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Friday, January 27, 2012

Charles Badham

From the Illustrated Sydney Newspaper
It would be remiss to omit Charles Badham from the history of the Blue Mountains even though little remains of his time spent there. He, like many other members of the teaching staff of the University of Sydney holidayed or maintained weekend retreats in the Blue Mountains in the latter part of the nineteenth century.  Charles Badham maintained a mountain retreat on several acres of land at Linden.[1]   He was in good company because his immediate neighbours were Sir Henry Parkes, Sir Alfred Stephen and Sir James Martin.[2]

Charles Badham was born in England on 18th July, 1813, and was the fourth son of Charles Badham M.D., F.R.S. and first wife Margaret (nee Campbell.)[3]  He is known to have been schooled in Pestalozzi’s institute in Switzerland by educational reformer Dr Charles Mayo, before entering Eton where he was a King’s Scholar in 1826. He received a B.A. in 1837 and an M.A. in 1839, from Wadham College Oxford before studying for several years in ‘Germany, France and Italy.’[4]

Wadham is one of the most notable of the smaller Oxford colleges. It was the birthplace of the Royal Society. In the nineteenth century Charles Badham, described by competent judges as the most brilliant of English scholars, was at Wadham, but never won a Fellowship, and shamefully neglected in England in spite of a European reputation, ended his life as a professor in Australia,”[5]

Badham became a Deacon of the Church of England in 1846, an ordained priest in 1848, and was awarded a D.D. at Cambridge in 1852.[6]  Records reveal that he married Julia Matilda Smith at the end of 1847, or in January the following year.[7]  The couple had at least two children – Charles and Herbert – before Julia died in 1856.  Charles married his second wife - Georgiana Margaret Wilkinson - on the island of Jersey on the 31.12.1857, and went on to have several more children before the family left England.  Two more were added to their brood in the years following their arrival in Sydney.[8]  

Badham was a genial but controversial figure.  Wilma Radford suggested in fact that it was his religious views that delivered him into conflict, and dominated, what was otherwise, his natural charm, articulacy and skill as a teacher.[9]  The excerpt above, published in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1923, seemed to confirm Radford’s opinion, and it is believed that Badham’s close friendship with freethinker and reformist, Frederick Denison Maurice, was the cause.  Maurice, a theologian and Christian Socialist was himself under fire for unorthodox practices.[10]  

Nevertheless, Badham’s ability as an educator shone through because he became the headmaster of a school at Southampton, and of King Edward’s Grammar School at Louth 1851-1854.[11]  Later, 1854-1866, as headmaster of Edgbaston Proprietary School, Badham became part of the intellectual elite of Birmingham.  In 1863, the eminently well-qualified Badham was elected an examiner in classics by the Senate of the University of London.[12]  

Therefore, when Badham arrived in Australia on 23rd April 1867, he was a highly respected scholar and an able successor to John Woolley the reigning professor of classics at the University of Sydney.   Sir Edmund Barton, Australia’s first Prime Minister, was fortunate to study classics under Badham in 1867, and it was he that instilled in Barton a life-long love of Greek and Latin.[13] Thomas Butler (later Professor), and classical scholar, E.R. Garnsey, were one-time students.[14] James Whiteside Frazer McManamey - brother of John McManamey principal of Woodford Academy – was also a student, as records held by the university confirm.  

Badham was quick to realize that the success of the University of Sydney relied as much on the skill of its teaching staff as it did on enrollment numbers.  Yet ten years after its foundation in 1857 enrollment numbers at the University continued to suffer because the colonial elite persisted in the tradition of sending their offspring to Oxford or Cambridge.[15]  However, a home-grown university education was beyond students living in far-off rural areas of New South Wales, or for  ‘lowlier’  born students except through scholarships.[16]   Badham believed that it was the responsibility of those who reaped the most benefit from the colony to give back - in some way - to the ‘sons of hard-working’ men and it was perhaps this sentiment that eventually led to the introduction of the bursary system in 1875.[17] 

Life in the colony was not all smooth sailing for this brilliant scholar.  In 1879, Mr. John McElhone (1833-1898) alluded to Badham’s elitist attitude before parliament when he quizzed the Secretary of Public Works on the legality of Badham occupying an entire compartment of a first-class westbound railway carriage.   When the Secretary replied in the negative McElhone pressed on by asking if Badham was aware that it necessitated the addition of another carriage in order to accommodate the remaining passengers.  Again,  the answer was no. McElhone received no joy from his probing because the Railway officials denied all knowledge of the occurrence.

