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Ennever & Enever family history & ancestry. Click here to return to the home page WJ Ennever (1869-1947). From the portrait by J Seymour R.A., exhibited in the Royal Academy.

Ennever & Appleton, Wholesale and Manufacturing Confectioners

Advertising leaflet Stationery Invoice header
Confectionery tin
Confectionery tin

Harriet Agnes Thomas is credited by her family as the catalyst of the enterprising characteristics of the Ennever and Appleton family who emigrated to Australia from England and who were to establish a successful and long-lasting confectionery business. 

Harriet's mother had been a shopkeeper in the 1850s in one of the poorest areas of London and she herself had been a grocer in Southwark, Surrey before emigrating to Australia in 1861.  Harriet herself had first married Robert Ennever in 1843 and they had two children, one of whom died in infancy, before Robert himself died of severe malnutrition at the age of 29 in 1847.

Harriet then married Charles Green Appleton in 1850 who at the time of their marriage was a warehouse man but a year later had become a baker employing one man, following in his father's footsteps and embarking upon an occupation that was to serve his family well in their new life in Australia.  Charles emigrated to Australia in 1853, shortly after the birth of their second child in 1852, leaving Harriet behind in England with her grocery business to run and three surviving children from her two marriages.  Charles's bigamous marriage to Harriet's sister, Sarah Jane, in 1852 may have been the motivation for this apparently hasty departure!

William Thomas Appleton, co-founder
Robert George Ennever, co-founder

Harriet was to join her husband in Australia in late 1861, having spent eight years apart from him.  At the time of their emigration with their mother the three children, Robert George Ennever was 16, Charles Green Appleton was 11 and his younger brother, William Thomas Appleton, was 9.  According to Robert they had arrived in Geelong in Victoria to stay with "relatives", not mentioning whether this was his step-father, probably a person whom neither Charles nor William would have remembered.

Sadly Harriet, who having joined her husband in 1861, lost him in 1865 to a sudden illness and by then had also lost two children who had both been born in Australia.  Robert Ennever spoke of having to defer his own wedding plans because of family responsibilities, due to the sudden death of his step-father.  It is thought that these responsibilities will have included looking after an embryonic confectionery business because a Mrs. Appleton (Harriet) is listed in a trade directory in 1866 as a confectioner on Moorabool Street, Geelong. 

The marriage of Robert George Ennever, to Maria Eliza Collins, finally took place in 1868 and this was one of a number of very close family ties between the Ennever, Appleton and the Collins families.  In 1839 before his marriage to Harriet Agnes, Robert's father had married Harriet Agnes's older sister, Mary Stothart Thomas, and Mary Stothart Ennever was the first child from this marriage.  Before Harriet and her three children emigrated to Australia, Harriet's younger sister, Sarah Jane Thomas, had married Henry Collins, Maria Eliza's brother.  Henry had a bigamous relationship with Mary Stothart Ennever, his wife's niece, living with both spouses and the children of the two relationships (see this separate story here).   From conversations with Robert Ennever's grand-daughter it appears that Harriet Agnes, having known Maria Eliza before leaving England, was instrumental in bringing her to Australia to marry her son. Harriet Agnes, of course, had been married to both an Ennever and an Appleton and her second husband, Charles Appleton, had bigamously married her sister (see above).

The origins of the confectionery business in Australia are unclear but Charles Appleton, Harriet's husband, was a second generation baker and his father was also listed as a confectioner and so it is probable that from the time of the three children's arrival in Geelong they had been formally or informally training in the profession.  Robert George Ennever's obituary in 1937 supports this by saying that "In the year of 1864 at the age of 19 years, he started in his own business at Morrisons Diggings, Meredith, a small township near Ballarat.  This business was disposed of in the following year (1865) and shortly afterwards he moved to Geelong where he again commenced business as a manufacturing confectioner.”

