Sunday, 7 August 2016

Chandler's - the undertaking family in Windsor

James William Chandler was born in Windsor in 1859, the son of James Samson Chandler & Esther Bradley. At the time the family were living in a house on corner of Macquarie and Suffolk Streets. When James was aged fourteen he was apprenticed as a cabinet maker in Newtown (Sydney) with his brother John. About eight years later, the two brothers returned to Windsor to set up a business. After a time the business was dissolved and John moved to Katoomba where he “prospered as a cabinet-maker and undertaker and acquired valuable properties.” John eventually sold his business to Wood, Coffill and Company.  

In the 1880s James expanded his cabinet-making business with undertaking. The business was certified to embalm and prepare bodies for burial and he also built coffins. He also would have transported the coffins to the church for the funeral and to the cemetery for burial. Chandler's was one of the most recognised undertaker’s business in the 19th and 20th century in Windsor. 

This advertisement is from the Hawkesbury Advocate 22 Dec 1899

Marrying twice, he had eleven children. His first wife was Sarah Emmaline Goodsell (1860-1892) and the couple married in 1881. Their children included, Lillian Ann b 1881, Ernest John b 1883, Amy Bertha b 1885, Henry William b 1888 Windsor and Percy James b 1889. His second wife was Alice Hanna Slater (1865-1962) and they married in 1898. Their children were Beryl Ester b 1899, Harold Keith b 1901, Wilton Charles b 1903, Alice Martha b 1905 and Myrna Elsie b 1910. 

A man of many talents he enjoyed sport and played cricket as well as music and was president of the Windsor Municipal Band. He was also a member of the Windsor Rifle Club. 

James attended the Methodist Church in Windsor and was layperson for many years. He was a “prominent Oddfellow and Mason”  and a member of the Hospital committee. He was community minded and was elected as an Alderman on Windsor Council. He held the position of Mayor three separate occasions in 1911-1913, 1915 and 1918. He was Mayor at the time of his death. James died 10 April 1919 at Windsor and is buried at McGraths Hill Methodist Cemetery. Cause of death was Chronic Nephritis and Albuminuria, commonly known as Bright’s disease and he died at his residence in Macquarie Street which was only about forty metres from where he was born. His parents, James, who died in 1871 and Esther who died in 1901 are also buried at McGraths Hill. Descendants of James operated the business until the 1980s. 

The grave of James Chandler at McGraths Hill Cemetery
Photo: M. Nichols

On his death a colleague compiled the following poem which was published in the Windsor & Richmond Gazette shortly after his death in 1919.  

His day is closed, his part is played,
He fought the fight quite undismayed;
He strove to shed a ray of light,
Across some brother's path not bright. 
Did Jim Chandler.

His was a work of love below
(A friend indeed was Jim to know),
His quiet mien, we loved it well,
And all his praises each will tell 
Of Jim Chandler.

Happy hours we've spent together
(Oft in cold and stormy weather),
All for the sake of a good cause —
Not for the limelight nor applause —
Did Jim Chandler.

Farewell, dear brother, a long farewell,
We part on earth — your worth we'll tell
To those with us who still remain —
Thy life was such our loss your gain —
Vale Jim Chandler.
[R. W. F.]


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