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Founder of the Sunday Morning Breakfast for the Poor
Andrew Bell Armstrong was born in Ireland around 1811 and died in Sydney on 17 June 1872, at 61 years of age. Andrew married Barbara Iredale on 20 July 1844 in Sydney and they were to have three children: Mary (b 1846), Thomas (b 1849) and John (b 1851). Barbara was to prove to be a willing partner in Andrew’s philanthropic efforts. Barbara Iredale was 28 years old on her arrival in the colony in 1842. She came with her mother and father, and she had with her a daughter, Sarah, from a previous relationship who was born in 1841. Sarah would later marry WS Buzacott who would be Andrew’s business partner.
Andrew came from a family with a military tradition, and he said he descended from ‘a long line of British soldiers’. All his uncles were in the army and his father was a volunteer and so he uncritically followed the family tradition when he joined His Majesty’s (HM) 80th Regiment of Foot (also known as the Staffordshire Volunteers). Later in life he was to rethink his attitude to soldiering. HM 80th Regiment of Foot had a proud history with extensive overseas engagements but, prior to Armstrong joining the Regiment, it had been stationed from 1831 in various parts of England and Ireland. This is most likely when Andrew, being Irish, joined the Regiment. A detachment of the Regiment sailed from England on 23 May 1836 for Sydney with the task of accompanying a group of convicts. The remainder of the Regiment with its colours, and presumably Armstrong who was a ‘colour serjeant’, did not leave until 6 March 1837 and arrived in Sydney on 11 July of that year. The Regiment’s duties meant that,
During the stay of the 80th in New South Wales, it has been divided into a great number of very small detachments, distributed over nearly the whole colony, chiefly guards over prisoners at stockades – a duty harassing to the soldier and prejudicial to discipline.
Samuel Goold was born in 1820 in Norton Lindsay, Warwickshire, England, the son of William Goold, variously described as a miller or a grocer, and his wife Elizabeth Canning. Samuel was their fifth son of nine children. Two of his brothers, John and Jabez, also came to the colony of NSW at some stage. In 1847, Samuel married Mary Ann Johnson at the Tottenham Baptist Chapel and his profession was given as ‘Missionary’. Mary Ann was the daughter of Philip Johnson, a shoemaker, and his wife Mary and was born in 1819 at the workhouse of St Botolph, Aldgate, London. At the age of 13 she became a member of the Congregational Church, worshipping in the Poultry Chapel, London, then under the care of the Rev John Clayton Jnr (1780-1865).
Arrival in the colony of New South Wales
Together with Mary Ann’s mother and sister, Samuel arrived in Queensland in January 1849 aboard the Fortitude, Rev Dr John Dunmore Lang’s first chartered immigrant ship. Samuel had been an apprentice and was probably an apprentice draper, but his profession on the shipping lists was given as ‘bricklayer’. It has been suggested that he helped build the Roman Catholic Chapel in Elizabeth Street, Brisbane, but this cannot be possible as the Fortitude arrived in Morton Bay on 21 January 1849, and its passengers were quarantined as there were cases of typhus on board. The first mention of ‘Mr Gould, the builder’ in connection with the Roman Catholic Chapel, is on 31 January 1849 while Samuel Goold was still in quarantine.
Samuel and his wife did not remain in Brisbane but travelled to Sydney in September 1849. It is not known if their departure was a result of disillusionment with the unfulfilled promises of Lang concerning the provision of land for the immigrants or whether it was related to the death of their infant son, Samuel, which occurred a few weeks before. In Sydney, however, they wasted no time linking with the (more…)
John Hay Goodlet was born in Leith, Scotland in 1835 the second son and one of eight children of George and Mary Goodlet (nee Hay). He was educated at the Edinburgh Institution for Languages and Mathematics. After he completed school he went to work for a time at the Edinburgh Roperie and Sailmaking Company in Leith.
