By Lyn Collingwood, Local Historian. From Bulletin 10 of 2020

This house on the Bishopthorpe Estate was probably one of several built in Glebe by Alexander Leckie Elphinstone senior who was recorded as its occupant in 1873. The Elphinstones were prominent local builders; several lived in Derwent St and their timber yards were close by. The house sat on the corner of what was Harden St before that thoroughfare was absorbed in the 1880s into Mitchell St, which originally ran only from Glebe Point Rd down to Blackwattle Bay.

In 1874 Henry Shute (1828-1902), a commercial traveller with Tooth’s brewery, moved from Arundel Terrace into the Westmoreland St house and named it Stonehouse after a village near Portsmouth, presumably his birthplace. Shute came from a military background. His father, a Major-General, fought in campaigns with the Duke of Wellington and Lieutenant-Colonel James Shute, who served with the Royal Marine Light Infantry, was a brother.

Henry Shute arrived in Adelaide in the 1850s. In 1857 he married Elizabeth Wells in Sydney. By the time of the death of their baby son Thomas in 1860 they were living at Abbott’s Cottages Botany Rd. By 1867 they were on Cleveland St and by 1870 in Glebe. Elizabeth Shute, the mother of Henry’s four young surviving sons, died aged 38 from sunstroke in March 1876. Two years later Henry married her sister, Alice, in St Andrew’s Cathedral. By 1892, when Alice Shute advertised for a general servant, the household had been reduced to three. They suffered from soot and smoke pouring from the chimneys of a neighbouring farrier on Westmoreland St. Henry Shute prosecuted George Lappin for the deleterious effect this had on his family’s comfort and health but the matter was settled out of court.

Shute worked for Tooth’s for 43 years. He died at home on 4 June 1902 and was buried in Balmain Cemetery. Another Wells sister, Louisa, lived briefly with his widow. In 1914 Alice Shute moved next door to 23 Westmoreland St where she remained until shortly before her death in 1926.

A Facebook follower asked for help in identifying the subject of this artwork ‘Glebe Houses’. Robert Hannan recognised 21 Westmoreland St, a house remarkable for its decorative quoins pattern work.

Henry Shute’s eldest surviving son, also named Henry (1859-1931), was a member of the Glebe Rowing Club. In 1884 at St James’ Church in the city he married Emma, the eldest daughter of William Cary, Glebe Council Alderman and Mayor and the owner of Glenwood (the Hereford St house features in the Glebe Society’s publication Villas: Glebe & Forest Lodge pre-1870). Henry joined the Lands Dept, qualified as a surveyor and transferred to the Dept of Public Works where he helped develop Sydney’s sewerage system. He organised a State-wide hydrographic survey for the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission. At his death he was survived by his wife (who died in 1944) and children, William Henry Shute and Beryl Joyce Stewart.

Richard (‘Dick’) Shute (source: Referee 21 November 1900)

Second son James (1861-1926) was employed by the Bank of NSW for 45 years. Held up at gunpoint in the Wellington branch, he fought with the robber who fled and turned the weapon on himself. For his bravery James was presented with a gold watch and promoted to East Maitland, and then to Head Office. In 1885 at St Andrew’s Cathedral he married Mary (‘Minnie’) the only daughter of squatter Silvanus Brown Daniel, Commissioner for Crown Lands and MLA for Wellington. James Shute died of pneumonia at Hurstville and was buried in Waverley Cemetery, survived by his wife (a celebrated musician described by visiting Paderewski as ‘Australia’s lyric pianiste’) and their son Dr Redvers Buller Shute (presumably named for Sir Redvers Buller the general who fought in several African campaigns including the Boer War).

Third son Richard (1863-1942) was a solidly-built all-round sportsman who was said to bend coins with his teeth. After Glebe Public, he was educated at Sydney Grammar where he joined the rifle club and played intercolonial cricket. He was a member of the Australian X1 which went to England in 1886. He succeeded his brother Henry as treasurer of the Glebe Rowing Club, became its secretary and was stroke of several winning crews. A founding member of the Suburban Bicycle Club and the Burwood Bowling Club, Richard played forward with the Toxteth and Arfoma football clubs, was a steward with the Canterbury Park Race Club, and served as an alderman and mayor on Burwood Council.

Professionally Richard Shute worked as an architect. At Sydney Cricket Ground he designed the Sheridan Pavilion and alterations to the Ladies’ Pavilion. As treasurer of the NSW Cricket Association, he fought against proposals to use the SCG field for bicycling and other sports, and resigned the position in 1910.

