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Dashing Mr. Sidney Ayers

Updated: Feb 13, 2022

Mother - Father - Grandfather Sir Henry Ayers - Death of Grandfather - Inheritance - Society Wedding - Warenda, Clare - Clare Polo Week - Back to Clare 1928 - Popular Sportsman - Mrs. Ayers, Traveller - Amazing America - in Malayan Jungles - Horseback Marathon - Lure of China and Japan - India - Sir Sidney Kidman's Death - Farewell - Passing - The Kidman Empire

Sidney Hurtle Ayers

Birthdate: June 25, 1880 Birthplace: Glenelg, City of Holdfast Bay, South Australia, Australia

Mr. Sidney Hurtle Ayers was a hard working, courteous, and efficient official of many Clare sporting clubs, and was identified with many sports.

  • He was a member of the Amateur Turf Club committee, and

  • Secretary of the Clare Racing Club.

  • He acted as honorary totalisator steward at the Cheltenham Races.

  • He was secretary of the Clare Polo Club since it was formed in 1921

  • He held a similar position in respect to the Back to Clare movement.

He is a son-in-law of the "Cattle King" Sir Sidney Kidman (1857–1935), who was a life member of the Port Adelaide and Amateur Turf Clubs, and grandson of the wealthy politician Henry Ayers.

Mother, Ada Fisher Ayers (1843–1939)

Third daughter of Sir John Morphett, of "Cummins", the estate in Morphettville, she married Mr. Harry Lockett Ayers, son of Sir Henry Ayers, a former Premier of South Australia.

  • Always interested in philanthropic work, Mrs. Ayers was at one time president of the South Adelaide Creche, for which she did much during 20 years, and

  • for 18 years she was a member of the South Adelaide Creche committee.

Surviving members of the family were Lady Lloyd (wife of Sir Howard Lloyd, St. Peters), Mrs. Gerald A. Cowle (England), Miss Lucy Ayers, Mr. Sidney H. Ayers, and Cattleman Mr. John Ayers (former chairman of the company of the cattle king, Sir Sidney Kidman).

Above: Harry, Ada and six of their children c1870s before the diphtheria epidemic reduced the family dramatically.

Father, Harry Lockett Ayers (1844–1905)

Sidney's Father Harry Lockett Ayers and his brothers enjoyed the reflected glory of their father, Sir Henry Ayers, and were part of Adelaide’s social and financial elite.

  • Harry Lockett Ayers was a foundation member of the Adelaide Club, was born in South Australia and educated at St Peter’s College.

  • He and his brother Arthur Ernest carried on their father’s business as H.L. & A.E. Ayers, a trustee and financial agency in Adelaide.

  • H.L. Ayers was also a founding member of the Adelaide Hunt Club.

H.L. Ayers commissioned the design of a suitably grand residence 'Dimora' with a large ballroom facing East Terrace which was built in 1882.

(Below: Dimora, the H.L. Ayers family home, 120 East Tce. Adelaide)

Harry Ayers married Ada Fisher Morphett, a daughter of Sir John Morphett, typically consolidating through marriage the Adelaide establishment’s influence.

  • Six of Harry and Ada’s eight children died during childhood, many from the diphtheria epidemic that swept through South Australia in the 1880s.

When Harry died in 1905 his wife commissioned the world-renowned Tiffany Company to design windows (formerly at St Paul’s) as her memorial to him. They are now preserved at the SA Art Gallery.


For 36 years Henry Ayers was a prominent figure in South Australian politics:

  • being seven times Premier of S.A.,

  • eleven times a cabinet minister and

  • for twelve years was President of the S.A. Legislative Council.

Henry Ayers saw life as a battle; he had fought well and 'the world gave him much that his heart desired'.

  • In his struggle for wealth and political leadership he had been cautious, hard and deliberate.

  • In private letters Henry Ayers professed no desire for prominence, yet he enjoyed immense influence in his prime;

  • even the squatters who opposed his land policy conceded that he had 'a master mind' and 'great talent'.

  • Shrewd and forceful, he also had the gift of convincing others of his unbounded faith in the colony's future, and he had no fear of opponents whom he described as 'city capitalists'.

