LAST MODIFIED Sunday 25 June 2017 15:57

Thomas Stubbs and his descendents

Dr GRAEME SKINNER (University of Sydney)


To cite this:

Graeme Skinner (University of Sydney), "Thomas Stubbs and his descendents", Australharmony (an online resource toward the history of music and musicians in colonial and early Federation Australia):; accessed 25 June 2017


Thomas Stubbs alone appears below; for later members of the family see FITZ-STUBBS

STUBBS, Thomas

Professor of music, flautist, composer, cricketer, "currency lad", auctioneer

Born Sydney, NSW, 18 May 1802
Died St. Kilda, VIC, 2 March 1878, aged 75


Summary (after Drake):

Son of a convict Thomas Stubbs (d.1815) and his wife Esther, Thomas is the first notable native-born European-Australian musician. At about age 10 he left Australia and joined the army, serving in India in the 24th Regiment until 1823. He was stationed at Gosport in December 1823, and Devenport in 1825, where he was also listed as being on duty in the regimental band. He was discharged at Cork, Ireland, in February 1825, and arrived back in Sydney on the Lonach on 4 September 1825. In June 1826 he married Ann Elizabeth Fitz (b.1809) at St. Matthew's Church, Windsor, where he was variously a farmer and publican. He moved his family to Sydney in 1832, where in June he advertised as a teacher of music ("Professor of the Royal Patent Kent Bugle and Teacher of the Flute, Violin, and French Horn ... Square Pianofortes Tuned") from his mother's address (17 Phillip-street), and shortly afterwards, from Rose Cottage, Druitt-street, as a "Commission Agent", beginning his path to becoming Sydney's leading auctioneer of the 1840s. having returned from a brief visit to London, he appeared in a public concert on 31 October 1833, and in 1837 was honorary secretary of the Philharmonic Society. He continued his public musical activities into the early 1840s. Stubbs was also a leading member of the cricket team of the Australian Club; Richard Cashman has identified him as cricketer-author of 2 letters signed "Tom the Native" in the Herald in 1835. Early in 1850, following financial difficulties in Sydney, Thomas moved to Melbourne. He died at St. Kilda in 1878.

Stubbs is named in Herman Melville (1819-1891)'s autobiographical novel Omoo: a narrative of adventures in the South Seas (London: John Murray, 1847), recounting the author's experiences aboard the Australian whaler, Lucy Ann, sailing from the Marquesas Islands to Tahiti late (between July-November) in 1842:

Owing to my lameness, from which I soon began to recover, I did no active duty, except standing an occasional "trick" at the helm. It was in the forecastle chiefly, that I spent my time, in company with the Long Doctor, who was at great pains to make himself agreeable. His books, though sadly torn and tattered, were an invaluable resource. I read them through again and again, including a learned treatise on the yellow fever. In addition to these, he had an old file of Sydney papers, and I soon became intimately acquainted with the localities of all the advertising tradesmen there. In particular, the rhetorical flourishes of Stubbs, the real-estate auctioneer, diverted me exceedingly, and I set him down as no other than a pupil of Robins the Londoner.

Obituary: One of the oldest and best known business men in Melbourne, Mr. Thomas Stubbs, died on Saturday at St. Kilda. Mr. Stubbs, whose career as an auctioneer dated almost from the foundation of the city, was a celebrity in his day, and his name will not easily be for gotten. In business circles he was much esteemed for his kindly and genial disposition He died at the ripe age of 75.

Obituary: The death of Mr. Thomas Stubbs takes away another of the social landmarks of the colony. He was a man whom everybody liked, and who deserved that everybody should like him. He was believed, and with good reason, to be a natural son of George the Fourth, and certainly if facial resemblance be any guide to paternity, there could be little doubt of the connection. He was, moreover, a good specimen of the gentleman of the Georgian period, being compact, portly, and well-balanced. He was genial, social, and full of anecdote, and as an auctioneer of the ornate order, he had no rival.

