A Popular and Fashionable Church

People of the superior sort

Dugald Thomson

Dr Robertson

Finding a Minister

Good news on the financial front

Weddings, weddings, weddings

Church extensions

Church and community

The kindergarten

The Girls’ Club

People of the superior sort

The opening of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’s season, which was postponed a fortnight ago because of the unfavourable weather, was successfully celebrated on Saturday afternoon. The morning broke in anything but promising mood, and when the rain again descended another postponement appeared inevitable. Happily, however, the rain clouds dispersed, the sun shone out genially though somewhat fitfully, and the afternoon proved very pleasant.
Sir James Fairfax, commodore of the squadron, entertained a very large number of guests at Carabella, the delightfully situated clubhouse, overlooking Neutral Bay. The picturesque grounds, beautifully green and fresh as a result of the recent rains, were gay with bunting, and the scene from the lawn was one of animation and exquisite beauty. The bright spring costumes worn by many of the ladies blended admirably with the surroundings, completing a colour scheme rich yet delicate. Out in the bay many of the yachts belonging to the fleet lay at anchor, gaily decked with flags, while motor launches and other craft were well represented. Beyond were the racing yachts, their snow-white sails glinting in the sunlight, the more sombre-hued cutters from the warships, and a great number of skiffs; the whole forming a scene of rare charm, heightened by the ever-varying colour of sky and sea. It was a scene peculiar to Sydney, for, as remarked by a globe-trotter who was present, “nowhere in the world will you find anything quite like this.” The yacht race—the principal event on the programme—was started just as a strong south-westerly squall sprang up, and away the vessels sped with the rails under, presenting a magnificent sight. The yachts were capitally handled, and there were several exceedingly fine exhibitions of sailing.
The commodore, on landing from his yacht, the Isis, was met by a reception committee. Sir James Fairfax, who was accompanied by Lady Fairfax, welcomed the guests as they arrived, being assisted by the vice-commodore (Mr. T. H. Kelly), the secretary (Mr. C. A. Gueadon), and other officers of the squadron. The visitors included his Excellency the Admiral, Sir A. D. Fanshawe, and several prominent members of other clubs, among whom was Mr. S. Hordern, commodore of the Prince Alfred Y.C. Afternoon tea was served on the lawns and in large marquées erected in the grounds. During the afternoon the band of the Royal Australian Artillery discoursed sweet music to the enjoyment of all present.
Amongst those present were his Excellency the Admiral... Mr. and Mrs. Carment... Dr. J. R. Robertson, Mrs. and Miss Robertson... Mr. Dugald Thomson and Miss Thomson... (SMH, 30-10-1905)

David Carment, there with his wife Elizabeth, was the long-time Secretary and Treasurer of St Peter’s; since 1895 he and Dr Robertson had both sat on the combined trust that now administered all the property of St Peter’s – the old Church, Manse and School endowments. If Henrietta Robertson, the doctor’s wife, was the same who had filled in on the organ for a few months in 1895 between Frances Anderson’s resignation and the engagement of Mr Wale, it may have been her experience that prompted Dr Robertson to present the Church with a hydraulic motor for the organ in 1896. Till then, a boy had pumped the organ by hand. Eleven-year-old Christian (pronounced ‘Kirsten’) Robertson was already making her own contribution to the community:

As a result of a bazaar held by two children, the Misses Christian Robertson and Ellie Brown, Mr. T. K. Creswell, hon. treasurer of the North Sydney Benevolent Society, has received a cheque for £22 10s 2d. (SMH, 10-11-1903)

(the North Sydney Benevolent Society was chaired by Dugald Thomson).

‘Wyreepi’ today

Dugald Thomson and his sister’s association with St Peter’s (they were adherents) was not as long standing a one as that of the other families, though following the death of Rev McKinnon, Thomson was chosen along with Dr Robertson to represent the congregation on the Selection Committee. On that committee, David Carment was a member ex officio.

The Carments’ solid Victorian house, ‘Strathearn Villa’, with its tennis court beside it, stood in Whaling Road – a part of North Sydney much favoured by the respectable and affluent. The Andersons were round the corner, the Fells up the hill. Thomson and Robertson were in Kirribilli. One of an attached pair owned by two Thomson brothers – three storeys with stables behind – ‘Wyreepi’, Dugald Thomson’s home, looked all the way down and up the harbour from the highest point of Carabella Street. ‘Linton’ at 51 Pitt Street, where the Robertsons lived till 1910, extended through to Campbell Street (now Kirribilli Avenue), and looked directly over the harbour to Circular Quay.

In 1892 the three men had been together representing the Church at the funeral of Dr Alexander Morson, trustee of the North Shore Hospital and an Elder at St Peter’s. Presumably Roger McKinnon was ill, for the service was taken by Rev W. H. Ash of the Crows Nest Church (Dr Morson being a Scotsman of the old school, and one of those who did not entirely approve of Sutherland Sinclair’s entertainments, it was probably as well he was unaware his funeral was being conducted by a minister who lent his name not only to a breakfast cereal advertisement, but to one that some people would consider blasphemous):

(The Advertiser, 23-3-1904)

The next year, both Dr Robertson and Dugald Thomson were noted among those present at Rev McKinnon’s own funeral.

Dugald Thomson

Dugald Thomson was the first representative in Federal Parliament for the electorate of North Sydney – at that time including more or less all the territory between the Parramatta River and the Hawkesbury, and he continued to hold the seat till he retired in 1910. Previously he had been state member for Warringah; before that, in business. He began his political career by believing in free trade, but his most consistent political belief was that any government attempt to regulate working conditions ought to be strongly resisted. In Parliament he had a reputation for integrity and hard work:

From August, 1904, to July, 1905, Mr. Thomson was Minister for Home Affairs in Sir George Reid’s Cabinet, and showed himself a very efficient administrator. He had the reputation of being one of the most trustworthy men Australian political life has known. While a Federal member Mr. Thomson served on the select committee on decimal coinage, 1901, the Royal Commission on the steamer Drayton Grange, 1902, and on the Royal Commission on the Navigation Bill, 1906. He was a representative of Australia at the Merchant Shipping Conference held in London in 1907. (SMH, 28-11-1922)

The Australian Dictionary of Biography adds that:

Respected for his ‘strong convictions and eminent fairness’, he was too good natured and straightforward to seek or exploit political advantage. When urged to nominate for the Speakership, he modestly declined.

