Norman Charles Davis (Charlie)

Charlie married Mabel Florence Ralph and they had four children.  The Ralph family profile is also given on this page.

BELOW: Charlie and Mabel's wedding.

Click here to listen to Charlie dictating letters.

Stick with it, the first minute and a half are rather hard to hear and understand.  But there are clear bits.

The following comments rely on information kindly provided by Paul Davis Sr (Charlie's nephew, Maurice's son):

"JB's first son, Charles, was born to his first wife when JB himself was only 18. Maurice was 13 years younger than Charles, and later commented that by the time he, Maurice,  was a teenager, Charles was so heavily involved in working closely with JB in the transport and stevedoring business that it seemed more like he was of JB’s generation than Maurice’s."

BELOW: Maurice (Charlie's brother) with John (Maurice's eldest).

Alice, one of Charlie's aunts

Speaking of cars, Auntie Alice was an enthusiastic car driver (to put it mildly).  This was a family with 'drive' in more than one sense.  Alice is believed to be the first woman to drive from Sydney to Melbourne by the coast road. 

That may not seem much nowadays, but the 'roads' were not roads in those days.  Paul says, "It would have been more like an army manoeuvre."  Alice died aged 38 years.


Sydney Morning Herald, 20 June 1845 (kindly provided by Detective Suzanne)


Three strong cart colts of the Lincoln or Clydesdale breed, from three to four years old. If they have been worked a little there would be no objection to that.

Apply to George A Davis, Newtown Toll House, near Sydney.


In 1984, Joe wrote:

The original picture was taken in about 1920.  My dad (Charlie) is the driver.  The others are paying passengers. He had a contract to pick up the Sunday papers at Lithgow rail station and deliver them to Bathurst by 9am Sunday.  

The building in the background is Hartley Vale Court House built by convicts.  The car is of French origin and known as a Chenard Walcker. 

I can remember it.  Dad took Ralph and I on one trip.

20 Dec 1984

Click on these 1970s footages:cine, cinema, film, movies, screen icon

Films kindly provided by Bruce

Christmas, circa 1971, at South Road

Several Christmas parties in the mid-70s at South Road, circa 1973  - 1977.

Doris, Paul and Steven, 1970

Please help in clarifying dates, names ...anything contacting us.
Joe reports:

Norman Charles Davis (Charlie) was born in 1889 and died in 1954 at 64 years after suffering a second heart attack (the first was two years previously).  When Ralph last saw him Charlie said, "Well I am a beauty, aren't I?"  The heart attack was induced by massive bee stings, incurred while taking the honey from his hive at Were Street. 

He managed JB's business in Sydney for a short while.  However he started out in business on his own by buying Mane Nickless in 1924.  He married Mable Florence Ralph and had four children: Ralph, Joseph, Sheila and Joan.  He owned the NSW Travel Agency and did trips to Nowra, Bathurst and Goulburn taking the Sunday papers on the running board - along with a few sightseers.  In 1939 he purchased an Auburn car and put a V8 engine in it. He fancied himself to be a skillful driver  He later owned a very fast Vauhall as well.

Before his religious conversion Charlie was generous, a good sportsman, loved golf (especially the social side), billiards, boxing and running.  He worked hard and was tough.  He saw himself as the boss - and stayed out late.  

After his conversion he was a changed man.  He attended CSSM beach missions as the dishwasher, owned and drove two buses around Brighton collecting children for Sunday School at Were Street Methodist Church.  

He purchased two movie outfits in times when films were rare and drove all over Victoria (he was still fond of fast cars) showing religious films. 

Earlier, when he arrived in Melbourne he bought a house in Maysebury Avenue, Brighton where the Maysbury estate had been. (there were four houses on each side, and his house was the last on the left in Maysbury Avenue.  It cost about 750 pounds.  Only 14 years later Ralph had to pay 1,160 pounds for his house, which was sold in 1981 for 160, 000 dollars. 

Charlie then moved to Were Street near the railway line - on the south side, five houses from the bridge - right on the corner.  He then moved to Yuille Street - he was hard up in the 1930s and needed some money for the business.  He then moved to Wallace Grove at the back of the Roman Catholic Church.  Then to Seymour Grove and then to Linacre Road,  He then bought a house in Wolsley Grove from Sheila and Bob (ed: his daughter and her husband).  He sold the Linacre Road house to his brother, Maurice, who sold it to Ralph (ed: Charlie's son).  Charlie then moved to Were Street, where he died.

Charlie formed Mayne Nickless as a public company in 1926, and only owned it exclusively for 12 months.  He held approximately 40% of the shares and paid the first dividend in 1977.  He took a photo of his first dividend cheque.  

Charlie and Mabel

A few early snaps of Mabel and Charlie's family.  Where known, the titles can be seen by hovering over the picture (your computer mouse, not you, silly).


  • Charlie and Mabel first lived in Newtown (Sydney). 
  • This house at 129 Probert St, Newtown has some connection to the family - the site of a pub owned by GAD perhaps?
  • 'Babington House', England, where the main troubles seem to have started.  This 'weekender' was stolen from the family by Queen Elizabeth I before she hanged, drew and quartered our much maligned ancestor
  • Charlie, Mabel, Ralph, Sheila and Joe, circa 1922
  • After World War II
  • Charlie's father, JB (Joseph Abraham Babington Davis showing how we inherited ouramazing good looks) 
  • Mayne Nickless mob, circa Al Capone

In these two documents Ralph tells us a little about his father, Charlie.


Charlie lived an energetic life.  Before becoming a Christian in about 1940, boxing and drunkenness were a big part of his life.  The Bay of Islands, Peterborough (see photos BELOW), has been referred to as his 'bolthole'. 

