Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

History Revisited - John Stuart Mill's link to New England

I have let this post stand, but following it I discovered that there were two Harriet Taylors and that our Harriet Taylor (and despite one Taylor family history) could not have been  Harriet Taylor Mill.
A PLACE OF LEARNING: William Tydd Taylor attended Edinburgh University before marrying Margaretta Lucy Lind and moving to the New England Tablelands  
I never cease to be fascinated by the connections I find as I trawl through New England’s history. This is another such case.

William Tydd Taylor was born at Edinburgh in 1814. Initially he lived with father John, Mother Harriet and younger brother John near Dundee on the River Tay.

Now we come to the first connection. Harriet Taylor is better known as Harriet Taylor Mill, ardent feminist and the wife of economist and philosopher John Stuart Mill.

It is not clear when Harriet Taylor and John Stuart Mill first became involved. Helen Taylor, John and Harriet Taylor’s daughter, was born in 1831. By 1833, Harriet was living in a separate residence, although the public fa├žade of the marriage was preserved. at John Taylor’s request.

The relationship between Harriet and John Stuart Mill began as shared intellectual interests, but then deepened into something more. Mill was always generous in recognising her contribution to his thought, Harriet reluctant to accept, although she was writing in her own right. Finally, but only after John Taylor’s death, Harriet and Mill married.

John Taylor was clearly a remarkable person. A man of education, he accepted the relationship and also inspired daughter Helen with a lifelong love for history and strong filial affection from an early age. After Harriet’s death, Helen, now known as the step daughter of John Stuart Mill, would carry on her mother’s work.

These events all lay in the future at the time William Tydd Taylor was born.

William attended Edinburgh University and then became a barrister. In 1838, he received an inheritance from his grandfather’s estate. The following year, on 30 July 1839, William married Margaretta Lucy Lind.

Margaretta was, I think, another connection to that eighteenth century Scottish Enlightenment that had helped form John Taylor.

Born in Calcutta to Alexander Francis Lind, a member of the Bengal Civil Service, and Anna nee McCann, Margaretta was the granddaughter of James Lind of Gorgie.

A physician and surgeon and close friend of the poet Shelly, James Lind had visited China in 1766, went to Iceland with a young Sir Joseph Banks and then became physician to the royal household of George the Third.

One of the guests at William and Margaretta’s wedding of was a young Frederick Roberts. Roberts was William’s cousin and would become Roberts of Kandahar, one of the most famous British generals of the nineteenth century. He remembered William and Margaretta as a handsome couple, a view supported by later photos.

Events now would take the newly married couple to other side of the world, to the southern New England Tablelands where they would spend the rest of their lives.

The catalyst here was almost certainly another of William’s cousins, Archibald Clunes Innes. I will continue this story in my next column.
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 20 April 2016. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

History Revisited - introducing stories from the early days of European settlement on the New England Tablelands

The period 1832 to 1842 was not a good time for New England’s Aboriginal peoples. In 1832, Semphill and Cory each took up Tableland’s runs. By the census of 1841, just nine years later, the European population had reached 1,100 people, almost certainly outnumbering the diminished Aboriginal population.

While the early settler numbers do not seem so huge by today’s standards, to the local Aborigines the size and scale of European intrusion was confronting, a wave that could not be easily resisted.

By 1832, the New England’s Aboriginal peoples would have been well aware of the presence of the Europeans. There is an issue here that we will never properly understand, the way transmitted information was interpreted.

My feeling is that the structure and culture of Aboriginal life made interpretation and response difficult, although its something I am trying to think though. Whatever the case, violence seems to have peaked during the period 1839-1842. By the late 1840s, .Aboriginal people had become an important part of the pastoral workforce.

Perspectives are important. To modern Aboriginal people, the whole process was invasion. To the settlers, it was settlement, the occupation of a sparsely inhabited land. Each side has a story based on very different perspectives and experiences. .

I have written a little of the story from an Aboriginal perspective. I will write more later. However, over the next few columns, I want to tell some of the story from a settler perspective, focused on the first few decades of European settlement.

In that story, the Aboriginal tragedy is a small sub-text. For that reason I will not focus on it. Rather, `I will try to tell the story from a family and domestic viewpoint, the nature of connection and the difficulty of life.

The life of the early European settlers did not suddenly begin on the Tablelands. They were part of a broader world, one alien to the Aborigines they met. This was a world of connection that spanned a different space and time.

In writing, I want to focus on family and connection. I also want to focus on the domestic.

The stories of these people form part of modern New England life. There are still descendants. More importantly, the names are all around us..

The stories that follow are drawn from the histories of runs and stations, many published in  the 1980s. You won’t find them on-line, but you may find them our second hand bookshops.

In my next column, I will tell you a little of Terrible Valley and the Taylors.
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 13 April 2016. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016.


Wednesday, April 06, 2016

History Revisited - a collection of wisdom

SHARING THE KNOWLEDGE: the Collective Wisdom project was held in the Armidale Town Hall in 1966 to demonstrate the way computers and communications technology could be used to boost teaching in the city's many schools
In 1996, Armidale saw a major exhibition in the Town Hall under the banner of the Collective Wisdom Project.

