Selwyn Goldstein (1873 – 1917) was the first cousin of my great grandmother Beatrix Champion de Crespigny née Hughes (1884-1943).

Selwyn was the only son of Jacob Goldstein (1839 – 1910) and his wife Isabella Goldstein née Hawkins (1849 – 1916).  He had four sisters

Selwyn Goldstein matriculated in 1891 from Melbourne Church of England Grammar School.  He attended the University of Melbourne where he studied engineering.

In 1906 he married Minnie Sutherland in Western Australia. At the time he was a metallurgist with the Great Boulder Mine, Kalgoorlie.

Selwyn and Minnie had four children:

  • John born 1906 in Western Australia, who died as a result of a motor cycle accident in 1927
  • Minnie born 1908 Western Australia
  • Isobel born 1909 in Buckinghamshire, England
  • Winifred born 1913 in Buckinghamshire

Various obituaries give details of his career and death:

The sad news of the death on active service in France of Lieutenant Selwyn Goldstein was received by cable on Friday. Lieutenant Goldstein was the only son of the late Colonel J. R. Y. Goldstein and the late Mrs. Isabella Goldstein, of Melbourne. He was a brother of Miss Vida Goldstein, a nephew of Mrs A. Williamson, “Morven,” Dunolly, and a cousin of Mr H. S. W. Lawson, Minister of Education and Attorney-General. He joined the Royal Engineers when an appeal was made for mining engineers to assist in special tunnelling operations. He was given a commission as 2nd lieutenant, and was later promoted to 1st lieutenant. Prior to his enlistment he was a passenger on a steamer which was sunk by a submarine. Lieut. Goldstein was educated at the Melbourne Grammar School and at the University, where he specialised in metallurgy. He was manager of mines in many parts of the world, including Kalgoorlie, Ravensthorp E. (Queensland), Mexico, Spanish Honduras, and Central Asia. He leaves a wife and four children, who live at Beaconsfield, Bucks, England. Sincere sympathy will be extended to widow and family, and to sister and near relatives in Australia. A photograph of the deceased soldier appeared in Saturday’s “Herald.” (No title. (1917, June 19). Dunolly and Betbetshire Express and County of Gladstone Advertiser (Vic. : 1915 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved from


Herald (Melbourne) 16 June 1917 page 14


Mr and Mrs E. W. Hughes, of Beaufort, have received the sad news that their nephew, Lieut. Selwyn Goldstein, of the Royal Engineers, has been killed in France. Two of Mr Hughes’ cousins (Sergt. Hewitt and Lieut. Puckridge) were also killed in action during the past few months. (FOR THE EMPIRE. (1917, June 23). Riponshire Advocate (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved from


SELWYN GOLDSTEIN who was killed in action in Flanders on 8th June 1917 was the son, of Mr. John R. Y. Goldstein. He was born in 1873 and was at School from 1888 to 1891. He was in the football team in his last three years, being captain in 1891. On leaving School he adopted the profession of a mining engineer, which as a rule leads to residence in outlying places. He received his training at Walhalla and Inglewood, in Victoria, and afterwards occupied the positions of mine manager at Kalgoorlie and Ravensthorpe, in Western Australia. Subsequently his adventurous spirit led him to Mexico, where for some years he managed a large mine in wild mountain country. While there on one occasion the mine was held up by insurgents, and Selwyn, at the point of the revolver, was conducted to the presence of the rebel commander, where he claimed the protection of the British flag and asserted his absolute neutrality in Mexican affairs. The insurgent captain was satisfied, and congratulating him on his courage, departed amicably after commandeering everything in the shape of firearms and ammunition. After leaving Mexico Selwyn went to London and obtained various employment from time to time in Portugal, Asia Minor, Honduras, etc. When on the way to Honduras after war broke out, his ship, the “Hesperian,” was torpedoed, and he escaped with the loss of all his money and kit. He afterwards returned to England and enlisted in the Royal Engineers as Lieutenant, and at the time of his death was recommended Captain. He served at the front for nearly two years and was killed by bullet wound on 8th June in Flanders. In conveying the news to his widow his commanding officer said he was a “brave and loyal soldier, and a keen and conscientious worker.” (Kiddle, J. Beacham (John Beacham), 1878- & Council of Old Melburnians Society & Archive CD Books Australia (2007). War services Old Melburnians, 1914-1918. Archive CD Books Australia, Modbury, S. Aust retrieved through 1918 pages 84-5)

According to his medal card, Selwyn died of self-inflicted wounds. ( British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008. )  According to his service record it was an intentional death, a gunshot wound behind the ear by his own revolver. He was 44 years old.

Selwyn was serving with the 173rd Company of the Royal Engineers. He died on 8 June 1917, during the Battle of Messines, where he had a part in blowing up the ridge the day before.

Selwyn is buried in Poperinghe New Military Cemetery about 10 kilometers west of Ypres.The inscription on his tomb, In ever loving memory, was chosen by his wife.

Selwyn’s sister Vida was a noted pacifist from the very beginning of the war. I have not found any reference to her thoughts about her brother’s fighting in the war nor about his suicide. There seems to be no reference to her brother when she was campaigning for a parliamentary seat in April 1917 on a platform based around peace.

“IDEALISM AND REALITY.” Maryborough & Dunolly Advertiser (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 30 Apr 1917: 4. <>. This article was widely syndicated, the Maryborough and Dunolly Advertiser just one of many carrying it..

Leslie Henderson, the daughter of Selwyn and Vida’s sister Lina, wrote a family history, The Goldstein Story, published in 1973. She does not mention Selwyn’s war service and suicide in the book.


  • Several Australian newspapers report that Selwyn was on a ship that was torpedoed. I am yet to find which one. It was not the RMS Hesperian as reported by some newspapers as I have reviewed the Hesperian‘s passenger lists.

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