This is where he drank heavily with mates -  men who had been ruined by the depression, and who came to work at his transport company, Mayne Nickless.  Joe (a son) said Mabel did not strongly approve of his behaviour at this pre-Christian stage of his life.  

He later bought the holiday house at Flinders (click here to see the Flinders page), which features strongly in family memories and history.  

Here are some snaps from Peterborough(hover over them with your mouse to identify the subject matter):

Linacre Road


Many older cousins will remember the Davis house in Linacre Road (Charlie, Ralph and Maurice each owned the house at some stage).

One less known story about Linacre Road ... when Maurice owned the house he kept a cow for milking on a nearby block of land.

He had an assistant who helped out.  Might that have been Ted?  Did he come with the house?

The Ralph Family

Mabel was a Ralph before she became a Davis.  

When Libby sought confirmation about the photo BELOW, Bruce replied,

That’s very definitely Grandpa Ralph on the right with the pipe.  It accords with a photo I have taken by my Grandma Richardson (Doris’ mother) when he visited the Richardsons in Sycamore Street, Caulfield.   Grandpa Ralph visited them to play cribbage!  Doris' brother Eric remembered it well and confirmed Grandpa’s identity to me some years ago. Eric had to walk Grandpa Ralph home afterwards.  'Home' was the Davis house in Elwood (pre Linacre Rd).  Quite a walk.  No wonder Eric lived to 97!  I would date the photo circa 1939 or 1940.  

Mary asks, Where did Grandpa Ralph come from?  Can the other people be named, I wonder?  Did Grandma (Mabel) have a brother who died in some war or other?  Just wondering.

According to Joe, Robert Ralph, Mabel's father, was born in Martock, Somerset and died when 95 years old.  He married Sarah Marksof London.  The family Bible is with Sheila.  It includes dates from Dr Moodie's sermon in 1872. 

(Ed: The name above the gate at Linacre Road was Martock - see the CSSM photo on the 1950s page) 

The Ralphs married in Australia.  When Ralph (ed: Charlie's son) went to Martock in 1949 he asked the Anglican verger for assistance and found that George (Robert's cousin) had died the previous Thursday.  George had lived under the church. 

Robert and his wife had eight children: Ethel, William, Les, Mabel, Grace, Elsie, Ada and Alice.


Bruce used the photo below for his pastel portrait of Mabel's father, Grandpa Robert Ralph (see Family Art Gallery page for the portrait).


A young Mabel Ralph.


How are the Ralphs related?

Mabel Davis (Charlie's wife, and your 3x great grandfather, Arthur) was born Mabel Ralph. 

According to Joe:

Mabel Florence Ralph was born in Australia.  After Charlie died she lived by herself for a short while at Were Street, and then moved into Ralph and Dulcie's home in Toorak.  When very ill and frail she moved to Sheila and Bob's home in Brighton.  She died at 83. 

Mabel's siblings are mentioned below.  Here is the Ralph part of the family tree (thanks Suzanne):


We know a little of Mabel Davis (nee Ralph).  

  • Mabel in the back yard at Linacre Road
  • Tombstones of James and Sarah Ralph, Mabel's grandparents
  • Martock Village, England
  • All Saints Parish Church, Martock
  • Grandpa Ralph, Mabel's father (pastel by Bruce)
  • Bruce, Peter T, Libby, Ruth, Suzanne, Scilla, 1948
  • Joe, Sheila, Ralph, Joan and others
  • The Doll Christmas,1948
BELOW: Robert Ralph (right, centre) and Ellen (centre, seated)


  • Plaques for Robert Ralph (Mabel's dad) and
  • Ellen Ralph (Mabel's mum) - both lived to ripe old ages


This wonderful snap shows Mabel's parents (the Ralphs) visiting the Mt Wellington, Hobart. 

And what of Mabel's siblings?

According to Joe:

Alice married Bob Purdy.  They had four children: John, Nancy, Judith and David (who died in a car accident in 1938).

Ada, a short, well tempered woman, was a spinster who lived with her sister Elsie.

Elsie was very sick for many years.  She had her throat removed in an operation. She consequently spoke with a coarse rough voice. She had a dry wit and kind disposition.  To everyone's surprise, Elsie outlived Ada.

Grace (Ed - no comment by Joe, but Suzanne recalls Grace died when she stuck the screwdriver into the vacuum cleaner when it was plugged in and turned on - in the mid-1950s).

Les died in action in the Great War (see item below).

William married Dot.  They had four boys: Ronald, Leslie, Robert and Laurence - the latter two were twins.

Ethel married Mr King.  They adopted a daughter June, who married Alec Larson.

Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus:

In his latter years, Charlie became a committed Christian.  He made his testimony many times.  Here are two:

BELOW:  Some group photos of Charlie and Mabel's offspring.

Charlie and Mabel's Family


Circa 1956.  The whole clan. 

REAR: Libby, Bruce, ?? Davidson, Gerald, Jenny, Scilla, Ruth, Josie  MIDDLE: Sheila (with Cathie), Bob (with David), Doris, Mabel, Joe, Dulcie, Ralph FRONT: Margie, Suzanne, Andrew, Robert. 


Grandma Mabel with her chickens.  This snap was taken in the mid-50s but has no Coopers.  They were overseas at the time.

REAR: Suzanne, Jo, Bruce, Gerald, Ruth, Scilla

MIDDLE: Libby, Mary, Mabel, Jenny

ON KNEES: Cathie, David

FRONT: Robert, Margie, Andrew