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Charles Alexander Manning

Henry Manning bought much land in the Colony from 1840, and in 1854 sent a younger brother, Charles Alexander Manning, to manage his estates. C.A. Manning established a farm in the area where Manning Park is now and built a house called 'Davilak' (short for Davey's Lake, Davey being the previous owner), which became also the name of the Road to the farm, and a Hotel in South Fremantle. He also built Manning Hall (aka 'Folly') in Pakenham St on the corner of Short Street. >

Charles's son from his first marriage, Lucius, inherited the Davilak Estate in 1871 and planted vineyards and raised horses and cattle. He and his wife Florence had seven children, including Azelia Helena, b. 1872, after whom the currently existing house is named the Azelia Ley Homestead, she having married John Morgan Ley in 1900.

Charles Manning died in 1869, the cause of death being recorded as 'drink' (Brown: 186) and must have been interred in Skinner St Cemetery. There is a gravesite indicated in MCB records in Fremantle Cemetery, Anglican MON A4 0180 - which seems to imply that his remains were reinterred there.

Charles Alexander Manning came to the State in the early days from the West Indies.
He brought considerable wealth with him, and became the largest landowner in the town. He eschewed politics, but interested himself in municipal affairs and was the originator of the volunteer movement in Fremantle. He was the first Grand Master of Freemasonry in the colony, and the first and honorary keeper of records and collector of rates for the Fremantle Town Trust. ... Manning was an enthusiastic amateur astronomer, and he built an observation tower on Manning Hall for that purpose. Hitchcock, JK 1929, The History of Fremantle, The Front Gate of Australia 1829-1929, Fremantle City Council: 106.

In 1860 Charles Alexander Manning bought 364ha of land at Hamilton Hill, and six years later built Davilak House for his son Lucius Manning. The house of twelve rooms was built using convict labour and was owned by the Manning family until they abandoned it in the late 1950s. It burnt down in 1960, and after this the Shire of Cockburn took over the administration of the whole estate.
A second homestead was built in 1920 by the eldest daughter of Lucius Manning, Azelia Ley. She had married John Morgan Ley in 1900, and after he died in 1927 she continued to maintain the family farm. This house became derelict after Azelia died in 1954, but was restored by the Historical Society of Cockburn in 1983 and now serves as a comprehensive Azelia Ley Homestead Museum of artifacts pertaining to the Cockburn district.


The year 1861 saw the organisation of a volunteer force in Fremantle. The movement was enthusiastically taken up by C. A. Manning and it may be mentioned that he was buried early in the morning of the day the Duke of Edinburgh landed (February 4, 1869) and in order that the volunteers could pay their respects to him at the graveside as well as form a guard of honour to the Duke, the funeral took place at dawn. Manning's descendants have inherited his military interest and won decorations for distinguished service during the Great War. After the death of Manning the volunteer movement became moribund but it was revived in 1872. Hitchcock: 43.

References and Links

Bob Reece and Rob Pascoe, in A Place of Consequence (FACP, 1983) give the origin of the name Davilak on page 47 thus: '... Davilak, which had taken its name from Devil's Lake in front of the house built by his father here in the early 1850s.' 'Here' being Hamilton Hill, and 'his father' being Charles Alexander Manning. Update: I now believe that Bob and Rob were wrong, and that the lake was named after its previous owner, whose name was Davey. It was Davey's Lake, which was shortened to Davilak.

Brown, Patricia M. 1996, The Merchant Princes of Fremantle: The Rise and Decline of a Colonial Elite 1870-1900, UWAP—which contains a photo (p. 101, from Battye 3847P) purporting to show Manning and his wife. It is in fact a photograph of Queeen Victoria and her husband! Thanks to Azelia Ley Museums for the correction. I believe it's likely that the mistake was not made by the author, but by someone in the Battye library, who made the photo available.

Hitchcock, JK 1929, The History of Fremantle, The Front Gate of Australia 1829-1929, Fremantle City Council, the source of the photo by Nixon of Manning presumably wearing his Grandmaster regalia.

Many thanks to Robert Ward for an invaluable, comprehensive genealogy of the family of Charles Manning.

Azelia Ley Museums website.

Wikipedia page for Hamilton Hill.

A newsletter of the Fremantle History Society gives more details regarding Azelia Ley: Summer 2022.

Garry Gillard | New: 17 January, 2015 | Now: 24 April, 2022