On his retirement, it appeared that he had been a great favourite with the women:

Under the auspices of the St Leonards branch of the Womens Liberal League an “at home” was held yesterday afternoon at the local School of Arts. Mrs Fell presided over a large attendance, the majority of whom were ladies. During the afternoon addresses were delivered by Senator Neild, Messrs Dugald Thomson and G. B. Edwards, Mrs. Luffman, and Mrs. Swift.
The primary object of the gathering was to bid farewell to Mr Dugald Thomson who is retiring from the political representation of the district and extend a welcome to Mr. G. B. Edwards, who has been chosen by the local Liberals to fill the vacancy. Mr. Thomson’s voluntary retirement from the Federal political arena is regretted on all hands and by no body of workers in the Liberal cause more than the ladies’ organisations who considered that they had in him the ideal politician. Their regret was expressed in a practical way as during the interval Mr Thomson was the recipient of a handsomely-bound volume containing the autographs of all those present to wish him good-bye. Grateful references were made to the valuable service rendered to the constituency by Mr Thomson, and they were gracefully acknowledged. Afternoon tea and music added to the general enjoyment, and Mrs. Fell in dispensing the hospitality of the ladies received great assistance from Mrs. Doig (secretary) and Miss Gillies. (SMH, 3-3-1910)

Mrs Fell, Mrs Doig and Miss Gillies who dispensed the hospitality were all St Peter’s people.

Dr Robertson

Dugald Thomson’s political views would have been very congenial to Dr Robertson, who believed that the Federal Government’s policies were ruining business, frightening investors, and generally crippling the country:

“It was simply marvellous the amount of information they had about Australia.” So remarked Dr. J. R. Robertson at Sydney the other day. This was one conclusion he arrived at after moving among all classes of people in England and Scotland, during a tour from which he has just returned... Dr. Robertson took Home some big propositions, principally for the development of coal mining, which he considered would attract the support of the British capitalist. As the local managing director of the Mount Kembla Coal and Oil Company, Ltd., which is an English corporation, with the head office in London, he was in a favored position with regard to the chief object of his trip, and he was successful in securing the investment of a very considerable amount of capital to further the projected enterprises. But he encountered a very determined disposition on the part of moneyed men to shut down absolutely on any industrial proposition from Australia. “They are afraid of Socialism, and our experimental industrial legislation,” he added emphatically. “I found that the more intelligent section of the people of Great Britain knew pretty well all the salient features of Australian questions, while as to the leading financial and business, houses, I was simply astounded at the intimate knowledge they had of our resources and industrial position. Any proposition for investment would, in many cases, be met with the production of our Acts of Parliament, Arbitration Court decisions, detailed reports, and generally the display of a greater acquaintance with the subject from all aspects than one would, perhaps, find on the spot here in Australia. They entertain no doubts about the ultimate result of our industrial legislation; they simply ask how long it will be before the end comes and the men who are attempting the development of the industries of the country are ruined. Money that ought to be coming here for investment, and would, under other circumstances, come here, has been frightened away. Tens of millions of pounds are going to countries which a few years ago would not have got a penny...” Dr. Robertson spent a good deal of his time as a sort of amateur intelligence officer and immigration agent. He gave a great number of lantern lectures, principally to the students of the big universities. “It was astonishing,” he said, “the amount of interest they took in anything Australian. To show that it was not just a passing whim, I received letters for weeks after from parents of students, asking questions that had not occurred to their sons. There is no doubt in the world that if the interests of Australia were properly represented, and we could be assured of no disastrous legislation, the whole floodgates of English capital and emigration would be turned towards Australia.” (The North Western Advocate and Emu Bay Times, 27-8-1909)

James Robertson was a medical doctor. Born in Renfrew, he had studied medicine and graduated MD and ChM from the University of Glasgow; he served for a time as regimental surgeon to the Black Watch in India and Burma. However, like his father before him, he combined medicine with an interest in mining, and particularly in coalmines.

Preferring mining engineering to medicine, Robertson joined the Tharsis Co. in Spain about 1869-70. Between 1872 and 1879 he was consultant to British mining companies in Borneo, the Malay States, India and Burma. In January 1874 he visited New South Wales and in July 1880 settled in Sydney as a mining and consulting engineer. He spent the next fifty years closely involved in the New South Wales coal industry and as geological consultant to mining operations elsewhere in Australia. On 20 November 1883 he married Henrietta McKean Inglis of Melbourne, at Paisley, Scotland. (Australian Dictionary of Biography)

In NSW James Robertson soon acquired a reputation of being unsympathetic to the workers – hardly surprisingly, if views he was to express later were any indication:

The ordinary miner in Australia cannot be put to the same work as the miner at home because he is not experienced enough...competent men were rare among the newer class of miners. More interest appeared to be taken in football and horseracing than in the more serious work. (SMH, 11-3-1903)

When in 1887 he was appointed to a Royal Commission to look into the explosion at the Bulli Colliery in which 81 men were killed there were strong protests from the miners’ union who expected there would be a cover-up, with management receiving none of the blame. Whatever his ideological inclinations, however, Robertson was fair-minded. The coroner’s jury had found:

that such explosion was brought about by the disregard of the Bulli Colliery’s special rules and the Coal-fields Regulations Act, in allowing men to work where gas existed. (SMH, 31-12-1887)

James Robertson joined the other commissioners in substantial agreement: in a mine that was known to be gassy the men should have been working with due precaution, and the managers should have had the sense to see that they did (David Carment, by the way, was in charge of distributing the substantial relief funds that were raised by public subscription).

This judgement, however, did not win Robertson any continued credibility from labour. During most of the 1890s he remained in conflict with the miners, insisting that the industry could not afford any improvement in conditions:

Dr. Robertson, the General Manager at Waratah Coal Mine, whose men voted in favour of a general strike, states that he is determined to adhere to his refusal to increase the hewing rate, but he suggests to the men that the whole question of wages shall be referred to the Premier or the Chief Justice in Equity, Mr. Justice Owen. If either of these gentlemen, after due enquiry, report that an increase is possible under present conditions, he would pledge himself that the different collieries with which he is connected would abide by the decision. (South Australian Register, 23-3-1896)

At this time, perhaps to protect his family from harassment, Dr Robertson’s occupation at his home address is listed as ‘surgeon’.

Dugald Thomson, at least within his large electorate, was a public figure, quite able to handle addressing the crowd from a hotel balcony while being heckled by rude boys in the street, as at his election to Federal Parliament in 1901. Outside the world of mining, and the boards he sat on, by contrast, there were perhaps not many who knew James Robertson. He was not fond of public speaking; he was reserved; his recreation was ‘reading scientific literature’. His moment in the public eye, when it came in 1902, showed that though a manager and a capitalist, Dr Robertson could be a man of action, and as prepared as anyone to take on the dangers that mining involved.

