Laslett family history

William and Matilda Lasslett of Footscray

William Vevers Lasslett was born on 23 March 1850 at Swalecliffe and baptised at St John the Baptist Swalecliffe on 21 April 1850. He was the eleventh child of William Lasslett, a cabinet maker and wheelwright, and Sarah Lasslett née Vevers (page 76).

He immigrated with his family in 1853 on the Woodstock.

In 1874 William married Ann Matilda Lawson (born 30 July 1854 at Ballarat). The daughter of John Lawson, a Gold Digger (31), of Norway & Francis Lawson (21) nee Clifford of Limerick Ireland. The 1894 Melbourne P.O. directory shows a William B Laslett living at Pilgrim Street, Footscray.

On 18 July 1895, William, then living in Alfred Street, West Footscray wrote to the local newspaper, Advertiser, and his letter was published under the heading "NOT THE GHOST", it reads:

Sir, - Kindly give me space to contradict a rumour - which I know is in the wind - that I am this Spring-heeled Jack, causing much alarm of late in Footscray. Thank God, I have not the disposition to harm anyone whomsoever by foolish pranks. In these particular times, people should be on their guard against fleshy frauds, also spiritual ones. I am quite alive to the fact, that God's servants were, and will be subjected to many a unfair thing caused by wordly people; but I always keep in mind the advice of Jesus in Matt. 10th, and am not surprised at anything. This said ghost may be a fleshy fraud. If so, surely brave men as we are, can catch him, and give him his reward. On the other hand, if he is a spirit, we will have to grin and bear it, as I believe you can not prevent the spritual from their purposes. Hoping you will oblige by inserting the above.
I remain, etc.,
W. V. Lasslett

In later years William lived apart from Matilda. The 1908 Electoral Rolls show him as a labourer living at Boundary Road, St. Albans while Matilda was living at 16 Federal Street, Footscray. Matilda supported herself by teaching piano and by the 1920s was living with her son Ted in Lynch Street, Footscray.

William died at Footscray in 1922 and Emma died there in 1925.

Family of William and Matilda Lasslett


FREDERICK WILLIAM - born in 1875 at Inglewood and died in 1875 and buried at Footscray.
GEORGE WILLIAM VEVERS - born 1876. Carpenter/Labourer lived at 5 French St., Footscray (1908) and later Mont Park. Married twice, firstly Margaret Theresa Cosgrove in 1899 at Inglewood (they lived at 8 Alfred Strret, Footscray in 1900), then again in 1908, at Inglewood, to Agnes Campbell Crawford (born c.1884/5). George was buried on 15 July 1958 in the Church of England Section of Footscray Cemetery and Agnes was buried on 7 February 1969 at Footscray Cemetery.
John James Crawford – born 29 June 1912 in Victoria. On 8 April 1939 married Bessie Stubbs who had been born on 25 February 1911 at Bolton, Lancs, UK and died in Victoria on 4 April 1986. John died on 7 November 2000 aged 88 at The Angliss Hospital, Ferntree Gully.
Pamela – born 1941 in Victoria. Married Sven Gero Schmid at Footscray. In father’s death notice of 7 November 200 husband is named as Peter. These is also a grear grandchild Olivia mentioned.
Giselle Vanessa Schmid – born 8 January 1972.
Natalie Margaret Schmid – born 9 December 1973.
Nola – born 14 June 1945 in Victoria. Married Paul Grdovic. In father’s death notice of 7 November 200 Husband is named as Terry. There is also an additional child ‘Nick’.
Karen Lisa Grdovic
Paul Leigh Grdovic

News - Former POW gets ready for his 'last hurrah'.

500 words
13 April 2003
Sunday Age
(c) 2003 Copyright John Fairfax Holdings Limited. Not available for re-distribution.

When Fred Lasslett was called up to join the navy in the early days of World War II, he felt excited, thinking it would be a chance to see the world. He says today that the reality of being in a war zone never crossed his mind.

"I was just a lad," Mr Lasslett said last week.

Now, in what he says will be his "last hurrah", Mr Lasslett, 84, is globe-trotting again. On Friday, as part of a 19-strong tour group, he will be on a plane bound for Turkey.

"I've always wanted to go to Gallipoli, especially for Anzac Day. They reckon the atmosphere - particularly the dawn service - is electric," he said.

It will no doubt evoke memories of his wartime experience. "You always felt in danger," Mr Lasslett said. "Especially when you were getting dive-bombed. You could hear the planes coming a mile away. It was a real piercing scream and then you'd see the bombs coming down."

In 1941, in a major battle over the defence of what was then known as Java, Mr Lasslett's ship, the HMAS Perth, was sunk. The first torpedo came mid-ship.

The last photo of HMAS Perth – 27 February 1942
" Then we got another one and the captain yelled `abandon ship'," Mr Lasslett said. "I took a deep breath and jumped overboard."