Robert was to puchase a house in Neutral Bay, Sydney in about 1895 and named it 'Meredith', in recognition of the township's contribution to his later success, a name which its successor house at 8 Ben Boyd Road retains today (2020). The address indicated in the historical data is 6 Ben Boyd Road which is the address of the block of units next door to the current 'Meredith'. Robert George Ennever had subdivided the block of land, built another house on the harbour side of the block, transferred the name ‘Meredith’ to his new abode, along with the number 6, and sold his original house, renumbered No. 8, only to repurchase it some 10 or 20 years later. The second house he built (No. 6) was pulled down in the late sixties/early seventies for the unit development. 1

It is clear, however, that Charles, with Harriet and their family, had moved to Morrisons Diggings in about 1862 or 1863 as Harriet, their daughter, died there in 1863.  Morrisons Diggings was a remote mining area with documented potential and the most likely reason for being there is that Charles and Harriet saw an opportunity to provide the miners with catering supplies such as food and water.

The family had returned to Geelong, however, after only a short period when Charles died suddenly of peritonitis in 1865, at which time his profession was recorded as "confectioner".  Certainly, by 1866 the confectionery business had been established in Geelong while James Appleton, Harriet's brother-in-law, operated a furniture warehouse on Little Ryrie Street, just around the corner.  

The warehouse rooftops of Ultimo from Broadway's Grace Bros. tower showing the Ennever and Appleton factory c1906. Photo: City of Sydney archives, Sydney Morning Herald, Oct 18 2006.

By 1876 the confectionery business had moved to Castlereagh Street in Sydney and had become Ennever and Appleton Confectionery.  Robert George was the "Ennever" and William Thomas, his step-brother, the "Appleton". They were now 31 and 24 years old, respectively.  References to the business can be found in local directories from about 1879. Coincidentally, a George Ennever, known as George Ennever Morris, had established his business there in 1819 as a cobbler after his transportation from England for forgery (see separate story here).  To date though, we have been unable to prove a direct connection between the two families. 

In 1886 the business moved to 156, 158 & 160 Bay Street in Sydney, near the corner of Newtown Road and Parramatta Street, and was advertised as a "Confectionery Steam Works" selling "Icing & Lozenge Sugars, Gum Arabic Essences & Every Description of Trade Requisite Supplied".  In 1890 Robert Ennever's son, William James, was apprenticed at the factory and he was later followed by his surviving brother, Cecil Wentworth.  Both William and Cecil became "travellers" or salesmen for the business and by the early 1900s the business was employing over 100 people.

Ennever and Appleton employees c1902
E&c factory picture

In this picture, believed to have been taken in 1902, Robert George Ennever is seated in the centre holding his grand-daughter Rosalind while on Robert's right is his wife, Eliza, and next to her is William Thomas Appleton.  Robert's son, William, is in the middle of the back row and Cecil is also in the back row, holding his hat.  The company was officially registered under the Firms Act, 1902 on 28th April 1903 at Bay Street. 2

In 1911 Robert Ennever at the age of 66 sold his share in the factory to his step-brother, William, although both his sons, William and Cecil, remained in the business.  Robert Ennever, who died in 1937 aged 92, was a member of the Rechabite Order, who abstain from alcohol and believe in its prohibition, and was also President of the local Confectionery Society.  He was, apparently, not always an easy man having both a strong conscience and sense of public duty.  Robert Ennever's obituary, referred to earlier, was written by the Rechabite organisation and published in their magazine in 1937.

Ennever and Appleton trade cards featuring the colours of rugby league teams . Courtesy Australian Cartophilic Society.
Ennever and Appleton trade cards featuring  the colours of  rugby league teams
Ennever and Appleton trade cards featuring the colours of rugby league teams
Ennever and Appleton trade cards featuring  the colours of  rugby league teams
The Australian Cartophilic Society recently (c2019) discovered the existence of some early Ennever and Appleton trade cards featuring the colours of rugby league teams of the time and issued in Sydney between 1908 and 1920. They feature Annandale, Balmain, North Sydney, South Sydney and Western Suburbs and it seems likely that cards existed also for Eastern Suburbs, Glebe and Newtown being the eight teams that formed the Sydney league in 1908, remaining virtually unchanged until 1919. 3
Ennever and Appleton Trade Card. 26 cards are known incl Star Cars, Jewitt, Hudmobile, Pierce, Trojan, Rolls Royce, Rugby, Nash, Chandler, Lancia, Vulcan Cars, Citroen, Oakland, Oldsmobile, Cadillac and others.
Ennever and Appleton Trade Card
Ennever and Appleton Trade Card
Ennever and Appleton Trade Card
Ennever and Appleton Trade Card
Ennever and Appleton Trade Card
Ennever and Appleton Trade Card
Ennever and Appleton Trade Card

