Thursday, June 17, 2010

'The greater the wealth, the thicker will be the dirt.' J K Galbraith1908 -: The Affluent Society 1958

Warrior II Image ©©

REX MORLEY HOYES: An Extraordinary Life - Part 1

This story would not have been possible without my fellow researchers, friends and cousins, Len and Jan who have joined me me on a captivating journey into the past. It is together, that we tell the amazing story of our uncle, Rex Morley Hoyes. This story will be of particular interest to those people who have contacted me through my blog, seeking information about Rex and his steam yacht 'Warrior', pictured above in a painting [1] commissioned by the yacht's first owner, American millionaire, Frederick Vanderbilt.[2] The true life story of Rex Morley Hoyes is an extraordinary one. It is a tale which seems too astounding to be true, but it is as factual an account as I know, of the sensational life of an ordinary but extraordinary man. It is a story which embodies suspicious implications, a secret airfield, a millionaire's yacht, illegal gun running, criminal trials, MI5, spies, excentric name changes and not least of all, the curious title of Vicompte.

As we researched Rex's life and his story unfolded, we travelled from New Zealand to England, Spain, Japan, America and France and to remarkable and exotic places such as Hyderabad and Tangier, Morocco. We encountered among Rex's personal friends, Lord Mountbatton and Winston Churchill and among his associates, General Peter El-Edroos, Sidney Cotton and Agent Zig-Zag as was known the infamous World War 2 double agent, Eddie Chapman (pictured below). Rex's associations escorted us into the world of British nobility, Leaders of State, Ministers of Government, the rich and famous, common thieves, numerous wives and many other colourful characters. Over the course of our journey, we, the Hoyes descendants, were obliged to ponder whether Rex Morley Hoyes was a brilliant entrepreneur, or a charming rogue, an unscrupulous fellow or a man of principles beguiled by the world of affluence and grandiosity he perceived in England. There is a saying that 'actions speak louder than words' but these proceedings occurred more than seventy years ago so we are left with mere words. We are optimistic that our words will bear sufficient witness to past deeds, for as Rudyard Kipling said 1923, ' Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind'. So in our own words, here is the story, as we know it, of a most colourful character, Rex Morley Hoyes.


Rex Morley Hoyes was born in Auckland, New Zealand on March 30, 1902. His father, Leonard Cuthbert Hoyes was the youngest son of English born parents, James Berry Hoyes and Elizabeth Morley (pictured below), who had immigrated t

o New Zealand as part of the famous missionaries, the Albertlanders [3] , on the ship Gertrude in February, 1863. [4] Born in Nottinghamshire, in England, James had turned his back on his family tradition of weaving, and learned the trade of milling in Houghton, Lincolnshire under the guidance of William Morley, the grandfather of his future wife Elizabeth. Elizabeth was the daughter of a strict Methodist, Thomas Morley, in the parish of Houghton, Lincolnshire. [5] James Berry Hoyes was the choirmaster at the great Gonerby Church where Elizabeth Morley and her family were also parishioners [6] and where James and Elizabeth were married. Once established in Auckland, New Zealand, James Berry Hoyes was regarded as a gentleman. In addition to his occupation as a miller, James had various other lucrative interests which included owning shares in silver and gold mines. [7]

Rex's mother, Elsie Violet Wood, was also born in New Zealand, to Enoch Wood and Martha Spragg. [8] Enoch Wood was a butcher whose business was in Symonds Street, Newton, Auckland, not far from where the Hoyes family lived in Rose Street. [9] According to The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Mr Wood was the organist at the Newton Congregational Church for thirty years. [10] It is possible that the two quite religious families attended the same church in Newton as it was not uncommon for Methodist and Congregational parishioners to meet in one church even prior to the formal establishment of the Uniting Church..... Leonard Hoyes and Elsie Wood married in 1900 [11] and two years later, their son Rex Morley Hoyes was born.

Rex's middle name of Morley was given in honour of his grandmother, Elizabeth, as it was her maiden surname. The name Morley was to feature significantly in Rex's later life. When Rex was 4 or 5 years old, his father, Leonard, an amateur opera singer, left New Zealand and travelled to Sydney, Australia, where he obtained a number of jobs before joining a small travelling opera group. [12] It is thought that Rex's father, Leonard left New Zealand in about 1906 as the 1905 Auckland Post Office Directory shows him to be living with his family in New Zealand and working as a furniture manufacturer at the address of Mt Roskill Road, Mt Eden, Auckland. It is possible that when Leonard settled in Australia, he intended to send for his wife Elsie and son Rex since he lived with Elsie's sister, Eva and her husband, Helier Harbutt, when he first arrived in Sydney. [13] For reasons known only to Leonard Cuthbert Hoyes, he disappeared from his son's life and Rex was left to grow up with his mother in Auckland. His grandfather, James would most likely have been a positive influence in young Rex's his life, but tragically, he was killed accidentally in 1910, when he stepped off a tram and was hit by a bicycle. [14] The New Zealand newspaper, The Evening Post, which carried the story on December 24, reported that James had been on his way to buy his wife, Elizabeth a bonnet for Christmas when the accident happened. At the age of 8 years, Rex had lost his father and grandfather. It is believed that James Berry Hoyes provided well for the education of his grandson, Rex, as he was enrolled in the most prestigious boys school in New Zealand. The King's College, situated in an affluent area of Auckland, known as Remuera, was established in 1896 and offered all the subjects required for entry into the University of New Zealand as well as Military Drill and Gymnastics. [15]

