AUSIGEN - Family History

Sidonia Alt

Sidonia Alt

Female 1868 - 1953  (84 years)

Personal Information    |    Media    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name Sidonia Alt 
    Born 17 Dec 1868  Fairy Hole Inn, Yass, NSW, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 

    • Sidonia Alt, daughter of Christoph Alt and Martha Crossley, was born at Yass on 17 December 1868. She was reared in Yass and grew into a self-reliant, well-developed woman with dark hair, olive skin and brown eyes. In 1889, at the age of 20, she married Hubert Leaf Mellersh and bore him five children; Hilda, Hubert, Olive, Dorothy and Norman.
      Mellersh was an Englishman, the son of one of two brothers, who owned a private bank, known as Mellersh Brothers Bank, at Guildford, near London. It later was taken over by a National Bank. He attended a Grammar School and his parents planned a life for him as a doctor. He got as far as studying chemistry at university before changing course and migrating, first to Fiji and then to Australia. In 1886, he entered into a partnership with Frederick George Moule to conduct a business as Auctioneers and Commission Agents at Yass. They became brothers?in?law on 1 January 1890, when Moule married Sidonia's youngest sister, Elizabeth. However, several months prior to the wedding, Mellersh disposed of his share of the business, possibly to concentrate on another business he owned at Yass, distilling and marketing eucalyptus oil. The oil was derived from the foliage of eucalypt trees, which were prolific in the area. The three elder children were born in Yass. The family subsequently moved to Young for a short time and Dorothy was born there. They then transferred to Randwick, Sydney, where Norman was born. The following entry appears in the annual Sands Directory for 1897 and 1898:
      'H.L. MELLERSH, Mining Agent, 93 Pitt Street, Sydney. Private Residence "Glenburn", Fern Street, Randwick.' 93 Pitt Street was in the heart of the financial centre of Sydney. Hubert Mellersh was a likeable, charming man, adored by his sisters, played golf and was very fond of horses. The home at Randwick had stables at the rear, in which he housed his horse and phaeton. Reared in a wealthy home, he acquired, fairly early in life, a liking for alcoholic beverages. Although he was an enterprising man, his judgment in financial matters is open to some doubt, because of his investment in several unsuccessful companies, whose shares later proved to be worthless. He died of a stroke in 1898 and is buried in Waverley Cemetery.
      Olive recalls her father's love of horses and remembers the family going into mourning after his death. She has vivid recollections of being delighted with her dainty black and white check frock (standard dress for young girls in mourning) and of her brothers wearing black Eton jackets with black ties. She also recalls everyone wearing black arm bands as a token of mourning following Queen Victoria's death in 1901.
      Sidonia was a friendly, vital, energetic person, who kept herself constantly occupied. A good organizer, with sound financial sense, she was an active member of her Church and took a leading role in fund raising activities. In addition to liking and being very interested in young people, she was a good golfer and above average bridge player. After her husband's death, besides having the home in Randwick, she became the recipient from her Father-in-Law's Estate, of an income of ?300 ($600) per annum. ?300 doesn't sound much in 1987, but at that time, when an unskilled man earned only ?100 a year, it was sufficient to enable her and the children, with care, to live comfortably. Food was cheap. Lamb chops cost 2?d. a pound (11? a kilo). Everyone grew vegetables in their backyards and a local Chinese market gardener called regularly selling vegetables very cheaply. The children were given 1?d. (3?) a week, usually spent on home?made sweets at a little corner shop nearby. Cotton material was 2?1/2d. to 5d. a yard (5? to 10? for 914 mm.) and the girls learned to make their own clothes when they were teenagers. The girls were educated at Claremont Church of England College at Randwick and the boys at Scots College, Bellevue Hill. Norman subsequently attended Grammar and Shore, two other G.P.S. schools.
      The family continued to live in the home at Randwick until 1908, when Sidonia's mother-in-law passed away, leaving her the recipient of a vastly increased income of some ?1,500 per annum. It was necessary for Sidonia to go to England in connection with her inheritance and she decided to take Hilda (17) and Norman (12) with her. They had a wonderful trip lasting six or seven months, travelling both ways on the P. & O. Steamship 'India'. In England they stayed with Sidonia's sister-in-law, Fanny, in Holloway Hill House at Godalming about eight kilometres south of Guildford in Surrey. It was the home of the Mellersh family in England and was a big stone house set in some five acres of land. The house and the life style of those who lived in it were typical of a wealthy English family of that period. Norman recalls that it was a very formal home with a large staff of servants. He remembers joining girl cousins in an after school drive around the area in a dog cart driven by a coachman. Fanny died in 1971 at the age of 103. Holloway Hill House was taken over by the Armed Services in World War 2 and subsequently was purchased by the local council and demolished, the land being used for a housing estate.