On July 31, just before 2 in the afternoon, people in Wollongong heard an explosion and saw what seemed a cloud of smoke over Mount Kembla, seven miles away. It was to be the greatest mining disaster in the history of NSW: 96 men and boys lost their lives. The next day’s Sydney Morning Herald reported:

All that was last night left of the workings at the pit’s mouth was a tangled jumble of ironwork and a heap of splintered timber. The first intimation that something was wrong came with appalling suddenness. It reached the outside of the mine in the form of a fearful roar. The engine house at the mouth of the pit was lifted bodily and then hurled to the ground and smashed to matchwood and iron shreds. The heavy ironwork was torn out of shape. To add to the terror of the situation huge clouds of whitened coal-dust, now an impalpable powder, filled the air. This was the cloud that was mistaken in Wollongong for smoke...
It was difficult to move about. The drive up the precipitous mountain road was bad enough in the inky darkness of the night, even in its earlier stages, but as we drew nearer the scene of disaster the experience grew to the pitch of misery. Dark forms passed us by. Some one on our box seat asked one couple—a sobbing woman and a sturdy young man—“What about Charley?” “Dead.” “Dead?” The questions were put in a subdued voice. “Yes, he is dead; my boy is dead. Oh, it is terrible!” the woman sobbed in answer. It was terrible indeed. Woman after woman passed, all crying, some quietly, some wailing aloud, unable to control their anguish; and as we came to the mine the first sound which struck our ears was a voice reading aloud the names. We pressed our way forward, and there, gathered around a fire, was a crowd of men and women, and in advance of them a man reading aloud the names of the rescued and the dead as they were posted up on the side of a house.

At 11 that night, Dr Robertson arrived and joined a party heading into the mine to search for survivors – not a task for the faint-hearted:

One of these parties consisted of H. O. MacCabe as leader, William Crawford, John Caisley, G Dobbin, H. Cabon, A. M‘Donald, J. Souter, W. Murray, and P. Devers. After travelling up the drive and to within a few yards of the face where the coal is being hewn, Mr MacCabe, who was leading stopped suddenly and brought the party to a halt with a cry of “Back boys, quick.” The men all turned at once, and though the after damp was overpowering they all struggled along 60 or 70 yards. Mr. MacCabe, who is a big man, and led one of the relief parties in the Bulli disaster, at this point fell down overcome. MacCabe was immediately picked up by Messrs. Crawford and Caisley, who stuck to him as long as possible. Some distance further on they also became overcome and were compelled to put him down. When they did so Mr. MacCabe said “It is no use, boys, get away and save yourselves.” Leaving him Caisley and Crawford pushed on until Caisley fell, and immediately afterwards Crawford collapsed.
The other members of the search party then combined to assist their fallen comrades to the mouth of the tunnel. When they got into the open air it was discovered that Mr Murray was also missing. It is believed that he fell at the time MacCabe was overcome. As this search party was returning to the mouth of the tunnel it met a fresh party entering and sent it on to rescue Messrs. MacCabe and Murray...
Shortly after 2 o’clock it was learned that Major MacCabe and William Murray of the rescue party were dead and that their bodies had been recovered. (SMH, 1-8-1902)

If Robertson’s party escaped, it was through better luck, not lesser risk. According to his own account:

We were not long in the mine when we detected the presence of carbonic oxide, or white damp. It is exceedingly dangerous, because it scarcely affects a light, and therefore you do not receive much warning of its presence. It was the same kind of gas that killed so many people at Hartley 40 years ago, when the beam engine broke and fell down the pit. The members of my search party were more or less affected by the poisonous gas. It made one giddy and fall senseless...When I was in the mine I got so bad with the gas that I had only strength to whisper to the men to pull me out. The men did so, and the whole of the search party got to the corner of the main road where the air was better. I recovered there. When I heard that Major MacCabe had collapsed I decided not to leave the mine until he was got...
When Mr. Jones, in accordance with his understanding with poor MacCabe, came round his section I was sitting in the main road by myself, my party having gone out of the mine. When Mr. Jones and his party joined me I sent out for another party to bring in sacking to form a brattice so as to carry fresh air further into the workings. When the party came in with the brattice material we went straight forward and covered up the stopings. This sent a current of fresh air forward, and we speedily recovered the bodies of Major MacCabe and Mr. M‘Murray. They must have been lying within 15 yards of my party during the early part of the night. The poor fellows were lying together in each other’s arms. They looked as if they had been trying to assist each other. I am deeply grieved at the death of Major MacCabe, because he was a dear friend and a brave and an honourable gentleman. (SMH, 2-8-1902)

By the time Roger McKinnon’s successor was to be selected, Dugald Thomson was 54 with another six years of his parliamentary career to come; James Robertson was 60 and might have been entitled to feel he had seen enough action for one lifetime. From that time on his appearances in the press are mostly to do with the Highland Society (both he and Thomson were on the council) – hosting an ‘at home’ for the visiting Scottish soprano Miss Jessie Maclachlan, serving on the New Year’s Concert committee, donating ‘a valuable number of poetical works’ to the Society’s library. He took an active interest in The Scots College, introducing the boys to the beauties of Scotland just as he was later to do for those of Australia to the undergraduates of Britain:

At the invitation of Dr. Robertson the students of the Scots’ College and their friends were entertained on Friday evening at a lantern lecture, illustrating and describing the castles of Scotland. The lecturer (Mr. Alex. Kethell, M.L.C.) was listened to with appreciation by a large audience. During the lecture, which was held in the college hall, Mr. Kethell was applauded, and at its conclusion was thanked on behalf of the boys by the principal, the Rev. A. Ashworth Aspinall, B.A. (SMH, 11-12-1905)

He sat on the College council; he was secretary of the association of old students of Glasgow University. He gave his support to the Granville Presbyterian Church (no doubt the proximity of the Clyde Engineering works had something to do with that):

Great preparations have been made for the Presbyterian bazaar opened this (Friday) afternoon in the Town Hall by Dr. J. R. M. Robertson and Mrs. Robertson, of ‘Vanduara,’ Kirribilli. On Tuesday a gift evening was held in the school class-room, when a number of beautiful gifts for the refreshment stall were displayed on the table. The. Rev. H. Wilson presided. (The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers’ Advocate, 19-11-1910)

(the Robertsons had moved in 1910 into a newly-built Edwardian house at 10 Elamang Avenue, only a short stroll from the yacht club. ‘Vanduara’ is supposedly the ancient British name for Renfrew).

Finding a Minister

The first serious meeting of the Selection Committee was held on January 4, 1904. Four ministers were approached, with an offer of £4 for two Sunday services. Three replied; Rev Dunn of Newtown did not. The next meeting fixed dates for the three who had shown an interest: January 24 for Rev Morgan of Minmi, January 31 for Rev Wilson of Granville, February 7 for Rev Macaulay of Waverley. None of these men were given further consideration after they had preached. Then there were the volunteers – Mr Watts who had supplied wanted another hearing; Mr Jennings of Hay and Mr McDonald of Brisbane asked to be considered; Mr Auld of Bombala and Mr Clark of Toowong were recommended to the committee.

