Alexander Burnett Hellmrich/Helmrich, was born on the 16th January 1850 in Paddington, New South Wales, Australia . His parents were bounty-assisted Scottish immigrants . Alexander was one of six children born to John Helmrich and Margaret Mathieson. They’d come from Scotland to try for a better life in Australia. Paddington today is a comfortable, affluent suburb of the inner city of Sydney. Alexander remained living in inner city Sydney throughout his life. At the time that the Hellmrich’s arrived it was an area of eastern Sydney frequently inhabited by tradespeople.
Siblings: Alexander’s siblings were John Lambertus Hellmrich (1837-1909), George Donaldson Hellmrich (1841-1881) , Margaret Hellmrich, Charles Hellmrich and Mary Hellmrich.
In 1871, Twenty one year old Alexander had joined the Volunteer Armed Forces in Sydney and had won a prize for his shooting skills. He was mentioned in the papers. Private A.B. Helmrich in the Volunteer Armed Forces Sydney Morning Herald. Rifle Association Annual Prize Meeting./Sydney, Australia. No doubt his family were proud as punch to have this appear in the paper.
24th January 1877, Alexander was listed on the manifest as a passenger on the City of Melbourne vessel sailing from Melbourne to Sydney/Sydney, New South Wales. It’s possible that this might have been the time he met Florence? She being from Melbourne in Victoria. Alexander and Florence were to marry on the 27th February 1879, The Herald Sun Newspaper reported that she was a young lady from Melbourne. This statement was an indicator at the time that she was considered to be from a good family within the context of how society viewed itself at the time.
Florence Macgill Glendinning Gay was the daughter of Captain. William Gay of Middlesex in England and Eliza Brereton Howard of Barbados.
HELMRICH-GAY.-February 27, at Paddington, by the Rev. P. F. Mackenzie, Alexander B. Helmrich, of Sydney, to Florence M. G. Gay, of Melbourne. Sydney Morning Herald 13th March 1870
Alexander would go on to enjoy a reasonably successful business career. He and Florence would own several properties as a result. He was known to be an expert in the sugar industry. Family lore from several sources confirm that they were quite financially ‘well off’. They lived at their home “Cooma” at 15 Point Piper Road for many years. Eventually Point Piper Road had a name change and became Jersey Road. I visited Jersey Road in 2014. It is a narrow old road pretty street in the high-end real estate sector of Sydney. Cooma is a white brick terrace house that I understand sold in the early 21st century for just over 1.25 million. It has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. At the time that the Helmrich family were living in Woolhara it was considered a pleasant suburb that was reasonably close (4 kilometres) from Sydney CBD. Convenient for Alexander as it was in Sydney central that he was employed.
Florence herself had lived a fascinating early life. Her father has been a sea-captain, Captain Gay. At the time that she married Alexander, her family were quite comfortable people from Melbourne. Florence had been born in 1854 in Fontabelle, Bridetown, Barbados, Caribbean Islands to Captain William Gay and Eliza Brereton Howard. It was only later in her youth that her father and mother had moved to Australia.
Whilst financially Alexander and Florence may have lived a trouble-free existence they suffered extreme loss in their personal lives and undoubtedly these caused the family a great deal of heartache through their marriage. How much these losses contributed to the tragedy that eventuated at Cooma one can only imagine.
Of their six children, who were all born in the home only three survived to grow beyond childhood. Three of their sons died in the home whilst young children. First Herbert aged just 3 in 1887, followed by Frederick aged 5 in 1897, and Henry aged 8 in 1890. To date I am unsure of why these three boys died but given their young ages can’t help but ponder did they fall to illnesses or something genetically inherited or some other reasons of which I do not yet know?
The following notices were put in the newspaper by the family. Sydney Morning Herald, 17th December 1887. HELMRICH.-At his residence, Point Piper-Road, Woollahra, on the 12th December, Herbert Charles, the beloved son of A. Helmrich, aged 3 years and 6 months.
In 1887 Sands Directory records show Alexander and Florence living at their home “Cooma” at Point Piper Road. Alexander’s occupation is given as a Clerk.
The Helmrich family put a notice in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 20th December 1890 for their son Henry – HELMRICH.—December 19, at the residence of his parents, Point Piper-road, Woollahra, Henry Albert, dearly loved son of A. and F. Helmrich, aged 8 years and 9 months.
A mere seven years later and their son Frederick aged 5 dies in 1897.
Alexander and the family remained true to their Scottish origins. In 1871 he was on the committee of the Grand Highland Volunteers and was engaged in arranging the Easter Monday Picnic at Cremorne.
