LAST MODIFIED Sunday 26 August 2018 16:27

William Joseph Cavendish

Dr GRAEME SKINNER (University of Sydney)


To cite this:

Graeme Skinner (University of Sydney), "William Joseph Cavendish", Australharmony (an online resource toward the history of music and musicians in colonial and early Federation Australia):; accessed 24 October 2018

CAVENDISH, William Joseph (William Joseph CASTELL; CASTELLI; William Joseph CAVENDISH DE CASTELL)

Musician, dancing-master, composer, arranger

Born Kilkenny, Ireland, May 1789 (baptised 27 May)
Arrived Sydney, NSW, 20 January 1833 (per Sovereign from Mauritius)
Died Sydney Harbour, 26 January 1839 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

CAVENDISH, Mary (alias of Mrs. Mary CECIL)

Teacher of music

Arrived Sydney, NSW, 20 January 1833 (per Sovereign from Mauritius)
Died Sydney Harbour, NSW, 26 January 1839


Born William Joseph Castell, he was a professional musician in London until debts forced him to leave for France in 1826. Later, in Mauritius, he affected the surname Cavendish de Castell, which he also used during his first months in Australia, then simply as Cavendish. Based on his papers, including a large number of letters from his wife in London, in the NSW State Archives (Papers of the Curator of Intestate Estates, 1839-41), Ann Beedell's 1990 and 1992 studies present a fascinating and scarifying, if incomplete, reconstruction of what she characterises as his failed career. Much evidence, some of it not cited by Beedell, suggests that he was, however, well respected in Sydney musical circles. A recent donation to the State Library of New South Wales, his 1833 manuscript is, so far as is known the very earliest example of a settler Australian musical composition to survive from colonial times.

Reporting on his well-attended funeral, The Australian noted:

The musical profession has lost a friend and a warm supporter in Mr. Cavendish, who has always been foremost to render his services, gratuitously, to the advancement and encouragement of the science. In private life he was greatly esteemed.

Cavendish would be remembered as the "founder" of the Cecilian Society, which, as a memorial, hung a portrait of him at its June 1839 meeting. Speculatively, Beedell (97) reproduces a "portrait of an unknown man, Sydney, c.1835, possibly William Joseph Castell", from Cedric Flower, Duck and cabbage tree: a pictorial history of clothes in Australia, 1788-1914 (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1968). He and his "sister" (in fact, his de facto partner), a "teacher of music", drowned in Sydney Harbour during the 1839 Anniversary Regatta.



To call up all the TROVE newspaper items tagged William Joseph Cavendish for 1833: 

"ARRIVALS", The Sydney Herald (21 January 1833), 2 

From the Mauritius, last night, having sailed from thence on the 12th of December, the ship Sovereign, 398 tons, Captain McKellar, with a cargo of sugar. Passengers, Lieutenant Hopkins, and Lieutenant Austin, of the Bengal Army; Mr. Dempster, Surgeon; Mrs. Dempster, and 5 children; Captain Fyans, of the 4th Regiment, and Mr. Demestre, from the Mauritius; Miss Anen, Mr. Hazard, Mr. Cavendish, Miss Cavendish, 3 Lascar servants, and 2 prisoners of the Crown.

[Advertisement], The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (5 March 1833), 1 

DANCING ACADEMY. MR. CAVENDISH de CASTELL, Member of the Royal Academy and Conservatoire, Paris, respectfully announces that his "Salle de Danse," will open for the season, at his residence, Macquarie-place, on Tuesday 26th instant, and contine on the Tuesdays and Fridays following for every species of fashionable dancing: Minuets, Gorvets, Quadrilles, Swedish, Spanish, and Polish dances, Bolero's, Muscovian and Circassian Circles, Galopades, the Grand Polonaise and Gymnastic exercises. Morning Academy at 12 for Ladies, evening at 7 for Gentlemen. The monthly balls will be under the direction of the Gentlemen Subscribers, who will act as Stewards in succession. Terms including the Soirées, two guineas per quarter. Parties desiring it, may form private classes at their more suitable convenience.

"POLICE INCIDENTS", The Sydney Herald (21 March 1833), 3 

John Wilson, a swellish sort of a chap, was handed to the bar, having been found, during Church hours, practising some of Mr. Cavendish de Castell's last new steps, in King-street. On being called upon to account for such conduct, he tried to come Tom Shuffleton over the charley, with "ah my dear fellow, we men of the world do business this way, you understand, no hiding our talents under a bushel, but let them bask in the sun, what think ye of that, eh." The constable appeared to think very little on the subject, for he carried him fotthwith to a place of safety. In defence, all he had to say, was, that he thought it cursed hard he could not have a little recreation, in a gentlemanly way, without being locked up. Three hours lounge as he was fundless.

ASSOCIATIONS: ? Was this John Thomas Wilson

[Advertisement], The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (26 March 1833), 3 

QUADRILLES, Minuets, Gavottes, Waltzes, Galopades, the Grand Polonaise, and every style of fashionable Dancing, taught by Mr. W. J. CAVENDISH DE CASTELL, Macquarie-place, Sydney. Morning Academy for Ladies only, on Tuesdays and Fridays; Evenings for Gentlemen. Private lessons to untaught or incomplete Pupils of any age, wishing secrecy and expedition. Schools and Families punctually attended to. Music provided for Quadrille Parties, Balls, and Assemblies.

"PHILHARMONIC SOCIETY IN SYDNEY. To the Editor", The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (27 April 1833), 3 

SIR, As Sciences and Arts are so closely connected, I feel much pleasure in acquainting the public, through your respected journal, that a society of the above description has been formed in our town. A locale has been hired, and the preparations have advanced so far, that in a month or six weeks friends may be admitted to witness the proceedings of the society. We must apologise, when, in the hurry of other occupations, we might pass over names, more or less connected with the society; but when we find that Messrs. EDWARDS, SIPPE, CAVENDISH, F. WILSON, &c. are connected with the institution of the Philharmonic Society, we congratulate the lovers of musical science upon this opportunity to improve the minds of our fellow citizens. Dr. J. L.

