Joseph Abraham Babington Davis - JB

JB was Charlie's father.  He had two wives: Alice and Mabel, who had four and two children respectively.

Joseph Abraham Babington Davis 

JB was the son of Joseph Abraham Davis and grandson of George Augustus Davis.





Of his grandfather,  Joe said:

JB was born in Marulan in 1869, married at 18 and died when President of the NSW Trotting Club in 1940.  His first wife, Alice Ward Nichols (related to the Stirrats) died of cancer in 1919.  They had four children: Norman Charles, Maurice Pascoe, Rubina Louise (Ruby) and Mary.  

His second wife, Mabel, has an Italian background and wanted nothing to do with the first wife's children, The second wife (Mabel) had two children: Veronica and Blake.  JB was wealthy.  Blake died aged 12 months.  JB left most of his estate to Veronica. 

He had a house called 'Glenrock' in Wentworth Street, Randwick.  Ralph lived nearby from 4 to 10 years of age; only three or four hundred metres from JB's house. 

This was at the time Lord Kitchener was killed in a submarine during the Great War.  Ralph remembers being told this in the butcher's shop.  Ralph also remembers going to Martin Place in 1918 for the post-war celebrations. 

JB was a carrier, property owner and horse dealer.  He sold his carrier business to Yellow Express in 1928.  

(Ed: It seems we have many relatives with similar names. Joseph Abraham Babington Davis, known as 'JB', was Charlie's father. JB's name was similar to that of his own father (Joseph Abraham Davis, son of George Augustus Davis)

“JB”, a very successful businessman (who was referred to by the Sydney Morning Herald as a “tycoon”), had three sons and three daughters.  Two sons and two daughters to his first wife, LouIsa Oslington, and a son and daughter to his second wife (Mabel Neich).

Following are brief comments on each of the six children children.

1  Charlie Davis

Norman Charles Davis (Charlie) married Mabel Florence Ralph.  They had four children.  A separate page has been written on Charlie and Mabel.

2  Maurice Davis

Maurice traveled extensively and embarked on numerous professions with a signature degree of enthusiasm and energy.  He married Winifred Scarborough, a talented singer in 1936, and they had 5 children: John, Jil, Anne, Kay and Paul.

In 1949 he achieved his wish to become a farmer, buying “Spring Plains”, west of Werribee.  He extended the capacity of the farm by droving large mobs of sheep throughout Victoria.  In 1965 he sold "Spring Plains" and purchased an undeveloped property near Port Campbell, which, in due course was developed and sold as smaller farms.  Maurice then bought first one dairy farm, and then a second, working them himself, despite being well into his mid-70’s.

He subsequently 'retired' to live in Werribee, but was always restless, needing a project to work on.  At 87 he decided his next project would be to celebrate the 1988 bicentenary by driving around Australia in a horse and cart (see TV news reports and movies movies). 

For information about Maurice read the attached document written by Paul, Maurice's youngest son.  It's a ripper yarn and underlines the pioneer spirit demonstrated by early Davis family members. 

3  Ruby (Rubina Louise) - the sole daughter from JB's first marriage. 

Ed: These comments were made by Joe (Charlie's second son).  Apologies for any candidness that causes offence:

Ruby was an outstanding character.  She was terribly spoiled by her mother.  She married and divorced quickly, spending much of JB's money.  She traveled overseas in and about 1936 and married Jake Miller, the police superintendent of Goulburn district.  Jake's family were originally Czek and changed their name to Muller (sic).  Jake was well respected and died in the mid-1950s.

Andrew reports going with Joe to Ruby's house in 1956.  She "appeared to us as children, to be quite eccentric and showed us Jake's polished boots in the hall robe - 'waiting for Jake to return'.  She admitted to a glass of sherry each night before retiring." 

Ruby had a son, William, who moved to Adelaide after Ruby's death.

4  Mary

Mary died in her first year and was said to be much loved.  According to Charlie, "She was too beautiful to live."

JB had a further two children from his second marriage

5  Veronica

According to Joe,

Veronica married Noel Lees.  Noel was the director of a packaging company that was taken over by Hardie's in 1980.  Veronica had four children.  She was a diamond trader and almost the sole beneficiary of JB's wealth.  

Although she was their aunt, JB's daughter Veronica Babington Lees (nee Davis) was born in in 1921 - just before Joan and after Ralph, Joe and Sheila.  She died aged 92, at Edgecliff in May 2014.  She had three children: Anthony, Venetia and Jeffrey.  One grandchild shares the name of Veronica's brother Blake, who died when aged 12 months.

6  Blake

The sixth child in JB's family was Blake, born to his second wife.  He died in the first year of his life.

Solid breeding stock  

Mabel Neich (known as Mabby), was Charlie's step-mother.  She married Joseph Abraham Babington Davis ( JB) following the death of Charlie's mother, Alice Nicholls, in 1919.  Mabby was the 25th of 26 children born to Emmanuel Neich and his two wives, both named Mary.  He had 15 children by his first Mary, and 11 by his second Mary.  

In addition to the above comments by Joe, Gerald writes:

My memory is vague. I understand JBD ‘met’ me (I would have been a babe in arms) when he came down to Melbourne, from Sydney, for the Spring Racing Season, as he was keen on horse-racing and usually stayed in an apartment at Park Lake, 174 Fitzroy St, St Kilda (my father told me: Church Scene briefly rented that apartment as an office in 1970s, and when Dad visited he was noted he already knew the place).

