Friday, July 25, 2014

The Vesteys and Dame Nellie

Well, I have done some interesting reading about Dame Nellie Melba and the Vesteys. A little background first, if you are not well up on either.

Dame Nellie Melba (1861-1931) was an Australian opera singer and surely at the height of her career, the best known Australian in the world. She was briefly married and bore one son, George.

The English Vestey family owned vast amounts of cattle grazing land in the north of Australia (around the world too) and became more well known here than they would have liked when their Aboriginal stockmen walked off their Wave Hill Station. The cheeky buggers actually wanted to paid the same as white people, instead of a flour, tea, sugar and tobacco allowance (slight exaggeration, but only slight). The walk off had huge repercussions, leading to land rights for our native people.

So, you know who they are. I want to know how Melba and the Vesteys are connected and it ended up being quite simple when I found the 2011 obituary for Lady (Pamela) Vestey.

Pamela was the daughter of Melba's only child George. In 1939 she married Captain William Howarth Vestey who was killed in war service in 1944. Obituaries, Wikipedia and various other sources are conflicting about Captain Howarth Vestey, so I will not add any more information about him suffice to say he was an heir to the Vestey empire.

Post her husband's death, Pamela was granted the title Lady Vestey.

William and Pamela had two children, (Lord) Samuel and (the Honourable) Mark, who are now in control of Melba's Coldstream home Coombe Cottage and the estate.

(Would you believe this took over 2 hours to put together. No wonder I don't do this sort of post too often. Still, I found it interesting).

Oh yes. Coombe Cottage garden is to be open to the public and there will be a restaurant and winery sales.If you would like to see photos of Dame Nellie, check out this Pinterest page with heaps of photos of her, good and bad.

18 comments:

  1. Andrew, it is very interesting to read about this famous woman.

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    1. Gosia, I guess you had heard of her?

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  2. Interesting how the well connected remain well connected through the generations. A bit like inbreeding I suppose.

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    1. Victor, at times there is a free spirit that breaks out of the stream, but too often, things just flow along as they have for generations.

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  3. And I only knew bout her peaches

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    1. John, I don't think I have ever eaten that dish. I should.

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    2. And there's Melba toast.

      I always associate the Vestey Family with the song ("From Little Things Big Things Grow") Maybe someone should do an opera version.

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    3. Dina, I don't think I have eaten that either. Is there a Vestey reference in that song?

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  4. Thank you. A snippet about Dame Nellie (and her family) which I never knew.

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  5. Joe and I went on an Open Day to Edzell House and came across the connection to Dame Nellie Melba. So I took the two oldest grandchildren to Melba's property in Coldstream, a small town then outside Melbourne. Super excursion!

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    1. Hels, I look forward to going there one day. I remember the high hedges from the road.

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  6. apparently she was a terrific singer.

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    1. Em Stacks, it is rumoured.

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  7. I don't like to disappoint people, but on things like this, if I cared less, I'd be dead.

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    1. River, know thy enemy. The Vesteys had, and perhaps still have, a great influence in Australia, socially and economically.

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  8. Thanks for taking the time Andrew, I do find 'connections' fascinating, the expression it's a small world applies so often.

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