Correction (19 March 1878): THE LATE MR. THOMAS STUBBS. We are informed that some of the remarks made by our Melbourne Correspondent concerning the late Mr. Thomas Stubbs are incorrect; and that the gentleman recently deceased was the youngest of the children born in the colony. The late Mr. Stubbs was well known and highly respected in New South Wales as well as in Victoria.


"To the Editor", The Sydney Herald (12 March 1835), 2

"To the Editor", The Sydney Herald (16 March 1835), 3

see also comment, "Domestic Intelligence", The Australian (13 March 1835), 2

Herman Melville, Omoo: a narrative of adventures in the South Seas (London: John Murray, 1847), Chapter 9, 35

"MELBOURNE: SUNDAY", The Sydney Morning Herald (4 March 1878), 5

"DEATHS", The Argus (4 March 1878), 1

[News], The Argus (4 March 1878), 4:

"MELBOURNE LETTER", The Sydney Morning Herald (13 March 1878), 5

"THE LATE MR. THOMAS STUBBS", The Sydney Morning Herald (19 March 1878), 5

Bibliography and resources:

Diana Drake, "Thomas Stubbs: Australia's first returned soldier, native born composer & well known auctioneer", Descent 31/4 (December 2001), 180-188

Richard Cashman, "The rise and fall of the Australian [Cricket] Club 1826-68", Sporting Traditions 5/1 (November 1988), 112-130


Descendents of Thomas Stubbs




Born Sydney, NSW, 1834
Active Calcutta, 1855


A report of Catherine Hayes's and Lewis Lavenu's 1855 concerts copied from the Calcutta papers reports the involvement of "a gentleman rejoicing in the patronymic of Fitz Stubbs on the guitar", evidently a son of the Sydney auctioneer, musical amateur and composer Thomas Stubbs and his wife Ann Fitz. Their sons (but not their daughters), Robert (1828-1887), Thomas (1830-), Napoleon (1834-1903), Alexander (1836- ), William (1839- ), and Henry (1841- ), all had Fitz as a given name, as see, for instance, in a published list of donations made by the family in January 1847. By May 1855 Robert, in business with his father in Sydney and Melbourne, was assuming the dual surname, variously hyphenated (Fitz-Stubbs) or elided (Fitzstubbs). Robert was in turn father of the composers Percy Fitz-Stubbs and Maud Fitz-Stubbs (see their The Fitz-Stubbs Musical Album, Christmas 1894, advertised proudly, if misleadingly, at the time as "The only album of music by Australian composers ever produced"). But it was probably (though not certainly) Napoleon who was Hayes's guitarist in 1855. According to the shipping lists, Stubbs arrived in Calcutta (from Galle) with Hayes and Lavenu on 3 January 1855. After his co-artists had returned to Australia, he joined the 28th Regiment, then in India, as an ensign on 16 October 1855. He was in Malta with the Regiment in April 1858, but, having briefly returned to England, was by 1859/60 in Canada. He reportedly died in 1903. A Napoleon Fitzstubbs also appears as a character in the Desprez, Felix and Reeve vaudeville A Private Wire (London, 1883).


[Advertisement], Sydney Chronicle (20 January 1847), 3

[Advertisement], The Argus (1 May 1855), 7

"SHIPPING", Allen's Indian Mail and Register of Intelligence (14 February 1855), 68

"MISS CATHERINE HAYES", The Sydney Morning Herald (18 June 1855), 5

Bibliography and resources:

The New Annual Army List ... for  1856 (London: John Murray, 1856), 203

Image: Napoleon Fitz-Stubbs, second from left, aboard the Athelstan, British Columbia, 1859/60: BC Archives Collection: PDP02889


FITZ-STUBBS, Madeline Schiller (Mrs. Frank BLADEN)

Pianist, composer
Born Glebe, NSW, 17 January 1871
Active by 1883


Born in Sydney on 17 January 1871, Madeline was named after the visiting pianist Madeline Schiller, who had given her first Sydney concert a week earlier, on 10 January. (See The Sydney Morning Herald (12 January 1871), 5: She married the historian and librarian Frank Bladen on 25 August 1897, but continued to publish as Madeline (once also Madoline) Fitz-Stubbs. She is reported in 1926 as living in Europe, possibly in Paris.


