Charles Henry Martin Introductory Comments
Charles Martin's home page 

  1. Introduction
        1. A Note About This Work
        2. Should We Tell All?
      1. Source Material.
        1. 1. Education Department.
        2. 2. Church Records
        3. 3. Newspaper Reports.
        4. 4. Miscellaneous.

      2. A few other introductory comments.
        1. His adult life could be divided into three main phases.
        2. But What Sort of a Chap Was He?
        3. History is the Record We Leave Behind Us.
      3. Charles' Schools
        1. Victoria - Map of the places mentioned in this book


    There's not many things in life of which it could be said of me that "Len's the ideal person for that job". But in the case of digging up the bones of my great grandfather, Charles Henry Martin, teacher/preacher of Ballarat, and putting some flesh on them, I think I could modestly lay claim to that compliment (compliment???). The reason for this is that our paths in life have followed remarkably similar directions (it's almost enough to spook me actually), even to the physical locations involved. In many ways I seem to have "followed in his footsteps" a century after him.
    He first came to Ballarat in 1857 to open the State School at Dana St. Almost 100 years later (97 to be exact) in 1954, I came to Ballarat to study as a student at Ballarat Teachers' College, which at that time was located at the Dana St School, and I attended lectures in the very same room in which he and his wife had taught a century earlier. I can remember sitting for one exam in the office of this school, looking up at a large picture of him, and the list of Head Masters with his name at the top.
    He was very committed Christian, and attended the Dawson St Church of Christ just around the corner from the Dana Street School. In fact he bought the land on which the church was built and advanced a loan for the building. Upon my arrival in Ballarat I joined this same church (not from any sense of family history), and for seventeen years was a member there. Many a time I looked up at the plaque on the wall in honor of Charles, realising of course that he was my ancestor, but in those days having no particular interest in this fact. I also am very familiar with all the other small places around Ballarat mentioned in the records, such as Mt. Clear, Buninyong, Durham, etc.
    He derived his income from teaching, but it is obvious to me that his main interest in life was the church and his Christian commitment, and although his work as deacon/elder/pastor was unpaid, he probably regarded it as his true calling or vocation. Likewise with me - at least in my early years (I've strayed just a bit lately). I did at one stage leave teaching for five years and enter into full time ministry within the Churches of Christ.
    He was quick to engage in theological disputes and contributed a number of articles to the "Letters to the Editor" column in the Churches of Christ paper of the time. Likewise with me - except that my letters were short (the customs of the times had changed and long dissertations were out of fashion) and were mostly (but not solely) to the secular press on religious matters. As time went on I became involved in local political issues and gained a seat on the local council, whereupon the subject matter of the letters changed from spiritual to municipal. But I still detect something of the same combative spirit in me that was evident in him. And with my background in the Church of Christ and theological study I must say that I found his letters and articles most interesting, not only for their content and theology, but also for the glimpses into his writing skills which they afford, and for the little windows which they open into his life and thinking.
    He was Head Teacher at the Port Fairy School for 4 years, and Port Fairy is a well known town to me, as my father owned a beach house there during the 1960's and we went there each year for our summer holidays. In add
ition to this my son now lives there, and my grandsons attend the Port Fairy School which is still held in the same building that was in use in those days.

    He was a teacher within the fledgling Victorian Education System for thirty years, and as I was almost forty years within the same system (apart from the five years I spent in ministry) I can appreciate much of the background and history revealed in his letters, and the situation prevailing in the state education system at the time.
So, with all these similarities, it would appear that I am indeed the ideal person to bury myself in all the documents at the Public Records Office in Melbourne and the Church of Christ archives in Mulgrave (not to mention the early Ballarat newspapers) and to gather as much information as I can about Charles Henry Martin, teacher/preacher of Ballarat, and attempt to put everything together into some sort of a book about his life.
    My journey of research and discovery has led me into a study of the history of my state, my church (both at a denominational and local level) and the Education Department wherein I taught - as well as the city of Ballarat, and the towns of Port Fairy and Casterton. I have found it all very interesting and instructive. I trust that some of what I learned I have been able to impart in this book.

