Music to my ears


1. George Dymock (1853-1925)

by Robyn Hukin © All rights reserved
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My son is a trombone player. I play the organ, clarinet and saxophone and my father played a pretty mean boogie woogie on the piano, mainly by ear.

My mother's lineage is not at all musical and my early musical abilities were seen as somewhat of an aberration. Clearly our talent came from our DYMOCK ancestry, but how far back did it go?

Last year I wrote an article on the family of Mary Ann WARD, my great grandmother and wife of George DYMOCK for the Western Ancestor. This detailed my descent from several generations of drummers in the Royal Marines in Chatham in Kent. Were there more musicians elsewhere?

Thanks to the National Library of Australia's on-line searchable index of Australian newspapers I have an answer, and a quite surprising one at that!

George DYMOCK was a prison warder at Fremantle Gaol, and retired as a Chief Warder. His grandson Snowy regarded him as a cranky and mean old man and didn't have a good word to say about him. The only photograph I have of old George was an obituary photograph from a 1925 newspaper cutting handed down through the generations. It certainly lends weight to Snowy's opinion.

George was born in Fulham, London in 1853 to George DYMOCK and Mary CASTLE. He joined the Royal Marines in Chatham at the age of 17 and bought his way out for ₤20 five years later.[1] He married Mary Ann WARD in Chatham on Christmas Day 1875. This couple and their four children immigrated to Western Australia on board the Chollerton in 1887.

A trawl on produced 233 hits for DYMOCK in WA newspapers alone. Many of these entries concerned George. A tip for other researchers: Try combinations such as DYMOCK, George; George DYMOCK; G DYMOCK; DYMOCK, G; Mr DYMOCK; Geo DYMOCK; DYMOCK, Geo etc. All have produced results for me.

I now have a completely different insight into the character of my great grandfather. I know he:
• Was a builder in Fremantle (he was a plasterer by trade) for a few years, probably in partnership with his brother James.
• Deserted his newly pregnant wife and children, being picked up by the police and held in the Fremantle lockup overnight before being returned home.
• Was charged with drunkenness.
• Took the pledge and joined the Sons of Temperance Lodge - Good Samaritan division.
• Won a photograph album with ticket number FX5 in the Fremantle Catholic Boys Art Union (in aid of the building fund at the Catholic Boys School in Fremantle) in 1888.
• Was a Lance-Corporal in the Fremantle Rifle Volunteer Brigade, and was awarded Smartest Bandsman in 1891.
• Joined the Richmond Masonic Lodge.
• Was in charge of a group of 72 prisoners who helped the Fremantle Fire Brigade extinguish a fire in the Fremantle Railway Goods Sheds.
• Involved in quelling prison riots.
• Caught a prison escapee in 1898.
• Contributed 1 shilling to the widows and poor Boer War Veterans in 1900.
• Often sang solos on stage, including She Wore a Wreath of Roses.
• Was an actor in amateur theatre, playing comic roles in productions such as Dandy Dick, Aurora Floyd, Fun on the Bristol and The Colleen Bawn.
• Was a founding member of the Fremantle Variety Troupe of Minstrels, elected as "bones" and was styled the Inimitable Negro Delineator. The Troupe became known as the Black Diamond Minstrel Troupe. Their aim was to raise money for charity.
• And the best prize of all, he was a member of the Fremantle Orchestral Society... playing the trombone.

A trip to the Fremantle Local Studies library recently provided an even better and unexpected thrill. Among their wonderful photographic collection I found a photograph of the Fremantle Historical Society musicians, taken in 1903. Individual photos accompanied the orchestral group shot, and to my delight my great grandfather can be seen by all on the Fremantle Local Studies website:
Unnamed at the time I found it, I have since been able to identify him and provide information on him to the Library.

Among other musicians trombone players are usually regarded as loveable rogues, often the life and soul of the party. Far from being a dour prison warder it seems George Dymock may have been true to musical form.

I doubt George, or any of our forebears, ever imagined a descendant would be performing professionally, let alone in the Sydney Opera House, as my son Simon did earlier this year. I'm sure though, as a fellow trombone player, George DYMOCK would have been extremely proud.

Photo of George and Mary Ann (nee WARD) DYMOCK, c.a. 1920 (Authors collection)




Photo of George and Mary Ann (nee WARD) DYMOCK, c.a. 1920 (Authors collection)










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Sources & Notes

[1]  ADM 157/130/348 - Folios 348-349.

Last Updated on Sunday, 06 October 2013 10:36