ASSOCIATIONS: John Lhotsky; John Edwards; George Sippe; F. Wilson

"THE KING'S BIRTHDAY", The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (30 May 1833), 2 

His Majesty's birth-day was celebrated on Tuesday last with the usual honours . . . In the evening Government-House was splendidly illuminated within and without, and His Excellency the Governor and Miss BOURKE entertained a brilliant party of about five hundred persons at a ball and supper. Mr. CAVENDISH, professor of dancing, by the express desire of Miss BOURKE, had the honour of conducting the ball, by which many of those imperfections in the quadrilles (so generally complained of), were happily avoided, and the figures danced with a precision hitherto unknown in this colony. About six hundred invitations were issued, and perhaps there were not a hundred short of that number present. At one o'clock the whole party partook of a cold collation, at which native delicacies, foreign luxuries, contributions from the Tagus, Rhine, and Garonne, and the mines of Potosi, seemed labouring to render refreshing, exhilirating, splendid, and precious. Quadrilles, waltzes, and the gay sauteuse were kept up with unabated animation untill three o'clock, when the party retired cheerful and charmed with the amusements of the evening.

ASSOCIATIONS: recently widowed governor Richard Bourke, and his daughter, later Anna Maria, Mrs./Lady Deas Thomson

"Domestic Intelligence", The Sydney Monitor (1 June 1833), 2 

Mr. Cavendish Castello presided as Master of the Ceremonies at the Ball, at Government House, on Tuesday last. In consequence, the dances were conducted with greater regularity than heretofore on such occasions.

[News], The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (18 July 1833), 2 

A fancy dress ball took place on Tuesday evening at Mr. Cavendish's academy, in Macquarie-place. Owing to the unfavourable state of the weather, it was not so numerously attended as might otherwise have baen the case. The characters, in general, were well supported; particularly that of a Boatswain, which was admirably sustained by a gentleman dressed as a New Zealander. We should be glad to see another got up on a larger scale.

"March of Mind", The Sydney Monitor (20 July 1833), 3 

On Tuesday evening last, a Masquerade took place at Mr. Cavendish's Dancing Academy, in Macquarie-street, at which all the fashionables of Australia were present. Elegance in all its pleasing shapes, and the most refined hilarity, reigned throughout the evening.

[Advertisement], The Sydney Herald (19 August 1833), 3 

REMOVAL OF THE BOARDING AND DAY SCHOOL OF MR. AND MRS. DAVIES . . . [to Cockle Bay] Drawing will be taught by Mr. EVANS; Dancing by Mr. CAVENDISH DE CASTELL; Music by Mr. SIPPE, and Miss BATES, with the constant superintendence of Mr. DAVIES . . . 1, Liverpool-street, 19th Aug. 1833.

ASSOCIATIONS: John J. Davies, schoolmaster

[Advertisement], The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (26 September 1833), 3 

Theatre Royal Sydney. IT is with no small degree of pleasure that the undersigned (after much procrastination and many disappointments) is at length enabled to announce to his Friends and the Public the opening of the Sydney Theatre . . . The Orchestra will be composed of men of high respectability, and of the first musical talent in the Colony . . . The first performance will take place on the night of Saturday, the 5th Ootober next. The entertainments for that evening are as follows . . . the highly popular melodrama of THE MILLER AND HIS MEN; AFTER WHICH THE AMUSING FARCE OF THE IRISHMAN IN LONDON . . . Stage Manager, Mr. Cavendish; Acting Manager, Mr. Knowles. B. LEVEY.

ASSOCIATIONS: Barnett Levey; Conrad Knowles

"THE THEATRE", The Sydney Herald (4 November 1833), 2 

. . . The music was chaste and harmonious - free from that jarring discord which on other occasions has offended our ears. The seraphine, a delightful instrument in the chamber, was here introduced, but it certainly has not sufficient fulness of tone for a theatre; with that reservation, its strains were most harmonious, and Mr. Cavendish, who played upon it, displayed great execution and taste, accampanied by Mr. Stubbs' flute, which commanded the admiration of the house, and was loudly applauded; a more exquisite specimen of taste and execution on that instrument is seldom to be met with in this Colony.


"THEATRE", The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (7 November 1833), 2 

. . . The orchestra is well attended to by Mr. Edwards; and he is well supported also, by Mr. Sippe, Mr. Cavendish, and the other musicians. We know not what better judges may think; but in our opinion, the music is far superior to that produced by the military band which has hitherto played in the theatre.


To call up all the TROVE newspaper items tagged William Joseph Cavendish for 1834: 

[Advertisement], The Australian (10 March 1834), 3


SIR, - I thus publicly acknowledge the receipt of your communication, respecting my performance on the Organ, at St. James's Church on Sundat morning the 23rd ult., and your interdict prohibiting me from again officiating during Divine Service, "because I belonged to the Sydney Theatre."

Oh reason when wilt thy long minority expire.

You appear to forget Sir, the "Benefit of the Sons of the Clergy" annually held at St. Paul's Cathedral, at which the performers are all, (with the exception of the King's boys) from the Theatres Royal, and at which ceremony I have had the honor of performing on the Organ, probably before you adopted the Pulpit for the display of your omneloquent discourses.

You forget also the annual music Meetings at the Cathedrals of York, Hereford, and Gloster, at which the principal singers and performers from the London Theatres invariably assist, the receipts of which Meetings have exceeded £2000 a day.

The Professional singers at the Foundling Asylum and Quebec Chapels, are from Drury Lane and Covent Garden, for the Clergy of England who have been regularly educated for the church, are convinced it must be the perfection of cant, to say that they conscientously object to any one officiating in the musical duties of the Church, merely because they were engaged in a public Orchestra.