King's College Remuera

In 1909, at the age of 7 years, Rex began his education at the King's College in Auckland in Form 1, his register number: KR721. [16] Young Rex's grandfather, James Berry Hoyes and his mother, Elsie, must have been proud of him, as he set off on his first day of school in the military style uniform of the King's College. Records from the College Archive show that he attended the King's College until 1912 when, according to archive records, he left the school, to move overseas. The King's College crest bore the Latin words Virtus Pollet which mean 'Truth Prevails', [17] however, as Rex's life story unfolds, it may become apparent that Rex, in his later life, let slip from his memory, his old school motto.

Shipping records show that Rex, at the age of 12, travelled to Sydney with his mother Elsie on board the Makura in 1914. [18] The ship had originated in Vancouver but its route to Sydney, Australia, was via Auckland. There is no way of knowing whether Rex and his mother began their journey in Canada or in New Zealand. This trip, was most likely, a visit to his Aunt Eva's home in Turramurra, Sydney, NSW, Australia, where his uncle Helior Harbutt was a well respected builder of substantial homes on the North Shore of Sydney. [19] Little is known about Rex's childhood years including whether he lived for a period outside of New Zealand. Elsie Hoyes divorced Rex's father, Leonard in 1911 citing that she had been deserted. [20] It is possible Elsie took her young son overseas for a few years to complete his schooling. Perhaps, alternatively, the year 1912, when Rex left the King's College, corresponds with the death of his paternal grandmother, Elizabeth. [21] It may have been that the Hoyes family were contributing to the College fees and with the death of his grandmother, Rex was forced to leave the prestigious King's College. Rex probably grew up with little contact with his father Leonard Cuthbert Hoyes, although we know from Rex's only surviving half brother who lives in Australia, that Leonard did return to New Zealand a number of times, over the years, to see his family, even living in Auckland for about a year in the 1920's with his second wife Florence Morrison and his eldest son Ian from his second marriage ( two younger sons, Leonard and Lawrence were left in Australia with their maternal grandparents). It is unlikely, given that his father deserted his mother and himself, that the young boy Rex, enjoyed a close relationship with his father.
In 1921, aged 19, Rex travelled to Chicago, via Canada to study, sailing on the S.S.Makura and arriving on the 3rd of March. Shipping records state that he was a student. It is believed that he studied engineering in America in Chicago or in Seattle, Washington. [22] The 1966 Kelly's Directory [23] states that he was educated at the King's College in Auckland, New Zealand and in America. It is an interesting insight into Rex's character that he describes his religion as aethiest which he boldly printed on his alien card pictured left. Perhaps the religious beliefs of his grandparents had not been passed on to Rex or quite possibly he was a typical teenage student, about to embark on an adventure and eager to throw off the shackles of home.


After completing his studies, Rex Morley Hoyes returned to New Zealand, where in 1925, at the age of 23, he married Muriel Bates Philcox. [24] [25] After the death of Muriel's father, Harry Bates Philcox in 1930, Muriel's sister,Vivienne journeyed to London in 1931 with her mother, Anne, to pursue a career as a dancer. [26] With her mother and sister both living in England, there is no doubt that Muriel would have been excited at the prospect of accompanying her husband, Rex on a business trip to London in 1933. [27] Rex and Muriel Hoyes left New Zealand, bound for London, on board the MV Rangitane, arriving on the January 26, 1933. Rex was 32 years old and a Company Director, according to the ship's passenger records. This trip to London would change Rex and Muriel's lives in ways that they could never have foreseen. There can be no doubt that Rex believed he was destined for great things in life and possessed a resolute desire for both wealth and influence. Unfortunately for Rex, it was a charge of bribery and corruption ( of which he was later acquitted), which afforded him the most notoriety, especially in the London Times. Rex's penchant for the good life was undisguised amidst his flamboyant lifestyle in London, his relationships with diplomats, politicians, royalty and dalliances with exotic people and places. There is no doubt that some of Rex's associations were of a dubious and questionable nature, however his life was undeniably fascinating from the moment he arrived in London.

