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Cecil Robert Becher & Mabel Anna Wooldridge

Cecil Robert Becher was the thirteenth of sixteen children born to the Rev Michael Henry Becher and his wife Philippa Jennings. He was born on the 28th August 1874 at St James Parsonage, Melbourne, right next-door to the Cathedral where his father was incumbent. The earliest known photograph shows him as a sweetly smiling toddler in what looks to modern eyes to be a rather fancy pinafore & little buckle shoes. He is holding a little bunch of flowers. By his next photo he has graduated to "Britches" and much shorter hair!
           
Cecil Robert Becher as a toddler                               Cecil Robert Becher in Feb 1880, aged 5 1/2

Like his older brothers, Cecil attended the Church of England Grammar School. He started there in 1883 aged 9, and left in 1886 aged 12. I do not know whether or not he had any further schooling. There is a card in his Father's bible stating that he was confirmed on the 5th June 1890. His death was listed in the school Journal called the "Melburnian" in Vol L No 3, December 17, 1925.
"Cecil Robert Becher (No 1773 on the School Roll), died suddenly at Mount Magnet, Western Australia on September 17. He was the fourth of five brothers, sons of the late Rev Canon Becher, who were at the school. He entered in 1883 and left in 1886 to take up pastoral pursuits. He was farming at Orroroo, in South Australia for some years and was also managing properties for Thomas Millear and Mr Hawker, of Bungaree, South Australia. Some years ago he took to the West and took up a farm. He was a most popular boy and man, a glorious optimist, and always hoping for a turn in his fortunes, which never seemed to come. He leaves a widow and young family. He was aged 51 years."

He married on 18th March 1903 at "Wykeham" a house in Philip St, Neutral Bay, NSW. I don't know why he was married in a house, rather than a church, but it seems most likely that it was so his Uncle could perform the marriage. Rev Richard Fane Becher , Cecil's paternal uncle did not currently have a church. Mabel Anna Wooldridge had been born on the 30th October 1875 at Deniliquin, NSW, the second daughter of Henry John Wooldridge and Elizabeth Jane "Bessie" Hawson [More to come later on the very interesting Hawson family].
   
Mabel Anna at her Wedding                                 Cecil Robert at his Wedding

Cecil Robert Becher
and Mabel Anna Wooldridge had six children

1. Blanche Evelyn Becher
b. 11 March 1904 at "Myrniong"[Myrnong?], Redan St, Melbourne, Victoria
d. 3 Dec 1983 at Bethesda Hospital, Claremont, Western Australia
She married Robert Wallace "Bob"  McKie and lived at Glen Forrest.
2. Michael Henry Geoffrey Becher
b. 7th May 1905 at "Myrniong", Redan St, Melbourne, Victoria
d. 29 May 1986 at Bethesda Hospital, Claremont, Western Australia
He married Florence Ethel "Pat" Jeffrey
3. Joan Mabel Becher
b. 19th April 1909 at Narioota, Yacka, South Australia
d. 21 November 1996 at The Fred French Nursing Home, Launceston, Tasmania.
She married John "Jack" Dyke
4. Claude "John" Becher
b. 21 December 1910 at North Bungaree, Yacka, South Australia
d. 19 June 1993 at Canberra, ACT
Married Beverly Brown
5. Catherine Elizabeth "Joyce" Becher
b. 11 July 1912 at North Bungaree, Yacka, SA
d. 18 May 2000 in Western Australia
Married Kenneth Edward Irvine
6. Robert Gordon "Bob" Becher
b. 11 December 1913 at Hillcrest, Orroroo, SA
d. 27th September 1997 at Hollywood Hospital, Western Australia
Married Edna May Farmer.

Cecil Robert Becher worked at a number of different properties in at least 3 different states. A combination of family recollections, birthplaces of his children and post office directories has been used to try and sort them all out. There may be omissions.
On his wedding certificate in 1903, Cecil Becher gives his place of residence as "Edgarley", Victoria. This is the name of the station owned by Thomas Millear, and is at Willaura, in the Riverina. A beautiful house from the 1870's survives unaltered on that property today. His first two children in 1904 & 5 were both born at "Myrniong", Redan St, St Kilda. I do not know if that is where the family were living, or if Mabel sensibly wanted to have her children born in town. In 1909 Joan was born at "Narioota", SA, with John and Joyce both born at "North Bungaree", Clare, SA in 1910-12. Bob was born at "Hillcrest", Orroroo, SA in 1913.
Of these properties North Bungaree [a Merino Stud] is the best remembered by his descendants. The children rode ponies to school, and the family travelled to church in a horse and buggy.  Cecil was stud manager for Mr Hawker, and eventually left the property over a disagreement over the suitability of a Ram Mr Hawker had purchased and Cecil did not want to breed with. [Apparently many years later Cecil was acknowledged to have been correct.]



The Becher children at play at Nth Bungaree. c1912

 
Cecil Becher with Merinos at Nth Bungaree [photo from Geoff Becher]

 
North Bungaree Homestead [photo from Bob McKie, from Blanche Becher's collection]

By 1914 the family had moved all the way to Harvey in Western Australia, where they stayed with Frank Becher and his family, although this may not have been for very long. The 1915 Western Australian directory shows the family living at Angelo St, Perth. A newspaper article places them in the Kelleberrin district from at least Nov 1915 where Cecil is growing wheat. The electoral roll for 1916 shows that Cecil [Farmer] and Mabel [Home Duties] were registered in the seat of Dampier, at "Qandongs", Kellerberin.  In December 1916 the family visited their relatives in St Kilda. I have Michael Becher's childhood autograph book, and for this period he has autographs from Frances Sophie "Fassie" Becher, Charles Hamilton Becher, Henrietta Jennings and Margery Irving. Most of the entries were written at the Jennings's residence in Blessington St, Wymarno. His daughters recall him describing this trip as an adult, it seems to have been a childhood highlight! Bob Becher recollected the family owning a farm at Doodlakine, which is close to the settlement of Kellerberrin. I do not know if the family lived on more than one property in this district. Unfortunately because of what a sale notice in the newspaper describes as "unfavourable conditions" their farm was sold in April 1919 and Cecil Robert Becher was appointed as Manager of "Murgoo" in the Murchison district of W.A. Michael Becher and later Bob attend Hale School in Perth. Family letters show that the children were hoping he would bring them back emu feathers and kangaroo teeth. 1919-21 directories list Cecil Becher at Murgoo.

Cecil Robert Becher with his wife Mabel, and children Bob and Joyce.

The WA directory gives an additional listing of  8 Heytesbury Rd Subiaco for 1921, and 1922-1925 has this, along with Victoria pde, Claremont, and 938 Wellington St, Perth. I am told that my grandfather Michael Becher, as the eldest boy was rather bossy, and his siblings called him the Duke of Wellington St.

In 1925 tragedy strikes the family with Cecil Robert Becher dying unexpectedly while up at Mount Magnet on the 17th September. He is buried there at the flat and rather desolate looking cemetery.

Cecil Robert's grave at Mt Magnet [Photo from Geoff Becher]

After Cecil's untimely death, the heartbroken Mabel moved her family to 8 Chester St Subiaco, where she took in boarders.

8 Chester St, Subiaco
 

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