"BIRTHS", The Sydney Morning Herald (19 January 1871), 1

"CONCERT AT MANLY BEACH", The Sydney Morning Herald (8 March 1883), 8

A grand amateur concert in aid of the funds of the local rowing and cricket 'clubs was given last evening by Mrs. Harry R. Woods, at the Odd- fellows' Hall, Manly Beach, and it was a decided success both in a musical and financial sense. Mrs. Woods, who as Miss Maud Fitzstubbs has for many years been recognised as a pianiste of exceptional ability, had obtained the assistance of several of her sisters and brothers, all of whom have more or less a talent for music, and of 12 or 14 gentlemen who sang in excellent style a number of part songs. Mrs. Woods played a fantasia on the "Blue Danube" waltz, cleverly arranged by herself, and this was loudly encored, but the lady merely bowed her acknowledgments. Mrs. W. H. Pinhev and Mr. H. R. Woods sang a couple of operatic duets, which were equally successful, for the gentleman was in good form and the lady possesses a very flexible pleasant voice, which she used with good effect. The Misses Linda, Fulvia, Vivienne, and Madeline Fitz-Stubbs played pianoforte duets and trios. Mr. L. Fitz-Stubbs whistled a solo from "Il Barbiere" very cleverly; Miss Madeline and Master Stanley Fitz-Stubbs danced a High-land fling gracefully, and Mrs. Woods and Mrs. Pinhey sang solos. It was not intended that encores should be allowed, but the audience enjoyed different performances so much, that the rule had to be broken, and so the concert lasted until nearly 11 o'clock. As the Sydney visitors left Manly by steamer several choruses were sung, and the journey to the City was enlivened by part songs.

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (19 October 1888), 2

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (27 April 1893), 2

"Marriages", The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (4 September 1897), 520

"NEW MUSIC", Evening News (7 March 1898), 3

"NEW MUSIC", Northern Star (26 April 1913), 6

"AN IDLE WOMAN'S DIARY", Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (6 August 1926), 11

Musical works:

The Cicada Gavotte (by Madeline Fitz-Stubbs); Visions (Idyle; by Madeline Fitz-Stubbs)

Bibliography and resources:

B. H. Fletcher, "Bladen, Frank Murcott (1858-1912)", Australian dictionary of biography supplement (2005) 


Pianist, composer

Born VIC, 1861
Died Kowloon, Hong Kong, 1 September 1940, aged 79 (NLA persistent identifier)



"MUSIC", The Sydney Morning Herald (22 December 1874), 4

"THE TOCAL WALTZ", The Sydney Morning Herald (14 March 1878), 5

"CONCERT AT MANLY BEACH", The Sydney Morning Herald (8 March 1883), 8

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (19 October 1888), 2

"MISS MAUD FITZ-STUBBS' FAREWELL", The Sydney Morning Herald (26 November 1904), 12

"THE NEW ZEALAND TWINS", Evening News (17 August 1906), 2

"Death of Noted Screen Artist. REVIVES INTERESTING HISTORY", The Burrowa News (4 April 1930), 5

