Melbourne, Victoria

Langton ffolliott Crofton Staveley

Langton ffolliott Crofton Staveley

Henry Crofton Staveley was born in Dublin, Ireland on May 13, 1830 to parents Robert Stevelly and Sarah Francis CROFTON.  Henry (13 May, 1830 - 6 Nov 1887) and Maria Augusta LANGTON ( ? – 10 Sept 1896) were married June 21, 1855 at St. Peter’s Church, Melbourne, Victoria.

Henry emigrated from Ireland  to Australia in 1852 on the SS Great Britain (fare ₤32), designed by Brunel for the Great Western Steamship Company. It was on this vessel that Henry met, or probably knew of, John Sadleir who later married Isabella Maria Crofton.

The vessel landed in Victoria on 11 November, 1852.  Henry was engaged to Maria before leaving Ireland and she came out later to join him.   “On the 21 June last, at St. Peter's Church, Melbourne, by the Rev. G.P.M.  Barden, A.M., Henry Crofton Staveley Esq., second son of the late Rev. Robert Staveley, A.M., rector of St. Munchin's, Limerick, to Maria, fifth daughter of James Langton Esq., of Bruree House, Co. Limerick.“

Peter Reginald Staveley (1939 - ) advises that Henry was very close friends with his cousin George Staveley (1826-1873) – Peter’s great grandfather, and they both travelled to Australia in 1852 from Ireland, although on separate vessels.  Both Henry and George had sons that died in their first year and they both gave their daughters names of Isabella and Blanche. 

Margaret (Staveley) Lawrence

Margaret (Staveley) Lawrence

Henry Crofton Staveley, was born 13 May 1830; of him his sister Margaret Lawrence writes “He was at school at Dr. Flynn’s Harcourt Street and after was at Dungamon.  After that he was apprenticed to his Uncle Thomas WILSON, whose business establishment was on the ? at the same time he went through Trinity College, being from 10 to 6 every day at the office, his head being a hard and stern man, he got up his College work in the evenings and got some prizes, a fact much to his credit. “  In 1852 he got all his portion from his father (£2,000 charged on the Cork property), and went out to Australia and joined a wine merchant in Melbourne.  His wife Miss Maria Langton, to whom he was engaged before he left home, went out after him along with her sister and Miss Isabella Maria CROFTON (daughter of Rev. William CROFTON, Rector of Skreen) who afterwards married Mr. John Sadleir, Inspector of Police of Benalla, Victoria.   Maria and Isabella arrived on the Boomerang, which arrived in May, 1855 in Melbourne.


Robert V. Staveley wrote in 1911 that Henry did not graduate from Trinity College, but Kae Lewis found what appears to be our Henry in the Trinity College Graduation list-:

Stavely (Henry C.), B.A., Vern. 1851

Stavely (Robert), Sch., 1846.__B.A., Vern. 1849. __M.A., and B.D.,  Vern. 1863

Kae Lewis found the following related Staveley’s in the King’s In Admission Papers and we both believe that the first entry is our Henry Crofton Staveley.  If we are correct this means he studied Law (like many of the Staveley family) at Trinity College and was also qualified with admission to the bar at Kings Inn before he decided to emigrate to Australia.   Henry’s cousin Robert Jones STAVELEY also in this list was also a qualified lawyer and emigrated to New Zealand in 1884.

Stavely (Henry C.), B.A., Vern. 1851

Stavely (Robert), Sch., 1846.__B.A., Vern. 1849. __M.A., and B.D.,  Vern. 1863

Stevelly (Edmund). B.A., AEst. 1811.

Stevelly (George), B.A., AEst. 1811

Stevelly (John), B.A., AEst. 1817.__M.A., AEst. 1827.__L.L.B. and L.L.D., AEst. 1844. Stevelly (Robert), B.A., AEsrt. 1815.

