Australian Bird Painter’s Family

Neville William Cayley and his Family

One of the most famous Australian Cayleys is Neville William Cayley (1886-1950), a leading Australian bird painter. Tracing his family tree has taken many years of research. See the blog post Obfuscations of Bird Painters for more on that.

His grandfather, Nathaniel Henry Caley, was born in Windsor, Berkshire, England in 1824, and married Emily Dunn in Southwark, London in 1850. The couple settled in Norwich, Norfolk, where Nathaniel died in 1867. In 1876 Emily married again, her second husband being John Twinch. She and Nathaniel had 8 children, all born in Norwich:

  • Emily Caley (b. about 1851, d. in Edmonton, Middlesex in 1899), who married Thomas Neville Aspray in 1874
  • Alice Caley (b. about 1853)
  • Neville Henry Peniston Caley (1854-1903 – see below)
  • William Herbert Caley (b. about 1856), who was one of the family who emigrated to Victoria, Australia in about 1882, and died at Chelenham, Victoria in 1923
  • Constance Mary Caley (b. about 1857), who married D’Oyly Tulloch Rochford (1852-1903) in 1875. In 1889 they emigrated to the United States, and the 1900 US census shows them living at Sausalito Town, Marin, California. After her husband’s death in 1903, she returned to England and died at Folkestone, Kent in 1916.
  • Ernest Hugh Caley (b. 1859), who emigrated to the United States in 1889. He he settleed in Bellingham, Washington State, where he died in 1919
  • Arthur Pelham Caley (b. 1860), who married Marion Stranson in 1886. They spent most or all of their married life in the London area, though he died in Worthing, Sussex in 1934. They had 7 children:
    • Arthur H Caley and Harry Caley (both b. about 1888)
    • Albert S Caley and Bertie Caley (both b. about 1889)
    • Russell Caley (b. about 1892)
    • Hilda Caley (b. about 1893)
    • Phyllis Caley (b. about 1897).

Neville Henry Peniston Caley is shown as a draper at Ipswich, Suffolk in the 1871 census. In 1882 he emigrated to New South Wales. On emigration he seems to have changed the spelling of his surname to “Cayley”. A number of records show him as born at Dover or in a ship off Dover, but according to birth registration records this is untrue. He married Lois Emmeline Gregory (1863-1941) in Sydney, New South Wales in 1885, and died at Sydney in 1903. In Australia he became a noted bird artist, the first of the dynasty to venture into this field. He and his wife had three children:

  • Neville William Cayley bird painter
    Neville William Cayley (1866-1950) painter of Australian birds

    Neville William Cayley (b. at Yamba, New South Wales in 1886, d. at Avalon, New South Wales in 1950). He was the most famous bird artist in the family, a noted ornithologist, and a conservationist. Generally he painted in watercolour. He is best known for a frequently-reprinted book on Australian birds, What Bird is That?, aimed at non-experts. Many of his paintings are in public collections, including that of the Natural History Museum, London. One painting was presented to King George VI in 1932. He created a scholarship in “Economic Ornithology” at Sydney University, in memory of his father, to encourage the study of wildlife management. Besides his ornithological interests, he was a leading light in Australian several life-saving organisations. In 1917 he married Beatrice Lucy Doust (d. 1927), by whom he had two children: Neville Clive Cayley (1920-1992), who settled in Queensland as a farmer after the Second World War, and Glenn Digby Cayley (1924-1958), who died in a logging accident. Neville William Cayley married again in 1944, his second wife being Phyllis Mary Goodson.

  • Alice Rockford Cayley (b. at Bowral, New South Wales in 1889, d. at Katoomba, New South Wales in 1960), who married a potter, Jack Castle Harris (1893-1967) in 1924. She was another watercolourist specialising in bird paintings.
  • Dorothy Lois Cayley (b. 1892 or 1893 at Glebe, New South Wales, d. at Sydney, New South Wales in 1971), who married Harold Joseph Cunningham (1891-1955) in 1915. Note: more information on this family can be found at where, besides the webpage itself, there are two PDF files


(more paintings can be found at