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Waylen, Alfred Robert (1833–1901)

by B. C. Cohen

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

Alfred Robert Waylen (1833-1901), medical practitioner and vigneron, was born at Point Walter, Western Australia, son of Alfred Waylen and his wife, née Bailey, who had arrived in the Skerne in 1830. He was taken to England for education in 1841 and in 1856 qualified as licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries and as member and licentiate in midwifery of the Royal College of Surgeons. After a brief return to Perth in 1857, he went to St Andrews University in Scotland. His doctorate in medicine (1858) was the first medical degree granted to a native West Australian.

In 1859 Waylen began practice at Guildford as colonial medical officer for the Swan District and as surgeon to the convict establishment. He was registered on 30 December 1869 under the Act passed in July and on 11 January 1870 was appointed to the medical board. In 1872 he succeeded Dr John Ferguson as colonial surgeon, ex officio director of the colonial hospital, medical officer of the Perth Prison and superintendent of vaccination. In 1884-85 he chaired a royal commission on metropolitan water-supply and sanitation and implemented its findings as president of a new central Board of Health. In 1883-84 he chaired a royal commission into the welfare and conditions of native prisoners on Rottnest Island. When the Aborigines Protection Board was formed in 1886 during the negotiations for responsible government, he was appointed chairman, responsible directly to the imperial government.

Waylen was an amateur vigneron exhibiting at international exhibitions from 1866. In 1886 he was a commissioner for the Colonial and Indian Exhibition of London. He was president of the Agricultural Society and of the Horticultural Society in 1894, and after he retired in 1895 he joined J. G. Amherst to establish the Darlington vineyards which won a diploma in Sydney for the best Australian raisins. He was also at various times chairman of the Guildford Town Council, churchwarden of St Matthew's Church, a founder of the Guildford Mechanics' Institute, a governor of the Perth High School (now Hale School), a racehorse owner and a committee-man of the West Australian Turf Club.

On 20 November 1862, Waylen married Elizabeth Louisa, daughter of John Wall Hardey, M.L.C. On 2 June 1887 he married Louisa, daughter of Rev. Thomas Walpole and widow of Sir Luke Leake, M.L.C., Speaker of the Legislative Council. He died childless at Guildford on 10 January 1901 and was buried in the Church of England cemetery. His estate, valued for probate at £11,751, was left to his widow and relations. He was not a highly scientific practitioner but his enthusiastic advocacy of public health measures led to useful reforms.

Select Bibliography

  • W. B. Kimberly, History of West Australia (Melb, 1897)
  • J. H. L. Cumpston, ‘A public health pioneer in Western Australia’, Health, July 1923
  • Civil Service Journal (Western Australia), centenary no, July 1929
  • Swan Express (Midland Junction, Western Australia), Jan 1901
  • West Australian, 12 Jan 1901.

Citation details

B. C. Cohen, 'Waylen, Alfred Robert (1833–1901)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/waylen-alfred-robert-4817/text8033, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 17 July 2019.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

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