THE HISTORY OF THE SYKES FAMILY IN AUSTRALIA

 

James Sykes (fourth generation)

James, the ninth child of Stephen Sykes (third generation) and Charlotte Barden, was born on 28th December 1885. As a young man he was educated at Currawang and Spring Valley Public Schools, and spent his young working life helping his father on 'Telegraph Hill', and working around the Goulburn district fencing, dam sinking and general farm work.

In 1908 he decided to go to Sydney, and was accepted in the Police Force. As a policeman he spent most of his time in the North West and Central Districts of N.S.W. In December 1910 he was posted to Dulldaloo. In October 1913 he was posted to Rylstone. He was then sent in charge to Nevertire in 1914. While there, he was commended for service which led to the arrest and conviction of the murderer of the late Constable Duncan at Totterham on 26th September 1916. He was promoted to Constable 1st Class in November 1916. James was then sent to Tomingley and Cumnoel, and then, after promotion to Sergeant in 1925, he was posted to Hillston. After another promotion he was transferred to Patterson and then in charge of Walgett. While James was at Walgett he was commended again for entering the burning Imperial Hotel and saving lives from this fire.

In 1938 James was transferred to Dubbo and promoted to Senior Sergeant. In August 1938 he was promoted to Inspector Sykes, and this was a big responsibility which he ably shouldered until his retirement in 1943. He was Inspector over a very large district including Mudgee, Gulgong, Dunedoo, Bennaway, Mendooran, Coonabarabran, Barradine, Pilliga, Coolah, Glen Davis, Kandoo, Rylstone, and Hillend.

James Sykes was presented with the Imperial Service Medal by the State Governor at Government House in 1946. He received this honour from His Majesty The King, in recognition of the meritorious services that he had rendered. Two interesting stories James tells are the following.

A peculiar story that happened while I was stationed at Walgett, which perhaps E. J. Sykes never related to you. About the year 1935 or 1936 E. J. visited us there with the Wilke's men who were attending a P.P. Conference and stayed a couple of nights with us, and during our talks he said to me "Your police force has not yet caught a man named Wilson, an ex Town Clerk of our Wentworth Council. We have had a warrant issued for his arrest on a charge of embezzling quite a bit of the Council's money." I said "No, as far as I know he has not been arrested and I haven't seen the notice of the matter gazetted in our records." After the Conference ended, all the delegates in a body went out from Walgett to Lightning Ridge Opal fields, and while E. J., who went with them, was away, the file arrived with the warrant stating that Wilson was employed in a garage at Walgett, under an assumed name, and I approached him, and I was in a position to say, when E. J. came back, we have your ex Town Clerk Wilson in the cells here, so if you feel inclined, you can go bail for him and take him back to Wentworth, but he declined. Anyhow we sent him back and he was dealt with, and I don't know the result. And strange to relate he returned to Walgett after that, having secured a Clerk's job with the Shire as an Assistant Clerk and the Town Clerk came to me stating that his references, all typed, were of a very high standard (under a different name). So I was requested to visit the Shire Office and have a look at Wilson and repeat verbally whether that was the man we arrested and sent on to Wentworth previously, which was correct, and the Shire later dismissed him, without any further ado.

While at Hillston about 1926 or 1927, I was expecting a visit from my new Superintendent of Police, Albury, who was described to me (by a bush telephone ring) as a big man like a hotelkeeper. I was marking the tennis court at the back of the premises, dressed in riding breeches and uniform cap, when E. J. (as it turned out) called at local P.O. and inquired where I lived. P.M. Mrs Batison told him, "There's the Sergeant on the tennis court, marking it out." You can imagine my surprise when E. J. came to me in his white dust coat and said, "Is this what the Police Department pays you to do?" I was then relieved to know he was my own brother whom I had not seen for many years, and not Superintendent Campbell from Albury.

James married Annie Tracey, and they reared two sons and a daughter. Both Vincent and Ronald (fifth generation), following in their father's footsteps, joined the Police Force. Vincent became an Inspector at Chatswood, Ronald left the Force and went on a grazing property at Mungindi. Marie, their daughter, married John Tracey to live in Mudgee.
For more details of James, Annie and descendants, see Stephen - James line.

James died on 21st July 1970 and is buried in the Catholic Cemetery, Mudgee.

Michael Sykes (Sixth Generation)

Michael was the third child of Ronald and Sarah Sykes and was born on 13th December 1946. He was educated at Christian Brothers College, Waverley, St Gregory's College, Campbelltown, and at Christian Brothers, Tamworth. The family moved to Tamworth so the children would receive a good education and be day pupils. It was while Michael was still a lad at school that a fatal car accident happened near Mungundi and he was killed. He died on 2nd December 1962, at the age of 16 years, and is buried in the Tamworth Cemetery.

Mark Sykes (Sixth Generation)

Mark was the sixth child of Ronald and Sarah Sykes and was born on 12th April 1954. He attended Christian Brothers School, Tamworth, and was a pupil there when he died. The football team he was playing for went on a week-end trip; the family that had billeted him had a serious car accident and Mark was killed. He was only 13 years old. Mark was a very promising student and sportsman.

The day before Mark left for his football trip, he wrote the following words, which were found in his desk:

MARK'S THANKS

The Brothers that teach us. My parents and friends. The food which we eat. And the sports and games. For the bed which I sleep on. For all our joys and sorrows. For the clothes which keep me warm. For the relations I have. For a certain time. For the roof that shelters us. For the scenes around us.

He is buried in the Tamworth Cemetery having died on 2nd July 1967.

Charles Ignatius Sykes (fourth generation), brother of James