Robert Record Stapleton was born in Paddington on 16 August 1897, the son of Robert and Phoebe Stapleton.
He married Margaret Mary Sylvia Mitchell on 22 March 1924 at Surry Hills. The couple’s marriage was fraught from the beginning and within nine months, Mr Stapleton petitioned for a ‘decree for restitution of conjugal rites’. Mrs Stapleton responded ‘denying the petitioner’s allegations, and also raised an issue of desertion by reason that her husband had refused to provide a home.’ Justice Owen ordered Mrs Stapleton to ‘return to the petitioner within 21 days’.
The pair had two children – Jack (b 1924) and Jean (b 1930). They both lived in Paddington, however, the electoral rolls indicate they lived separately, she on Windsor Street and he with his mother on Bent Street. In 1928 Mr Stapleton petitioned for divorce on the grounds of ‘desertion’ and was granted ‘decree nisi’ – a court order declaring the marriage would be dissolved in six months. The pair remained married, however, and by 1933 were registered at the same address.
He died suddenly on 30 September 1933, aged only 36 years old.
Occupation & interests
Robert Stapleton worked briefly as a cleaner for Sydney’s Electric Tram network before resigning on 23 April 1915, just three days after he was employed. In 1923, during a Senate Inquiry regarding Ballot Boxes and the Australian Workers’ Union, he identified himself as a tuck-pointer by trade. From at least 1913, his listed occupation in the electoral rolls was ‘bricklayer’. Between July and September 1932, he was temporarily appointed to the Labour and Industry Department in the NSW Public Service.
He was associated with the Australian Workers’ and Federated Clerks’ unions.
Robert Stapleton was secretary and president of the Paddington branch of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) in 1920 and 1922, and the President of the Paddington Labor League in 1923.
According to his obituary published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 2 October 1933, Robert Stapleton ‘was regarded as one of the ablest of the younger men in the Lang Labour party. He was a good debater, and at the last State elections he unsuccessfully contested the Woollahra seat against the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly (Sir Daniel Levy). He had been a member of the Paddington Council for several years, but this was his first term as Mayor.’
Local government service
Robert Stapleton was an alderman on Paddington Council in 1929-33 and mayor in 1933. He died in September 1933 while mayor and his wife, Sylvia Stapleton, was elected as an alderman on the council the following month.
On 13 August 1934, the newly renovated Paddington Town Hall was re-opened as the Stapleton Hall, after the late Robert Stapleton. It was officially opened at the Mayoral ball by Alderman Morris Curotta, and Sylvia Stapleton and her husband’s parents attended, among several other guests.
The information about this alderman was compiled in collaboration with Woollahra Library and Information Service.
STAPLETON, Robert Record – Date of Birth 16/08/1897, State Archives Collection, Museums of History NSW, NRS-12922-1-[11/16717]-, https://search.records.nsw.gov.au/permalink/f/1ebnd1l/ADLIB_RNSW114776186
STAPLETON, Robert Record, State Archives Collection, Museums of History NSW, NRS-12395-1-[8/2715]-, https://search.records.nsw.gov.au/permalink/f/1ebnd1l/ADLIB_RNSW118278844
‘The Vacancies’, The Sun, 14 October 1920, 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article222665938
‘Back to the Fold’, Truth, 16 January 1921, 6, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article169179297
‘A.L.P. Officers Elected’, The Sun, 13 January 1922, 9, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225222550
‘Labour Split’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 April 1923, 9, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16068026
‘Senator Barnes and the A.W.U Inquiry’, The Australian Worker, 26 November 1924, 16, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article145950674
‘City Council Jobs’, The Labor Daily, 27 May 1926, p. 6, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article239784063
Sydney Morning Herald, 2 October 1933 p. 6 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17011877
‘Stapleton Hall’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 August 1934, 5, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17079758
Deceased Estates Index, State Archives Collections, Museums of History NSW, Pre A 078738 [20/1812], https://search.records.nsw.gov.au/permalink/f/1e5kcq1/INDEX1121639
Electoral Rolls, Australian Electoral Commission, East Sydney, Paddington, 1913, 61, 1933, 91, 1935, 123.
‘Divorce papers Robert Record Stapleton Margaret Sylvia Stapleton’, 1924-25, State Archives Collections, Museums of History NSW, NRS-13495-11-[13/13247]-973/1924, https://search.records.nsw.gov.au/permalink/f/1ebnd1l/ADLIB_RNSW113401166
‘Divorce papers Robert Record Stapleton Margaret Sylvia Stapleton’, 1928, State Archives Collections, Museums of History NSW, NRS-13495-7-[13/13509]-721/1928, https://search.records.nsw.gov.au/permalink/f/1ebnd1l/ADLIB_RNSW112607072
NSW Births Deaths Marriages, Registration no. 24741/1897, 742/1924, 21375/1933