By January 18 the committee had a shortlist of eight. Two of them were already engaged to preach, and were not heard of again when they had; Rev Burgess of Kiama preached on February 21 and so put himself out of the running as well. Those remaining were Messrs Dunn of Newtown, Kinghorn of Bathurst, Talbot of Randwick, West of Burwood, and John Walker, previous Moderator and now special Commissioner of the General Assembly; David Carment wrote to them all, inviting them to preach at St Peter’s.

The Chairman reported regarding letters he had received 1o.   from the Revd C. N. Talbot stating that he would not agree to preach as a candidate, but suggesting that some of the selection committee might go to hear him in his own pulpit.
2o.   from Revd R. Scott West, that he wd not agree to preach in St Peter’s, but would be open to consider a call.
3o.   From Revd Mr Kinghorn, that he would not agree to preach, but wd not be averse to a call.
4o.   From Revd John Walker, declining to give a direct reply. (Selection Committee Minutes, 1-2-1904)

Further suggestions were put to the committee – including a second appeal by Rev Watts for another hearing – but Talbot and Kinghorn now seemed the best of the candidates. On February 14, E. J. Smith (who was half-brother to Rev Roger McKinnon, and presumably able to recognize an effective minister when he saw one), Dr Robertson and Dugald Thomson went to Bathurst, while Donald Smith and David Carment went to Randwick. Meanwhile, Sutherland Sinclair brought word of another possibility: Rev R. A. Redmond, said to have one of the largest congregations in Ireland and to be a powerful preacher, who had stopped off in Sydney while on a world cruise to recover his health. Enquiries were made as to when Mr Redmond might be available, and whether he was up to the job.

The Interim Moderator reported:

that Mr Redmond could not come on the 6th March but would be able to preach on the 13th. It was decided that he should be asked to come also on the 20th. Mr Waugh explained that Mr Redmond was prepared to remain in the colony and was not necessarily prohibited on the score of health from living in Sydney. (Selection Committee Minutes, 29-2-1904)

Meanwhile, Rev Kinghorn was invited for any date after March 20, while, in response to yet another appeal, Rev Watts was informed ‘that in view of other candidates in the field it was not considered that he wd have a chance of final selection’.

At the following meeting it was reported that Redmond would be preaching on the 20th, while Kinghorn had once again declined to visit St Peter’s – in view of the fate of those who did come, probably a wise decision: any minister would show to best advantage in his own pulpit. That Sunday, the three men who had already heard Rev Kinghorn attended St Peter’s to see what the eloquent man from Ireland had to offer; the three who had heard Talbot but not Kinghorn made the trip to Bathurst. The committee met again on the 27th. Of the ten who were present, Dr Robertson, Dugald Thomson and E. J. Smith had now heard Kinghorn and Redmond, while Donald Smith, David Carment and Charles Anderson had heard Talbot and Kinghorn.

Messrs Anderson, D. Smith, Carment & Grant reported as to their visit to Bathurst to hear Mr Kinghorn on Sunday the 20th Inst.
Mr Sinclair read two letters which he had received from residents of Bathurst regarding Mr Kinghorn.
Mr D. Smith moved, Mr Anderson seconded, & it was carried unanimously “that it be conveyed to the Congregation that this Committee is unanimously of opinion that a call should be given to the Revd James Kinghorn, now of Bathurst, to the vacant pastorate of St Peter’s.” (Selection Committee Minutes, 27-3-1904)

The Congregational Meeting was held on April 6, and sent its request to the Presbytery. A stipend of £350 was offered. Having told the committee after its first approach that he was not averse to a call, James Kinghorn was not slow to respond:

The Rev. James Kinghorn, of Bathurst, received a unanimous call to St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church, North Sydney, and has accepted it. He expects to enter upon his new pastorate about the middle of July. (Australian Town and Country Journal, 4-5-1904)

In fact the new Minister and family – Ethel the Minister’s wife, their two teenage children Ruth and Roy, and nine-year-old Bruce – arrived sooner than expected (by first names Mrs Kinghorn would have been Bertha, and the children Margaret, James and Alan, but apart from the Rev James, not using their first names seems to have been the rule in the Kinghorn family). The Minister was inducted on June 5. The following Wednesday saw a celebratory social:

A Social Gathering
to Welcome The
Revd James Kinghorn, M.A.
was held in the School Hall on the evening of June 8th 1904.
The Revd R. H. Waugh in the chair.
Addresses of Welcome were delivered as follows:—
Mr S. Sinclair on behalf of the Session and the Sabbath School
Mr D. Carment on behalf of the Committee of Management & Congregation generally
Mr D. Smith on behalf of the Church Choir
The Revd W. H. Ash on behalf of the Sydney Presbytery
The Revd N. J. Cocks on behalf of the Congregational Church.
Mr McCreadie, cheif inspector of School, and representing the Presbytery of Bathurst addressed the meeting.
The Revd Dr Cameron made some interesting remarks regarding the early work of the late Revd R. McKinnon and our present Pastor, both of whom labored under Dr Cameron during their early experience in this Colony.
Mr Kinghorn suitably replied to the addresses, and expressed his thanks for, and appreciation of a Pulpit Bible which was presented to him by Mrs Doig on behalf of the ladies of the congregation
The Revd R. H. Waugh was presented with a peice of Silver plate suitably inscribed as a memento of his pleasant association with St Peter’s Church as Interim Moderator during the late vacancy in the Pastorate. Mr Waugh feelingly replied, stating that he, and his family would always cherish the memento.
Light refreshments were served and the rest of a pleasant evening was spent in music and conversation. (Kirk Session Minutes, 8-6-1904)

Good news on the financial front

Substantial work had been needed to get the Manse ready for its new occupants:

The Report of the Works committee regarding the Manse repairs was submitted as follows:—
the roof to be slated with purple Bangor slates; all the living-rooms to have the wood-work varnished and the walls prepared for papering – the paper to be supplied – and the ceilings to be whitened; Servant’s room and kitchen to be done with alabastrine; Bath-room to be painted and partition to be heightened; a bath to be supplied – cast iron, burnt paint – Hand basin to be fixed in bath room; New gas fittings to be obtained for Drawing and Dining rooms; picture-moulding to be fixed in 3 rooms; Gutters, down-pipes etc to be repaired where necessary; Balcony flooring to be repaired; Washhouse repaired; Garden and yard put in order, new front gate fixed and new fastening to back gate; sash lines, door keys, window-fastenings and gas globes to be fixed where required; all decayed woodwork to be renewed, new ventilators to be fixed where required; all outside wood and iron work to be painted; fig tree nearest the Manse to be lopped. (Committee of Management Minutes, 9-5-1904)