      While overseas, Sidonia and Hilda spent a fortnight visiting Ireland.
      After returning from England, they lived at "Silverleigh", 66 Henrietta Street, Waverley. A large home, designed for entertaining, it was ideal for rearing a teenage family. Sidonia had an enlightened approach to bringing up a family and encouraged them to bring their friends home. On Sunday evenings they had a Gypsy Tea (an informal evening meal) and afterwards everyone participated in the washing up. One 'rule' was that anyone who left sugar in the bottom of the teacup had to go without sugar on the following Sunday. Olive and Dot gave up taking sugar at this time. Hilda met her future husband here, when he was brought to a tennis party. She was 23 when she married him, Henry Etherston Braylesford Loxton, a surveyor from Grafton, N.S.W., at St. Stephen's Church, Sydney, on 4 January 1913.
      Prior to Hilda's marriage, Hubert had left home to go on the land and the house at Waverley was sold. The family then bought another at Mosman on the other side of the harbour. Life seemed dull after all the excitement of Hilda's marriage and Dot and Olive were very keen to go to England. They pestered their mother and eventually Sidonia told the girls that, if they could sell the house, they would all go. The girls got to work and the house and furniture were soon sold and off they went by ship for a six months trip. Norman had already joined Hubert on his property near Dalby in Queensland.
      Whilst in England, Olive turned 21 on 5 June 1913 and this is how she described the celebration of her coming of age - 'June the 5th was Derby Day and the woman suffragette had thrown herself under the horse and all that sort of thing. I didn't go to the Derby, but two friends we had met on the ship coming home (to England) were in London. They had made a fuss of us on the boat and these days they would be described as our boyfriends. In those days, they were called "friends of the family", because mother was always with us and chaperoned us no doubt. She took us to dinner with the two friends at the Savoy Hotel. Derby night was a wonderful night. Everyone dressed in evening dress and top hats and opera cloaks and everything. Then we went to see a show called "The Girl in the Taxi", the musical show of the year. After the theatre, in those days, you went to supper as well. We went to the Trocadero, which was in the heart of Piccadilly at that time. We had the usual supper, very good, and then we danced until about one o'clock, after which we went home. I had the most wonderful 21st birthday. Of course, I had a beautiful new frock and new slippers and everything."
      When Mellersh's mother died, she bequeathed ?1,000 stg. to each grandchild, payable to each on attaining the age of 21. Olive received hers while they were in England, so the girls decided to tour the Continent while they had the opportunity. They had a wonderful time visiting places as far apart as Norway and Paris. The trip cost ?300 each and as Dot, being only 19, had not yet received her ?1,000 from the Estate, Olive loaned her the ?300 to be repaid when she received her inheritance. In due course the money was repaid, enabling Olive to invest the remaining ?700 of her legacy. This earned her ?50 a year in interest, which, over the years, proved to be a very useful supplementary income.
      They returned to Australia in November, 1913 and on the trip home received news of the birth of Hilda's first baby, Jack. They sat at the Purser's table and he produced champagne to celebrate, declaring that Sidonia was the youngest grandmother he had met for a long time. She was then nearly 45, full of energy, attractive and good company.
      Hostilities in World War 1 commenced in August the following year. After the landing of Australian troops at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, what was happening to them received great publicity in the newspapers.
      Appeals were frequently made for help in the hospitals in Egypt, to which Australian casualties were evacuated. Sidonia and the two girls decided to volunteer for service there and were accepted ? Sidonia as a Red Cross Worker and the girls as VADs. They were posted to the No. 2 A.G.H.
      (Australian General Hospital) where Sidonia worked in the sewing room while the girls worked in the wards, taking temperatures, doing dressings etc. At the same time they enjoyed themselves helping to entertain the troops, going to functions, dancing at the Officers' Club and whatever else was on.