McElhone, a merchant and politician, was a controversial character who constantly denounced ‘roguery…corruption’ and the ‘jobbery of parliament.’  So vicious were his verbal attacks against sitting members that on one occasion he was sued for libel by Thomas Garrett.[18]  McElhone has been variously described as being an ‘illiterate mountebank, a commercial Shylock’ who was not above using violent and ‘abusive language.’[19]  So was Badham elitist or simply unconventional?

A  letter written by Miss Elsie Stephen in 1947 seemed to confirm the latter, and might appropriately describe the ‘entire’ Badham clan.  Elsie, the daughter of Sir Alfred Stephen who owned the adjacent property, suggested the entire Badham family were very odd because they dressed in very old clothes and hats and made a habit of waving gardening implements - like rakes, hoes and spades – at the trains (and unsuspecting passengers) that passed by their home.[20]  Two homes were erected by the Badham family on their land at Linden.  The first, a cottage named Metchley built c1877, burnt down in bushfires, while the second, a cottage called Western House built c1878, was eventually demolished.  Badham is thought to have named Metchley for Metchley Abbey Birmingham, his one-time home.

Furthermore, Badham’s views on education – for that time – were fairly radical and saw him in conflict with R.A.A. Moorehead who attacked suggestions put forward by him for reforms to primary school education at the time when John Robertson was the Premier of New South Wales.  It was Robertson who introduced a Bill to amend the Public Instruction Act.  It would seem that this incident commenced what would become a long running battle with the Council of Education. 

Consequently, Badham’s detractors held the view that he was nothing more than an irritant.  Unconventional, irritating, elitist he may have been but there is no getting away from the fact that he was a man well ahead of his time in his views of revised opportunities for education en masse.  Badham was determined that a university education should be open to all social classes.[21]  Therefore, it was not surprising that in 1883 he proposed distance education and evening classes for students who could not attend classes in the usual manner.

Various letters, some written from his mountain home, Badham argued the case for evening classes for the Faculty of Arts on the grounds that it would bring culture to people who were forced to earn a living during the day.  Badham may have seen this form of education as filling the gap that - in Great Britain – was filled by Schools of Art and Mechanics Institutes.  He was keen to provide education facilities for the working class.

Badham once told his friend, William Bede Dalley – barrister and one-time acting Colonial Secretary – that he once entertained the notion of following a career in the diplomatic service.  Dalley was of the opinion however that ‘the dear old boy’s temper was too volcanic’ for this type of position.[22]  

Nevertheless, among other positions he was on the board of trustees of the Free Public Library and a trustee of Sydney Grammar School.[23] He was an eloquent orator, wrote and spoke Shakespeare and Dante and had the grasp of several languages.  Given the aforementioned, it is of interest to note that Badham renamed Christabel Falls at Lawson (originally named by Jose Guillermo Hay for his daughter) to Dante’s Glen because of the presence of glow worms.  Hay, who moved to Western Australia later, along with  Sir George Allen, Charles Moore and James Neale (all members of parliament) were appointed trustees of reserves at Lawson in 1880.[24]

Sir William Charles Windeyer LLD, MA was also a friend to Badham and the latter man supported the former in his attempt to  establish state high schools for girl’s c1878.  That attempt failed but Badham was unflagging and when the Public Instruction Act was drafted in 1880, he still sought the extension of higher education for girls.  Badham and Windeyer were among that rare breed of 19th century men who supported feminism.  Indeed Windeyer's  wife was a long time friend of Louisa Lawson; both women working for the feminist cause.  Thus, it comes as no surprise that it was Dowell O’Reilly who introduced the first successful women’s suffrage bill into the NSW Parliament.[25] It perhaps comes as no surprise that it was Sir Henry Parkes who congratulated him on his effort.

In 1881, the efforts of Windeyer and Badham became a reality when it was announced that women would be admitted to the University of Sydney.[26]  If women hoped to be treated as equals they were sorely disappointed under the Chancellorship of Henry Norman MacLaurin who was obstructive and did not share Badham and Windeyer’s progressive ideology.  High school education for girls, which had been included in the Public Instruction Act, got off to a slow start.  In 1884, just prior to his death, Badham appointed Lucy Arabella Stocks Wheatley-Walker (later Garvin) as the first headmistress of the new Sydney Girls High School.  Lucy remained as such until 1919.  The Wheatley-Walker family were residents of North Springwood (now Winmalee).

