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Dadswell Family

Lyndon Dadswell - Links to a Great Australian

Perhaps not many people think of the Australian War Memorial (AWM) in Canberra as an art gallery yet it has a significant collection, much of it dramatic.

The Memorial's collections includes more than 30,000 items by many of Australia's most talented artists.

Among these artists is Lyndon Dadswell, one of our most accomplished and arguably still Australia's best-known sculptor.
Photograph: Lyndon Dadswell
His works are considered by many to be among the most powerful and striking works of art in the Memorial's collection.

Some of his War Memorial works are detailed in an AWM publication titled Artists in Action, published by the Memorial in 2003. The book includes a picture of "Greece", Lyndon's dramatic work in bronze, a work based on his experiences in that country.

The above Australian War Memorial photograph is Lyndon Dadswell with the plaster model of the sculpture "Stretcher Bearers, Egypt 1941" (AWM P02479.005).

It all brings back memories from my adolescence - if our (Victorian) branch of the Dadswell family could have collected a dollar (10 shillings then) for every time we were asked if we were related to Lyndon (from the so-called Sydney Dadswells), then our world would be very different!

However, just where does Lyndon and his family (from Sydney) fit with our Victorian group of Dadswells?

Henry Dadswell (1894-1978) believed that our great grandfather Thomas William was a brother of Lyndon's ancestors, but that the brothers quarrelled - one heading to Victoria and the other to NSW.

But it turns out that while we do have common ancestors, the family divided into their respective branches well before our great grandfather's time - in fact, some 350 or so years ago. Here's how it looks (as we currently understand it) -

Family tree

Robert Doudeswell (ca1560 - 1636) married Elizabeth (surname unknown). They had a son Robert.
Robert Doudeswell (1606 - 1676) married Mary Aynscombe (died 1633). They had a son Edward.
Edward Dodswell (1659 - 1736) married Elizabeth Elliott (ca1657 - 1735)

Edward and Elizabeth had eight children - Lyndon's line descended from a son also named Edward (born 1679), while our line descended from a younger son Alexander (born 1686). Thus the relevant ancestors were -
Lyndon Dadswell's line (the Sydney family)Henry Dadswell's line (the Victorian family)
Edward Dodswell (1679-1763) married Elizabeth ____ (-1742)Alexander Dodswell (1686-1766) married Anne Baker (1693-1778)
Robert Dadswell (1711-1781) married Ann Ovenden (- 1790)Thomas Dadswell (1732-1803) married Sarah Brown (-1808)
Robert Dadswell (1796-1853) married Mary Finch (1776-1820)James Dadswell (1786-1838) married Charlotte Ovenden (c1788-1882)
Charles Dadswell (1817-1851) married (2) Elizabeth Hoessner

Charles died while migrating to Australia
Thomas William Dadswell (1828-1908) married Helena Scheer (c1830-1873)

Emigrated from England 1857
Charles Frederick Dadswell (1847-1928) married Hannah Maria Richardson (1851-1913)

Charles arrived in Australia aged 4
Alfred Otto Dadswell (1860-1946) married Emma Lewin (1852-1918)
Arthur Raymond Dadswell (1885-1984) married Maysell Cobcroft Pidgeon (1884-1967)Henry William Dadswell (1894-1978) married Jessie Isabel Smiley (1908-1981)
Lyndon Raymond Dadswell (1908-1986)Jean Marion, Gladys, Thomas, Douglas and Harley

All those years of us Victorian Dadswells claiming Lyndon as our famous "cousin" may have been a bit of an (understandable) exaggeration - in reality, Lyndon was Henry Dadswell's 5th cousin once removed. Or, for those younger (boasting) Victorian Dadswell siblings, Lyndon was our 6th cousin.

Lyndon's life

Lyndon was born in the Sydney suburb of Stanmore in 1908 and spent his adult life in the service of art.

He studied at the Julian Ashton Art School between 1923 and 1925 and at East Sydney Technical College between 1926 and 1929.

He was a student of sculptor Rayner Hoff and became widely known for his work at Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance.

Lyndon has said that his real training took place during his time (1929-35) as assistant to Paul Montford, then chief sculptor for the Shrine. He undertook his first commission in the Shrine's interior - 12 large sandstone relief panels depicting activities of the Australian Imperial Forces during World War One.

His work resulted in a scholarship which led to study at the Royal Academy School, London, in the mid-1930s, and this was followed by a teaching appointment at the National Art School in Sydney.

He enlisted in the 2nd Division AIF in 1940 and fought in Greece, Libya and Syria, where he was seriously wounded in 1941. After recovery, he was commissioned as an official war artist, working in Cairo until his return to Australia in 1942.

In the short time he was in the Middle East, he produced 12 sculptures of Australians in Greece and the Middle East.

From 1943, Lyndon taught sculpture at the East Sydney Technical College, and his work featured in various exhibitions between 1946 and 1955. 1955-56 saw him senior lecturer at East Sydney Technical College and 1966-67 he was Head of the Division of Fine Arts, at the National Art School, Sydney.

Lyndon was named a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in June 1978 in recognition of his services to sculpture.

He continued to exhibit his work at shows and exhibitions until 1983 and continued to live in Sydney until his death in 1986.

When researching family history in the 1970s, the writer of this article met Lyndon, and found him to be a quiet, gentle and thoughtful man - not unlike his Victorian contemporary, Henry Dadswell.

Although they had very different interests, they would have got on well together.

- Compiled by Harley Dadswell November 2004, updated July 2021

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