      Early in 1916, at the time of the evacuation of Gallipoli, the wards were practically cleared in anticipation of heavy casualties. As it happened, there were only five and there were great celebrations by the troops in Cairo. The girls were invited to go to the famous Shepherd's Hotel. Only officers were allowed to go there and the place was crowded. The men from Gallipoli had not seen white women for a long time and of course Olive and Dot received a great deal of attention and had a wonderful night.
      The troops were then moved to France and the girls wanted to go to England to carry on the work they were doing. Sidonia decided to return to Australia, but allowed the girls to go to England. Some of the English women in Egypt were critical of her for permitting the girls to go to England on their own, contrary to social expectations at that time. She angrily replied that she had brought them up and trusted them. Dot met her future husband, Chip Burrows, an English Army Officer (a solicitor in civil life) and saw him whenever he returned to England on leave. They became engaged with the idea of marrying at the end of the war.
      Towards the end of 1916, Sidonia decided to return to England. On the voyage, she became seriously ill and, despite the fact that white women were not allowed to land at Port Said, she and another woman were off?loaded and admitted to the American Hospital there. When they were well enough to travel, they were put aboard a second vessel to complete the journey. This ship was torpedoed in the Mediterranean and was quickly abandoned. The passengers took to the lifeboats and, after six or seven hours, were rescued by a Japanese ship carrying wounded from the Middle East to Marseilles, where the passengers disembarked. When they were allocated space in between the bunks bearing the wounded, the man alongside Sidonia died during the night and the following morning a Japanese officer on the ship vacated his cabin, which, to their great relief, was made available to the two women for the remainder of the voyage.
      During World War 1, passengers in ships at sea, when not in their cabins, were required to have an overcoat and their money with them at all times, because in the event of the ship being torpedoed, they would not be allowed to return to their cabins. In her luggage, all of which went down with the ship, Sidonia had a valuable family collection of coins and banknotes acquired by her husband, which is doubtless still lying on the floor of the Mediterranean. After landing at Marseilles, the women were put on a train to Lyon, where they bought an English?French dictionary and clothing. They then proceeded to London via Calais and Sidonia was re?united with her daughters, and for some time the three of them lived together in England.
      The following year Chip Burrows was badly gassed, evacuated to England and classed unfit for Active Service. Seeing that he would not be returning to the Front, he and Dot decided to get married. Sidonia and Olive continued living in England until after the war ended and in 1919 decided to return to Australia. They arranged to break their journey with a sojourn in Egypt. An English engineer, William Day, was staying at the hotel they selected. They found, to their surprise, that they were friends of Bill's uncle and his family, who lived near them in Randwick. Sidonia's husband, Hugh Mellersh, and Reg Day had been to the same school in Guildford in Surrey, England. Quite apart from the affinity which Bill and Olive felt, the fact that their families were friends would have lead to their ready acceptance of each other. They married in 1919 and in 1981 were still healthy and happy together, looking after themselves in their house in Staines, Middlesex, England.
      After Olive married, Sidonia returned to Australia. However, as Hilda was married, Hubert lived in Queensland and Norman was farming, there was no need for her to stay there. She was a widow in her early fifties, enjoyed company, healthy, with a zest for life and an income which enabled her to do the things she wished. She loved travelling and found life in the expatriate country community in Cairo much to her liking and, in between trips to England, where Dot lived, and to Australia, spent most of the next twelve years there. She enjoyed the club life and played golf, something she hadn't done since her husband's death, and also became an above average bridge player. She was a popular person and rejected several offers of marriage during her long widowhood. Perhaps the experience of having five children in quick succession and the responsibility of rearing them on her own, made her value, above all else, the freedom from care she found once her children reached adulthood. In Sydney one suitor made a habit of composing poems about her in Church, admiring her frocks and hats etc. and posted them to her the following day. They caused great merriment in the home where her teenage daughters couldn't imagine anyone being in love with a woman as old as their mother (she was then in her thirties.) Later in Egypt, she became very attached to a younger man, but refused to marry him. He died tragically in a few days from septicaemia, after pricking his finger on a rose.
      Sidonia returned to Australia in the 1930's, living first at Lindfield and Killara, before buying a large, beautiful old home set in extensive grounds at Neutral Bay. In recent years it was demolished and replaced by home units. She made her last trip to England in 1939, when 71, but hurried back, saying she couldn't face another war in England. She lived at Neutral Bay until her death, caused by a stroke, on 15 July 1953 at the age of 85.
