After publishing my website stories about the crimes of Sydney society matron Aimee Edols (nee Battye), a reader called Sue left the following message;
Well, of course I had to find out. During her court appearance in August 1931 the tabloid Truth newspaper reported on Mrs Edols demeanour;
Her manner throughout the proceedings was always dignified and restrained; there was no bravado. Her voice was cultured, its tenor well-modulated. She looked pale and a little nervous, but her self-control and courage were to be marvelled at. Or perhaps not, for her own family, the Battye family, are a rather distinguished stock with a fine Anglo-Indian record.
But the Truth’s journalist was unaware of troubles within Aimee’s immediate family during her formative years.
Her parents were Charles Herbert Battye and Isabelle Battye. In the early 1870s Charles was a stock and station agent at Forbes, and something of a sportsman, involved in horse racing and shooting. However, in 1879 he was declared insolvent, with considerable debts, and assets amounting to only five pounds
In 1885 Charles Battye took a position with the Lands Department at Orange. He was an inspector of ‘conditional purchases.’ Shortly after the appointment he was on an inspection tour when he was thrown from a buggy after a horse bolted. He suffered such a severely broken leg that doctors feared they would have to amputate. He must have been incapacitated for a very long time. Life went on, but in April 1889 he was again insolvent, and declared bankrupt. Aimee was then seven years old.
In 1896, when Aimee was fourteen, there was even more social disgrace for the family. Charles Battye was tried and found guilty of bribery. The offence dated back to 1892 and related to the ‘dummy’ sale of land parcels on Nanami Station, at Forbes. The property had been repossessed by the Union Bank after the owner had gone bust. Battye was sacked from his position and went to live in a family property at Balmain, in Sydney. It seems that Aimee remained in Orange, in the care of her aunt and uncle, Mr and Mrs Herbert Elder.
Three years later Charles died. Fortunately for Battye family, the death notice did not give the true reason for his ‘retirement’ from the Lands Department
Aimee was photographed at the Orange Agricultural Show in early April the following year. She was part of an Anglican Church group of young ladies serving refreshments. The young women don’t look particularly cheerful, but few people did in early photos. There was genuine cause for unhappiness just weeks later, when Aimee’s older brother Wynyard died from consumption in Forbes hospital, aged only 23.
In 1902 Aimee married the much older Ernest Edols, son of a wealthy grazier. The reception was held at the prestigious Hotel Australia in Sydney. Her mother Isabelle was in attendance, but the wedding announcement described Aimee as ‘the adopted daughter of Mr and Mrs Herbert Elder’ (her aunt and uncle) The couple eventually retired to Sydney, where Aimee began to churn through her husband’s huge inheritance. Her mother died in the Sydney suburb of Strathfield in 1925.
Did Charles Battye’s history of financial embarrassment and his bribery offence affect his daughter’s morals? We will never really know and it would hardly excuse her excesses, or the dishonesty that led her to prey on family and friends without the slightest compunction. Ironically, her grandfather Captain Battye had been a well known and highly respected police officer during the days of bushrangers in New South Wales.