Clinging to a raft, he managed to help some injured colleagues to safety. They were in the water for about six hours before they were collected by a Japanese destroyer.

When Mr Lasslett escaped from his first prisoner of war camp, he was put before a firing squad before being spared at the last minute - something he attributes to Japanese superstition. "I didn't really flinch when they had me in their sights. I found out later that the Japanese way of thinking is that if you're very brave or very silly then the gods are in you and they can't attack you."

Eventually transferred to another camp in Japan, Mr Lasslett was a POW for three years.

"When they dropped the atomic bomb we woke up one morning and all the guards had disappeared. After about an hour an American truck came up and they told us what had happened. They took us away. I'd been living on rice and seaweed for three years. I went down from 11 stone (70 kilograms) to about 61/2 stone (41 kilograms)," Mr Lasslett said.

Despite his ordeal of hard labour, meagre rations and regular beatings, Mr Lasslett said he never suffered ill-effects in his postwar life. "As soon as I had a couple of Aussie beers I was right."

There will be beers on Anzac Day, too - a day Mr Lasslett says has always been special. "You meet your mates - some of them you only see once a year - and of course we win the war all over again." Only this time, at Gallipoli.
In All Men Back – All One Big Mistake (p.32) Bill Bee mentions a Fred escapade at a temporary POW camp at Serang in Java shortly after they were taken prisoners in February 1942 after the sinking of HMAS Perth:

“Another incident which we expected would have dire consequences was that concerning Wireman Fred Lasslett. Lasslett was making one of his frequent visits to the "benjo" when he espied one of the local domestic fowl scratching it's way into the compound. In his efforts to capture this rare delicacy he suddenly found himself on the outside of the fence so decided to keep going instead. Inevitably of course, without friends and being very conspicuous among the populace, he was not long a free man and eventually brought back to be made an example of by our guards. With considerable ceremony and much brandishing of weapons we were informed that the unlucky Fred was to be taken away and shot. It so happened that because of his knowledge of electricity, Fred was able to restore electric power in the neighbourhood and was then given a remission for his sins. I was later to see him walking around like a man enjoying the freedom of the city.”

Joan Margaret - Married Peter James Jewson and lives at North Maclean in Queensland.
JAMES HENRY - born 1878. A carpenter, who in 1908 was living at Picola. Married Olive Josephine Sutherland the daughter of John and Matilda (née Tuckett) Sutherland. Served overseas in A.I.F. during WWI as a Private(3706) in the 57th Battalion. Enlisted 31 December 1917, returned to Australia 19 August 1919. Josephine died aged 36 at Fitzroy South in 1921 and James died aged 58 at Fitzroy in 1936.
George Vevers - Died 1909 at Footscray.
FREDERICK VEVERS - 1879 at Hotham. A labourer he lived in Footscray. In 1903 he married Flora Adeline Duncan at North Melbourne. Served overseas in A.I.F. during WWI as a Private(2743A) in the 3rd Pioneers. Enlisted 15 March 1916, returned to Australia 30 April 1919. Frederick died on 21 June 1956 and is buried in the Church of England section at Footscray Cemetery.
Barry Duncan - A Carpet Layer. Married, his wife's Christian names are Wendy Joy.
Arthur William - Lives in Darwin.
WILLIAM JOHN - born 1885 in Footscray. Died aged 7 months and buried in Footscray Cemetery.
WILLIAM ARTHUR - born 1887 in Footscray. A carpenter, lived in West Footscray. On 7 March 1914 at St. John's C. of E., Footscray he married Alice May Halliday (born 1892). William was buried in Footscray Cemetery on 3 August 1980.

See chapter William and Alice Lasslett of Footscray on page 152.

THOMAS CHARLES - born in 1891 at Footscray. Married Martha Gretz the daughter of Diengott Wilhelm and Louise Wilhelmine (née Semmler) Gretz. Martha died aged 34 at Murtoa in 1932.
Ilma Joyce - Died aged 16 at Murtoa in 1936.
NORMAN LESLIE - born in 1897 at Footscray. Married Annie Louisa Martin. Annie died at Windsor Victoria on 28 February 1980. Norma, died at Freemasons Homes in Punt Road, Prahran on 4 May 1990. His death notice in the Herald gave his son-in-laws' names as Jim and and Phil and his grandchildrens' names as Pat, Rodney, Nell, Michelle and Jeff. Eight great-grandchildren were also mentioned, but not by name. Norman was the last of the first Australian born generation of Lassletts.
Norma Jean – born 1923
Amy Yvonne – born 1926
William Douglas – born 1930 (dec'd)


AMY LETITIA - born 1882 in Hotham. Died 1898 in South Melbourne.
ANNE ELIZABETH - 1883 in Footscray. Died 1885 aged 1 year 4 months and buried in Footscray Cemetery.
EDITH ALICE - born 1889 at Footscray. In 1911 married Edward William Weller at Footscray.