Stevelly (Robert Jones), B.A. AEst. 1811._M.A., Aest. 1818

After Henry’s marriage, there was a great commercial crisis in Melbourne and his house in Collingwood amongst others, came to the ground and he lost all except what he had settled on his wife.  He then did some trading at the Gold Diggings but did not actually dig himself.  Afterwards through the Arthurs and O’Brien, Sir Gavan Duffy was able to get him a post in the treasury, Melbourne whence he moved to the Treasury, Sale, Victoria.  Miss Langton was the adopted daughter of a Mr. Fitzgerald of Merrion Square, she was an excellent dancer and the favourite partner of her future husband.

As a boy in Ireland Henry seems to have been more fond of society than of work, but when he found himself in Australia and compelled to depend entirely on his own resources, he settled down and became a hard working and energetic man.  He had a large family to rear and educate, and must always have found it a struggle to make both ends meet.  He and his wife adopted two girls – orphans of a friend, and treated them as his own children.  I believe those orphans ultimately came in for a good deal of money.  He seems to have been always a loving husband and father.  Upright and unselfish and a God fearing man.  Henry often hoped to come home on a visit to his mother and family, but was never able to afford it, and was drowned in crossing a swollen river on horseback 6th November 1887.  His widow survived till September 1896, suffering much from ill health in the last years of her life. 

Henry and Maria spent the first years in Melbourne where their first two children were born, before moving to the Castlemaine area around 1858.  Henry must have been called to Melbourne to give evidence on 29 August, 1862 Henry at the Victorian ‘Gold Fields Royal Commission of Enquiry – Report of the Royal Mining Commission, Appointed to Enquire Into The Gold Fields of Victoria’; this when Henry was working for the Victorian Treasury Department as he answered one question… “The other licenses, such as brick makers’ and others, I am not competent to state, but a reference to the revenue returns, the quarterly statement that will be published from the Treasury at the end of this month, will give that in detail”.  He was questioned with regard to bond stores on the gold fields, taxes and the general ‘financial’ conditions of gold mining in Victoria and he also speaks of miner’s rights being grounds for residence in the Castlemaine area. 

In October 1867 John SADLEIR as a Junior Officer in the Victorian Police Force was instructed to take charge of the Gippsland district where once again he had acquaintance with Henry Crofton Staveley.  On his first Sunday in Sale they attended the Anglican Church where the men commented “at the number of really beautiful young women, charmingly dressed, who could not fail to be attractive in any assemblage."

Between 1875 and 1877 Henry and John SADLEIR crossed paths again.  “Besides the beauty spots on every side and the grandeur of the view from Mount Matlock, it is interesting to note that the township of Matlock is the highest in Victoria, probably in all Australia, being I believe, nearly 5,000 feet above sea level.  The principal store, Donaldson’s stands exactly on the line dividing the two water-sheds of Victoria.  When the Bailiwicks Act came into force it became necessary to decide whether Matlock was north or south of the central line of the Great Dividing Range.  I accompanied Messrs. W.G. Brett and H.C. Stavely, Sheriffs of the adjoining Bailiwicks, to Matlock to enquire into the question.  The solution was an easy matter.  The time was winter, and the melting snow on Donaldson’s roof was seen to pass from one side into he southern water shed, and from the other side into the northern.

In Nov 1882, Henry must have left the Treasury and became Police Magistrate for Bairnsdale District. 

On 5th November 1887, traveling from Dargo to Omeo to hold court accompanied by Senior Constable Hodgson – about 5 miles from Omeo they had to cross the flooded Limestone Creek – his horse stumbled and threw Staveley, who was unable to swim.  He was swept away and drowned.  He body was recovered some time later and returned to Sale for burial.  A young son and daughter predeceased him.  The Funeral left “Muiravonside” his home on the Sale Plains.  The son of an Irish Minister from Dublin, educated Trinity College – he came to Australia during the gold rushes.  Entered the Public Service 1857 – to Sale 1868 as Clerk of Courts.  Staveley Street in Sale and Bairnsdale are named for him.