  • Despite his personal power and successes his greatest pride was in the development of South Australia.

Death of Grandfather Ayers

South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA) Mon 14 Jun 1897 Page 5

THE LATE SIR HENRY AYERS was President of the SA Legislative Council. businessman, and founder and Chairman of the Boards of the Savings Bank of South Australia, the Australian Mutual Provident Society, the S.A. Gas Company and the Bank of Australasia in its South Australian operations.

The funeral of Sir Henry Ayers, G.C.M.G., who died at his residence, North Terrace on Friday morning June 11, 1897, took place on Saturday afternoon. He was pre-deceased by his wife in 1881, and by Frederick Ayers, his third son, on 18 February 1897.

Sir. Henry Ayers was the original secretary of the company that opened and worked the Burra copper mine, which during its palmy days was one of the richest in the world.

Adelaidia-SA History:

"Though his obituaries fulsomely praised his career, Henry Ayers was a hard-headed, determined and aggressive businessman, often self-serving and opportunistic. Politically he was clever and adroit, if unimaginative."

In 1877 the editor of the Register wrote, ‘Sir Henry Ayers will require only a very small piece of paper upon which to inscribe all the work originated and carried out by himself for the good of the country."

Chronicle (SA) Sat 28 Aug 1897 Page 18 SIR HENRY AYERS'S WILL.

"On Friday the will and codicil of the late Sir Henry Ayers, G.C.M.G., was lodged for probate by Messrs. Ayers & Gall, solicitors to the executors, the gross value of the estate being sworn at under £226,000."

  • Ayers House, North Terrace, was inherited by the quiet, unmarried son Frank. R. Ayers, who moved into the Adelaide Club while building a home in McKinnon Parade, North Adelaide. Eventually Ayers House was sold in 1914.


Sidney Ayers stood to inherit one half of his father's half-share of the estate, which was divided evenly between the two surviving sons (who, as lawyers, were the trustees), uncle F.R. and father H.L. Ayers, so his share is estimated at more than 50,000 pounds.

  • He probably also inherited part of the estate of uncle F.R. Ayers, who was single, and sold Ayers House, so increasing this legacy substantially.

Read the family history (extract below)


This wedding was apparently a "carbon copy of (older sister) Elma's (to Sidney Reid),"

  • everybody (came) down from Kapunda for the ceremony, at the same church, with the same minister from Kapunda officiating, and

  • the same reception at Holmwood, 20 Devonshire Street, Walkerville (Sid Reid's home with sister Elma); Sidney Reid went on to manage the vast Kidman enterprise until 1935 as Kidman’s right-hand man.

Edna's father Sidney Kidman (illustrated above left) was very pleased with this match; not only was Sidney Ayers from a well-placed family, but Edna was a spirited woman, an out-going, strong woman, belying her stature, and she would be happy with lively Sidney Ayers, both outdoors people, fond of horse riding, and of polo.

Kapunda Herald (SA)

Fri 26 Jul 1912 Page 5 Family Notices

Society Wedding: AYERS—KIDMAN

On the 10th July, at the North Adelaide Congregational Church, Sidney Hurtle, eldest son of Mrs. H. L. Ayers, East Terrace, Adelaide, to Edna Gwendoline, youngest daughter of Mr. Sidney Kidman (pictured above left), of Kapunda. There was a large gathering of guests at the Congregational Church North Adelaide, on Wednesday, July 10, on the occasion of the marriage of Sidney Hurtle Ayers, son of the late Harry Ayers and Mrs. H. Ayers, of "Dimora," East Terrace, Adelaide, and Edna Gwendoline, youngest daughter of Sidney Kidman, of "Eringa," Kapunda (pictured below).

The interior of the Church was decorated with handsome palms grouped together and connected by strands of white satin ribbon tied in artistic bows. A wedding bell was suspended in the centre, and archways of fern spanned the aisles. The Rev. A. G. Fry, of Kapunda, conducted the service, and Mr F. Bevan, of the Adelaide Conservatorium of Music, played ''The Voice that Breathed O'er Eden" as the bride reached the chancel.

