“A Country Romance”, this was the newspaper headline when reporting the marriage of Phyllis Hope Lockyer and Arthur Finlay in Glenn Innes in April 1926.1 The event was widely reported because of the Bride’s age: she was only fourteen.2 What was not mentioned was that the groom was more than twice her age3 – and had a history.
Arthur Finlay hailed from Mount Morgan in Queensland, became a teacher there and also taught at other schools in Queensland. In January 1919, Catherine Young of Rockhampton sued Arthur for support of her son, Norman, born in November 1918. The court accepted her evidence that Arthur was the boy’s father and awarded her maintenance.4
Simsville, a sawmilling settlement near Stroud, NSW had difficulty in attracting teachers to its small school, but in November 1925 Arthur Finlay settled in as the new teacher. His tenure did not last long. Oral history recounts detectives arriving at Simsville and arresting a teacher, believed to have been Arthur Finlay.5
Phyllis had met Arthur as a pupil under his tutelage at Glen Leigh School. Their romance apparently blossomed via correspondence when Arthur moved from the district and their marriage in April 1926 cemented the bond.6 By June 1926 the NSW Government had dismissed Arthur as a teacher.7
Did they have a happy marriage? I hope so, but it was not an auspicious start.
Author: Penny Teerman
1 Glen Innes Examiner Saturday 10 April 1926 P4
2 Australian Cemeteries Index – Phyllis Hope Finlay born 5 October 1911: Died 9 September 1994
3 Queensland Births Deaths and Marriages – 1895/C/10230
4 Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton) Thursday 23 January 1919 P10
5 Simsville and the Jarrah Mill by Ian McNeil published by the Light Railway Research Society of Australia Inc. Melbourne 2015
6 Glen Innes Examiner Saturday 10 April 1926 P4
7 NSW Government Gazette Friday 18 June 1926 (Issue No. 83 Supplement) P2662