Rex and Muriel quickly moved into influential and diplomatic social circles in London. On February 5, 1933, only weeks after her arrival in London, Muriel was presented at the Royal Court to the King and Queen, by Lady Wilford, as part of presentations made in the diplomatic circle. [28] The London Times gave a detailed and descriptive account of the presentation. Life must have seemed wonderfully exciting for the young New Zealand couple. Lady Wilford's husband, Sir Thomas Wilford was the New Zealand High Commissioner in London. [29] Encouraged by Sir Thomas, Lady Wilford, had formed the New Zealand Women's Association in London, in 1930 which invited wives of diplomats to socialise and to meet members of British nobility. Sir Thomas and Lady Wilford were actively involved
in horse racing, both in New Zealand and in England. Rex, also, had racing connections in his home country, so it was perhaps, through the Wilfords that Rex was introduced to high society and people of influence in London.
Rex appears to have had found employment on arrival in London. The British Phone Book for 1933, listed Rex's profession as a Stockbroker and his address as 190 Piccadilly, W1, Regent. There has been a suggestion that Rex made a large amount of money on the stock market through an association with Sir Alfred Butt, a Baronet and member of parliament. Sir Alfred was also a keen horse racegoer and race horse owner and a flamboyant figure in London theatre circles. Sir Alfred was charged with prospering from a serious leak regarding government budget secrets and although there was no trial, in 1936, Sir Alfred resigned as a member of parliament over the affair. [30] The story of a connection between Rex and Sir Alfred has been passed on verbally, from a contact in England however, given, that in the following few years, Rex, quite publicly enjoyed life as a millionaire, it is quite likely that the story is credible.
The 1966 Kelly's Handbook is a window into Rex's intriguing professional life. According to this well respected 'who's who' directory, Rex held the following positions: Chairman of the Southern Board, Minister of Production 1942-45; Vice Chairman of the Southern Board Emergency Services Organisation (M.A.P.) 1940-45; formerly Managing Director of Cunliffe-Owen Aicraft Ltd., formerly Director of British and Foreign Aviation Ltd., Marwell Shipping Company Ltd., European Aviation Company., Aircraft Inventions Ltd. and Eagle Star Insurance Ltd, ( Southern Board); Air Advisor to the H.E.H. Nizam of Hyderabad and Govt., Deccan-India 1947. [31]In August of 1933, 8 months after arriving in London, Rex Hoyes travelled to America on board the luxurious liner, RMS Aquitania, arriving in New York on the 1st of September. Travelling with him, were Lord William George Hood Waleran and his young wife, Lady Margaret Patricia Waleran nee Blackader. From an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, dated Saturday, 2 March, 1935, [32] we know that Lord Waleran, lived in New Zealand from 1927-1930, when he was the second Secretary to the then Governor General, Sir Charles Fergusson. It is entirely speculation that Rex Hoyes met Lord Waleran in New Zealand before he arrived in London, however, what is clear, is that the New Zealand connection played an important part in the unfolding events of Rex's life in England. The journey to New York, was presumably for business purposes as Rex is listed as a Company Director on the passenger list. Rex travelled to New York on the Aquitania without his wife Muriel which was to be a decision that Muriel would come to deeply regret and one that within a short period of time would change the course of her life.

The Aquitania Image Wikipedia ©©
The RMS Aquitania, launched in 1913, and sister ship of the Mauretania and the Lusitania, was one of the most of the most revered of the Cunard Line ships. No other ship boasted such exquisite and luxurious interiors as the Aquitania. Her elegant accommodation and size would have assured Rex and his companions, a most pleasurable journey. It is easy to picture Rex relaxing in the oak panelled smoking room or dining with Lord and Lad
y Waleran in one of the restaurants, beautifully decorated in Louis XIV or Jacobean styles. [33] From her maiden voyage in 1914, the Aquitania was used for regular transatlantic crossings and amidst the festive and opulent surroundings on such a crossing, in 1933, the young Lady Waleran and Rex Hoyes obviously discovered a mutual attraction. Perhaps it was whilst strolling around a moonlit deck or whilst dancing to the music of a band after dining that the romance began.

Aquitania First Class Dining Room Image Wikipedia ©©
However discreet Rex Hoyes and Lady Waleran (or Pat as she was known), attempted to be, evidence shows that Lord Waleran became aware of the affair between his wife and Rex in late 1933. In March of 1934, newspapers in London and as far as Sydney, Australia reported the news that Lord William George Hood Waleran ( Walrond), 2nd Baron, was seeking a divorce, citing adultery as the cause and naming New Zealand businessman, Rex Hoyes, as co- respondent. In May of 1934, a decree nisi was granted to Lord Waleran and undoubtedly,to Muriel's public humiliation, the London Times carried the story of the divorce, stating that, 'It was alleged that the respondent and the co-respondent had committed adultery at a flat in Bury Court, Jermyn Street, W, in November, 1933.'[34]