It has been said that Badham assisted his sister-in-law, Mrs. O’Reilly (widow of Rev. Canon O’Reilly and sister of his first wife) with the opening of Hayfield c1881 which was a boy’s prepartory school located at Parramatta/Granville Heights.[27]  Charles Badham’s first wife, Julia Matilda Smith, was sister to Rosa O’Reilly (nee Smith) the mother of writer, poet and parliamentarian and one-time commentator for the Bulletin, Dowell O’Reilly.  Dowell O’Reilly is perhaps more famous for being the father of renowned author Eleanor Dark.  Julia and Rosa Smith had been educated in France and were said to have descended from the Villeneuve family who fought with Napoleon at Waterloo.[28]
Hayfield, according to newspaper advertisements of the time, maintained a permanent branch of the school at Medlow Bath where the students were sent - for their health - on a rotating basis.[29]  

Badham’s involvement was short lived however, because he died in 1884. The Sydney Morning Herald published a lengthy report of his funeral where all the ‘University officers and members assembled in academic costume.’[30]  Badham’s sons George and Robert rode in the first carriage together with Mr. Dowel O’Reilly (nephew of the deceased) and the Hon. W.B. Dalley who was the then Attorney General.[31]  Traffic was suspended and spectators lined the streets of Sydney to witness one of the largest funerals ever held in the colony.[32]

It is clear that Georgiana – Badham’s second wife - still frequented the property at Linden until at least 1886 because the Nepean Times newspaper reported the collapse of a dam on the adjoining property of Andrew Hardie McCulloch MLA - in November of that same year - that flooded the Badham’s garden washing away all Georgiana’s fruit trees.[33]  In what can be described as an interlocking set of circumstances, Dowell O’Reilly had married Eleanor the daughter of Andrew Hardie McCulloch had been an MP for the Central Cumberland district.[34] Eleanor is thought to have been the music teacher at Hayfield and she and O’Reilly met when he and his brother taught at the school.[35]

Badhams Funeral procession Ilustrated Sydney News
Georgiana died 24.9.1926 and remained physically and mentally alert until her 95th year.   Sadly she outlived all of her children.  Edith, Badham’s daughter by his first wife, became the first headmistress of Sydney Church of England Grammar School (SCEGGS) in 1895, and remained in that position until her death in 1920.  Charles Lennard Cobet Badham, Edith’s brother, was employed in the Lands Department c1870.

[1] Blue Mountains City Council local studies vertical files.
[2] ditto
[3] Wilma Radford, ‘Badham, Charles (1813-1884),’ Australian Dictionary of Biography,
 Volume 3, Melbourne University Press, 1969, pp. 68-71.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Sydney Morning Herald, 3.12.1923, p. 10.
[6] Wilma Radford.
[7] Crisps Marriage License Index 1713-1892 marriage license 16.12.1847, reproduced,, accessed 29.6.2011.
[8] Ancestry, NSW births, deaths & marriage indexes.
[9] Wilma Radford.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Martha Rutledge, ‘Barton, Sir Edmund (1849-1920),’ Australian Dictionary of Biography,
 Volume 7, Melbourne University Press, 1979, pp. 194-200.
[14] Wilma Radford.
[15] Roderic Campbell, ‘The modest hospitality of a scholar:’ Badham and the first
Bursaries, Record 2005, pp. 13-22.
[16] Roderic Campbell.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Martha Rutledge, ‘McElhone, John, (1833-1898),’ Australian Dictionary of Biography,
 Volume 5, Melbourne University Press, 1974, pp. 150-152.
[19] Ibid.
[20] Elsie Stephen, copy of correspondence in Joseph Jackson file, 28th July, 1947, Blue
 Mountains City Council local studies vertical files.
[21] Oxford University, Oxford & the World, Australian Connections, undated,
[22] Wilma Radford.
[23] Wilma Radford.
[24] NSW Heritage Office, Heritage Information Series, Assessing Historical Association,
 2000,, accessed 20.6.2012.
[25] Barbara Brooks & Judith Clarke, Eleanor Dark, a Writers Life, MacMillan, Sydney, 1998,
 p. 14.
[26] Lilleth Norman, The Brown and Yellow, Sydney Girls High School 1883-1983, Oxford
 University Press, 1983.
[27] Sydney Morning Herald, 4.1.1890.  Address given as Granville Heights.
[28] Barbara Brooks & Judith Clarke, p. 15.
[29] The Illustrated Sydney News, 3.10.1889, p. 15.
[30] Sydney Morning Herald, Funeral of the Late Rev. Charles Badham D.D., 1.3.1884, p. 8.
[31] Ibid.
[32] Ibid.
[33] Nepean Times, November 1886.
[34] Barbara Brooks & Judith Clarke, p. 14.
[35] Ibid.

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