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John Mills was born in 1829 in Tidworth, Wiltshire, to James Mills, a farmer and his wife Charlotte nee Mackrell. John was a cigar manufacturer but was listed as a clerk when he came to the colony of Victoria. He arrived on the Nepaul at Port Philip Bay on 20 October 1852, while on 24 November 1852, Emily Stidolph (20 June 1826-27 June 1887) arrived on the Chalmers. John and Emily were married on 14 January 1853 at the Lonsdale Street Congregational Church and were to have eight children: William Mackrell (1854-1931), Caroline Eliza (1856-1914), Stephen (1857-1948), Emily (1862-1940), Lucie Ellen (1863-1948), Arthur John (1865-1916), Evelyn Clara (1867-1954) and Sylvia Hannah (1869-1927).The Mills soon moved to Sydney and lived firstly at 11 Botany Street and then at 78 Albion Street, Surry Hills, from at least 1862 until 1872 when they moved out of the city to the semi-rural setting of ‘Elston Villa’, Alt Street, Ashfield. In 1879, the impressive ‘Casiphia’ was constructed in Julia Street, Ashfield, and was occupied by the family.
John Mills died in 1880 at the age of 51, leaving Emily with eight sons and daughters aged between 11 and 26 years. He was buried in the cemetery adjacent to the Dobroyde Presbyterian Church. Emily moved from their home ‘Casiphia’ in Ashfield to ‘Aurelia’ in Liverpool Road, Croydon, where she died in 1887 aged 61.
The Wholesale Grocer
When and how John came to be employed in Sydney is unknown. He may have placed an advertisement like the one below for it fits him well; he was at that time 24 years old, married, and he did end up working in the grocery business. It is known that he was in Sydney by June 1853 but not if he was employed in the grocery trade by that time.
The first ‘grocery’ reference to John Mills is in December 1854 in Sydney where he was, as a grocer’s assistant, in the employ of William Terry, Wholesale Grocer. John, along with 34 other grocer’s assistants, had petitioned their employers to rationalize the business hours that they were expected to keep.
Their argument was that
… we need not enumerate the many advantages that would be derived by us, in allowing more time for moral improvement and healthful recreation, and after carefully studying our employers,[sic] interest and making that our great desideratum, we must respectfully submit for their approval the following proposal: …
Their proposal was to restrict business hours so ‘That business be closed every night at seven o’clock, except Saturday, on which night close at ten o’clock. To commence January 1st, 1855’.
John worked for William Terrey as his shop man and he was conscientious. One incident in his life as a shopkeeper made the newspaper in 1855. On entering the shop, Mills had noticed a boy leaning over the counter with his hand in the till. As soon as he saw Mills he took off as did his companion cockatoo who was meant to give a warning. Mills gave chase and finally caught them both. The young thief admitted to taking 10 shillings and offered to return it on condition he be let go. This was not agreed to but the 10 shillings was handed over anyway and off to the Police he was taken. On searching him, a florin from the shop was found. As there was not enough evidence to convict the cockatoo he was sent home. The young thief, however, since it was his fifth offence in less than a year, was given three months jail; he was ten years old.(more…)
an aspiring but ordinary nineteenth-century colonist
George Collison Tuting was not an outstanding figure in nineteenth-century NSW. Coming to the colony he hoped to better himself and his family in the drapery business which was a trade he knew well. On arrival he was socially well connected through marriage to the Farmer family (Farmers & Co). He was welcomed into the Pitt Street Congregational Church’s merchant circle (including G A Lloyd, Alfred Fairfax, David Jones) and while he had great aspirations he failed to convert them into business success. His early philanthropic endeavours were quickly extinguished by his failure in business; bankruptcy does not enhance one’s ability to be philanthropic. In the latter phase of his life, having obtained a certain level of financial stability, he gave of his time to help organize various philanthropic activities mostly promoting spiritual engagement.