Hypocrisy is the tribute which vice pays to virtue, and if the vicious assume its garb, they should at least conduct themselves with external propriety.

W. T. CAVENDISH DE CASTELL. [sic] Pitt Street, March 8, 1834.

[Advertisement], The Sydney Herald (22 December 1834), 2 

EDUCATION. THE Public are respectfully informed that the duties of Mr. and Mrs. Trood's Boarding and Day Schools, for Young Ladies and Gentlemen, will be resumed on Monday, the 5th of January. Dancing is Taught by Mr. Cavendish. A French Class will be formed under the superintendence of Monsieur Duvauchelle, from Paris. Kent-street, Dec. 22, 1834.

ASSOCIATIONS: Mr. and Mrs. Abel Salter Trood, arrived Sydney, by 1834, departed for England, 1844 (the printer Thomas Trood was Abel's brother); J. A. Duvauchelle, professor of French and Italian, arrived Sydney by April 1833, departed August 1839


To call up all the TROVE newspaper items tagged William Joseph Cavendish for 1835: 

[News], The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (11 August 1835), 2 

A case of considerable importance in the theatrical world, was disposed of by the learned Commissioner of the Court of Requests, on Saturday last. Mr. Cavendish, who has the entire musical direction of the. orchestra at the theatre, sought to recover the sum of £5 from Mr. Simmons, the manager and joint lessee, being the amount of one week's salary of which he had been mulcted for non-attendance to his duties during one nights' performance . . .


To call up all the TROVE newspaper items tagged William Joseph Cavendish for 1836: 


To call up all the TROVE newspaper items tagged William Joseph Cavendish for 1837: 


To call up all the TROVE newspaper items tagged William Joseph Cavendish for 1838: 

[Advertisement], The Australian (27 November 1838), 3 

NOTICE. THE Public are requested to take Notice, that in consequence of a misunderstanding having taken place between my Partner, Mr. Edward Webb, and myself, the business of the Firm of Edward Webb and Co. is suspended; and that the said Edward Webb is not authorised to make any purchases, or contract debts on account of the said Firm, as I will not be responsible for engagements so entered into. All debts dus to the Firm of Edward Webb and Co. will be received by Mr. D. Jones, to whom parties are referred to settle their accounts now due. W. J. CAVENDISH. Cecil House, King-street, Nov. 26, 1838.

"DOMESTIC INTELLIGENCE", The Sydney Herald (14 December 1838), 2 

We understand that several gentlemen, both amateur and professional, have found themselves into a musical society, called the Australian Cecilian Society, and meet every Wednesday evening at Mr Cavendish's, King-street. Amateurs have now an oppoituiuty of enjoving a rational evening by their becoming members.

"Musical Society", The Australian (29 December 1838), 2 

Most of the Professors, and a number of Amateurs, have formed themselves into a society for the encouragement of this science, and part of their arrangements consist in having periodical concerts, which will be supported by the Society generally. The Society is divided into three classes, the first consisting of Professors, bv whose talent the other classes will benefit, and consequently they are exempted from contributions to the fund. The second class, which is to consist of professional amateurs who will receive mutual instruction, and rational amusement, contribute a small monthly sum to the fund for providing music, lights, &c.; and the third class, consisting of those not being performers themselves, but who are fond of music, will also contribute a small sum to the funds, the principal support of which will be drawn from periodical concerts at which all the members being so disposed will assist. The society has been named the Cecilian Society, and has already upwards of an hundred members enrolled. The direction of the meetings, which will take place every Wednesday evening, has been entrusted to Mr. J. P. Deane, who, from his acknowledged talent and gentlemanly deportment, will do justice to the society. At present, the musical strength of the society, including amateurs of great proficiency, is upwards of sixty. The performances are regulated with judgment and order, and the weekly meetings form a delightful concert in themselves. Mr. Cavendish, who has always been foremost to promote the interests of the profession, has given his room for the occasion, but as the list increases rapidly, future meetings will be held in the school room of the old court-house, Castlereagh-street, which has been kindly lent for the occasion.


To call up all the TROVE newspaper items tagged William Joseph Cavendish for 1839: 

"MELANCHOLY ACCIDENT", The Sydney Herald (28 January 1839), 2 

-On Saturday Mr. Cavendish, of King-street, accompanied by his sister, Miss Cavendish, two persons named Duvachelle and Lennon, two boatmen and a servant, embarked in a large sailing boat for the purpose of proceeding to Middle Harbour, to inspect some land that Mr. Cavendish was about purchasing; in Chowder Bay a puff of wind caught the boat while she was going about and she capsized, when Mr. and Miss Cavendish were drowned. The two boatmen, being expert swimmers, reached the shore, and the other parties saved themselves by clinging to the bottom of the boat; Mr. Cavendish was an expert swimmer, but was drowned in endeavouring to save his sister - the last words he uttered being "don't be afraid Mary dear, I'll hold you up." Mr. Green's sailing boat, which was contesting with the first class boats, was the first that discovered them, and Mr. G., after picking up the bodies, made the best of his way to Sydney, where Mr. Surgeon Neilson was sent for but without avail, life being quite extinct. An inquest was held yesterday, when the above facts were proved, and a verdict of accidental death returned.

