Cabinetmaker, master builder, lay preacher and civil servant was born in Spalingham, England in October 1807. His parents were apparently people of means. Lazenby was musical and played the cello and the violin. His brother, a Master Mariner, owned his own ship. The family moved to Leeds where George was apprenticed as a cabinetmaker. He suffered from poor health and on medical advice, took sea voyages on his brother’s ship visiting Western Australia about 1831.

The climate agreed with him and he saw opportunities for enterprise. On his return to England Lazenby prepared to migrate, sailing to the 'Swan River Colony’ arriving in January 1833 on the Cygnet. Also on board were the Methodist banker Barnard Clarkson of Foggarthorpe Hall, and chemist George Shenton of Buriton Manor in England. The Clarkson and Joseph Hardey families had arranged for the migration to Western Australia of the 'Tranby’ group of Methodists in 1830 so contacts and openings were already made. Lazenby made a success of his life in the new colony where he was a leader in the Methodist community.

Lazenby arrived with a considerable amount of cash and commenced business as a master builder and cabinet-maker as soon as he arrived. Both professions were greatly sought after in the new colony. In Murray Street, Perth, near where Royal Perth Hospital stands today, he built a comfortable house for himself followed by twelve cottages for rent and a store to supply building industry needs. In 1835, together with newly arrived Anton Helmich, he took up extra lots in the town and no doubt built on them as well. Curiously Lazenby was not listed in the 1837 census and it is possible he was visiting England in search of a wife.

Lazenby married Mary Ann Wells, daughter of Major Wells, on 1 January 1839 the day she arrived on the Brothers to join him. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. Wittenoom in the Old Court House. They reared ten children, eight girls and two boys. The eldest Lucy, born 1840, married James Anderton Hall in 1858 and went to join him on his farm in the Canning and later in Roebourne. Samuel was speared by Aborigines in 1871 in the Northwest, Joseph (John F.) farmed on the Canning, Adeline married carpenter-cabinetmaker Edwin Duffield and Hannah married the Northwest explorer and pearler William Shakespeare Hall. Various artefacts belonging to this family are in the collection of the Western Australian Museum. Selena, b. 1843, married W. T. King and moved to Gingin, Joseph (John F.), b. 1844, worked the property on the Canning but by his father’s death was on the Dundas goldfields, Mary Elizabeth, b. 1845, married Vernon Birch. Other children were Ellen, b. 1852, Agnes, b.1853, Jane Wesley, b.1859 who married Samuel John Rowe. Mrs Lazenby is said to have had a school in Perth for which her husband made the furniture. The Methodists were particularly keen on educating the girls in more than feminine graces and it may have been to educate their daughters that the school was commenced. The curriculum in 1845 included maths and geography.

A man with a social conscience Lazenby was Chairman of the Swan River Mechanics Institute, Member of Perth Road Committee 1842-44 and Chairman of the Public Institutions Society in 1855. There was no ordained Methodist minister in the colony in the first six years. Lazenby was a Methodist lay preacher one of four with the Hardey’s and Barnard Clarkson and in 1834 formed the first Methodist 'fellowship class’. His obituary stated “In all matters pertaining to the church he took the keenest interest and there was no one more devoted than himself to its welfare.”

Lazenby contributed to the cost, and was on the management committee supervising the building of the first Wesley Chapel cum Sunday School room in 1834. He was also the first superintendent of the Sunday School. Lazenby was on the building committee for the Fremantle chapel and the second and third chapels in Perth including the current Central Methodist Church when the foundation stone was laid on 25 October 1867. He had donated the pews. There was at this time a stigma attached to being 'Chapel’ in a colony controlled primarily by 'Church’ (of England). One joke of the time was the adaption of an old rhyme to read:

“I diddle diddle, old Trigg and his fiddle,

Old Lazenby preached to the moon;

Old Molly Hutton sang psalms to her mutton

And Waldeck, he swallowed the spoon.”

Apparently Lazenby had a habit of looking at the ceiling while preaching. In defence the 'Chapel’ people were a close-knit group who supported each other. Lazenby employed other Methodists; cabinet and pianoforte maker Joseph Hamblin, and apprentice Benjamin Mason being most notable. As a man of enterprise he tried to establish an export market for local timber, taking samples of furniture made from Jarrah to England aboard the Victoria in 1845. Hamblin’s wife and son also sailed while Hamblin remained to run Lazenby’s business.

Lazenby was in charge of the repairs to Government House in 1848 and was connected with the handsome jarrah cellarettes made at this time for Government House in Perth. These were most probably the work of Joseph Hamblyn/Hamblin who made him a sideboard of jarrah in 1846. The cellarettes have classic Regency lines – the style brought to the colony by the earliest settlers. The same people preferred their silver in this and Georgian style and as the periods represent a high period in both disciplines they retain their charm and usefulness and are treasured today. Hamblin who had undertaken a nine-year apprenticeship in England was consummate craftsman. According to Lazenbury’s orbituary he ceased in business in 1856 and in 1862 became foreman of works for the Imperial Government supervising the erection of the Barracks and the Colonial Hospital. In 1869 he became Supervisor to the Perth City Council and Town Clerk until 1881.

Lazenby bought and built Cardup, near Byford. Here in the 1860s he built a two storey house, a flour mill, dammed a brook and bred cattle, pigs and horses. He also opened a claypit and burnt bricks. The brickworks later became Cardup Bricks still in operation in the 1990s. The son Joseph (John) worked the property in the 1860s. Lazenby died in his “Cedar Villa” in Lake Street, Perth, 9 June 1895 just short of eighty-eight years. He had been hale and hearty until three weeks before his death. When he died he was the oldest of the Methodists in Perth. His pallbearers included prominent Methodists Sir George Shenton, President of the Legislative Council, Walter Padbury, F. F. Armstrong and G. Glyde.


Dr Dorothy Erickson
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