A Note About This Work

    I have been engaged on and off (mostly off, but nevertheless on for quite a deal of time) in compiling this book for more than three years now. I have found it an interesting, but daunting and difficult task. I have never attempted anything of this length before. I have written sermons, and letters, and shire president's columns for the newspaper, etc. - but this work is a bit like asking a sprinter to run a marathon.
As I now look at the finished product, I note many shortcomings. I set out to write an account of Charles' life, but in the process I discovered so much documentation that it eventually became a compilation of written material. Now I realise that I have included too much of this and too many lengthy quotes. This is especially true as regards the minutes of the Dawson Street church, which were fascinating to me as I read them through in the original minute book. I decided that they gave a better indication of the life of the church and the activities of Charles than any re-wording that I might attempt, so in many places I included them almost in total. I see now that this was a mistake. However, the simple fact of the matter is that I have worked so long on this project and reviewed and revised it so often, that I must now get it completed rather than delay any longer for another re-working. So it will just have to go out "as it is".
A friend of mine, who has engaged in a similar activity for his great grandfather, has said that I should produce a short and snappy "historical' type novel, which tells the main story. I agree with him - but I have opted, at this stage, for this complete record. In the future I may well produce the shorter version - well - maybe - possibly - and perhaps.

Should We Tell All?

    Another question which has occupied my mind is the philosophical one as to whether or not I should make known all this information about Charles. After all, some of it he hadn't even seen himself, and much of it he certainly wouldn't have shared with his friends and playmates at the time. Maybe it's an invasion of his privacy.
I thought long and hard about the question, but in the end decided to include it all in the interests of completeness - while at the same time hurrying off to the Education Department to seek out and destroy my own files.

Source Material.

1. Education Department.

The Education Department records, held at the Public Records Office, Melbourne, contain a very detailed account of much of Charles teaching career.

a. Letters Written by Charles. Most of the letters written by Charles during his 30 year teaching career are still on file and are quite easy to access. The only exception to this are the periods from about 1865 to 1870, where many letters appear to be missing, and from 1870 to 1876, where all the letters are missing. As this period covers the important years of 1875/76 and all the correspondence relating to his shift- from Ballarat, this is a big loss.

b. Register of Inwards Correspondence. All letters received by the Education Department were noted in a big book, with the date of receipt and a brief summary of the contents being recorded by the secretary. This book is available for perusal, and helps to fill in some of the blanks where the actual correspondence itself is missing.

c. Correspondence from the Department to Charles. Prior to 1875, all outwards correspondence from the Department to teachers was listed in another big book which gave a summary of the contents of the letter. From about 1875 onwards, carbon copies of the letters were also kept, so that many of the actual replies to Charles can be accessed.

d. District Inspectors' Reports. In the early years of Charles' career, from 1855 to 1863, there is at least one Inspector's report for each year. These early reports are very comprehensive. They were a report on the school, but they also give much information about the teacher. In general, Charles received reasonably good reports at this stage (one was positively glowing), although once or twice there is a hint of the discipline problems which were to make his teaching life a misery towards the end.
    From 1864 until 1874, there are no reports whatever. They all appear to have been taken from the files and not returned. This is a big loss, as these years cover his main teaching activity during what he later describ­ed as the "prime of his life" (which it no doubt was). Of these years he wrote that "the Inspectors expressed themselves very favourably on the state of my school", and "I gave universal satisfaction to the parents, child­ren and Inspectors". My feelings are that a remark passed by one Inspector in 1870 provides a good summary of these years, when it was written of Charles, "Mr Martin performs his duties faithfully and with average success, but he lacks the power to bring his school under the notice of the public in such a way as to secure a larger attendance".
    No doubt the nineteen years of heavy teaching of a large class, with the added responsibilities of Head Master, took their toll upon him - made more severe by the death of Elizabeth a few months later.
    From 1875 until the end of his career, i.e. the last decade of his teaching life when he was in his 50's, Charles received a personal report (as distinct from the school reports mentioned earlier). These reports in his case were very critical of his inability to maintain proper class discipline, and he was in fact demoted from the Port Fairy school to Casterton as a result of this.