Tuting was born in Beverley, Yorkshire, England, in January 1814 and was the son of Jeremiah Tuting, variously a cordwainer (shoemaker) and sexton of St Marys’ Church, Beverley, and Sarah Collison. In 1841, George married Eliza Bolton (1817-1847) and they had 5 children: William Collison (1841-1918), George Bolton (1843-1843), Eliza Bolton Kent (1844-1883), Emily Sarah Parsons (1846-1924) and Henry Gutteridge (1847-1847). Eliza died in March 1847 and on 9 February 1848, George married Mary Petford nee Farmer (1804-1868), the widow of Jason Petford, a draper in Brierley Hill. Mary and Jason, had married in 1827 and had two daughters: Mary (1834-1858) and Amelia (1843–1928).
The Tuting family left England 8 November 1849, on the Prince of Wales and arrived in Sydney on 21 February 1850. The family group consisted of George and his wife Mary and George’s son William, his daughters Eliza and Emily, his nephew Thomas Shires Tuting together with Mary’s two daughters, Mary and Amelia.
George was a draper and his first shop was in the Market Place, Beverley, and while it is unknown when he began business, the first evidence of its existing is from 10 April 1840 when he sought to commend his goods to the public through the distribution of printed hand bills. He was a religious man who, when advertising for staff, made a point of indicating that ‘a man of piety will be preferred’ and when seeking an apprentice gave the assurance that his ‘Moral and Religious training will be strictly attended to, as well as receiving a thorough knowledge of the Business.’ He was, as a churchman, a Congregationalist attending the Independent Chapel, Beverley, and later at Brierley Hill.
It would appear that George was interested in missions, financially supporting a young Indian man from 1846-1849 so that he could undergo training for ministry at Bangalore, India. He also gave money to a Medical Institution and towards the building of a Mission College in Hong Kong. The Missionary Magazine and Chronicle, a publication mostly concentrating on the work of the London Missionary Society, was itself largely supported by Independent Churches. That his financial support of missions was recorded in this publication is consistent with his churchmanship being congregational.(more…)
In 1861, the Queanbeyan-based newspaper ‘The Golden Age’ reported a case which it regarded as one of ‘rank heathenism’ and ‘an instance of the most lamentable ignorance it is possible to conceive of, as existing in a professedly Christian country’. The ‘rank heathenism’ and ‘lamentable ignorance’ concerned a 12-year-old boy named Hobson and his lack of even a basic civilising experience of school and church or an understanding of the Christian faith. He was to testify in the Small Debts Court, but before he was sworn in to give evidence the Police Magistrate asked him a few questions:
PM How old are you?
Boy Don’t know.
PM Have you been to school?
PM Ever been to church?
PM Do you say any prayers?
PM Ever heard of God?
PM Ever heard of heaven or hell?
Boy No. [and after some hesitation] Yes, I think I have.
PM What people go to heaven when they die?
Boy Bad people.
The newspaper then commented on the situation and suggested a remedy:
Who the parents of the boy are, we know not; but such a specimen of rank heathenism we never heard of in a so-called Christian country. We draw the attention of the committee of the Bush Missionary Society to this case.
The isolation of the ‘bush’ in colonial Australia meant that there were many, like young Hobson, who were never exposed to the Christian message, worship and prayer and were thereby ignorant of its precepts; the problem was recognised, but it was difficult to address. An attempt, however, was being made to address this lack of Christian ministry through the distribution of bibles and religious literature by colporteurs, and it was to this ministry of the Bush Missionary Society (BMS) that the Queanbeyan newspaper ‘The Golden Age’ looked in order to address the problem.
The BMS was, however, not the first in the colony of NSW to seek to deal with the issue of the spiritual neglect of the bush through the use of colporteurs. This honour belongs to James Robinson, colporteur with the Bible Society, who was the first to provide a ministry of bible distribution to the sparsely populated rural districts. In 1852, Robinson began his work in ‘the bush’ and in his helpful article Gladwin says that:
Robinson’s journeys were the first of many undertaken by dozens of colporteurs—across the Australian continent—on behalf of Australian Bible Society agencies during the second half of the nineteenth century. They provided important pastoral and evangelistic ministry to sparsely populated rural districts in the decades before the creation of dedicated ministries such as the Anglican Bush Brotherhoods (1897–1920) and the evangelical Anglican Bush Church Aid Society (BCA, founded 1919).