ASSOCIATIONS: George Green (1810-1872) sailor, boatbuilder

"NEWS OF THE DAY", The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser (28 January 1839), 2 

The inquest was held at Cecil House, King-street, the residence of the deceased Mr. Cavendish, and Miss Mary Cavendish, his sister, who came to their death the day previously, under the following melancholy circumstances: - It appeared that the two deceased, accompanied by Messrs. Lennon and Duvanchelle, the house-servant and two boatmen, proceeded in a boat to the North Shore, for the purpose of viewing some land. Just as they had reached the entrance of Chawdor Bay, on this side of Bradley's Head, the boat in going about, was capsized by a sudden gust of wind. Mr. Cavendish and his sister being seated on the leeward side were the first propelled into the water. The two boatmen followed but immediately swam ashore. Mr. Lennon, Mr. Duvanchelle, and the house servant, succeeded in scrambling upon the keel of the boat, and called for assistance. Mr. Cavendish was seen endeavouring to support his sister, and which he was enabled to do so long after she had become apparently insensible, her head being under water. The last words he was heard to say were, "Never mind Mary, I have hold of you." Shortly afterwards they became separated, it is supposed from the exhaustion of Mr. C. Mr Lennon although an indifferent swimmer had previously left the keel of the boat and attempted to save the young lady, but she laid hold of his clothes and encumbered him so much by her weight that he was compelled to extricate himself for his own safety. One of the contending boats (the Haydee) first came near, and then bore off, owing to the crew lying down so close that they were not aware of the catastrophe. After ten minutes or a quarter of an hour had elapsed, Mr. Green's boat (the Queen Victoria) came to their assistance, and being directed by the gentleman clinging to the keel to the situation of the deceased, proceeded to take up the bodies, and forthwith bent their course for Sydney. Messengers were dispatched for medical aid, and Mr. Neilson arriving first tried the usual remedies, but failed to produce reanimation, although the bodies were warm. Mr. Cavendish was an excellent swimmer, and could have saved himself had he not had the care of his sister. Several boats were to the leeward, and it is singular they did not hear, as her shrieks were incessent while she had life; but so it was, none came to her assistance. Some people fishing near Bradley's Head in Mr. Hawser's boat, observing the accident, pulled round from Braudley's Head to the survivors on the keel and took them ashore. Mr. Lennon is of opinion, that had the bodies been conveyed, when taken out of the water, to Mr. Kell's house in Chowder Bay, instead of being taken to Sydney, and the means prescribed for recovering drowned persons been used, the lives of the deceased might have been recovered. The jury, on the certiticates of Mr. Neilson, Surgeon, returned a verdict of accidental death.

"THE ANNIVERSARY REGATTA", The Australian (29 January 1839), 2

Last Saturday being the fifty-first anniversary of the foundation of the Colony, the harbour early in the day presented a scene of bustle and activity, indicative of the preparations that were being made for the ensuing races . . .

We are sorry that there was one fatal accident which contributed to throw a degree of gloom upon the days amusement. This was the drowning of Mr. Cavendish and his Sister, whose boat was upset near Bradley's head. An account of this lamentable occurrence will be found in another column. Another accident happened, but we are happy to say that it was not attended by any fatal catastrophe. This was caused by the Revenue Cutter running down a party in a sailing boat . . .

"MELANCHOLY ACCIDENT", The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (29 January 1839), 2

The following distressing circumstance, of itself sufficient to throw a cloud over the amusements of the day, occurred on Saturday during the Regatta. On the morning of that day about nine o'clock, a party consisting of Mr. Cavendish, of King-street, his sister, Miss Mary Cavendish, Mr. Duvanchelle, a French gentleman, a Mr. Leonard, William Williams, an assigned servant to Mr. Cavendish, and two hired boatmen, left the Government Jetty in a sailing boat, the property of Mr. J. T. Wilson, for the purpose of visiting some land at Middle Harbour. The party had rounded Bradley's Head, and were opposite Chowder Bay, where, while in the act of going about, a sudden puff of wind from the shore caught the sheet, capsized the boat, and all in her were immersed in the water. The two boatmen, being good swimmers, succeeded in reaching the shore; Messrs. Duvanchelle, Leonard, and the assigned servant contrived to save themselves by clinging to the bottom of the boat, but Mr. Cavendish and his sister were drowned. Mr. C. is reported to have been an expert swimmer, and could therefore have easily saved himself, but he lost his life in endeavouring to rescue his sister. He was seen to make towards her as she floated away, and the last words which he was heard to utter, were "Mary dear, don't be afraid - I'll hold you up." His efforts to save his sister were unavailing, and he lost his own life in the attempt. Shortly after the accident, the boats of the first class match passed the spot, at some little distance, and Mr. Green's boat, The Queen Victoria, was the first to notice the situation of the party and hasten to their relief. The persons on the boat begged Mr. Green to leave them, and to look for the bodies of the deceased, which were found at a little distance floating near each other; Mr. Green made the best of his way back to Sydney, where he arrived shortly before three, (the accident is reported to have occurred about two o'clock.) On the bodies being brought ashore at Mr. Anderson's wharf, Macquarie-place, there appeared to be some remains of warmth about the person of Mr. Cavendish, in consequence of which Dr. Neilson was sent for, who immediately attended, and attempted, by means of inflation of the lungs and other remedies, to restore animation, but without effect. The recovery of Miss Cavendish was at once seen to be hopeless. The three survivors left on the boat, were shortly afterwards relieved from their perilous situation, by a boat belonging to Mr. Horsey of the North Shore. On Sunday morning at nine o'clock, an inquest was held on the bodies at their residence in King-street, and the above facts having been proved in evidence, the Jury returned a verdict of - Accidentally Drowned.