[News], Straits Times (22 September 1940), 8

Formerly known throughout the word as Miss Fitz-Stubbs, noted Australian pianist and composer, Mrs. H. Woods, an old resident of Hong Kong, died at the Kowloon Hospital on Sept. 1, in her 80th year. She is survived by a son, Mr. Val Woods, who is in Australia, and by four daughters. The Misses Aileen and Doris Woods of Hong Kong, Mrs. Lenore Whinfield, and Mrs. David Dennis, at present in England. During her career, Mrs. Woods was acclaimed for her musical compositions and pianoforte achievements, and Maud Fitz-Stubbs' celebrated waltzes include "Heather" "Orlando" "[??]" "Premier" "Governor-General" and Vice-Regal." The "Governor-General" was dedicated by Mrs. Woods to the Earl of Hopetoun, and the "Heather" had the distinction of being performed by command of Queen Victoria at State Balls in Buckingham Palace by Strauss' celebrated orchestra. As a composer of waltzes, Mrs. Woods was claimed to be preeminent and has been styled the "Australian Strauss." Arriving in Hong Kong about 22 years ago, Mrs. Woods soon established herself as a musician of highest merit, and gained a large circle of friends. She interested herself, as did her daughters, in local concert work.

"From Hong Kong Letter To Evening Post", Goulburn Evening Post (14 January 1942), 5

Bibliography and resources:

Jennifer Hill, "Crossing a Divide?: Maud Fitz-Stubbs as amateur then professional musician in late nineteenth-century Sydney", Context: Journal of Music Research 19 (Spring 2000), 35-42

JMacR, "Rosina and Maud Fitz Stubbs"

FITZ-STUBBS, Percy (Thomas)

Pianist, music instructor, organist, composer

Born c.1850s (nephew of the above; grandson of Thomas Stubbs; son of Robert and Rosina Stubbs; brother of Maud Fitz-Stubbs)
Died ? NSW, by March 1900


[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (2 August 1867), 1

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (27 June 1874), 10

"PUBLICATIONS RECEIVED", The Sydney Morning Herald (8 September 1881), 7

"MR. P. FITZ-STUBBS' CONCERT", The Maitland Mercury (22 January 1881), 6

"Grand Organ Recital at St. Mary's Church", The Maitland Mercury (9 July 1881), Supplement 5

[Advertisement: Sydney Technical College], The Sydney Morning Herald (2 April 1884), 12

"MISS FITZ-STUBBS'S CONCERT", The Sydney Morning Herald (25 February 1893), 10

Amongst the other numbers, one of special interest may be named in a quartet for voice, violin, organ, and piano, being a musical setting of Longfellow's "Psalm of Life", composed by Mr. Percy Fitz-Stubbs, which will be interpreted by Mr. Harry Woods, Herr Pechotsch, Mr. Harrison White, and Miss Fitz-Stubbs.

"PROBATE COURT", The Sydney Morning Herald (17 March 1900), 11

"Miss Fitz-Stubbs' Entertainment", The Newsletter: an Australian Paper for Australian People (25 June 1904), 6:

... The choruses from an opera by the late Percy Fitz-Stubbs were sung by a bevy of young ladies who had been trained under Mrs. Fred England, who herself took the solos.

Musical works:

Fulvia waltzes (Composed by Master Percy Fitz Stubbs. Proceeds to be given in aid of the Floods Relief Fund. ELVY and CO.) ([Sydney: Elvy & Co., 1867])

Moet and Chandon Waltz  (arranged by Percy Fitz Stubbs; Dedicated to Miss Emmeline Zavistowski. Arranged from the air and suggested by her artistic representation of IXION) (Sydney : [s.n.], [? 1872])

Bidura waltzes (composed, and dedicated (by permission) to Mrs. Beauchamp St. John, by Percy Fitz-Stubbs ... ELVY and CO.) ([Sydney: Elvy & Co., 1874])

Duckenfield waltz (dedicated to Mrs. John Eales) ([Sydney: Elvy and Co., 1881)

The Fitz-Stubbs Musical Album (Christmas 1894): Death of the midshipmite (verses by Clement Scott; set to music by Percy Fitz-Stubbs); Geraldine march (by Percy Fitz-Stubbs)

© Graeme Skinner 2014 - 2017