.  With their four sons, William and Julia came to South Australia in 1849 on board the Asiatic.

William completed his apprenticeship in England before coming to Australia and worked as a tailor in South Australia for G Barclay & G White.  One of his sons, George Chapman, my 2x great grandfather, was also a tailor.  William worked for the Postal Service as a Letter Carrier from June 1854 until his retirement in May 1893 only 4 years before his death at 76 years old.  He was known as, “the father of the post men”.

William Chapman With His Violin

  “worthy of a place in any orchestra in the world”

The Advertiser 17 Feb 1936

This is a transcript of William’s death notice which appeared in The Advertiser on 2 Jan 1897.

THE LATE MR WILLIAMCHAPMAN.

The death is announced at the age of 77 years of Mr. William Chapman, who was well known in the city as “the father of the post-men. ” Some years ago Mr. Chapman had an attack of influenza from the effects of which he never recovered, and he died at his residence, Angas-street, on Friday. Mr. Chapman  was born at Sevenoaks, Kent, England, on August 20, 1820, and was educated at the local school. He was afterwards apprenticed to the tailoring trade at Sevenoaks, and worked at the trade for some years in England, and also in South Australia with the late Messrs. G.  Barclay and G. White. He arrived in the colony by the ship Asiatic on December 26,1849, and had resided in Adelaide ever since, with the exception of two visits to the Victorian diggings in 1852 and 1853, though with little  success. He entered the Government service as a letter-carrier on June 1, 1854, and held that position up till May 31, 1893, when he was  compelled to resign owing to failing health, having completed 39 years in the Post-Office. Mr. Chapman was very fond of music and received his first lessons on the violin when only seven years old. He played with the celebrated Jullien’s band in London in the early forties. For many years he was conductor of one of tbe first bands in Adelaide, being connected with the late Herr Carl Linger as leader of the choral society, which first produced the now well-known “Song of Australia.” He was in possession of a certificate from the Handel Commemoration Festival, given for services rendered at the first production of the “Messiah” and “Alexander’s Feast,” in this colony. The certificate is signed by Mr. E. W. B. Glandfield, chairman, Herr Carl Linger, conductor, Mr. J. W. Daniel, choralmaster, and Mr. William Chapman, leader. There was not a ball or dance of any consequence for which he did not supply the music, being famed for accenting and timekeeping, and he was also a member of the Philharmonic Society which was instrumental in getting the beautiful organ now in the Town Hall.

Chapman’s Band was likewise well known at the flower shows and concerts, Victoria Theatre and operas. He could also play the cornet and viola when required to make up a part if short of a man. He was a life member of the Adelaide Leidertafel. Mr. Chapman was a Freemason, having been a member of the Lodge of Harmony No. 3. He was a member of the Manchester Unity Order of Oddfellows from the time he arrived in the colony, and for some time he was a trustee of the Adelaide Lodge. His wife, who accompanied him from England, died five years ago. Besides four sons who came out with him he had eight children born in the colony; nine of the twelve survive him. The eldest son (Mr.William Chapman) is now No. 1 letter-carrier, having been in the public service for 34 years. The deceased also leaves 25 grandchildren. The funeral will take place at the West-terrace Cemetery tomorrow afternoon.

 

7 Comments

  1. Michael

    The paper got his age wrong because they said 77. What a fantastic story in the paper though about his life!!! Wow, I didn’t know that we had any freemasons in the family.

    • admin

      Yes he was only 76 when he died. We probably have a lot more freemasons in the family than I know of yet. There was also our grandfather James Hardy, Uncle Rick has all his stuff from the freemasons.

  2. Joanne

    Kylie, you have done a great job putting all the information together about our great, great, great grandfather’s life. Well done.

    • admin

      Thanks, it was you who got me started researching him, Joanne, with your posts on Ancestry. 🙂 Hope you’re keeping well and warm!

      • mal mills

        Hi if you get this, I am one of the great grand children of William, grand son of Harry Chapman, son of Auther Mills and Winifred ( ne: Chapman ) Very interesting , We had Williams postmans coat which we donated to the postal museum several years age. If any one would like to contact me please feel free. Malcolm K Mills JP.

  3. mal mills

    Hi if you get this, I am one of the great grand children of William, grand son of Harry Chapman, son of Auther Mills and Winifred ( ne: Chapman ) Very interesting , We had Williams postmans coat which we donated to the postal museum several years age. If any one would like to contact me please feel free. Malcolm K Mills JP.

    • admin

      Hi Malcolm
      It’s great to hear from you thanks for getting in touch! I hadn’t heard of a postal museum in SA does it still exist? I would love to see William’s coat and any other items they might have. I found his and his son’s pay records at the SA State Archives along with a photo of each of them. I’m happy to share my research. Most of it is on Ancestry.com.au

      Kylie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *