Edmund Kestrel Veall (1862-1938)

Edmund Kestrel (Kes) Veall was born in Perth, Western Australia in 1862 and was baptised the following year.  He was the third child of Edmund James Veall and Ann (nee Flindell).  Their first born, Frederick James, was a victim of the living conditions of those times, which were rudimentary by today’s standards, and died age 2 months of diarrhoea.  His sister, Ada Elizabeth was a year older than him and followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a School teacher. She was an accomplished musician and was said to have her own school Murray Street Perth.  About 1899 she went to Scotland, but so far nothing has been found in UK records.

As might be expected, Kes had the benefit of a sound education under his mother’s guidance, but it is not known what influence his father had.  Certainly he was close to his maternal grandfather and the Flindell family.  A tangible testimony to this is that his grave in Fremantle Cemetery is marked by the headstone of his grandparents, Joanna and Shenstone Flindell, but more about that later.  Despite this little is known about the young Kes Veall other than remnants of stories from a generation now gone.  Sadly the last link, Bessie Hansen (nee Flindell) a first cousin once removed, passed away in February 2008.

Kes the Schoolboy

At the age of ten Kes received recognition for his scholastic achievements with a certificate of Merit in the fourth grade at Perth Government Boy’s school[1]. The following year he was awarded a first class prize for dictation in the School Examinations, Government Boys’ School[2].  This was the time of shaping a young man who had professional ambitions.  But in the early days of the Colony higher education was for the wealthy as it entailed sending the child to the Eastern Colonies or England.  Nevertheless the 1884 Almanac lists E.K. Veall as a law student.  He may have undertaken this as an articled clerk.  His “principal” in this contract was probably Parker and Parker, solicitors.

Kes the Young Man

The earliest mention found of Kes as a young man was a newspaper[3] report where Edmund Kestrel Veall, clerk in Messrs Parker and Parker’s offices, gave evidence in the Supreme Court Civil Sittings.  He was still with Parkers in 1889 when he was mentioned in a case before the Supreme Court.  In 1890 he represented Mr. Parker in a case before the Perth Police Court[4].

But Kes had wider interests.  In 1885 he elected as a member of the Perth Yacht Club[5], but it seems his interest, perhaps by financial constraints, was in canoeing rather than sailing as subsequent papers mentioned him being placed in paddling races.  He was also a member of the Fremantle Fire Brigade and by 1887 he was elected secretary[6].   The Brigade became the target of Councillor Jones who, perhaps for political reasons or simply arrogance, launched a lengthy attack in a Council meeting that was fully reported[7].   Jones attacked the fire brigade on the subject of drying fire hoses.  He may have had a valid point, but it served to do little more than trumpet Cr Jones knowledge of canvas and the brigade’s ignorance.  He did not spare any of the Brigade leaders.  He named them all and with sarcasm within the safety of politics, ridiculed their competence.  Typically he mentioned that Mr. Veall was a lawyer’s clerk as if to demonstrate he could not possibly know anything about fire hoses.  If this was a volunteer Brigade, Jones’ attack lacked judgement and perhaps a timely response to any fire threatening his property.

Firemen, paid or voluntary, are made of sterner stuff and the following month placed the following advertisement[8]:

The time is now drawing close to the last
date of receiving entries for the Eight Hours Go-as-you-please contest’ to take place at Fremantle under the auspices of the Fremantle Fire Brigade. From information gathered at the Port, we may safely say that this will be one of the greatest pedestrian events yet decided in WA. Wednesday August 24, is the date on which the contest takes place intending competitors should bear in mind that on next Thursday all contest entries must be in the hands of the hon. sec. Mr. E. K. Veall.

Kes resigned from the Fremantle Fire Brigade[9] at their 1889 Annual General Meeting, explaining that he was compelled to do so through having removed to Perth. His  secretarial efforts did not pass unnoticed as the meeting decided that some slight token in acknowledgment of his past services be made him.  A committee of the officers and two firemen was delegated to arrange the form it should take, and present it to him with a letter from the Brigade.

His reason for moving to Perth is not known with any certainty.  His mother had resigned as Head Mistress of Perth Girls’ School in 1886 and, although not much was made of it, she was in failing health.  The following year she sold off much of her furniture by public auction, possibly brought about by the need to downsize following her retirement, or perhaps the death of her husband, but we don’t know when he died.   The other reason Kes moved may have been his position with Parker and Parker whose chambers were in Barrack Street.  Perhaps it was a combination of factors.

Marriage and a Family

When Kes went to Roebourne and under what arrangement is not known, but the Roebourne register of marriages No. 30 dated June 21st 1894 includes[10]:

“The Schoolhouse Roebourne Corner is of Edmund Kestrel Veall above 21 years bachelor, Civil Servant of Roebourne, father’s name James Veall – deceased and Amy Bertha Smith under 21 years Spinster of Roebourne, father’s name Alfred Smith – Sheep Inspector.  They were married by David G Garland according to the rites and ceremonies of the Anglican Church”.

Edmund Kestrel and Amy Veall settled into marriage in Roebourne and had two children:

  • Aileen was born on June 27th 1895[11] and was baptised on October 23rd of that year.  It is not known if she married or when she died.
  • Alfred Leslie Veall was born in Geraldton in 1899[12].  He began his teaching career by 1930 at Group 9 School, Eastbrook north east of Pemberton off Vasse Hwy.  The following year he moved to Group 148 School, Manjimup where he remained until at least 1937.  It is likely he then moved to Spencers Brook where on December 29th 1942 he enlisted in the Army (WX36358) and was discharged on April 1st 1946 in the rank of Warrant Officer 2nd Class. Alfred married Ethel Elizabeth (Betty) Henderson in 1947[13].  Betty died at the “School House” East Cannington, Western Australia on April 29th 1952.  A bereavement notice from the children of East Cannington School was placed in the West Australian newspaper.  The date and place of Alfred’s death is not known.

Kes in Roebourne

The earliest record of Kes as the Clerk of Courts at Roebourne was 1895, but it may be assumed he arrived by 1893/94 to have met, courted and married Amy in 1895.   Kes remained there as clerk of courts until 1897/98[14].    However, there is some confusion on these dates because E. K. Veall, solicitor, Perth, was appointed an affidavits commissioner by the Supreme Court of the Colony in 1897[15].  The Legal Practice Board of Western Australia advised they have no record of Kes appearing before the Supreme Court.  Efforts to date to confirm his status with the University of Western Australia Law Faculty have been unsuccessful.  Nevertheless, the body of evidence indicates he practiced as a solicitor.

Kes continued to show an active interest outside his work and was elected to the position of Secretary to the Nor’west Jockey Club.    The club’s Spring Meeting on November 11th 1896 earned him high praise when the West Australian newspaper[16] reported:

The stewards of the day were not called upon to exercise their functions in connection with any race, and the meeting passed off without any unpleasantness. Mr. E. K. Veall, as secretary, worked hard to make the meeting a success, and is to be complimented on the results of his efforts.complimented on the result of his efforts.

His contribution to the Roebourne Shire must have been considered worthy enough to have Veall Close in Karratha is named in his honour.

One may hold a view that the legal profession looks after its own, but it is interesting to note a law court report under “Judgment Summonses”[17] where F. W. Thompson  gained a ruling in his favour against E. K. Veall, of £5 13s 4d or 14 days’ imprisonment if not paid by February 13th 1899.  The other interesting point is that they were cousins.  Frederick was the son of Mary, Ann’s younger sister.  How or why this came about is not known.

The Later Years

By 1898[18], Kes had set up a practice in Guildford, first in Hubert Street and by 1903 in Helena Street.   This perhaps begs the question as to how Alfred came to be born in Geraldton in 1899.  Were Kes and Amy leading separate lives by this time? In 1942 she was noted on Alfred Leslie Veall’s Service records as his next of kin.  This could suggest that Kes and Amy had separated.  It is not known where Amy died.  The Roebourne History Officer advised she died in 1965 which would have made her 90, but I cannot find a certificate for this.

Kes died at Mandurah on January 23rd 1938.  As indicated above, the headstone on his grave was first placed over his grandmother Joanna at Skinner Street Cemetery in 1870.  Joanna’s youngest daughter Elizabeth joined her in 1871 age 17, and in 1873 her daughter Louisa (known as Emma) age 32.  Emma left two orphaned daughters who were raised by Mary Thompson (nee Flindell).  To the headstone was added his grandfather’s epitaph – Francis Bassett Shenstone Flindell Died November 25th 1886 aged 76 Years. “I believe that my Redeemer died for me.” When the Skinner Street Cemetery closed to build John Curtin High School, the tombstone was removed and was placed over Kes at Fremantle Cemetery[19] and his inscription added.


[1] Perth Gazette & WA Times, Friday 27 December 1872, page 3

[2] Perth Gazette & WA Times, Friday 19 December 1873, page 3

[3] The West Australian 12 December 1885, page 5

[4] The West Australian 11 February 1890, page 3

[5] The West Australian, Monday 12 October 1885, Page 3

[6] The West Australian, Wednesday 7 October 1888, Page 3

[7] The West Australian, Thursday 26 July 1888, Page 3

[8] The West Australian, Saturday 18 August 1888, Page 3

[9] The West Australian, Thursday 31 October 1889, Page 3

[10] The Justice Department certificate for this marriage was 304 of 1894

[11] Justice Department Records – Birth Certificate 2393 of 1895. Date provide by Roebourne History Officer.

[12] Justice Department Records – Birth Certificate 2285 of 1899 – spelt “Veale”, but parent’s listing is accurate, however, E.K. Veall was living at Percival Villa, Hubert St, Guildford at this time.

[13] Justice Department Records – Marriage Certificate 2001 of 1947

[14] WA Directory of Towns

[15] The West Australian, Saturday 25 December 1897, Page 5

[16] The West Australian, Friday 13 November 1896, Page 2

[17] The West Australian, Tuesday 31 January 1899, page 7

[18] Post Office Directories for the period

[19] Anglican Section A5, Plot 372.