Well before the commencement of the Anglican bush ministries that Gladwin mentions, and only a few years after the commencement of the work of the Bible Society, the ministry of the non-denominational Juvenile Missionary Society (JMS), later known as the New South Wales Bush Missionary Society (BMS), was inaugurated.(more…)
Thomas Parker Reeve was born on May 6, 1824 at Deptford in Kent, England, to Isaac Reeve, a mathematics and classical scholar and teacher and his wife Elizabeth Parker. While living in Norwich, Thomas attended the St Mary’s Baptist Chapel where, aged 17, he was received into membership on December 1, 1841. He later recalled that:
in my youth while attending the ministry of the Rev W Brock of Norwich, my mind gradually opened to a sense of danger as a sinner, and of my need of a personal interest in the Great Atonement of Christ, but it was not till sometime after that I could realise a sense of God’s pardoning love.
Thomas married Lydia Pepperday (1825-1898), a Methodist, in 1848 at St Ives in Huntingdonshire, England. Having travelled in steerage aboard the Calphurnia, they arrived in the colony of NSW on September 17, 1853, with their two sons John (1849-1911) and George (1851-1951). Further children were born to them in the colony: Emma (1853-1863), Annie (1855-1943), Thomas (1857-1938), Lydia (1860-1946), Frederick (1861-1940), and Ada (1864-1867). The marriage was a happy one and on their 24th anniversary Thomas wrote ‘I think I can say we love each other more as we grow older and we are an [sic] happy yea, happier in all senses and I trust far nearer to God than we were years ago. I thank God for a good and affectionate wife’.
Thomas was a teacher like his father, but in November 1853 he set himself up in George Street, Sydney, as an importer and ironmonger. He sold goods ranging from shoes, galvanic pocket generators (which purported to remove pain) to a wide range of ironmongery which included saucepans, boilers, knives and forks. It was said he remained there until ‘aided by his good wife, he amassed a modest competency, and then retired to Stanmore to enjoy the fruit of his honest toil.’ It would seem that he moved to Cavendish Street, Petersham (later Stanmore), around June 1873, but continued working for some time probably retiring from active involvement in the business around 1880. By 1888, his son Thomas Henry had assumed control of the business as an ironmonger and organ importer.
On arrival in the colony, the Reeves immediately associated themselves with the Wesleyan (Methodist) Church and its activities. Thomas began his long association with the colonial
Christian education of children by becoming first Secretary and then Superintendent of the Hay Street Sunday school. By 1855, he had become General Secretary of the Wesleyan Sunday Schools of the South Sydney Circuit which embraced Chippendale, Hay Street, Glebe and Mt Lachlan. This was a position he held until 1873 and in this capacity he visited local Sunday schools and sought to improve the communication skills of the teachers. With his move to Petersham (Stanmore), he opened a Sunday School class in a cottage at Stanmore saying ‘I hope and pray that this may be the nucleus of a large and prosperous Sabbath School’ and he became Superintendent of the Stanmore Wesleyan Church Sunday School from 1875 until 1879. Something of his interest and zeal for the work is seen in a meeting he organised for the Rev William Taylor to address a group of Sunday School teachers. He did this because he was concerned that ‘the spiritual success in the way of conversions was not commensurate with the labour and zeal thrown into Sunday School teaching’. His interest in Sunday (more…)
David Walker (1839 -1915) Secretary of Sydney YMCA and vocational philanthropist
The YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) became in NSW in the last quarter of the nineteenth century a very significant youth organisation. Prior to this it was not always so successful and had for a long time struggled to exist. Its resurgence was due, humanly speaking, to David Walker.
David Walker, son of Samuel and Ellen Walker, was born in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, on November 8, 1839, and died in Sydney on January 20, 1915, aged 75. He had begun a clerical commercial life in Ireland but, attracted by the gold rush, he came to Australia in 1856 when he was seventeen. His brothers John (1826-1906), an engineer on the City of Sydney and William (1836-1916), an employee of the Commercial Bank, were already in Australia having arrived shortly before him. After the death of their father in 1866, their sister Rebecca (1847-1928) joined them in Sydney in 1867. David, although attracted to the colony of NSW by the gold rush, was to say
that ‘he found something better than gold’, a wife and a greater sphere of usefulness than he had ever contemplated. In 1865, David married Emily Jane Smalley and they had eight children: Edith Annie (1867-1950), Mary (1869-1930), David Edgar (1871-1948), Emily Gertrude (1873-1952), Robert Percy (1874-1951), Jessie Helen (1876-1950), Grace Millicent (1884-1965) and Eric John Kent (1887-1952). From at least 1870, they made their family home in the Petersham Marrickville area, only moving to Killara in 1905.