"MELANCHOLY ACCIDENT", The Colonist (30 January 1839), 3

A deep gloom was cast over the rejoicings on the day of the anniversary of the founding of the colony, by the melancholy intelligence received in Sydney during the afternoon, of the upsetting of a boat, and the consequent death, by drowning, of two persons, Mr. and Miss Cavendish, of Cecil House, King-street. From the evidence given at the inquest we glean the following particulars regarding this melancholy catastrophe. Mr. Cavendish had taken advantage of the holiday to proceed down the harbour to visit some land he had recently purchased on the North Shore, and accompanied by his sister, Mr. Duvauchelle, a French gentleman, a Mr. Leonard, an assigned servant, named Williams, and two hired boatmen, left the Cove between eleven and twelve o'clock, in a boat belonging to Mr. J. T. Wilson. After rounding Bradley's Head, off Chowder Bay, while in the act of putting about a sudden gust of wind caught the sail, capsized the boat, and immersed the whole party in the water. The two boatmen being excellent swimmers made for the shore which they reached in safety; Messrs. Duvauchelle and Leonard, and the assigned servant, Williams, clung to the boat and thus saved themselves. Mr. and Miss Cavendish each rose to the surface at a little distance from the boat, and the former being an excellent swimmer could easily have saved himself had not affection for his sister prompted him to swim to her assistance. Mr. Leonard also swam to Miss Cavendish to afford her assistance, but being but an indifferent swimmer, he was drawn under water by her weight, and compelled to release himself from her grasp as the only alternative for the safety of his own life that remained. On regaining the boat, Mr. Leonard saw that Mr. Cavendish had got hold of his sister who was now completely exhausted, and heard him encouraging her with the expression "never mind, Mary, I have got hold of you." Before any assistance arrived Mr. Cavendish too had become exhausted and had relinquished his grasp. At this time the Regatta first-class sailing-boats had made their appearance round Bradley's Head, and the survivors used every exertion to attract the notice of the persons on board. With the first boat, the Haidee, belonging to Mr. Thornton, their exertions were of no avail, but with the second, the Queen Victoria the property of Mr. Green, they were more successful. Mr. Green, although the second in the race, and standing a fair chance of comining in first, much to his credit as soon as he perceived the perilous situation of the parties on the boat, although unaware of the sad catastrophe that actually occurred, instantly abandoned the race, put about his boat and came to the assistance of the sufferers. On his approach the bodies of Mr. and Miss Cavendish, then floating lifeless on the water were pointed out to him; he immediately picked them up and made all sail to Sydney to procure medical assistance. Even after the bodies had arrived in Sydney some remains of warmth were still perceptible in the body of Mr. Cavendish, but life had long fled from his sister. Dr. Neilson was immediately summoned to their assistance, and applied all the usual means to restore animation, but in vain. It seems probable, that had the bodies in the first instance, been conveyed into Chowder Bay, instead of being brought up to Sydney, life might have been restored in the case of Mr. Cavendish; but, considering the difficulty of procuring assistance there, it remains doubtful whether the course adopted was not the best that could have been resorted to under the circumstances. The survivors were released from their perilous situation by some persons who had been fishing in a boat belonging to Mr. Horsey of the North Shore. We would fain hope that the stewards of the regatta will take care that Mr. Green is no loser by his humanity.

"DOMESTIC INTELLIGENCE", The Sydney Herald (30 January 1839), 2

The remains of the late Mr. and Miss Cavendish, whose untimely death are noticed in our last, were interred on Monday evening. They were followed to the grave by a numerous assembly of respectable friends.

"Police News", The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser (1 February 1839), 2 

Ann Cutts, who takes in lodgers, and Margaret Hanks, one of her lodgers, restiding in Phillip Street, were placed at the bar (the former with an infant at her breast) under the following circumstances. Mary Crampfeld, another lodger of Mrs. Cutts, deposed, that about one o'clock on Tuesday she went to Cutt's house, and took her box there. The next morning she wenr with Mrs. Cutts to see the funeral of Mr. and Miss Cavendish. When she returned her box had been broken into, and part of the contents were gone. (Here the witness, an intelligent woman, gave an account which lasted about three quarters of an hour, to which Mr. Windeyer listened with exemplary patience.) The materials of a black silk cloak, valued at five guineas, the principal articles were charged against the pilsoners. She said she had always been in the habit of going to Mrs Cutts' when out of a situation. She had left articles of value there before, and always found them correct until Mrs Hanks came to lodge in the house. Remanded.

ASSOCIATIONS: Richard Windeyer (barrister, also musical amateur, and foundation member of the Cecilian Society)

"NEWS OF THE DAY", The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser (1 February 1839), 2 

We understand that the lamented death of Mr. Cavendish has been the ocasion of the introduction to many respectable families of M. E. C. Greene, in his profession of dancing master, and that his abilities and manners give general satisfection. M. Greene brought to Van Diemen's Land testimonials from officers in the French army, in which, as was the case with most of the French youth, he served a number of years. From Van Diemen's Land, he brought to Sydney satisfactory documents as to his conduct and professional services there, and which, though acceptable in Hobart Town, were not, owing to competition, sufficiently extensive to warrant his remaining, especially as the superior prosperity and population of Sydney promised him a higher remuneration.

ASSOCIATIONS: Emanuel Charles Green

[Advertisement], The Australian (7 February 1839), 3 

In the Estate of the late W. J. Cavendish, Deceased. TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION, By J. T. Wilson, On SATURDAY next, the 9th instant, at his extensive Rooms, 74 1/2 George-street, by order of tbe Registrar of the Supreme Court, J. K. Manning, Esq..

ONE Dark Bay Horse, with black points, rising a years old, stands about 15 1/2/ hands high, and is a first-rate Saddle, Harness or Draught Horse.

One Chestnut Horse, 15 1/2 hands high, 6 years old, has been thoroughly handled either to Saddle, Harness or Draught.

One Gig with Harness and Tandem Harness complete, the whole in a perfect state of repair, and well worthy tbe attention of Gents generally. Terms Cash.

[Advertisement], The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser (11 February 1839), 5 

Carriages. &c. TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION, BY J. T. WILSON, At his Rooms, immediately after the sale of the Gig; and Horses of the late Mr. Cavendish, ONE Splendid PHAETON and HARNESS, painted green, patent axle. One poney Stanhope, patent axle, drab lined. One Dennet, richly lined, patent axle, of the finest possible make. One four-wheeled Carriage, a little used. AND AT THE SAME TIME, A quantity of genuine Household Furniture. Terms at Sale.

