Sydney Hubert was born in Margate to parents, Daniel Emptage and Mary Ann Matilda (Dixon) in July 1877. Sydney was the sixth of seven children.
At the age of three, Sydney was living with his parents and five of his siblings, Clifford Herbert, Ernest Walter, Ethel Maude, Florence Marion and Harold Victor at 43, Dane Hill in Margate. Sydney’s father, Daniel was a self employed plumber.
The house at 43, Dane Hill no longer stands but a purpose built two apartment block was erected on the site and named Emptage Court.
By 1896 Sydney was a keen footballer and, aged 19, played for the first Margate Football Team. They beat Wye 5 goals to 1.
In 1901, aged 23 and still living at home with his parents at 43, Dane Hill, Sydney was working as a solicitors law clerk. Ten years later he was still at home, still working as a lawyer’s clerk.
However, Sydney was great friends with his cousin, Herbert George Robins, son of George Robins and Martha Ann (Emptage).
Herbert was 10 years older than Sydney and had already immigrated to Australia before arriving in the Cape Colony in South Africa in 1892.
On a trip back to Margate to see his brother Ernest, Herbert approached Sydney and asked him to go join him at what is known today as Robin’s Game Reserve, and Sydney accepted.
Herbert and Sydney departed from Tilbury Docks on 13 February 1915 and headed for Cape Town.
Sydney found the life of running a game reserve too arduous although Herbert admired his honesty and organisational skills. As the war progressed throughout Europe, Sydney and Herbert came back to the UK to enlist.
Bearing in mind that Sydney was nearing 40, he nevertheless enlisted on 4 April 1918 and was accepted as a wireless operator in the Royal Engineers Signal Unit. He failed the course but later rose to the rank of pioneer and was likely in charge of a team of men who carried out engineering works on the battlefront.
Demobbed to reserve on the 28 February 1919, Sydney, who suffered from malaria, then requested that the government pay for his voyage back to South Africa.
It refused but Sydney persisted and by the third letter his wish was granted and his voyage paid for. Sydney sailed back to South Africa on the Durham Castle on the 8 May 1919.
Eventually, Sydney and Herbert had a falling out and Sydney departed the game reserve and it is believed he became a cattle rancher. How long this lasted is unknown, and his disappearance and whereabouts remain a mystery until the appearance of a death record.
Sydney had married but the date of his marriage to Maud is unknown. They remained childless with Maud passing away at Bulawayo Hospital on the 19 November 1962 age 91.
Sydney died on 15 July 1967 at Bulawayo Hospital after sustaining a fractured femur from a fall. Sydney was 90 years old and his death record shows he had worked as a bursar.