In 1852, not yet seventeen years of age, he left Scotland for Melbourne Australia arriving in June of that year. He found employment as a clerk in the firm of some fellow Scots, Charles and John Smith who were timber merchants. Within a year he was a partner in the business. In June of 1855, possibly due to a depression in the commercial scene in Melbourne, he went to Sydney and commenced a timber yard and saw mill in Erskine Street in partnership with the Smiths which was known as JH Goodlet and Company. The business did well and by early 1859 the partnership had been dissolved and another entered into with James Smith, a brother of his former partners, and in late 1860 the name of the firm was changed to that of Goodlet and Smith.
In 1867 Goodlet and Smith expanded their interests and began producing bricks, pottery and earthenware in Riley Street, Sydney. In 1870 the site was expanded with state of the art labour saving machinery. By 1872 a Hoffman Annular Kiln had been installed and the works continued to produce earthenware until it was closed in 1915. In 1873 the Waterloo Brickworks were opened and operated until the mid 1890s. In 1884 Goodlet and Smith purchased the Junction Brick Works at Granville and later Goodlet showed his entrepreneurial attitudes by introducing the first successful colonial production of Marseille roof tiles. He also produced the first commercially viable high quality Portland cement at this site. All of Goodlet’s manufacturing activities were charactised by the use of up to date technology and labour saving devices. This enabled Goodlet to produce excellent products which sold well and produced good profits for the company.
The story goes that an English lad, brought up on the land on his father’s farm, was sent to town with a load of hay. This young horse and cart driver wasn’t looking where he was going and so he managed to tip the load into a ditch. His father said “George is no farmer and to the city he shall go”. So young George was sent to London and became a draper. The lad was George Williams who, with eleven of his fellow drapers, began an association in London on June 6, 1844. The association was the Young Men’s Christian Association – the YMCA. 
Over 70 years later, with the outbreak of WWI, this organisation would become an integral part of the war effort through sustaining the morale of young men who faced the greatest challenge of their lives, lives which in many, many cases were tragically cut short. Like the war itself, the story of the YMCA stretched over many continents and many countries where the war was fought and from where young men came. This paper, however, will focus on impact of the YMCA and its WWI effort in one sending area of Australia, the state of NSW.
The Founding of the Sydney YMCA
The YMCA had an uncertain start in the colony of NSW when in June 1853, a letter appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) encouraging the formation of a YMCA along the lines of that which existed in Great Britain and in Melbourne. In September 1853, the YMCA prospectus was published on the front page of the Sydney newspapers. It advised that the YMCA was to be under the Presidency of John Fairfax and with no less than 18 clerical vice presidents. Their presence was designed to indicate the support of the protestant Christian churches (there were no Catholic priests listed) and to show that the new organisation would be no threat to them. The motivation for forming the organisation was: (more…)
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, 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’, 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, and went into partnership with Thomas Drinkwater in 1854 after his arrival in Sydney. They operated as Drinkwater and Lee, engineers who specialised in brass fittings, but the partnership was short-lived and was dissolved in April 1856. 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. 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. The poem was entitled ‘Oh Tell Me Ye Breezes’ and was on the disappearance of Ludwig Leichhardt, the explorer. 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. 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.
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.’ Lee was engaged as a teacher and his (more…)
John Kent (1843-1916), Accountant and YMCA supporter
John Kent was born in 1843 in Hinton Waldrist, Berkshire, England, the son of John Kent, a farmer with some 435 acres and employing 15 labourers, and Jane Gee. John was the fourth child and the eldest son among seven children. Around 1860, John left the farm and at 17 was placed under a private commercial tutor for special training in accountancy and commerce, possibly in connection with the drapery business. After gaining experience in a solicitor’s office that specialised in bankruptcy, further work in private banking and then in a sales department of a warehouse in London, he decided on a commercial career in Australia.
