Portuguese Row – Watsons Bay

When I began to research residents of Cove St. and the first reference in Trove was to Mr and Mrs Samuel Wright, living in a house called “Aldea Velha”. Now, that’s Portuguese … and it means “old woman villa”. Winnie Wright is recorded as being born there in 1894, and in 1908 at the age of 14 she had a “joke” published in the Sydney press. Her mother is only ever referred to as Mrs Wright, the wife of Samuel Wright who worked for Robert Rollason, one of Australia’s foremost jewelers. Samuel died in 1909 at 50 y.o.a. Mrs Wright raised Winnie and her son J.L. Wright on her own. John was into his third year at Sydney University studying engineering, having won a scholarship while studying at Sydney Technical College when he enlisted in the army. He attended officer training and served as a Lieutenant in Belgium where he was wounded, promoted to Captain and awarded the Military Cross. Winnie (Winifred Dorothy Wright) is recorded as playing the church piano and organ and teaching at Vaucluse Public School. It doesn’t appear that she ever married, and died in 1972. There are numerous reports of her playing the piano at weddings and dances at Watsons Bay and with all of the well known families of the bay. John died in 1950, living at Collaroy. , who was Mrs Wright? Her parents were Mathew (Manuel?) Silva and Margaret Burgess, and her grandparents? …..Emanuel Silva and Rosa Marie Perera. That is Emanuel Silva who left his wife in the Azores and settled in Watsons Bay, where his son Manuel joined him. Emanuel who served on the pilot boats, was the licencee of the Gap Hotel and later the Macquarie Lighthouse keeper and who died there at the age of 102. Teetotal, vegetarian and non smoker. Mrs Wright was Margaret Ellen Silva who died at Redfern in 1942. “Aldea Velha” is the middle of the tree terrace houses at the beginning of Cove Street, just around the corner from Short Street.

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