2. Church Records

e. The Dawson Street Minutes. All the original minutes from the Dawson Street Church of Christ are still extant, and I was able to gain a complete photo-copy of them. They give a wonderful glimpse into the life of the church from its beginnings, during the time that Charles was there.
f. The Early Church of Christ Magazines. Prior to 1868, the official Church of Christ magazine was the "Millennial Harbinger" printed in England. It contained reports of the progress of the denomination in various parts of the world, including Victoria. In July 1868, the first edition of the "Christian Pioneer" was printed in Melbourne, and it became the Australian Churches of Christ monthly magazine for the next 30 years (being replaced by the "Australian Christian" which is still current today). Charles contributed a number of articles to this magazine, disputing articles written by the editors, and I have been able to obtain copies of them all. The "Pioneer" also printed news items reporting the progress of the various Australian churches.

3. Newspaper Reports.

    Ballarat had three daily papers during the years that Charles was there. Unfortunately it is extremely time consuming looking through them, and as newspaper articles in those days had no headings, it is very easy to miss an item, even if you know it is in a particular paper. However, I have culled a few items from this particular source, and although I know that there will be many many more, they will just have to stay there undiscovered by me. I have also taken some time to peruse the Port Fairy newspaper of the time that Charles was there and unearthed one or two snippets of information regarding his activities in that town. So far as Caster­ton is concerned, I have almost no idea whatever of Charles activities apart from his teaching, as unfortunately the Casterton papers were burnt in a bushfire some years ago. There is one set at the Latrobe Library in Melbourne, but they are not as yet available for the general public.

4. Miscellaneous.

In addition to all the above, various other documents have been given to me by a number of people, and these have greatly added to the body of knowledge which I have been able to build up of Charles and the times in which he lived. I thank those who have handed this information on to me - it has been most valuable.

And Finally - Some "DNF-ers"?

A few years ago I took to running marathons. Some time after each race, a result sheet was published containing the names of those who competed and the time they took for the event. I was always puzzled by a list of names at the bottom with the heading "DNF". I wasn't sure what this meant, until a friend informed me, "It stands for Did Not Finish". I guess there will be a few "DNF-ers" for this book, as it is not as readable as I would have hoped. Nevertheless it does contain a wealth of information about the person who is its central character and, if you persevere, you will learn much about the life and times of Charles Henry Martin, teacher/preacher of Ballarat.

A few other introductory comments.

His adult life could be divided into three main phases.

a. His 30's and 40's. He spent most of this 20 year period at Ballarat at the Dana St School and the Dawson St Church. I have a few details of his teaching during these years, and a wealth of information about his church activity. His time there came to a close because of changes to the state education system, which necessitated his forced and reluctant transfer from the school. Some six months later, Elizabeth died.

b. The years of his 50's, during which time he spent 4 1/2 years at Port Fairy and 5 1/2 years at Casterton. Of this decade I have very little information about his church activity, but quite a large amount about his school work. This was an extremely difficult decade for him professionally, and undoubtedly the stress of controlling large classes for twenty years was telling on him. The sigh of relief which he no doubt heaved upon his retirement at age 60 would have been heard as far away as Melbourne.

c. Retirement. He retired on a superannuation pension of £130 per annum, and was to live for another 20 years. After a trip to his "native land" which occupied about a year, he again took up residence in Ballarat and once again became very active within the Dawson Street Church of Christ.

But What Sort of a Chap Was He?