Combining Armidale schools, private and public, primary and secondary, the exhibition showcased the way new computing and communications could aid education. .A key objective was to gain support and funding for a modern communications network linking all Armidale educational institutions that would encourage and showcase collaborative working and in so doing sell Armidale as an education centre.

The exhibition was ambitious in size and scope. School groups gathered in the Town Hall to create web pages. Back at school, others prepared content to be sent to the Town Hall over the phone lines. There was a video link up between the Town Hall and the UNE campus in Sydney.

With support from Martin Levins and The Armidale School, the Town Hall display worked perfectly. However, despite support from a Telstra team who set up the Town Hall links, major communications problems emerged. In the end, disks had to be driven to the Town Hall instead of being sent down the wires.
FROM SLATES TO KEYBOARDS: Students were able to compare the learning styles throughout history
The Collective Wisdom exhibition combined Armidale’s past, present and future.

It was mounted in the dying embers of a local entrepreneurial high technology and professional services boom that had begun in the 1980s. This grew rapidly providing significant employment, and then declined just as sharply under the combined impact of the Keating recession and growing turmoil within the University of New England.

The issues highlighted by Collective Wisdom remain relevant today in the continuing discussion about the NBN and communications, about the role that technology should play in the future of education in Armidale and indeed Armidale’s future as a high technology centre.

Finally, the exhibition used exhibits from the Armidale Museum of Education to highlight the difference between past, present and prospective future.

In my last column, I mentioned that Eric Dunlop first raised the question of what he called his '"Old Time One-Teacher School" museum project' just eight months after returning to the Armidale Teachers’ College in 1949.

With support from College principal G W (Bill Bassett) and the Department, attempts began to identify items that might be included in the proposed museum. One item identified at Inverell was the beehive building of the old Pallamallawalla school.

While the Education Museum slowly evolved, Dunlop turned his mind to a second project. Late in 1953, he went on a nine moth trip to Europe to study, among other things, folk, house and open-air museums across Britain and Scandinavia.

This trip created the idea of a folk museum for Armidale. The net result was that Armidale gained two museums, the Education Museum opened in 1956 centred on the Pallamallawalla school and then, in 1958, the Folk Museum.

Eric Dunlop left Armidale in 1962, leaving a considerable legacy behind.

I will leave the museum story here. Later, I will tell you the stories of other museums established across New England as a consequence of the museum movement. 
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 6 April 2016. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016.

History Revisited - Eric Dunlop never wearied of teaching

INSPIRING GENERATIONS: Eric Dunlop was a a lecturer in history st the Armidale Teachers' College and a pioneer of the museum movement. He was originally a student at Fort Street Boys High School where he was inspired by C B Newling, first head of the Teachers' College, after whom the campus is named.
Today’s column explores the life of one man, Eric Dunlop, who played such a major role in the development of Armidale’s museums.

In writing about local and regional history, I am often frustrated because of the lack of biographical data. Fortunately, in Eric’s case we have the work of Nicole McLennan to draw from.

Eric Dunlop was born on 17 May 1910, the son of Alexander, a journalist, and his wife Jane. Dunlop did his secondary education at Fort Street Boys High School where he was taught history by C B Newling, later first principal of the Armidale Teachers' College. McLennan records that Newling reputedly fired Dunlop's interest in museums by setting he and another student a project to examine and report on the Australian Museum's Captain Cook artefacts.

In 1933, Dunlop graduated from Sydney University with a Master of Arts with first class honours in history and began teaching. .The following year at the young age of 24, Newling recruited him as lecturer in history at Armidale Teachers' College.

After two years at the College, Dunlop decided to return to teaching, taking advice that this would broaden his experience and accelerate promotion. He became frustrated at the limitations in the school system, realised that he had found his true vocation at the College and sought to return. Twelve years and one war later, he returned to Armidale in February 1949.

Three things should be remembered in considering the events that followed.

Dunlop was influenced by the ideas of what was called the 'New Education', with its emphasis on putting 'the school into contact with "real life", the need to develop all the powers of the child, the value of "learning by doing" and "activity", and "self-expression"'.

This ‘New Education’ focus fitted with another thread, Dunlop’s interest in the country and in the local and regional experience, a thread that meshed perfectly with local concerns. Local state member and former Education Minister David Drummond, for example, was both an exponent of the ‘New Education’ and of the Northern and Country causes of which Armidale was part and also major beneficiary.

Finally, Dunlop had both energy and perseverance, necessary conditions if you are to drive things through.

In 1949, just eight months after his return to Armidale, Dunlop formally proposed his '"Old Time One-Teacher School" project' to Dr G W Bassett, then principal of the College. This involved the reconstruction of a bush school on the college fields, authentically furnished and equipped, paying 'attention to minute details'.

The building was to be set up as a museum, catering to school groups and tourists. It would also be a research centre, housing a collection of materials on educational practice and facilities for the use of students at the College. Through the project, Dunlop hoped to 'awaken a deeper consciousness of the intrinsic interest of our early history' via the preservation and display of historic objects.

In my next column, I will tell you a little more of the story of Eric Dunlop and the history of Armidale’s museum movements.
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 30 March 2016. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016.