While waiting for the bridal party to return from the vestry, Miss Daisy Gove, of Melbourne, sang with great taste D'Hardelot's "Because," with organ accompaniment. The bride was given away by her father ('Cattle King', Sir Sidney Kidman), and looked particularly graceful in her bridal gown of ivory satin trimmed with beautiful Honiton lace, the gift of Lady Thornycroft (pictured right. "the most beautiful woman in England,").

  • The court train of satin was attached to the shoulders by a string of pearls and was lined with chiffon.

  • Her tulle veil was arranged to form a cap encircled by a wreath of orange blossom, and she carried a bouquet of hot-house flowers.

  • The bridegroom's gift was a diamond pendant.

Miss Gertrude Kidman, sister of the bride, was the only bridesmaid.

  • She wore a smart frock of periwinkle-blue taffetas covered with ninon of the same shade, and a smart taffetas coat of the same shade.

  • The short skirt was trimmed at the hem with a ruche of silk, and a peter-pan collar of dainty lace, was worn on the bodice which was made with rounded basques edged with a gathered ruche.

  • As a head-dress she wore Grecian bands of blue velvet, and at one side an ostrich feather of the same hue.

  • The bridegroom presented her with sapphire and diamond earrings.

After the ceremony the guests drove to 'Holmfield' (the home of George Dutton Green, South Terrace, Adelaide) where a large reception was held by Mr and Mrs Sidney Kidman (Australia's wealthiest man).

  • Later in the afternoon the bride and bridegroom left for Clare, the bride travelling in a costume of cream cloth, black, velvet hat trimmed with oriental flowers and muff to match.

  • Mrs Sidney Kidman received guests in a handsome dress of saxe blue charmeuse with gold embroideries veiled in black ninon. A cluster of white willow plumes trimmed her white toque hat which was lined up with black velvet, and she wore a large white feather boa. Among those present were:—

  • Mrs. Will (grandmother of the bride), in black silk, with white ospreys in her bonnet;

  • Mrs. Harry Ayers, black crepe de chine and a bonnet with amethyst plumes:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Reid, the latter in cinnamon brown ninon, beaver hat, and sable furs;

  • Miss Ayers, in wine red cloth and black hat, with black and white silk;

  • Mrs. Doughy Crozier, in salmon pink faced cloth, smart silk toque and muff to match;

  • Mr and Mrs. Howard Lloyd and their little children; Mr. and Mrs. John Morphett;

  • the Rev. and Mrs. A. G. Fry; Mr and Mrs. Malcolm Reid; Mrs. May;

  • Mr. and Mrs. Julian Ayers, the latter becomingly gowned in black velvet and picture hat of black velvet, with rosette of cream lace; (Read much more...)

On Monday next, July 20 1912, Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Ayers will leave Sydney for a trip through America and Europe.

New Home - Warenda, Donnybrook, Clare

Upon their return, Sidney Ayers commissioned his friend and prominent architect Kenneth Milne to build their matrimonial home in Donnybrook, Clare, "Warenda"

  • (Residence for S.H. Ayers Esq. Clare, constructed in 1912, 1919, 1921, 1934).

Warenda was a grand home which entertained many visitors to Clare.

  • The house, Warenda, was burnt out in the 1963 Clare Bushfire.

  • This site is now the Clare Valley Hotel, Donnybrook, to the south of the town of Clare, and is next to the Knappstein residence of the same era.

The Ayer's Warenda estate originally extended south from Donnybrook, Clare down the Clare

valley containing both the Horrocks Hiqhway, and bisected by Warenda Road, south to pass by the present Clare Valley Wine, Food and Tourism Information Centre, finishing further south at Quarry Road (see all of the valley in the map below left.).

  • A fine Clare Valley wine estate.

  • Since Sidney stated that his occupation was 'Vigneron' we assume this Clare valley was populated with his grape vines. Sherry and Port were the popular drinks of that time.

  • Warenda was named for (and so probably financed by) a very profitable cattle station in Queensland which Sir Sidney bought for £75,000, and immediately sold for £20,000 - without the cattle, which were sold in 20 months: 38,000 cattle in 34 mobs, and two mobs of 800 and 900 horses.

