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Henry Brougham Richard Lee (1831-1883)

Henry Brougham Richard Lee (1831-1883) The City Night Refuge and Soup Kitchen Manager

The name of Henry Brougham Richard Lee, abbreviated to H B Lee, became synonymous with the work of the Sydney City Night Refuge and Soup Kitchen in the period 1868 to 1883. His great gift to the organisation was not just his ability to relate to the ‘down and out’ of the community, but his skill in convincing merchants and business people to donate goods and food stuffs to this philanthropic work.

Lee was born at Finsbury, England, on February 26, 1831, to a shoemaker named Thomas Lee and his wife, Sarah Beal, and he came to the colony of NSW on the Plantagenet, arriving in July 1853. In 1860,[1] he married Harriet Miller (1833-1878) and they had four children: Florence Mary Ann (1861-1909), Eveline Maud (1863-1937), Grace Hannah (1865-1867) and Alfred Ernest (1869-1953). It appears that Henry ‘had the misfortune to be deformed and short of stature’,[2] but this did not impede him as he was frequently described as being energetic and indefatigable. In England he had been apprenticed to a nautical instrument maker,[3] and went into partnership with Thomas Drinkwater in 1854 after his arrival in Sydney.[4] They operated as Drinkwater and Lee, engineers who specialised in brass fittings, but the partnership was short-lived and was dissolved in April 1856.[5] This was to be the first of a number of such short-lived and unsuccessful business and professional positions in which Henry was involved.

In January of 1856, Lee published the first volume of The Australian Band of Hope Review and Children’s Friend which was a journal for the promotion of temperance.[6] It was to be published fortnightly, cost three pence, and was to be a children’s magazine consisting of anecdotes, stories and poetry, and often promoting the temperance message. Over time, it changed its emphasis from children to a more general audience and changed its title to The Australian Home Companion, but it remained a temperance advocate. Whatever else the newspaper may have done, it had the distinction of being the first newspaper to publish a Henry Kendall poem in February 1859.[7] The poem was entitled ‘Oh Tell Me Ye Breezes’ and was on the disappearance of Ludwig Leichhardt, the explorer.[8] It is clear the newspaper was not a commercial success for as early as 1857, after only fourteen months of publication, it was in trouble as its circulation was just 1,000 copies. The paper was barely covering its expenses and attempts were made by the public to raise £100 to defray its expenses.[9] By October 1859, the circulation had increased to 1,900 but the paper still struggled financially. Lee remained the proprietor until December 1860 when he was forced to sell the paper to cover his debts.[10]

In 1860, Henry became the first teacher for the Sydney Ragged School, the school founded by Edward Joy. Joy had advertised for a special sort of teacher who was more than just a teacher of reading and writing, but also someone who ‘has a truly Christian interest in the welfare of the class of children for whom the school is intended and who has at the same time the gift of winning the attention and securing the affection of such children.’[11] Lee[12] was engaged as a teacher and his (more…)

Sharp Hutchinson Lewis (1830-1921)

Sharp Hutchinson Lewis (1830-1921), Glover and an early Secretary of the YMCA Sydney

Sharp (Sharpe) Hutchinson Lewis was born in 1830[1] at Ramsgate, Kent, England, the son of John Lewis and Ann Hutchinson and died September 6, 1921, at Petersham, Sydney, Australia. In 1858, he married Mary Morshead Gypson[2] and together they had five children: Mary Ann (1859-1937), William Arthur (1861-1955), Mortimer Kent (1866-1867), Agnes Fanny (1868-1941) and Lillian Eleanor (1870-1932). Before his marriage, Sharp was employed as a Clerk with the London house of the Sydney firm of David Jones and Co in Fenchurch Street when it was decided he should go to NSW to join the company’s staff in Sydney.[3]

Lewis arrived in Sydney in 1854 and went to work with David Jones and Co as planned. In January 1857, Jules Pillet, a highly successful glover at 10 Hunter Street, advertised that he wished to retire and was willing to dispose of his business, The French Glove Depot, with a lease of his premises for six years.[4] On January 1, 1858, Sharp took over the business which, despite some early financial difficulties,[5] he ran successfully for some 16 years. The shop was considered ‘a very fashionable place’ and was just opposite where Henry Parkes had his shop.  Sharp said of Parkes that ‘many a chat I used to enjoy with him in those days. He was a clever fellow’.[6] In 1861, Sharp opened a

Sharp Hutchinson Lewis

Sharp Hutchinson Lewis

branch in Brisbane advising his customers that he had made arrangements with his predecessor, Jules Pillet, to select the stock which covered a wide range of quality goods from gloves and umbrellas to haberdashery in Paris and London, ensuring thereby that ‘nothing would be lacking in taste and quality’.[7] He finally disposed of the business to his sister Frances Johnson (nee Lewis) and his assistant Edward Carroll in March 1874.[8]

Lewis later accepted an invitation from James Woodward[9] to return to the firm of David Jones, but he did not remain long with his old employer for in 1879 he sold the family home ‘Kentville’ in Petersham for £1,100[10] and went, it was said, on an extended trip to England.[11] But this information is incorrect as he, his wife and three of his children, went to live in Dunedin, New Zealand,[12] where he worked for Hallenstein Bros and Co at the New Zealand Clothing Factory[13] as an Inspector of Branches.[14] During his time in Dunedin, he involved himself in the local YMCA as a committee member[15] and also became the secretary of a company to set up a Coffee Palace which sought to ‘combine all the advantages of (more…)

Charles Nightingale (1795-1860), Edward Ramsay (1818-1894) and James Druce (1829-1891)

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.[1] 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…)

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