The total cost of getting this work done was £220:5:2 (about $35,000), a sum which, with the Church finances as they were at the time of Roger McKinnon’s death, should have been out of the question. Dr Robertson made an offer:

The Treasurer intimated that Dr Robertson had offered to advance any money which might be temporarily required towards executing the repairs, & the Secretary was requested to write & thank him for his generous offer which the Committee would be glad to avail themselves of. It was further resolved that an intimation should be read to the Congregation to the effect that the Treasurer would be pleased to receive any contributions towards meeting this expenditure. (Committee of Management Minutes, 9-5-1904)

This was not the first time Dr Robertson had come to the Church’s aid – in 1897, when revenues had begun to fall behind expenditure and the Committee was anxious to refinance the debt on the hall, he had taken up £400 worth at a reduced rate of interest. The doctor was not pleased, however, when he heard that subscriptions were being invited – repairing the Manse, in his opinion, was part of the running expenses of the Church, and running expenses should be paid for out of revenue or not at all. That was the business-like way. The Committee withdrew their appeal to the Congregation.

But the money was soon recouped. Each meeting of the Session saw new members added to the roll. On July 4, the Committee of Management decided that 350 copies of the Order of Service should be printed each week. At the following meeting it was found necessary to warn the regular congregation to arrive early or find their seats taken:

Regarding the seating of strangers at the Sunday services it was agreed to make an intimation from the pulpit to the effect that seat-holders are expected to be in their seats five minutes before the hour for the commencement of service, sittings not then occupied to be available for strangers (Committee of Management Minutes, 22-7-1904)

At the September communion service 103 people were recorded as attending – half as many again as at the last communion where Rev McKinnon had presided – and some regulars had got away before their names were taken. No doubt those in attendance had noted that in the up-to-date fashion, communion was now being served from individual cups – a change Sutherland Sinclair had proposed a year before. At the previous meeting of Session:

Individual communion cups, trays & case generously supplied by Dr J. M. Robertson were on view and greatly admired. (Kirk Session Minutes, 1-9-1904)

The chalice previously (and still) in use had been the gift of Henry Allan.

In October it was reported (if with some exaggeration):

The Rev J. Kinghorn, late of Richmond, is every Sunday filling St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church, North Sydney, formerly an almost deserted tabernacle, to the point of overflowing. Mr Kinghorn is a “man of the people,” and one who earned the goodwill of all sections of the community whilst in Richmond. (Windsor and Richmond Gazette, 8-10-1904)

Weddings, weddings, weddings

On the same day that James Kinghorn was reported to be filling the church again, a wedding report in the Sydney Morning Herald was a roll-call of the well-connected members of St Peter’s (Wangan, the E. J. Smiths’ house, was on the corner of Walker and Mackenzie Streets – the original building is now incorporated into the administrative centre attached to St Francis Xavier, while Lavender Terraces are built on what were once the grounds fronting Walker Street where Mrs Smith held her garden parties):

St Peter’s Church North Sydney was the scene of a wedding on Wednesday, September 28 when Miss Katie Smith, eldest daughter of Mr. E. J. Smith, Wangan, Lavender Bay was married to Mr. T. M. Smith, of Shrublands, Dulwich Hill. The beautiful floral decorations in the church were the work of the bride’s friends. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. James Kinghorn, and the service was choral. The bride wore a beautiful dress of chiffon and lace over silk and carried a bridal bouquet, which with a diamond ring was the gift of the bridegroom. The four bridesmaids were dressed in soft white muslin and white hats with touches of pale green. They carried white bouquets, presents from the bridegroom. After the ceremony the guests, who numbered about two hundred, were entertained at Wangan, Lavender Bay, where refreshments were served in a large marquee on the lawn, and the numerous and handsome presents were displayed in the billiard room. Amongst those present were Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Capp, Mrs. Dangar, Dr. and Mrs. Mackinnon, Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Jones, Mr. and Mrs. Carson, Mrs. Mackinnon, Mr. and Mrs. Kirkpatrick, Mrs. Durham, Mrs. J. Richards, the Misses Richards, Dr. and Mrs. Vallack, Mrs. Wilson, Mrs. and Miss Wildridge, Mr. and Mrs F. Walker, Mr Dugald Thomson and Miss Thomson, Mr. Ninian Thomson, Mr. and Miss Gillies, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Thomson, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Smith, Mrs. and Miss Fell, Mr. and Mrs. Doig, Mrs. James Smith, Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Armitage, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Evans, Mr. and Mrs. G. A. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. R. S. Smith, Mrs. James Little, Mr., Mrs. and Miss Carment, Dr. and Mrs. Robertson, Mr. and Mrs. Cresswell, Mr. B. and Miss Moodie, Rev. J. and Mrs. Kinghorn, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrey, Mr. and Mrs. Old, Mr. N. Turner, Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Dixon, Mrs. Torrance, Dr. E. Sparke, Mr. A. Rose, Mr. Warden, Mr R. Platt, Mr. Sep. Smith, Miss D. Amphlett, Miss Nita Allt, Colonel and Mrs. Bartlett, and Dr. and Mrs. Ross.

The ‘beautiful floral decorations’ at a wedding like Katie Smith’s would have gone far past what is usual nowadays, as may be gathered from a description of the wedding of her cousin Blanche McKinnon six years before:

St. Peter’s Church was the scene of the ceremony, and the interior of its old grey walls had been made beautiful with decorations of foliage, flowers, and trailing ivy. Two arches of wattle, golden and green, spanned the aisles through which the bridal procession passed. Another arch, over the pulpit, was composed of ivy and ferns. The communion table held masses of red camellias, and there hung from the centre arch of the roof to opposite walls – festoons of ivy. A beautiful bell of white camellias was suspended over the heads of the bridal group. (SMH, 6-8-1898)

Another report mentions a reception just along the street at Folkestone, following a fashionable wedding at St Peter’s:

The marriage of Douglas Walter, second son of the late Mr. James H. Phillips and Mrs. Phillips, Southwold, East Adelaide, S.A., and Dora, youngest daughter of the late Mr. Thomas Walker and Mrs. Walker, of Folkestone, Lavender Bay, and Gillendoon Station, Warren, N.S.W., was celebrated by Rev. Kinghorn, at St. Peter’s, North Sydney, on August 15. The bride was given away by her brother, Mr. Reginald Walker, and wore a dress of white Brussels lace over chiffon and ivory glace, with deep border of white satin charmeuse round the skirt. The lace bodice had yoke of rucked chiffon, with stole ends of satin charmeuse, finished with silver cords and tassels, and a long sash of satin falling to the hem of the skirt, and finished with knotted silk fringe. She carried a posy of lilies of the valley, with white tulle streamers, and wore a sapphire and diamond ring, also presented by the bridegroom. Miss Adelaide Walker (sister) and Miss Evelyn Phillips (bridegroom’s sister) were bridesmaids, and wore white muslin, with insertions and pleated frills of Malines lace, and black picture hats, with tulle rosettes and black feathers. They carried bouquets of crimson carnations, with eau-de-nil ribbon streamers and wore amethyst and gold necklets, which were also gifts from the bridegroom. A reception was held at Folkestone after the ceremony by Mrs. Walker, who had returned from a tour of the world a few days previously. Standing beneath a wedding-bell of white flowers suspended in the drawing-room, the newly-married couple received the congratulations of their friends. The presents were displayed in the morning-room, refreshments were served on the verandah and in the dining-room, the tables decorated with white flowers. The honeymoon was spent at Medlow Bath, the bride’s going-away dress being of ivory cloth, braided with white soutache, and a wine-coloured hat, with autumn leaves and shaded roses. (SMH, 5-9-1908)

The site of Folkestone is now occupied by a home unit block of the same name – of the Walkers’ home all that survives is one very weathered stone gatepost on the Lavender Street frontage.













Church extensions

By the end of January 1905, Dr Robertson’s loan had been repaid in full out of income, and Rev Kinghorn had been voted an extra £40 to top up his stipend. A new popular minister and a fashionable church had no need to watch the pennies.

The first anniversary of the Minister’s induction was something to be celebrated:

A well-attended social in connection with St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church, North Sydney, was held in the School Hall, Blue’s Point-road, on Thursday evening, the occasion being the celebration of the first anniversary of the settlement of the Rev. James Kinghorn as minister of the congregation. In the course of the evening, Mr. and Mrs. Kinghorn were presented with a handsome tea and coffee service by the ladies of the congregation. (SMH, 10-6-1905)

The congregation was larger than ever, and the financial troubles of a year before had disappeared. If attendances were to continue and grow at the present rate, it seemed time to give thought to extending the Church – a 20 foot (6 metre) addition to the western transept (opposite the tower porch) could fit another hundred people.

The Committee estimated the job could be done for £550 (about $87,500), but added a prudential resolution – for if the Minister should be tempted elsewhere, what would become of the congregation then?

It was further resolved, on the motion of Mr E. J. Smith seconded by Mr Mackay, that in view of prospective liabilities it be a recommendation to the Congregation that the Minister’s salary be raised from £350 to £400 as from 1st January last. (Committee of Management Minutes, 17-7-1905)

In August it was reported that the extensions were going ahead:

St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church, North Sydney, is to be enlarged, to meet the necessities of the largely increased congregation, under the ministrations of the Rev. J. Kinghorn, assisted by the church committee. The present accommodation is for 350, but this is totally inadequate at times to meet the requirements. (Australian Town and Country Journal, 9-8-1905)

The Committee of Management, however, had not yet had a quote it was prepared to accept. The plans were revised, and revised again. In the end Patrick Grant, the Session Clerk, who was a builder, agreed to do the job for £595, and his quote was accepted (it helped that Dr Robertson agreed to lend any money that was needed beyond what the congregation subscribed). In September the contract was let; by October the Sydney Morning Herald was able to report that work was under way:

Work has been commenced in connection with the extension of St. Peters’ Presbyterian Church, North Sydney, where the powerful and cultured preaching of the Rev. J. Kinghorn is attracting very large congregations. (14-10-1905)

The result was the demolition of most of what still remained of the original church building. All that was left was the stonework in the western transept up to and including the first pair of facing windows. Past those windows had been the western wall of the first church, with its central door leading to the vestry and the trefoil window up in the gable. Now there were two further windows on each side, and a double vestry – one room for the choir and one for the Minister, each with its own door. The fabric of the church had now taken its final form:

The new side windows were chosen to fit in with the ones installed under Rev McKinnon, but a striking feature of the new western wall was the rose window – a vaguely art nouveau interpretation of the burning bush. In the vestries, the new windows now installed may have been a gift of the Boys’ Brigade, for they are a matching pair, and the central motif of the window in the Minister’s vestry is an anchor, the Brigade’s emblem.

There is no record of precisely when the work was finished: the Session met in the Manse rather than the vestry in November and December, but were back in the (new) vestry by February of 1906. The opportunity had been taken at the same time to smarten up the Church in ways the Committee thought desirable:

The Secretary reported regarding the replacing of the louvres in the two gables of the Church by windows & that Dr Robertson had generously offered to bear the cost of the alteration. Also that linoleum had been laid down in all the passages of the Church in place of the old cocoa-nut matting. (Committee of Management Minutes, 2-4-1906)

There had been a lot of discussion about ventilation in the Church, which may have been rather stuffy in summer if all the seats were taken – no electric fans as yet. The new opening windows in the northern and southern gables may have improved things. As further gesture towards the substantial and successful, there was the employment once again of a paid organist (at £50 a year) in place of Mr Hume, who had done the job for nothing since subscriptions to the organist fund dried up and Mr Plummer had had to go:

Mr. A. D. Hume, the retiring organist, was the recipient of a handsome silver tea service from the choir in appreciation of his painstaking efforts in the discharge of his duties during the past three years. Mr. Hume replied, thanking the choir for their expression of goodwill. (SMH, 8-1-1906)

Mr. J. C. Norman, well known in journalistic circles, has been appointed organist of St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church, North Sydney.
Though during recent years Mr. Norman has confined his attention to the journalistic sphere, his reputation as a musician is well known. Before coming to Australia he took a prominent part in the musical life of Dunedin, and acted as organist at the Anglican pro-Cathedral of that city. (SMH, 2-3-1906)

Church and community

In 1906, St Peter’s became involved with two initiatives directed towards the less fortunate of North Sydney. The first, floated in 1901 by the two principals of the girls’ college at Redlands, Neutral Bay, was a free kindergarten, to be associated with the Kindergarten Union. By the middle of the next year, the idea had taken definite shape:

The kindergarten

The first public meeting of the North Sydney branch of the Free Kindergarten Association of New South Wales was held at the North Sydney Town Hall on Friday night. The Mayor (Alderman T. W. Hodgson) presided, and there was a representative attendance, which included many ladies. Mrs. A. B. Davidson is the hon. secretary of the movement, which has for its object the providing of free kindergarten teaching for the children of the poor of the district.
The Mayor said that the movement was one that the residents of the district should and no doubt would support.
The Rev. N. J. Cocks, M.A., spoke of the value of kindergarten work and the necessity existing in the district for the extension of the system to it. He thought a system which trained the memory, will, and imagination of children who in tender years could not receive adequate home instruction was needed for North Sydney. The movement had already received some impetus locally, meetings having been held at the residences of Miss Liggins and Mrs Hay. The cost per annum would he £60. Of this about £12 was in hand. A room was available at the School of Arts for £6 per year, and the salary proposed for the teacher (Miss I. Anderson) was £45 per annum. The system was not a pauperising one, for parents could voluntarily tax themselves by contributing to the cost of the work. He commended the matter to those present.
The Rev. R. H. Waugh detailed the items of expenditure involved in the establishment of the school.
A piano was essential. The ladies’ committee had already done some work, and were ready to receive subscriptions. These would prove the practical sympathy of the meeting. He advised that nothing be done till the whole ’60 was in hand.
Subscriptions were then received, the result being the raising of £9 7s and the promise of contributions of furniture, &c. Several ladies volunteered to collect subscriptions in the district. A vote of thanks was accorded the Mayor, on the motion of Mr. Malbon Thompson, seconded by the Rev. N. J. Cocks. (SMH, 2-6-1902)

Of the two clergymen present, W. H. Waugh was Presbyterian Minister at Neutral Bay, while N. J. Cocks was Minister of the Congregational church at Milsons Point – the handsome red-brick building (now a Chinese Christian church) that looked down from the top of Willoughby Street to Careening Cove.

Free kindergartens for poor children came to Sydney as a Congregational Church idea from San Francisco; as a charitable project it was an idea that quickly drew support from wealthy Protestants of various church allegiances. The Hays were a St Peter’s family: John Hay, whose wife hosted one of the kindergarten meetings at their property ‘Crow’s Nest’ (now the site of North Sydney Demonstration School), donated land for the building of Crows Nest Presbyterian Church (now Uniting) at the top of Shirley Road.

The North Sydney kindergarten was the fourth in Sydney. It opened with 21 children in the Masonic Hall in Walker Street on October 31, 1902, under the supervision of 19-year-old Isabel Anderson, James Anderson’s daughter: a few short months before she had been one of girls on the refreshments stall at the Redlands Bazaar (one might have expected that Isabel, like Bessie Carment, would have attended ‘Torsonee’, just up the hill from where the Andersons were living; the family must have felt the extra distance to Fitzroy Street, and after 1899 to Military Road, was worth the effort). Isabel may already have had experience of working with pre-schoolers, for the Misses Liggins and Arnold were proud of their kindergarten.

New Year card to Isabel Anderson from Frances Anderson
(formerly Church organist) – about 1890

By 1906 there were more than 40 children enrolled; the Masonic Hall was at capacity, the Kindergarten looking for larger premises; by May they had moved to the Sunday School accommodation in St Peter’s lower hall, for which they seem to have paid about ten guineas a year ($1,650). There was no formal connection between Kindergarten and Church, but Mrs Hay was vice-president, Mrs Donald Smith, wife of St Peter’s long-time choirmaster, was on the executive committee, while the finance committee had Isabel Anderson and Mrs McKinnon, whose husband, Dr Robert McKinnon, was the son of the previous Minister.

The concern of the Kindergarten’s patrons for improving the welfare and happiness of the children was not restricted to fund-raising:

On Tuesday the pupils of Miss Liggins and Miss Arnold entertained the children of the North Sydney Free Kindergarten. Willing hands had prepared a large Christmas tree. The little ones, whose ages ranged from 3 to 7, were delighted by the arrival of Santa Claus, who soon transferred the books, toys, and sweets from the big tree to the eager little hands. Lady Fawkes, the president of the North Sydney Kindergarten, was unavoidably absent, but she sent a kind message to the little ones, and to the girls who had provided so generously for them. (SMH, 21-12-1906)

The end-of year function in 1908 had the children of the hosts there too, sharing, but also learning what was expected of the more fortunate in society by helping dispense the entertainment:

A pleasant and unique afternoon was spent at Crow’s Nest, the residence of Dr. and Mrs. John Hay, on Saturday, December 11, when a children’s garden party was given, and Mrs. John Hay, assisted by Mrs. Richard Arthur, was “at home” to a large number of juvenile guests, accompanied by their parents and friends. Mrs. Hay had also made this the occasion of entertaining the little ones of the North Sydney Free Kindergarten Union, of which she is vice-president. There were numbers of ladies interested in the movement present, and the large and beautiful grounds looked most picturesque. Both those looking on and those helping enjoyed watching the pleasure of the many children, and listening to the band. There were swings everywhere, a Punch and Judy show, and a clown running hither and thither, and these attractions made the afternoon pass all too quickly. About 50 little kindergarten children were there, in charge of Miss Anderson. In the marquee at tea time they sat at their own little tables, brought especially for them. After tea Mrs. Hay, assisted by some of the other children, dispensed gifts to each child as it passed her on its homeward way, and the little faces fairly beamed with the possession of each pretty toy and bag of sweets for its “very own.” Amongst those present were Mrs. Wade, the Misses Wade, and Master Wade, Mrs. and Miss Moore, Mrs. Carruthers and the Masters Carruthers, Mrs. Burdekin, Mrs. A. Hay, Master and Miss Hay, Mrs. P. H. Morton and the Misses Morton, the Misses Hay, Mrs. T. B. Dibbs, Mrs. Mark Sheldon and the Misses Sheldon, Mrs Joseland and Master Joseland, and Miss Joseland, Mr. and Mrs. Will and Master Will, Mrs. Storie Dixson and the Misses Dixson, Mrs. Carter and the Misses Carter, Mrs. Amphtill, Mrs. Donald Smith and the Masters Smith, Mrs. J. B. Thomson and the Misses Thomson, and the Misses and Master Arthur. (SMH, 4-1-1908)

If there had been any doubt that the Kindergarten was a worthy project for fashionable North Sydney, the fund-raising ball in 1908 would have dispelled it:

The Masonic Hall was beautifully decorated in red and green, and about 160 were present. Lady Poore (president of the Kindergarten) arrived about half-past 8 with a party from Admiralty House. She was received by the Mayor and Mayoress, Mr. and Mrs. John Carter. Miss Lena Wilshire, on behalf of the committee, presented her with a bouquet of violets. Lady Poore wore an effective Empire dress of black velvet with point lace, and black and white choux in her hair. Mrs. Macarthur Onslow’s black dress was covered with beautiful lace, and Miss Owen wore white. Colonel Macarthur Onslow, Captain Bodham Wetham, Lieutenant Fanshawe, R.N., and Flag-Lieutenant Fisher also accompanied Lady Poore. Among those present were Mrs. Blythe, Mrs. Russell, Mr. and Mrs. David Fell, Mr. and Mrs. Ninian Thomson and the Misses Thomson, Dr. and Mrs. Mackinnon, Mrs. Wilson, Mr. and Mrs. Williamson and Miss Self, Mrs. Moseley and Miss Ronnie, Dr. and Mrs. Studdy and Miss Plummer, the Misses Mann and Miss Clarke, Mrs. Randal Carey, Miss Minter and Miss Joseland, Mr. and Mrs. Burton Dibbs, Mr. and Mrs. Old, Mr. and Mrs. T. Dodds and Miss Dodds, Miss May Smith, the Misses Moore, the Misses Anderson, Shaw, Balcombe, Mackenzie, and Carter, Mr. W. D’Apice, Dr. Capper, Mr. J. M. Addison, Mr. Broughton, Mr. J. Anderson. Mrs. M‘Kinnon was the hon. secretary of the ball committee. (SMH, 20-6-1908)

Though Isabel Anderson had come straight from school to the Kindergarten, she had grown into the role – to achieve for these pre-schoolers an education ‘which moulded the youthful mind so that it might attain to a broader knowledge and an independent self-reliance’ as she put it. By the time of the move to St Peter’s Hall in 1906 she was responsible for 68 children and directing five other teachers.

The Girls’ Club

At this same time, Isabel Anderson saw a need to do something for the welfare of young people in the post-school years (most then were leaving school at 14). The result was the establishment of a Girls’ Club that met in the Hall. As the Sydney Morning Herald’s correspondent put it in 1908:

It is recognised now without dispute that the way to build up a nation is to begin with the children. Kindergartens and nurseries have more sympathy from thoughtful people than gaols and hospitals. But there is an age midway between the Kindergarten child and the responsible adult, the age when the individual boy or girl must choose for himself or herself the course to be sailed through life. It is for the help and guidance of this age of adolescence that the many girls’ clubs now existent in Sydney were established. Nearly every big centre, north, south, east, or west, has its club where business girls meet together and under interested and painstaking teachers learn to sing in chorus, to sew, to read, and to develop their bodies and their brains. (18-11-1908)

The idea was rather similar to the one that had inspired Boys’ Brigades such as the one the Fairfaxes founded for newsboys and others who worked on the streets. ‘It was a fine thing,’ said the Herald, ‘to see these girls, most of whom spend their lives at factory tables or behind shop counters, walking round the hall with swinging step and easy upright pose. Shoulders that would otherwise have been round and bent were held erect; faces that might have been dull and listless from all work and no play were bright and intelligent and showed a keen interest in their doings.’

From 1904, the University Women’s Society organised an annual competition for what were collectively known as Working Girls’ Clubs, which included a number of organisations with similar aims from suburbs close to the city: most, but not all, were church-based. In 1907 the clubs competing were Bourke Street, Burwood, the Glebe Girls’ Brigade, North Sydney, Methodist Girls’ Brigade, Waterloo, the University Settlement and the Y.W.C.A. Miss Anderson’s girls took the prize for chorus singing in 1908, and in 1909 one of the prizes for window gardens.

That this was an outreach beyond the community normally engaged with the Church did not go unnoticed by the Session – in particular by Adam Anderson, Isabel’s eldest brother, who was now acting Session Clerk:

It was suggested by Mr A. T. Anderson that a Young Men’s Club be formed in connection with the Church, same to be run upon somewhat similar lines to the Girls’ Club.
In connection with the Boys’ Brigade the following notice of motion was given by Mr A. T. Anderson to be discussed at next Session meeting—that “In view of the fact that the boys of our own church and neighbourhood do not avail themselves of the Boys’ Brigade, that it be disbanded within one month from the present time.” (Kirk Session Minutes, 22-7-1908)

Not a move that Sutherland Sinclair could be expected to welcome: the Boys’ Brigade had been his particular project. Sinclair, however, had been obliged to resign as Superintendent of the Sunday School in 1906 – and to take extended leave from his job – because of ill-health. Whether it was the lack of his enthusiastic presence, or whether the attraction of other organisations, such as the Boy Scouts, was too strong, the Boys’ Brigade at St Peter’s was not what it once had been. At the next meeting of Session, Sutherland Sinclair conceded:

Moved by Mr Sinclair that “Mr A. Macfarlane, Captain of the Company of the Boys’ Brigade be thanked for his earnest efforts to manage the company and assured that the Session has watched and appreciated what has been done. That he be informed, the Session taking present conditions into consideration has determined that it would be well to suspend operations after the close of the next Annual Inspection until such time as it may be found desirable to resume. That in view of above decision there be no B.B. Concert this year, the Superintendent of the Sabbath School undertaking to make a grant towards meeting expenses should there be a deficiency. That Mr Macfarlane be asked to convey this above resolution to the officers of the Company and extend to them also the thanks of the Session.” Seconded by Mr Anderson & carried. (Kirk Session Minutes, 13-8-1908)

Sutherland Sinclair had received the formal thanks of the congregation at the end of 1906:

At the close of Divine service in St. Peter’s Church, North Sydney, on Christmas morning, Mr Sutherland Sinclair, who after 27 years’ labour as superintendent of the Sunday School, recently retired on account of ill health, was presented with an illuminated address and other gifts by the congregation. Brief appreciative addresses were delivered by Mr. D. Carment, Mr. P. Grant and Mr. A. J. Anderson, and the minister of the church, the Rev. James Kinghorn. (SMH, 29-12-1906)

After this, though Sinclair took a less active role in Church activities, he remained an elder and regularly attended meetings; he continued to be involved with numbers of charitable and evangelizing bodies. In 1911 he joined the council of the Sydney City Mission, in 1912 the Committee of the Bible Society; he remained involved with the Industrial Blind Institute.

The hand of Sutherland Sinclair is also to be seen in shaping the career of Roy Kinghorn. The year 1906, which saw the coming of the Kindergarten, the foundation of the Girls’ Club, and Sinclair’s resignation, was also Roy Kinghorn’s last year at Shore. Roy left school, though only 15, and presumably through Sinclair’s patronage was taken on as a cadet at the Australian Museum: he was required to attend zoology lectures at Sydney University and study part-time at Sydney Technical College. Though he failed in his studies and was consequently demoted, Roy Kinghorn remained at the Museum. On returning from World War I he was put in charge of reptiles and amphibians; he became a member of various learned societies; he published an authoritative book on Australian snakes. He also appeared on schools programs for ABC radio, and is said to have become a biology expert on the ABC Children’s Session, under the name ‘Linnaeus’.