  • This is a world's record for stock movement off one (pastoral) station. Read Jack Edge's Reminiscences...

  • Mr. Edge said that he has taken delivery of more places for Sir Sidney Kiidman than anybody else. "If I told him to buy, he told me to go ahead."

Family: they had two sons, the first was Henry who died early on Christmas Eve 1925, and John, who later ran the Kidman empire, and whose son (also John Ayers) inherited that leadership role.

Income: In 1917 Sidney Kidman wrote to Sidney Ayers, after receiving a letter from son-in-law Sidney, imploring him not to enlist in the Army.

  • "You are not strong, you have a young wife and dear little boys, and you get such bad turns, it would be madness if you enlisted.

  • Your wife and children will always be well cared for if anything happened, Edna and the boys will get £150,000 and from 1917 will get £1,500 or more per year." ("Kidman" p. 313)

  • So Sidney Ayers did not enlist.

Clare Polo Week, 1923

The Mail (Adelaide, SA) Sat 3 Feb 1923 Page 17

Sidney Ayers was Polo Club Secretary and the organiser of Clare's Polo Week, lasting from January 22 to 27, 1923, which had its every minute taken up with festivities of some kind.

  • As the genial and enthusiastic secretary (Mr. Sidney Ayers) said,

  • 'It was a wonderful week, and everything went off with a bang. The weather was ideal.'

Polo matches, dances, joyous house parties, and the culminating event, the great polo ball on the Thursday evening, were part of the daily and nightly programme.

  • The stage management, so to speak, was excellent, and everyone did the right thing, even to Miss Gypsy Good, winning a race on Sir, Pat Colley's pony!

  • All the leading hosts and hostesses filled their homes with cheery parties, the hotels accommodated many more, and still more squeezed in wherever there was a corner big enough to sleep in.

Staying with Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Ayers at Warenda were Mr. and Mrs. Fred Porter, Miss Phyllis Bray, Miss Hopewell (England), Miss Toohey (Sydney), and Mr. Andrew Tennant.

  • True to form, Sidney was the organiser of Clare's successful dances as well.

  • The Polo Club Ball was held on Thursday, January 25, 1923, and it was the most successful and cheery dance ever given in Clare.

  • The hall and marquee were decorated in black-and-white — the Clare Polo Club colours— and polo sticks were arranged round the room. Read more at Clare History Group - Top Ten Events

The Back to Clare Carnival Week

Was held in 1928, commencing on November 17; Mr. Sidney H. Ayers was the general secretary.

Back to Clare an Unqualified Success.

Most of the visitors left for their homes on Saturday, happy and rejuvenated in the renewing of acquaintance with old friends and old associations.

  • Many expressed surprise and pleasure at the progress the town of Clare had made during their absence, and expressed their hopes for its continued progress.

  • So far as the financial results are concerned, they far exceed expectations, and the surplus after all accounts are met should approach something near £1,700. Read more: Clare History Group - Top Ten Events

POPULAR SPORTSMAN Mr. S. H. Ayers, of Clare

News (Adelaide, SA) Wed 26 Sep 1928 Page 3

"Mr. S. H. Ayers. who was recently elected secretary of the Clare Racing Club. has for many years been a member of the northern body. and has done excellent work as a committeeman.

  • Mr. Ayers is also a member of the Amateur Turf Club committee.

  • He acted as honorary totalisator steward at Cheltenham Racecourse on Saturday.

  • He is a son-in-law of Sir Sidney Kidman, and a life member of the Port Adelaide and Amateur Turf Clubs."

"The recently elected Clare secretary has been identified with many sports.

  • Since the Clare Polo Club was formed in 1921 he has been secretary.

  • He holds a similar position in respect to the Back to Clare movement.

With Mr. Ayers as secretary, the Clare club is sure to go ahead, as he is a hard-working, courteous, and efficient official."


Mrs. Ayres, the intrepid Traveller

AMAZING AMERICA As Mrs. Sydney Ayers Saw It.

The Journal (Adelaide, SA) Sat 17 Feb 1923 Page 14