In 1925 Edward Ennever, William's youngest son also became an apprentice, at the age of 19.  William Thomas Appleton died at the age of 74 in 1926 and never having married left the factory to William James Ennever, his nephew, while Cecil, William James's younger brother, received a cash amount.  William Ennever then ran the business until his death in 1939, when his son, Edward Robert (Ted) assumed the responsibility.  He was joined by his older brother, George, after the Second World War and by Malcolm Ennever, George's younger son for a few years before the factory was sold in 1968. Apparently Ennever and Appleton were known for their "secret recipe" for chocolate covered peanuts as in the warm weather they were never affected with the "bloom" that often affects chocolate. I understand that this was achieved by 'polishing' the chocolates in alcohol, a practice that was stopped by the subsequent owners.

The Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday 20th July 1939 carried the following obituary for William:   "Mr. W. J. Ennever.     The death has occured of Mr. W. J. Ennever, 62, a member of one of Sydney's oldest confectionary firms, Ennever and Appleton, which was established 65 years ago by his father Mr Ennever, who had been actively associated with the firm for 40 years and was a well known member of the Chamber of Commerce. He is survived by Mrs. Ennever, two sons and a daughter".

Several advertisements then appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1966 relating to the sale of the business which was sold in March 1968 to Elgin Investments.

Sydney Morning Herald 19/11/1966
SMH ad
Sydney Morning Herald 19/11/1966
SMH ad
Sydney Morning Herald 1/12/1966
SMH ad
Photo courtesy of John Karp 2007
Building 2007

The building in Parramatta Street, now Broadway, still exists and has undergone renovation and extension and is now the UniLodge, a student hostel, which is directly opposite the Broadway Shopping Centre, where the large Grace Brothers building, from which the 1906 photograph was taken, used to be.  Everything to the right of the "Sydney" flag is new and differs architecturally from the original building.

Brisbane City Council renamed First Avenue to Ennever Street in 1939 and very helpfully told me:

Our street naming records for that period are not complete, as more importance was placed on when the change was made, rather than why the name was chosen. I can find no records relating to why the name Ennever was chosen. In general, street names chosen in this period were selected from prominent citizens, Members of Parliament past and present and, in some cases, English Members of Parliament or prominent citizens. In this instance, it seems the name was chosen after a prominent person and as there is no record of an Ennever serving in Queensland Parliament or Local Government, that it was named after a prominent English citizen. Unfortunately, in the absence of any official record there is no way to confirm this.
A view of Ennever Street.
A view of Ennever Street

It is probable that the Ennever was in fact Robert as the biography indicates he first settled in Melbourne, Victoria where we know he started his business. He later moved to Sydney, New South Wales where the Ennever & Appleton business became established and Robert George became a respected member of the business community. As Robert George had no links to Queensland it is also possible that the Ennever referred to is William Joseph Ennever founder of The Pelman Institute which had offices throughout the world, and his Australian office was again in Victoria. It is somewhat surprising though that Brisbane celebrates a pioneer who had no connection with their state!

You can read and see more about Ennever Street, Brisbane here.

If anyone has any further information on the subject of Ennever and Appleton Confectioners, its history or its people I would be delighted to hear from you.



1  Kerrie Hannan
3  1909 Sydney Rugby league season Wikipedia

Author:  Barry Ennever

I would like to thank Joanne Ennever (nee Barsness) for all the information she provided that helped me to write this history.

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