[Advertisement], The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser (22 February 1839), 3 

In the Estate of the late W. J. Cavendish, deceased. By order of the Registrar, of the Supreme Court, J. E. Manning, Esq. J. T. WILSON Announces that he has been honored with Instructions from the Registrar of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, to Sell by Public Auction, and without the least reservation, on SATURDAY, 2nd day of March, 1839, on the Premises, Cecil House, King-street, at half-past 10 for 11 o'clock. THE undermentioned First-rate Household Furniture, Silver Plate and Plated Ware, Glass and Glass Ware.

Room No. 1 contains: Sofa; 9 Chairs; 2 Tables and Sideboards; Tea Trays; 2 pair Silver-mounted Plated Candlesticks; 1 [silver-mounted] Cruett Stand; Shells, Chimney Ornaments; Tumblers and Wine Glasses; Decanters, Butter Bowl and Plate; 1 Metal Sugar Bowl; Carpets; India Matting; Parasols; Toast Rack; Glass Bowl; 1 Bronze Tea Urn; 1 Timepiece in Glass Case; 1 Globe Lamp; 1 Tea Tray; 2 [Tea trays]; 1 Picture

Room No. 2: Silver Tea Spoons: Dishes and Soup Plates; Table Covers; Glass Pickle Dishes; Lamp shades; Cruet stands and Cruets; Fender and Fire Irons; Silver Salt and dessert Spoons.

Room No. 3: Kitchen Chairs, Cane Bottomed [chairs], Couches, Tables, Stretchers, Lamps, Guitars, and Violins.

Room No. 4: Mattrasses, Chairs, Pillow Cases, Blankets, Counterpanes, Wash-hand Stands, &c. complete, Boxes, Violin, and Piano Strings. A quantity of Books and Music, Writing Paper and Dressing Glasses, &c., &c., &c.

Nos. 5, 6, and 7, contain a great variety of sundries, by far too numerous for insertion in an advertisement. TERMS - CASH.

"CECILIAN AMATEUR SOCIETY", Commercial Journal and Advertiser (16 March 1839), 2 

On Wednesday evening last we were highly gratified at the performance of this infant Musical Society, at the Old Court-house. It will be recollected that some time ago mention was made in most of the Sydney journals of note that certain members of the Mechanics' School of Arts wished to form themselves into a music class, for which the theatre was to have been allowed by the acting committee one night per week, for practising and improvement in this delightful art; but in consequence of a want of unity, and some misunderstanding, and a measure of interference by discordant and would-be oratorical gentlemen of the school, it was finally decided to form the above society, which, about four months ago, commenced practising at the house of the late lamented Mr. Cavendish, in King-street; and hence its name, "Cecilian" Amateur Society. On Wednesday the playing members, about twenty in number, and others who subscribe towards the funds of the society, invited their friends to the first concert, which took place as above. The visitors were presented with a neatly lithographed programme of the evening's performances, on their entrance, printed gratis by our enterprising townsman and neighbour, Mr. Barlow, engraver, &c.; by which the company were enabled to anticipate each separate performance as they were dished up. The first overture (Wilhelm Tell) by the whole company, was played with spirit and surprising correctness, as were nearly all the pieces, for a company or society so lately knit together; and no doubt it would even have been improved by the assistance of two or three others who came late to the scene of action. Next followed a glee (The Witches), which was well sung, but hardly loud enough for the Old Court house. Besides, the piano-forte was placed in an awkward position to give the proper effect and assistance to the singers. The song "Spirit of the Storm" was pleasingly executed, but the voice was partly destroyed by the position of the instrument. The Flute Solo we liked exceedingly well at the first (Hope told a flattering Tale), but the latter part of up-and-down the gamut is only pleasing to practical musicians, still the execution was grand and surprising. Besides these, three other glees ("The Wreath," "Willie brew'd a peck o' maut," and "The Red Cross Knight") were sung in a manner certainly not inferior to those at the seven-and-sixpenny concerts, as well as two songs ("The Britannia," and "The Land"), a quartette (by Beethoven), and two overtures ("Gazza Ladra" and "Otello"), the latter of which was more than we could have supposed to have been in the compass of so young a society, and with so few instruments. The company broke up at about ten o'clock, while the amateurs were playing, by way of a finale, the National Anthem (God save the Queen), in which some joined their voices, making the performance still more effective.


[Advertisement], The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser (5 June 1839), 5 

MR. T. S. HALL, Surgical and Mechanical Dentist . . . has REMOVED to those well-known Premises - formerly occupied by the late Mr. Cavendish - immediately over the UNION BANK . . .

"CECILIAN SOCIETY", The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (8 June 1839), 2

This Society had another meeting on Wednesday last, which was well attended. A portrait of the founder, the late Mr. Cavendish, was hung up in the room upon the occasion.

"CECILIAN CONCERT", The Colonist (8 June 1829), 3 

On Wednesday night we accepted of the polite invitation of the Committee of the Cecilian Society, and attended their Concert in the Old Court House. We were both pleased with the performances and arrangements of the evening, and astonished at the number of respectable persons who attended notwithstanding the very disigreeable and boisterous nature of the night. The whole range of the hall was occipied on this occasion; a crimson cord drawn across the room at the first range of pillars from the south end of the room, separated the orchestra from the audience. The hall was well lighted, and the southern wall was ornamented with a portrait of the founder of the Society, the late Mr. Cavendish. The instrumental performers formed a semi-circle round the open space reserved for the orchestra. In the centre stood the players of the first and second violins, and of the grand piano forte. There were altogether some five or six violins, two flutes, two clarionets, one bass violin, and a french horn. The instrumental music consisted of a series of splendid overtures by the first masters, and were admirably performed. There-was a deficiency, however, in the bass department, but we are glad to hear that this was not owing to want either of funds, instruments, or performers, but to the difficulty of procuring the appropriate sets of music for each instrument. That deficiency, it is expected will soon be remedied, and then the Band will be perfect. The vocal performances were also pleasing and chaste. The gentlemen of this department do themselves injustice, by their diffidence and want of energy. This we expect to see rubbed off in the course of an exhibition or two, as the amateurs will be gaining that confidence, which their powers and talents entitle them to assume. The Society and all who attend its concerts are indebted to Mr. Sea, whose polite and courteous attention to visitors, and general exertions for the interests of the Society and the arrangement of its concerts, are particularly appreciated. Our hopes of this interesting Society are still confident and sanguine; and we shall rejoice to see it prosper, beneath the fostering encouragement of the ladies and gentlemen of the higher circles in the metropolis.


