Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

John Stephen Maley (1839–1910)

by E. M. Halley

This article was published:

John Stephen Maley (1839-1910), engineer, was born on 5 April 1839 in Albany, Western Australia, son of Kennedy Maley from northern Ireland and his wife, Martha Mary from Hampshire, England. He spent his early years in Albany and on the Murray River. Apprenticed to Solomon Cook of Perth he became a mechanical expert on the steam ferries on the Swan River and worked on the reconditioning of the Causeway over the Swan River.

In the 1860s Maley went to Greenough Flats, the colony's wheat centre, where he was granted blocks of some ten acres (4 ha) each, on which with the help of convict labour he built houses. He engineered the building of the first bridge over the Greenough River. He planted wheat, built a three-storied mill of stone and beside it, Home Cottage, his two-storied residence, both still standing in 1973. Another of his enterprises was the Golden Sheaf Hotel which he later sold to William Wilson; it was demolished after severe damage in the great flood of 1888. He ground all the flour needed at Greenough Flats, Geraldton and Northhampton. His mill was the first to use silk dressing machinery, and with Charles Crowther in 1872 he shipped fifty tons of silk dressed flour to England, where it was much admired.

Maley was a vestryman of St Catherine's Anglican Church, chairman of the Greenough Roads Board, and for several years president of the Geraldton Agricultural Society. Kind, benevolent and given to hospitality, he applied progressive methods to his business. His inherited Irish vivacity is illustrated by his escapade immediately after Governor Hampton had declared the new Perth Bridge and Causeway open for traffic, in galloping ahead before he could be stopped, determined to be the first across it. His health declined in later years and he died at Greenough on 28 December 1910. On 27 August 1862 he had married Elizabeth Keniest (b.1841), eldest daughter of Frederic Waldeck; they had nine sons and five daughters. Two sons volunteered for service in the South African war, others established a farming property at Three Springs and two entered the Western Australian parliament.

Select Bibliography

  • Western Mail (Perth), 7 Jan 1911
  • private information.

Citation details

E. M. Halley, 'Maley, John Stephen (1839–1910)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 17 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne University Press), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


5 April, 1839
Albany, Western Australia, Australia


28 December, 1910 (aged 71)
Greenough, Western Australia, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.