There can be little doubt that for Muriel Hoyes, 1934 was a wretched year. The distress she must have felt due to her husband's infidelity could only have been worsened by the tragic death of her sister, Vivienne in March of 1934. A much publicised inquest into the death deemed due to an accidental overose of slimming pills, (the first such death recorded)was closely followed by the London Times. [35] Following this, only two months later, Muriel was forced to endure the public embarrassment of the Waleran divorce. For Muriel, the new and exciting life in London, which began in early 1933 with her presentation to the King and Queen, ended a year later in heartbreak and tragedy. Muriel Hoyes returned home to New Zealand with her mother Anne Philcox, on the ship Orama which departed England on June 22nd,1934. [36] Once back in New Zealand, Muriel petitioned for divorce and a decree nisi was granted in March 1935. [37]
With a divorce from Muriel finalised, Rex Hoyes was free to marry Pat Blackader, formerly Lady Waleran. It is a testiment to his overt charm that Pat, aged in her early twenties, had discarded the title of Baroness for the New Zealand businessman who had appeared on the London social scene only a year earlier. The couple announced their engagement in the social pages of the London Times and were married in a civil ceremony in Westminster, Middlesex, in April 1935. [38]
Prior to their marriage, on July 13, 1934, the couple had purchased, at auction, the stately Marwell Hall [39] Manor Estate, once owned by King Henry VIII. This opulent new home for Rex and Pat Hoyes, Marwell Hall, reportedly sold for 5750 pounds. [40] The UK Phone Book for 1934 listed the address for Rex M Hoyes, as Marwell Hall Owslebury...6, South Lodge...6, Estate Office...6 and Hurst Common...6. This would indicate that Rex, and possibly Pat, might have been living at Marwell Hall prior to their 1935 marriage.
Marwell Hall, near Winchester, Hampshire was built in the 14th century for Walter Woodlock, a relative of the Bishop of Winchester. It was later owned by King Henry VIII who presented the Estate to the Seymour family prior to his marriage to Jane Seymour. It is rumoured that Henry married Jane at Marwell Hall at the precise moment that Anne Boleyn was beheaded. Despite, changes being made over the centuries, to Marwell Hall, the Medieval hall remains the core of the building. Jane Seymour's son Edward VI is said to have visited Marwell Hall and with the Royal Arms and the intitials ER carved above the fireplace in the great hall [42] (pictured below right), Marwell must have been an impressive home for Rex Morley Hoyes and his new wife Patricia.

In a eulogy, delivered by a close friend of Pat's (then Patricia McCarthy), at her funeral in September, 2002, [43] it was said that the marriage was not a happy one however it is probable that the couple were in love in the early years of their relationship. It appears that they embarked on a long honeymoon following the marriage in June of 1935. On January 24, 1936, Rex and Pat arrived in Southampton aboard the S.S. Potsdam [44] having cruised to Yokohama, Japan from Palma in Spain, according to the ships passenger records. The couple, Rex aged 36 and Pat aged 22 travelled first class through ports that included Barcelona, Shanghai and Colombo. Rex's profession was given as a merchant and the couple's country of residence as Spain. This may have been an error on the ship's records or possibly the couple spent some time residing in Spain before returning to Hampshire to take up residence in their stately home, Marwell Hall.

Marwell Hall Estate (left) is now a large Zoological Wildlife Park and three of the beautiful reception rooms are used for receptions, conferences and seminars. [45] Image Wikipedia ©©

In the next Blog - Rex becomes Managing Director of Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft Ltd, The wartime years at Marwell Hall reveal a secret airfield, Rex is charged and goes to trial for corruption and bribery over a government deal to convert spitfires, Rex buys the steam yacht 'Warrior', Wartime activities attract the attention of MI5, Illegal gun running, The Nizam of Hyderabad and much more....




  3. New Zealand Electronic Text Centre. 'The Albertlanders; Brave Pioneers of the Sixties' Sir Henry Hook

  4. New Zealand Society of Genealogists: Shipping Database




  8. New Zealand Births deaths & Marriages

  9. New Zealand Electoral Rolls

  10. Encyclopedia of New Zealand


  12. Sydney Morning Herald

  13. Sydney Morning Herald






  19. Australian Electoral Rolls

  20. NZ Archives



  23. Kelly's Handbook of the Titled, Landed and Official Classes 1966



  26. London Times Online

  27. Sydney Morning Herald

  28. London Times Online


  30. London Times Online

  31. Kelly's Handbook of the Titled, Landed and Official Classes 1966

  32. Sydney Morning Herald


  34. London Times Online

  35. New Zealand Archives




  39. Marwell Life Maureen taylor

  40. Hampshire Archives

  41. Marwell Life maureen Taylor

  42. http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb/ Descendants of Sir Philip Skelton
  43. http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb/

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