Whether JBD ever had any horses running in the carnival, I simply do not know, but I gather he came down for the racing season most years, at least in the late 1930s.  Why JBD married for the second time I simply do not know, but have long assumed he was widowed.

Dad insisted that an unusual affection and devotion lingered for years between JBD and Mabbie (he described it as ‘touching to see’).

I had contact with Maurice and wife Winsome late in their lives when we all lived in at Werribee after Maurice retired from his farming property, which was not far out of town. 

Rubena (known as ‘Ruby’) I never met, but her husband worked for Mayne Nickless at an early date.  Ruby had become an ailing older lady when I knew her (met her only once at Linacre Rd), with a son (William) slightly younger than me. 

I believe the union of JBD and Mabbie had at least one child of their own, Veronica.  I never met Veronica but Dad (Ralph) was in touch with her more than once.

(Ed: a second child, Blake, died in his first year.  

I met Ruby at her home when I was young.  She was a dynamic lively old bird. 

She showed us her husband's polished boots in the hall robe - kept handy lest he might suddenly return one day - although I understood he had already died many years beforehand. 

Ruby also admitted to a couple of sherries before bedtime.  This shocked us as children of teetotal parents. 

I also understand Ruby's son, William, moved to South Australia in the 1960s).


JB's family.  If you can help identify the people, please contact us.


Joan (Charlie's youngest child) and Veronica (JB's youngest daughter) on the verandah of Maurice's apartment at "Kia Ora", St Kilda Road

JB's death

Charlie's dad, JB, was a trotting aficionado.


This article comes from a NSW Harness Racing Club publication, Harold Park Raceway: 50 years of night harness racing.  Joseph Abraham Babington Davis lived from 1869-1940.

JB's probate

When JB died, (apart from the trusts he set up), he left a Will with a net value of over £A53,000.  (Google says that's about $1.8M in today's currency).

If you are interested in the disbursement and probate (it is a 41 page document), click here.

It may seem counter-intuitive but it may be easier to read each page of the probate documentation on a mobile phone (eg iphone) or tablet (eg ipad).  If you are viewing on a lap or desktop computer, the gallery pages are too small and may need to be printed off.

'Babington' - a mansion

BELOW: Joseph Abraham Babington Davis (Charlie's father, known as JB) built this mansion, called 'Babington'.  It is situated at the entrance to Centennial Park (2 Martin Street, Sydney).   According to Ralph (Charlie and Mabel's son), "JB's wife, Mabbie, placed all her dreams in it but never moved from there from their flat in Macleay Street, where she died of cancer."  

The Sydney Morning Herald advertisement for the auction published Tuesday 18 July, 1944, read:

BELOW: JB'shouse still stands and is protected.

Click here to have a look at Joseph Abraham Davis' Baptism Certificate. (Charlie's grandfather and JB's father; your 4x great grandfather, Arthur)

The Oslingtons

Why the Oslingtons?

JB's father was Joseph Abraham Davis (Charlie's grandfather).  Joseph Abraham married Louisa Oslington.   Louisa was their second child (stick with it Arthur; Joseph Abraham and Louisa are your 5 x great grandparents).  Lousia was the daughter of John Oslington and Jane Oslington (nee Ewing - that makes the Ewings your 6 x great grandparents, Arthur). 

Some of the Oslington Story

Anyway, here's the story ... John Oslington arrived in Australia aboard the convict ship Surry on 4 March, 1823.  Jane Ewing arrived in Australia on the Duke of Roxburgh on 11 January, 1842.  Jane’s first child, William, was born at sea on board the Duke of Roxburgh on 13 December, 1841.

He always believed John to be his father as William’s name was entered in the family Bible as being the first child after his parent’s marriage. The truth was not discovered until years later when a detailed family history was compiled.  

John Oslington was assigned to a squatter, Henry O’Brien, on the Goulburn Plains (late in 1828) and granted his Ticket of Leave on 16 August, 1836.  He remained in the Goulburn/Murrumbidgee district, and in the late 1830s was sent to work for the Shelley family.  The Shelleys owned several properties in the Goulburn district, one of which was called Grampian Hills.  John was employed there at various times and on other Shelley properties between 1838 -1843. 

Jane Oslington’s (nee Ewing)master was employed at Grampian Hills in the early 1840s.  It is assumed this is where John met Jane.  John and Jane married 13 February 1843.  To learn about the Shelleys click here. (Ed: Thanks, Suzanne)


  • The Oslington/Davis link
  • Excerpts from Oslington: Uniquely Australian- A Chronicle

The Oslingtons - What a Family

Jane Oslington (nee Ewing) lived continuously in Marulan for 65 years. She gave birth to twelve children: six sons and six daughters. On her death in December 1903 her family included forty-five grandchildren and forty-three great-grandchildren.

(Ed: Suzanne suggests she hated birthdays and Christmas.)

Yet another naughty ancestor

Charlie's uncle, Cornelius Oslington, was drunk early one Sunday morning.  As a prank he removed a sofa from the front porch of a house in Marulan and placed it in the middle of the main road of the village. The magistratedecided not to record a conviction against Cornelius but was highly incensed that the 'disgraceful conduct was carried out on a Sabbath morning'. 

A gruesome young death

Charlie's grand Uncle, George Oslington, met a tragic end at the age of seventeen. He was out felling timber alone when his arm became jammed under a falling branch. Unable to release his arm he chose to sever it instead. He was found three days later having bled to death.