"News reached here last evening of the sad death, by drowning, of Mr. H.C. Staveley, the police magistrate stationed at Bairnsdale. He was travelling from the Dargo to Omeo in company with Senior Constable Hodgson, and on fording the Livingstone Creek, about five miles from Omeo, Mr. Staveley's horse stumbled and dislodged his rider, who, being unable to swim was swept away and drowned. The Livingstone Creek is a tributary of the Mita Mita, with a rocky bed, and was in a flooded state. The constable was successful in crossing at Omeo, when he reported the occurrence. A search party at once went out to endeavour to find the body, which was found to-day, about 150 yards from where the deceased was last seen. The receipt of the news here caused quite a painful sensation, the deceased being a very old and highly esteemed resident of Sale. Prior to his appointment as police magistrate, about two years ago, he had occupied the position of receiver and paymaster, and clerk of the courts in Sale for nearly 20 years. He entered the service in 1857, and at the time of his untimely death was 56 years of age. He leaves a widow and a large family, most of whom, however, are grown up. He succeeded at the Bairnsdale Police Court the late Mr. Wheeler, who it will be remembered died on the road of heart disease whilst travelling on duty in the same district. Mr. Staveley's father was rector of Louth, near Dublin, and his elder brother is also a clergyman of the Episcopal church in Ireland. The deceased was a B.A. of Trinity College. Dublin."



"The body of Mr. Staveley, P.M. was found yesterday about 100 yards below where he was washed from his horse. The deceased was coming from the Dargo, where he had been holding the monthly court, to Omeo, for the court to be held here to-day. The rains had been exceptionally heavy, and the creeds were flooded. Mr. Staveley was accompanied by Senior Constable Hodgson, and on reaching the crossing at Livingstone Creek they found that ti could be crossed by swimming. The constable got over safely, Mr. Staveley immediately followed, and when nearly over his horse appeared to sink hind part first, whereupon Mr. Staveley pulled the horse over backwards, and the rider got entangled in a large cloak he was wearing. He came up about 60 years down the stream, which was running strongly. The constable said on reaching the crossing, "It's going to be a swim, and a rough one" to which Mr. Staveley replied, "I never swam my horse in my life."

A coroner's inquest was held this morning. The constable in his evidence said that Mr. Staveley had got across when he pulled his horse over on his back into deep water. He hung for a while in the stirrups, then got free, and was swept down for 60 yards before coming to the surface. He (witness) shouted to him to seize a bush that was hanging over the water. He caught hold, and held for a few seconds, then let go, and went under. He never spoke. The constable said that he had no chance of giving the deceased assistance. The jury returned a verdict of accidentally drowned. The body was enclosed in a sine coffin, and forwarded to Sale, where the deceased's family reside."

In the Sale Burgess listing in 1873 Henry Crofton is listed at a receiver of Payment and dwelling in the suburbs of Sale.  In 1875 he is listed at Paymaster, but then not listed in 1877 & 1878.  He is registered again in 1879 and in 1882 to 1884 he is listed as living in Guthridge Parade, Sale.  This small cottage called Muiravon was on a very large block of land and at one time they had another Police Magistrate living in the house with them.   The Sion Convent wanted this site to build their monastery, the house was demolished but the Sion Convent finished building on a site much closer to the centre of town.  But, from the proceeds of the sale of Muiravon a very large timber house with large wrap around verandah was built around 1887-1889 for Mrs. Maria Staveley (The Voter’s Roll, formally the Burgess Listing from 1888 have registered Maria A. Staveley) at 162 Macalister Street is still standing in 2001.  After her death the house was let by her executors for some years.

Henry was also Treasurer (Sale) at Gippsland Hospital, Secretary of the Sale Turf Club, and was in the Sale Cricket Team.

Author: Lisa Lambert


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