At Burwood in 1890 Richard Shute married Amelia Steuart Allt who launched vessels for her father Thomas, chairman of directors of the North Coast Steamship Company. The Shutes had two daughters Marjorie Steuart (1892-1976) and Enid Steuart (1896-1976). Their son Robert Elliott Steuart, born in 1899, enlisted in the First World War and served as a gunner. After returning to Australia he studied engineering at Sydney University where he played rugby union as a front row forward. In June 1922 Robert died of a fractured skull sustained during a game on Manly Oval. An inquest found his death accidental and his mother sent a note of support to the player who had tackled him. The Shute Shield, struck in Robert’s honour, is awarded to the Grand Final winning team at the end of the Sydney Club Rugby season.

By the time of his son’s death, Dick Shute had moved to Point Clare where he died in 1942; his widow Amy Shute died at Newcastle in 1962.

Fourth son Charles (1867-1917) turned to hotelkeeping after bankruptcy as a builder during the 1890s Depression. In 1898 at St Barnabas’ Broadway he married Jane Maud, the youngest daughter of Richard Briant, a Glebe butcher. Charles Shute’s licences included the Royal at Granville and Paddington’s Four in Hand. He died in the Albury at Darlinghurst; its licence was then transferred to his widow.

In 1914 Stonehouse was rented to Elizabeth Norah O’Neill who tried to make a living by turning it into a boarding house. Born at Binda in 1864 to William and Jane Eldridge, Elizabeth married itinerant station hand John Charles O’Neill at Crookwell in 1885. Four children were born in the period 1886-91: Lyle Hugh Florence (Florence was also a male name in the 19th century), Stella, Alice and Charles Campbell Clyde. In 1897 Elizabeth sued their father for desertion and again in 1905 by which time two more sons (Garnet Lindsay Gordon and John Lionel David) had been born at Peak Hill and she had moved from the country to Foucart St Rozelle. The last known whereabouts of John Charles O’Neill was Gunaganoo Station near Tamworth.

Stella O’Neill married Henry Herbert John Roche at Glebe in 1916. In 1928 the family pattern was repeated when Stella charged her labourer husband, addicted to drink, with deserting his wife and child, then living in Flinders St Darlinghurst. Two years later he was ordered to pay maintenance.

Three unmarried O’Neill sons enlisted in the First World War. Lyle, a timber getter, was killed at Gallipoli in September 1915, a light horse trooper. Charles, a labourer who enlisted at Goulburn, embarked a month later. His service was broken by several hospital admissions. In June 1917 at Laviéville in the Somme district he was court martialled for being AWOL and sentenced to be shot. This was commuted to 15 years’ imprisonment but he returned to Australia. In 1920 he was arrested by Nimmitabel Police and tried at Bega for assaulting and robbing, in company, Teddy Ah Boon. In 1924 he was charged with vagrancy. He was discharged for the same offence in 1932 because he received a war pension. Charles O’Neill was in and out of prison and on and off food relief for years. In 1933, again in company, he broke into an Orange laundry and stole bed linen. In 1946 he was a patient in the State Hospital Lidcombe. He died at Parramatta in 1952 and was buried in the Catholic Cemetery Liverpool.

Garnet, a 19-year-old farmer, enlisted in April 1916 and saw action in France where he developed trench fever. He returned to Australia in 1919 and moved to Queensland where he worked as a craftsman. He served in the Second World War, and died in 1965.

Elizabeth O’Neill did not stay long in Glebe. By 1916 she had already moved twice: to Potts Point and Darlinghurst. By 1920 she was living at Gladesville where she established a greengrocery and confectionery business, and died in July 1952.

In 1918 two rooms at Stonehouse were advertised for rent (‘no children’) with use of the kitchen. Marion Clara Benson née Williams moved from 19 Westmoreland St where she had been living with her saleswomen daughters Sally Maud Margaret and Lurline Jessie. Marion Benson died in 1928 and was buried C of E at Rookwood. Lurline in 1931 at Glebe married Charles Hugo Bergquist and the couple moved to Wollongong. Bergquist unofficially took his mother’s maiden name; Lurline Jessie Pollock died at Bellevue Hill in 1981.

George Wilcox lived in Stonehouse in the early 1930s. By 1935 labourer George David Ferguson was there with Minnie Elizabeth and Wallace, a carter with a draught horse. Edward John Ferguson, a butcher, moved in from 11 Catherine St and was joined by Wallace Douglas and Dulcie Joy, clerks who married at Newtown in 1960. The Ferguson family remained at 21 Westmoreland St until 1969.

Sources: Australian Archives; NSW cemetery records; NSW electoral rolls; NSW registry of births, deaths and marriages; Qld registry of births, deaths and marriages; Sands Directories; Trove website.

21 Westmoreland St today (photo: Lyn Collingwood)
The house in 1970 (Image: City of Sydney Archives)