      Hubert, after finishing school and not liking office work, spent some three years or so working on a property near Warwick, Queensland, with people called Allen. He was then allocated a Government Homestead Block of 620 acres at Timber Plains outside Dalby, which he worked successfully as a mixed farm. He later acquired an additional 620 acre block. During World War 2, he sold his farm and bought a newsagency at Redcliff in Brisbane, which he conducted until he retired. He married and had two sons and five daughters.
      Norman too found he disliked office work and joined Hubert on his property at Timber Plains for over twelve months. He then spent 1914 doing a course at Hawkesbury Agricultural College, after which he worked on properties on the Northern Rivers of N.S.W. He enlisted in World War 1, but was still training in England when the war ended. He married in 1921, but remained childless. In 1936 he bought a block of land at Caringbah, Sydney and has lived there ever since. In World War 2, he again joined the Army, but remained in Sydney. When the War ended, he was employed in the Public Service where he continued to work until retirement.
      Olive and Bill Day had a most interesting life together. Bill went to Cairo in 1911, where he joined the Department of Roads. He returned to England to enlist in the Army early in World War 1 and served in France until the end of the War. Following discharge, he returned to his profession in Cairo, where he married Olive in 1919. He remained in Egypt, eventually becoming Engineer?in?Charge, until 1930, when he went to Athens to work for the Greek Government. The Great Depression struck and, when in 1933 the Government became bankrupt and unable to pay his salary, he returned to England. Some two years later, the Egyptian Government invited him to return to Cairo, which he did and remained there for three years. Thence to Cyprus, to the Department of Public Works, for which he worked until 1941. When World War 2 started, Olive was evacuated to Egypt and later to South Africa. Bill then joined the Shell Company, working as a Resident Engineer, first building roads and later repairing and extending airfields in the Suez Canal area. This job finished with the end of the war, so he joined what was known as "The Hirings" for six months. This was a department of the army, whose function it was to prepare detailed listings of material proposed for auction. On reaching the mandatory retiring age, he left the army and was demobolised in England. Bill returned to the Public Works Department in Cyprus, where he stayed until 1949, when he turned 60 and had to retire. He then bought a small residential hotel at Staines, which he and Olive conducted for nine years, prior to finally retiring to a house in the same suburb. Their marriage was blessed with one daughter, Mary
    Name Sidonia Mellersh 
    Died 15 Jul 1953  Neutral Bay, NSW, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I42  Mote/McInnes
    Last Modified 21 Jan 2001 

    Father Christopher Alt,   b. 20 May 1828, Bannerod, Hessen Darmstadt, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 15 Jul 1873, Yass, NSW, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 45 years) 
    Mother Martha Crossley,   b. 15 Oct 1842, Seven Hills, NSW, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 14 Aug 1937, Yass, NSW, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 94 years) 
    Married 01 Jan 1862  St Clements Church, Yass, NSW, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F16  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Hubert Leaf Mellersh,   b. 1858, Holloway Hill House, Godalming, Surrey, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 26 Feb 1898, Randwick, NSW, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 40 years) 
    Married 1889  Yass, NSW, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
     1. Hubert Mellersh,   b. 1888, Yass, NSW, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1888, Yass, NSW, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 0 years)
     2. Hilda Mellersh,   b. 07 Mar 1890, Yass, NSW, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 24 Oct 1984, Glenn Innes, NSW, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 94 years)
     3. Hubert Little Mellersh,   b. 24 Mar 1891, Yass, NSW, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. May 1965, QLD, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 74 years)
     4. Olive Mellersh,   b. 05 Jun 1892, Yass, NSW, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 02 Sep 1985, Staines, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 93 years)
     5. Dorothy Mellersh,   b. 22 Sep 1893, Young, NSW, Australia, -34.301401,148.29895 Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 09 Mar 1969, Leamington Spa, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 75 years)
     6. Norman Mellersh,   b. 17 Nov 1894, Randwick, NSW, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location
    Last Modified 17 Mar 2018 
    Family ID F41  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    Sidonia Alt
    Sidonia Alt
    Hilda, Hubert, Sidonia, Olive, Norman and Dorothy Mellersh