The steamers WONGA, WARRAH and PERRI will leave Circular Quay and Woolloomooloo every quarter of an hour. First trip, 9 a.m. A special steamer «rill leave Pyrmont at 9 a.m., and Darling-street, Balmain, at 9.30 a.m. Tho VOLUNTEER BRASS BAND, in full uniform, will be in attendance. Dancing at the Grand Pavilion, tastefully decorated for the occasion. BRILLIANT DISPLAY OF HIGHLAND COSTUMES. An excellent luncheon will be provided. HIGHLAND SPORTS and OTHER AMUSEMENTS. The committee have perfected their arrangements, and guarantee to all those who may visit these pleasure grounds, a most delightful picnic. Return-tickets, Is 6d : children half-price. B. .HELLMRICH, Hon. Sec
Within a few years a further tragedy befell the family when Alexander took his own life at Cooma. The story made news across Australia and appeared in several papers as far afield as Western Australia.
21st July 1906 – The Advertiser Adelaide.
A HUSBAND’S SUICIDE. DESPONDENT THROUGH ILLNESS. Sydney, July 20. 1906 A resident of Jersey-road, Woollahra, Alexander Burnett Helmrich, was found dead in bed this morning by his wife with his throat cut. The deceased, who was 56 years of age, was a sugar expert. He broke one of his legs last April, and had been laid up ever since. Lately Helmrich had become despondent at being confined to his home for so long a period.
21st July 1906 – The Sydney Morning Herald. DEATH OF A PADDINGTON RESIDENT. Alexander Burnett Helmrich, living in Jersey-road, Paddington, was found dead at his residence yesterday morning. It appears that some time ago deceased fractured one of his legs, and had been laid up since. Recently he had been somewhat despondent, but it was never thought that he would take his life. Yesterday morning his wife went to his room shortly after 7 o’clock, and discovered Helmrich lying on the bed with his throat cut. A blood-stained Razor was lying close beside him. The police were informed, and a doctor was called in, who pronounced life extinct. The City Coroner (Mr. A. N. Barnett) conducted an inquiry yesterday afternoon, when a finding of suicide was recorded
21 July 1901 – The Kalgoorlie Miner. NEW SOUTH WALES, Alexander Burnett Helmrich, a resident of Woolahra was found dead in bed this morning by his wife with his throat cut. The deceased, who was 50 years of age, was a sugar expert. He broke one of his legs last April, and lately he became despondent at being confined to his home for so long.
The Albury Banner & Wodonga Express expounded further :- Alexander Burnett Helmrich was found dead in his bed at his residence, Jersey road, Woollahra. He had cut his throat with a razor. Helmrich who was an elderly man, sustained a fractured leg in April last, and had been confined to his room since. He had become somewhat despondent. For many years Helmrich was connected with the firm of Harris, Harris, and Ackman, and was possessed of considerable property.
* Harris & Ackman was a well known Auctioneers business in Sydney. The family newspaper entry is far more brief :- HELMRICH.— July 20, 1906, at his residence, 15 Jersey Road, Woollahra, Alexander Burnett Helmrich aged 56 years. By request, no flowers.
By the time Alexander took his own life both of Florence’s parents have died and she had buried three of her own children. Her her remaining children were young adults. Her youngest Arthur an impressionable 18 and I wonder as to Florence’s own mental state and how she coped with the many tragic losses in her life? Alexander’s death was extremely violent by its nature. I’m assuming because of Alexander’s business dealings that Florence had sufficient finances to manage the years ahead?
Florence went onto live to the age of 72. She died on the 19th February 1927 at Waverley. Her administrators were her three surviving children. Florence is buried with her husband.
Of the living children of Alexander and Florence; Their eldest child George Alexander Hellmrich b.1880 and d.1951, became an engineer and lived in Sydney for many years. He was aged 71 and lived with his wife Martha in Burwood, NSW at the time of his death. George married Martha Agnes Matthews at St Paul’s Church of England, in Sydney in 1912 at the age of 32. He spelled his name with the amended spelling adopted by many at the time of Helmrich. They had three children, Thora Elizabeth Helmrich, Alexander George Helmrich and Douglas Harold Helmrich
Florence Alexandra Hellmrich was born at Cooma in 1886 and d.1977. She would outlive her brothers by several years. In 1913 Florence married Eric Keith Noake in 1913 at All Hallows Church in Five Dock, Sydney. They would have a short marriage, just six years before Eric died.
Sadly Florence also outlived by some years her two sons. Errol Westland Noake who died aged 29, when she was 60 and Keith Alexander Noake who died aged 52, when she was 82. Florence lived till 90 years of age. She resided in her last years at the now removed Kia-Ora convalescent home in Randwick.
Keith married Margaret Elizabeth Prentice. Of interest, (because we appear to have quite a few of them in the Hellmrich line) Keith was a professional musician). Keith was a celebrated organist, notably his last position before he died being the chief organist at Newcastle Cathedral. Click here, Keith Noake including picture.