Dr Speece – medical man of mystery – part 3

Dr Will Speece was a much-travelled and well-read man. His contributions to newspapers wherever he went show a person with an insatiable curiosity for life, commenting on many different subjects of interest.

He appears to have travelled to Adelaide in 1890:

INTERCOLONIAL RAILWAY PASSENGER TRAFFIC. (1890, May 9). Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 Р1912), p. 3 (SECOND EDITION). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article207199886

He completed a year’s work in Cobar in March 1893:

Cobar. (1893, March 18). Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 – 1919), p. 16. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71196778

Dr Speece returned from the United States in 1894:

ARRIVAL OF R.M.S. ALAMEDA AT AUCKLAND. (1894, December 6). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 5. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14002170

A lot of the travel required transfers through Sydney, but it is not clear where Sidney Herbert bumped up against Will Speece. Perhaps Herbert chanced on a newspaper which mentioned his name? A first hint of misdemeanour by Herbert occurred in 1891:

Advertising (1891, March 6). The Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser (NSW : 1863 – 1947), p.3 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article103771497

It did not take long for this activity to come to the attention of the police – a notice was issued for the arrest of Herbert on 15 April 1891, and he was arrested 10 days later. The subsequent four years of his hard labour broke the link.

Dr Speece was always in the spotlight in his final town of residence. An article appeared in The Coffs Harbour Advocate on 6 May 1970:

Being very short-sighted, he had great difficulty in finding his way at night and was forced to rely upon his horse’s sense of direction. On being presented with one of the newly introduced electric torches he fixed it to his horse’s head, explaining that the light was no damned good to him but the horse might make use of it.

On teh closure of the mines and the departure of most of the miners, Dr Speece remained at his home “The Fortress”, as he considered that it was the most central position in the district which he served.

(part of a reminiscence related by Mr W. Buchanan of Karangi in his address to a meeting of the Historical Society.)

A sojourn in Coffs of short duration, but with a big impact on the life of this town.

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