Kent arrived in Sydney in 1863 and obtained a position with the drapers and silk merchants Francis Giles and Co and by September 1864, the company had been placed in the hands of administrators as its debts were twice its assets. This experience provided John with a personal understanding of company insolvency, and this proved very useful for his later business career which involved overseeing and administering such insolvencies. His employer’s business was bought by John Thompson and continued to trade under the name of Francis Giles and Co with Giles as manager. It is possible that Kent retained his job despite the difficulties, but may have left after a fire destroyed the business in 1867. Kent’s obituary says cryptically that after his time at Francis Giles and Co he spent some time in the country and then, after three years, ‘resumed his business career’. It is probable that he spent some time, at least up to 1869, as an ‘Episcopalian catechist’ in the Kurrajong/North Richmond area. During his time there he was involved in public controversy over the abandonment of denominational schools and the commencement of public ones. Kent was concerned that the public education system would not allow the scriptures to be taught within it, a concern he maintained throughout his life. On his return to Sydney he began work for W Gardiner and Co who ran a soft goods warehouse, a similar line of business to his former employers.
In 1871, John married Helen Clayton (nee Felton) (1828-1902), a widow with two daughters Elizabeth (1856-1916) and Catherine (1857-1913), and John and Helen had one son, Walter John (1872-1873), who died at eight months and three weeks. Initially living in Francis Street, Sydney (1871-1879), they began to move with the increasing success of John’s business. They moved first to Marlborough Street, Leichhardt (1880-1883), then to Marion Street, Leichhardt (1884-1897), followed by O’Hara Street, Marrickville (1898-1904) then, after Helen’s death, John moved to Union Street, North Sydney (1905-1910) followed by a final move to Cleveland Street, Wahroonga (1911-1916). At least from 1888, Kent also owned a country residence, farm and orchard of some 445 acres at Barber’s Creek, later known as Tallong. Here he planted apples with a view to exporting them to England which he did from 1892, for he correctly foresaw that England could become a major market for the export of Australian fruit.
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…)
Sharp Hutchinson Lewis (1830-1921), Glover and an early Secretary of the YMCA Sydney
Sharp (Sharpe) Hutchinson Lewis was born in 1830 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 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.
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. On January 1, 1858, Sharp took over the business which, despite some early financial difficulties, 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’. In 1861, Sharp opened a
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’. He finally disposed of the business to his sister Frances Johnson (nee Lewis) and his assistant Edward Carroll in March 1874.
Lewis later accepted an invitation from James Woodward 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 and went, it was said, on an extended trip to England. But this information is incorrect as he, his wife and three of his children, went to live in Dunedin, New Zealand, where he worked for Hallenstein Bros and Co at the New Zealand Clothing Factory as an Inspector of Branches. During his time in Dunedin, he involved himself in the local YMCA as a committee member and also became the secretary of a company to set up a Coffee Palace which sought to ‘combine all the advantages of (more…)
The Commencement of the Young Men’s Christian Association, Sydney (YMCA)
In June 1853, a letter appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) encouraging the formation of a YMCA along the lines of that which existed in Great Britain and in Melbourne. This was the first intimation that plans were afoot to commence such a work in Sydney. It seems likely that this anonymous letter was the product of conversations between Samuel Goold, John Mills and John Joseph Davies about the importance of forming a branch of the YMCA in Sydney. In July 1853 and through an advertisement, Samuel Goold sought a copy of the rules and regulations of the YMCA of Great Britain because a similar organisation was soon to be formed in Sydney. The first meeting of the Association was chaired by Goold and was held at his house on the corner of Pitt and King Streets and it continued at this venue for some time. The YMCA prospectus was published on the front page of the SMH in September of 1853 under the Presidency of John Fairfax and with no less than 18 clerical vice presidents. Their presence was designed to indicate the support of the protestant Christian churches and to show that the new organisation would be no threat to them. The treasurer was James Comrie, John J Davies was the secretary and it had a committee of fifteen. The motivation for forming the organisation was
the great want observed to exist here by many persons who are anxious for the moral and intellectual advancement of this country and felt especially by young men who earnestly desire to keep pace with the march of the mind in our Fatherland, seems to be the absence of those helps and guides, and means of improvement, which seek an apparatus as the present Association is calculated to afford.
The organisation was officially inaugurated in Sydney, with its first public meeting on October 5, 1853, and with a lecture given by the Rev George King. It was the arrival of Sharp Hutchinson Lewis and his appointment as Secretary that proved to be critical to the survival of the YMCA at this stage of its life. In London and (more…)