"AUSTRALIAN CECILIAN SOCIETY", Commercial Journal and Advertiser (29 June 1839), 2 

The Members of this Society gave their monthly invitation Concert, at the Old Court House, on Wednesday evening last, to a crowded assembly of the respectables of Sydney. The performances were commenced with Rossini's [overture] II Barbiere de Saviglia, by the whole strength of the instruments, which was executed in beautiful style; and considering the difficulties and annoyances with which the Society have been surrounded since the death of their original leader, Mr. Cavendish, it far exceeded our most sanguine expectations. There were besides five glees, five solos, and two choruses sung, a duet on the pianoforte and violin; and the whole concluded with the overture Masaniello. Taking the performances in the whole, we were never better entertained at a public concert; and by so saying, we think we express the feeling of all those who were present. Such societies as these should be encouraged, as they lend more than any other to improve the tone of good feeling in such a community as New South Wales, which until lately has been but a monotonous discord, and a people of dissatisfaction and turmoil, loving nothing beyond the glass and the discordant drunken song.

Roger Therry, Reminiscences of thirty years' residence in New South Wales and Victoria . . . (London: S. Low, Son, and Co., 1863), 114-16 

. . . To these sketches of the career of convicted persons the successful imposture of an unconvicted person may be not inappropriately added in conclusion.

It has been said, with more smartness than truth in the expression, that the Colony of New South Wales consisted of "persons who had been transported, and those who deserved to be so." That there were some unconvicted persons who might deservedly have shared the fate of transportation, and who made New South Wales an asylum of refuge, may, however, be truly alleged. The case of Devenish (not the real name, but representing a real personage) furnished a curious instance of successful imposture. Devenish was not a convict, yet his career was a strange, mysterious, and guilty one.

This man's story is gleaned partly from personal knowledge of the man, and partly from papers and letters that after his death fell into the hands of the Curator of Intestate Estates in Sydney. Devenish had been the leader of the orchestra at one of the theatres at the Surrey side of London. He was an accomplished musician and an excellent dancing-master. Finding his affairs embarrassed, he resolved to fly the country, leaving his wife and four children to provide for themselves as best they might. The following ingenious plan was adopted to avoid inquiry about himself after his exit from England. Having taken his passage in a chasse-maree that was to sail from Ghravesend for St. Malo on Sunday morning, he appeared in his usual place at the orchestra on the previous Saturday, and was seen there so late as [115] ten at night. On that evening he wore a new hat, inside which his name and address were written in very legible letters. On his way to his home, Devenish had to pass over Waterloo Bridge. In passing over it, he threw his hat over the parapet of the bridge, in order that it might be supposed he had thrown himself over along with it. The stratagem succeeded. The hat was picked up the next morning close to the bridge; the owner was nowhere to be found, the river ineffectually searched, and the supposition prevailed that he was drowned. After remaining some time at St. Malo, where he supported himself by the exercise of his talents, he deemed the place too close to the shores of England, and betook himself to the Isle of France. He might have remained there prosperous and undetected for many years, for he was an adept as a teacher of music and dancing; but he eloped - whether at St. Malo or St. Louis it does not appear from the papers - with the wife of a Captain C-;-, of the French navy. With her he arrived in Sydney in 1832, and passed her off as his sister. For several years he had excellent business as teacher of dancing and music, realizing an average income of from 600l. to 800l. a year.

It is customary to hold a regatta in Sydney Harbour on the 26th of January, the anniversary of the foundation of the Colony, and on that particular day in 1842 [recte 1839] Devenish had hired a boat for the amusement of himself and his soi-disant sister. As the evening advanced, when they were a mile distant from the land, a sudden gale arose and upset the boat. The case was one in which the only hope of safety lay in swimming. The boatman escaped by doing so, and Devenish might have also saved his life, for he was an expert swimmer, but he would not leave his female companion to perish. He [116] was seen from the shore to bear her up bravely for nearly half a mile. At length they sank together and were drowned. The bodies were next day found.

A few days afterwards I happened to pass by the Sydney cemetery as their funeral approached. With the exception of the mutes and other hirelings in attendance, not a single person followed them to the grave. That Devenish behaved well and nobly in risking his own life to save that of his companion must be admitted, but genuine pity should be reserved for the wife whom he had cruelly deserted, and whose letters indicated that she knew of his whereabouts, and the mode of life he was leading, and the deep distress she and her children suffered from his desertion. She was aware it would be unavailing to follow him from England, and from some passages in these letters, it was plain he had told her so.


Musical works (with documentation)

The force of sympathy (song)

The force of sympathy, a dream, inspired by the author of Waverly [cover signed: "Castell"] (London: Lavenu, [1823])


"REVIEW OF MUSIC", The Harmonicon (December 1823), 197 

. . . 3. "The force of Sympathy," A DREAM, inspired by the Author of Waverly, and dedicated to LOVE. (Lavenu, 24 Edward street, Manchester Square.) . . .

Without feeling any interest in the account which the author of song, No. 3, has taken the trouble to give of its origin, - (which, by the way, is quite unnecessary, if not exceedingly puerile,) was have been mightily pleased with his melody, which, trifling as it may appear to the lover of canon, bears the impress of something that we are much inclined to call genius. From the faint inscription at the lowest corner of the title-page, we are to conclude that the name of the author - (the "Somniator,") is Castell . . .


