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Henry Priaulx Cayley (1877 - 1942)

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RADM Henry Priaulx Cayley
Born in Clifton, Gloucestershire, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 14 Jul 1906 in Kensington, London, Englandmap
Died in Chelsea, London, Englandmap
Profile last modified 28 May 2019 | Created 14 Sep 2017
This page has been accessed 86 times.


Henry Priaulx Cayley was born in Clifton, Gloucestershire on 29th December 1877. He was a son of Henry Cayley, surgeon major in the Indian Medical Service, and his wife Letitia Mary Walters.[1]

Educated at Eastman's Naval Academy, he joined the Royal Navy's training ship Britannia in 1891 as a cadet and was promoted midshipman in 1893 and sub-lieutenant in 1897. His early sea-going appointments were to the Mediterranean Station and the Channel Fleet; then in 1899, after being commissioned lieutenant, he served on HMS Undaunted during the Boxer Rebellion. He continued to serve in the Royal Navy until 1912.

On 14th July 1906 he married Ethel Mary Hewitt in Kensington, London.[2]

Henry Cayley is a Military Veteran.
Served in the Royal Australian Navy 1912-1931
HMAS Sydney; HMAS Melbourne

In 1909 Cayley, now a Lieutenant, was posted to the Australian Station as the Royal Navy's inspector of warlike stores. To take advantage of better career opportunities, he resigned in mid-1912 and joined the newly established Royal Australian Navy, retaining the position of inspector of warlike stores. When war broke out in 1914 he was made an acting Commander and sailed with the first Australian convoy as transport officer on the troopship Euripides. He was transferred to HMS Isis in January 1915 and made substantive Commander in April. In March 1917 he was appointed second-in-command to Captain John Dumaresq in HMAS Sydney, then carrying out patrol and convoy duties in the North Sea.

He was promoted Captain on 1st April 1919 and took command of the Sydney. In June, when the Sydney was returning home, Cayley was asked to help quell civil riots in the Straits Settlements. He promptly supplied landing parties at Singapore and Penang. In November the Sydney grounded (without damage) at Townsville, Queensland. Cayley and his navigating officer were court-martialled and reprimanded for negligence; the findings against the navigator were quashed on appeal, but those against Cayley were confirmed - he was held solely responsible for the incident. He retained the confidence of Dumaresq, who was then Commodore commanding the Australian Fleet, and the mishap does not appear to have prejudiced his chances of preferment. In 1925 he was appointed second naval member, one of the few RAN men to serve before 1939 on the Australian Naval Board. In May 1927 he became commander of HMAS Melbourne, then in October was made captain superintendent in Sydney.

He was posted back to London in 1929 as naval representative on the Australian High Commissioner's staff but, when his position was retrenched during Depression cuts, he retired on 7th August 1931 in the rank of Rear Admiral.

He spent the rest of his life in England, and devoted himself to Christian Science, the study of which had led him to abandon the Catholic faith and to become a teetotaller. Survived by his son, he died of pulmonary embolism on 31st December 1942 at his home in Chelsea.[3]


  1. UK FreeBMD Birth Index Mar qtr 1878, vol 6a, page 66
  2. UK FreeBMD Marriage Index Sep qtr 1906, vol1a, page 444
  3. UK FreeBMD Death Index Mar qtr 1943, vol 1a, page 379
  • Simington, Margot Z. Cayley, Henry Priaulx (1877–1942). Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 23 June 2018.
  • Burke's Peerage
  • Debrett
  • Who's Who - Australia 1935 and 1938
  • Census data for 1891 and 1901
  • Webster's Royal Red Book 1938

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Henry is 26 degrees from Cari Starosta, 17 degrees from Marie-Antoinette d'Autriche and 14 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.