Hampton Slatyer

By Cathy Jones

Hampton Slatyer (d.1934) was an Alderman of Strathfield Council from 1893-1897.

Following the death of Slatyer’s father, the Rev. Slatyer, the Slatyer family moved to Strathfield.  The family included his mother Eliza, his sisters and brother Charles Slatyer, an architect. They rented the house ‘Woodbine’ in Broughton Road for a short time in 1884[2].  Mrs Eliza Slatyer purchased land in Broughton Road and built the house ‘Ridgemount’.  Charles Slatyer himself purchased adjoining lots which were later sold to Thomas Dickson, who built the home ‘Ethelstone’ (60-70 Broughton Road Strathfield).

‘Ridgemount’ was home to the family but was also the site of a school conducted by Slatyer’s sisters Mary Louisa (d.1934), Eliza Jane (d.1943) and Annie (d.1950). The school was advertised as Misses Slatyer’s school at ‘Ridgemount’, Broughton Road Homebush. Annie was the last surviving sister and died in 1950 leaving an estate valued at over £57,000[3].  ‘Ridgemount’ has since been demolished.

According to electoral rolls, Hampton Slatyer (d.1853-1934) was an agent by occupation but was involved, seemingly controversially, in local politics. Hampton served as an Alderman (Homebush Ward) on Strathfield Council from 1893-97 and stood unsuccessfully as an independent candidate for the federal electorate of Parkes in 1903 and 1906 and NSW electorate of Canterbury in 1901.  Slatyer made national news when he successfully sued the Daily Telegraph for libel in 1907 in the District Court for calling him a socialist.  Slatyer maintained that labelling him a socialist damaged his chances of success at the election.  The Daily Telegraph appealed the decision to the High Court in May 1908, which reversed the District Court decision.  As reported in the Hobart Mercury 19 May 1908 under the title “What is a Socialist?”:

“Judgement was given by the High Court today in the appeal from the decision of the Supreme Court reversing the verdict given by Judge Backhouse in the District Court to Hampton Slatyer in an action against the Sydney “Daily Telegraph” for an alleged libel.

Slatyer was a candidate for Parkes at the last federal election and was placed by the ‘Daily Telegraph’ as a socialist.  The newspaper had previously published articles in which Socialists were referred to as in favour of the confiscation of property, and Slatyer contended that classing him as a Socialist had mitigated against his chances of success.

The real point in dispute was ‘Can a responsible person reasonably say that publication concerning an individual under the circumstances stating that he was in favour of the confiscation of property, held him up to hatred or contempt?’

The Chief Justice in delivering judgement, said that confiscation might mean confiscation in the sense of plunder, of it might have a much milder meaning; and really in the case before the Court it would be idle to pretend not to know that the word was used in hyperbolic sense very often. he quite agreed with the supreme Court Judges that upon the documents in evidence there were no grounds upon which reasonable persons could attribute to the plaintiff the meaning alleged.  Plaintiff in his opening had failed to provide the case set up, and the other Judges concurred.

Mr Justice Issacs, in the course of his judgement, said it was quite true that the plaintiff was called a Socialist candidate.  It was quite true that nationalisation was referred to as confiscation, and that the articles referred to an attempt on the part of the party to bring about nationalisation by means of a progressive land tax as a policy of spoliation, but in a community such as this it was impossible to regard these as anything more than strong expressions of opinion regarding policy, and not as imputing, when taken in conjunction with facts upon which the case was based, any moral turpitude”.

Hampton Slatyer died in 1934[4].  An advertisement for probate in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1934 of the estate of Hampton Slatyer, late of ‘Ridgemount’ Homebush. It appears that his estate transferred to his sister Annie as his named executor, Charles Slatyer predeceased his brother. Slatyer did not appear to have married or left descendents.


[2] He first appears in the Sands Sydney Directory of Strathfield in 1886 as the occupant of ‘Woodbine’ in Broughton Rd and from 1887-1899 at ‘Ridgemont’ in Broughton Rd.

[3] Sydney Morning Herald, 15 April 1950.

[4] NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

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