It was said that David entered the firm of Barnett and Hinton, wine and spirit merchants, as a junior clerk and became chief book keeper and confidential clerk after 21 years of service, then continued to work as an accountant for the firm until 1878. This narrative implies a stable and steady progression of continuous service with one company, but this is a colourless and misleading account of his commercial life. In fact he worked for a succession of firms, all of which were in the business of wholesale grocery and wine and spirit distribution, and it is clear that being a wholesale grocer in nineteenth century NSW was a difficult and challenging business, as demonstrated by the numerous insolvencies and dissolutions of partnerships that occurred. David was fortunate, however, for through each crisis he was given employment by the succeeding partnership. He seems to have commenced his commercial life with JV Barnard and Co, wholesale grocers and wine and spirit merchants which had been formed in 1854. In 1860, the business became insolvent and was dissolved, and Barnard then formed a partnership with Alfred Haydon to form Haydon and Co which was renamed Alfred Haydon and Co. This particular partnership was dissolved in 1865, but the company continued under its name until there was an amalgamation with Watkins and Leigh, and Barnard and Burrows was formed in 1866. In 1872, this partnership was dissolved and Barnard and Hinton was formed. By 1877, due to difficult financial conditions in country NSW, Barnard and Hinton found themselves with many clients who could not meet their financial obligations and trade was slack. This forced the company into liquidation and administration, paying only ten shillings in the pound to its debtors. In January 1878, Hinton purchased the residual of the business and resumed trading under the name of Hinton and Co, Wine and Spirit Merchants and Importers. Over this time and throughout all these commercial upheavals, David maintained his employment with each succeeding partnership which demonstrates that he must have been a vital and well-regarded employee.
It was in 1877 that Walker was presented with a requisition, signed by 420 people, to consider the full-time role of General Secretary of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). This was not the first time he had been (more…)
Charles Nightingale (1795-1860), Edward Ramsay (1818-1894) and James Druce (1829-1891) Charity Collectors
Obtaining funding for the work of the various nineteenth century philanthropic organisations was always a challenge. There was little government financial assistance available, and the various organisations were dependent upon the generosity of the public for financial support. In order to gain that support the many charities who wished to collect money from the public engaged in a number of activities and strategies. Prominent among their activities was the public annual meeting, often chaired by a socially important person, where the activities of the organisation were reported and supportive resolutions passed. At the meeting someone, usually the secretary of the committee, would read a report detailing what had been achieved in the year past, often giving encouraging examples of success as well as underlining the difficulty of the task which the charity had undertaken. Such reporting made the committee that ran the charity accountable to the public and to its subscribers. It also showed what had been achieved through public financial support, educated the community on the continuing need for the charity, and gave hope for success in the future so that there might be continued interest and increased financial support given by individuals.
Nineteenth century newspaper editors, at least up until the 1890s, gave very sympathetic treatment to such organisations and often printed extensive reports of the meetings which gave further publicity. Printing the annual reports of these organisations and circulating them to their subscribers was also a vital part of the strategy. Such documents contained the secretary’s report, a financial statement, the lists of subscribers and the amount of their subscription, and newspapers often printed subscriber and donation lists as well. It has been suggested that the existence of these subscriber lists is evidence that nineteenth century philanthropy was a morally approved way of self-aggrandisement. Motives are difficult to determine and it may well be that, for some, giving was motived by being seen to have done the ‘right societal thing’ or by a desire to gain praise for the size of a donation. For others, however, such support was undoubtedly a response to need and a desire to help without any ulterior motive. From the organisations’ point of view, it was an effective means of giving a receipt and perhaps a means of encouraging (more…)