Henry and Susan (song)

Henry and Susan," composed by W. I. CASTELL, (published by the same.)


"REVIEW OF MUSIC", The Harmonicon (May 1824), 97 [W. I. CASTELL]

. . . 6. SONG, "The Soldier's Adieu," composed by C. M. SOLA, (published by the same.)

7. Song, "Henry and Susan," composed by W. I. CASTELL, (published by the same.)

8. HYMN, "Hosanna! to the Prince of Light," composed four voices, by MARIA HINCKESMAN. (Whitaker and Co., St. Paul's Church Yard.) . . .

. . . Nos. 6 and 7 are both composed with taste. The latter by Mr. Castell, shews a good deal of strong musical feeling. The Hymn, for so we have called this piece, the fair author not having bestowed a title upon it, is in 3 time, and is the composition of a lady . . .


Five quadrilles and two waltzes (piano)

5 quadrilles and 2 waltzes ("The Fairy Quadrilles";
"Australian, Notasian, Arabian, or Mal[a]gareske quadrilles"); (2 Quadrilles have Sydney titles: Woo-loo-moo-loo and Kurry Jong)

MS score and accompanying letter (dated "Parramatta, Notasia [i.e. Australasia], April 20, [18]33"), at State Library of New South Wales, Castell family papers, 1786-1993, MLMSS 7989 (DIGITISED covering letter) (DIGITISED music page 1) (DIGITISED music page 2) (DIGITISED music page 3)

Letter, Susannah Castell, London, 2 June 1832, to William Joseph [Cavendish] Castell, Mauritius; MS, State Archive, NSW, Cavendish probate papers (1839); transcribed Beedell 1990, 666; also Beedell 1992, 236-37

... I have just learn'd that a ship sails tomorrow for the Isle of France and I will take this opportunity of making the following request - and which I think it is in your power to comply with. Can you supply us with original and choice national airs, and adapt them for quadrilles, Waltzes &c. - as the rage of novelty in that line is in such request, that the compositions of some of our finest authors are pulled to pieces bit by bit to furnish passages - endeavour to collect Indian, Russian or any other whether outlandish or otherways and endeavour to compose some yourself, adapted to the figures ...

Letter, Cavendish to Susannah Castell, Parramatta, Notasia [i.e. Oceania-Australasia], 20 April 1833 [by the ship Edward Lambe, departed Sydney that day] 

Paramatta Notasia, April 20, '33.

I wrote by the ship Sovereign which sailed from Port Jackson on the 2d of March last, but as this Dutch hubbubboo may prevent your receiving it, I send you this duplicate, to which I have added two waltzes. The ["first" struckout] 2d and ["third: struckout] 5th Quadrilles I obtained from a Manilla Guittarist also the waltzes. No 1 is Bourbonnaise, No 3 is original and the second part was added by a creole of the Cape de Verde Islands. I have given them names characteristic of their origin. You may call them Australian, Notasian, Arabian or Mad[a]gascke quadrilles. Below I have given you a title page. Publish only one waltz at a time, bit to spin out the page, instead of marking the repeats, let them be printed at full length, 2nd time an octave higher. I gave you a short description of this paradise of places, Oranges, grapes, figs, apples, pears, flowers & fruits all the year round, the pigs fed upon peaches, & dogs upon rumpsteaks, & the sheep's heads thrown into the ditches, wh[ic]h the household cur will scarcely condescend to smell. In this land of plenty none need to starve or beg; but I must reserve my full description for a separate letter, which perhaps may accompany this. Yours W. J. Cavendish.

The Fairy Quadrilles
as danced
On a Sunbeam
by the
Elves of the Ocean
in the
Hall of Beauty
at the
Coral Palace
of the
Queen of the Sea.
Composed by the
Peri of the Purple Wing.

Do not sell these outright, you should bargain for a certain number Of copies for yourself. The agent here to Ellards music warehouse of Dublin [Francis Ellard] offered to purchase them, & I have offered him a set when I can collect them. I think this letter should not be kept [with] the Printer, but let him have a copy to engrave from. I should like ... [breaks off here]

Letter, Susannah Castell, London, to Cavendish, 28 May 1834 [postmarked Sydney 27 October 1834]; ed. Beedell 1990, 671

Your last letter was receiv'd Feb[ruar]y 7. I regret to observe that the Quadrilles you sent is a total failure both in style and quality for the finest compositions from foreign masters [?we] have explored for subjects so that we have never been able to benefit by them ...

Modern edition:

Richard Divall (ed.), W. J. Cavendish, Five quadrilles and two waltzes (Australian Music Series - MDA041) (Music Archive of Monash University) (PDF - FREE DOWNLOAD)

Bibliography and resources

Roger Therry, Reminiscences of thirty years' residence in New South Wales and Victoria . . . (London: S. Low, Son, and Co., 1863), 114-16 

Transcribed in documentation above

A. V. Beedell, William Joseph Castell, o. k. a. Cavendish (1789-1839), musician: his origins, life and career in Ireland, England, France, Mauritius and Australia (M.A. honours thesis, University of New South Wales, 1990)

No UNSW Library or Trove record; thesis housed in UNSW history department secretariat (as at 2011)

Ann V. Beedell, The decline of the English musician, 1788-1888: a family of English musicians in Ireland, England, Mauritius, and Australia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992) (SNIPPET VIEW)

John C. Greene, Theatre in Dublin, 1745-1820: a calendar of performances, volume 4 (Bethlehem: Lehigh University Press, 2011), search "Castelli" (PREVIEW)

Professional activities of Cavendish's mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. Castelli, in the years around his birth.

Edward Duyker, "Castell, William", Dictionary of Sydney, posted 2010 and later 

Skinner 2011

Skinner 2015

© Graeme Skinner 2014 - 2018