    As I have delved into all these old records, I have found myself asking many times - "But what sort of a chap was he? Was he dogmatic and difficult to get along with? Or was he pleasant and easy and gracious? How was he regarded by his peers and associates?" etc, etc.
    These questions, of course, are difficult to answer, except that here and there a few glimpses come to light. He was certainly a very articulate man of strong convictions, and was quick to express these convictions in writing (and no doubt orally as well). He was very literate. He had at least a working knowledge of the origins of the English language, New Testament Greek, and Latin (he lectured in it for two years in 1876/77 at the Melbourne Teachers' College). In his written conflicts with the editors of the Church paper, he displays a sense of graciousness, which was even acknowledged by one of his adversaries. If this is an indication of his general attitude to life (which is quite possible) then he was by no means ungracious nor lacking in a magnanimous spirit to those with whom he disagreed.
    He was, however, at all times ready to defend his views very strongly, and this led him and the whole church at Dawson Street to be excommunicated from the Churches of Christ denomination for about 10 years.
    The presentation made to him when he left the Dana Street school was particularly warm and obviously genuine, even allowing for the fact that people making farewell speeches sometimes get a little carried away and tend to exaggerate somewhat. The fact that a petition seeking his retention in Ballarat was circulated on his behalf, and that it was signed by well over 1000 people, also indicates that he was well respected in the city. Then, too, the spontaneous written message given to him by the students upon his departure from the teachers' college in Melbourne some two years later is also quite impressive, and would seem to indicate that he was certainly held in high regard by those in his charge in that sphere of labour.
    So far as the very bad reports which he received from the District Inspectors regarding his lack of discipline during the last decade of his teaching life are concerned, I was at first reluctant to believe them, and wondered if some other explanation may be possible, e.g. that the inspectors were overly tough and egotistical in those days - or that Charles had a more relaxed type of discipline which wasn't acceptable in that era. While these are no doubt distinct possibilities, I have been compelled by the weight of the historical evidence to conclude that he certainly experienced problems in this area, at least during this last decade of his teaching life. We have not only the inspectors' reports, but the statement of Miss March (which must be taken into account even though written in the middle of a conflict with him) that "the children do whatever they like under his supervision". We also have the letters from the two school committees (Port Fairy and Casterton) when he left requesting that a disciplinarian be sent to take charge of their respective schools.
    Possibly the best summary of what officials of the Education Department thought about him was contained in a memo sent on one occasion towards the end of his career, which stated that "Mr Martin is a man of good character, but a weak teacher".
    He was obviously very generous with his money, not only in his loans and gifts to the church and the school, but also in life generally, as the "generous cheque" which he gave towards the children's picnic upon his departure from Dana Street would indicate, when others refused to contribute.
    I also, as I read of the very shabby treatment afforded him by the Education Department on a number of occasions, felt more than a twinge of sympathy for him. Such treatment would not be tolerated today.

History is the Record We Leave Behind Us.

    Another point which perhaps needs to be made is that history is not what happened, but rather "history is the record we leave behind us of what happened". This was illustrated very clearly to me in the book written by Graham Chapman on the history of the Ballarat Churches of Christ. Of course Charles, as a prominent member of one of those churches, receives many mentions in the early chapters. However, as I also was a minister in one of the Ballarat churches for three years, I also get a mention or two. I was surprised to see that the main events associated with me centred around a couple of letters which I had written to the "Australian Christian magazine on matters that were of concern to me at the time. (I had forgotten about these letters as they did not figure at all prominently in my ministry or my activities at the church.) Most of the work that I did and my successes or otherwise as a minister were passed over in total silence, in favour of two insignificant letters - because "history is not what happened, but the record we leave behind us of what happened".
    So, too, with Charles. We can only access that part of his life of which a record has been left behind. As it turned out, he has left quite a deal behind him, but it still is only a miniscule fraction of the totality of his life and activity for 80 years. Nevertheless, from it, some kind of a picture emerges, and we can at least know something of the main events which moulded his thinking and guided his life, and of the struggles and difficulties which came his way. As he once wrote, no doubt thinking of his own life, "Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward". I trust that you will find in the record of his life some lesson for your own, maybe in places some pitfalls and mistakes to be avoided, and elsewhere an example to follow. This invariably happens to me when I read the story of another person's life - and the record of the life of my ancestor is no exception.

Charles' Schools

Point Nepean. A small rural school, with an average daily attendance of about 15. Charles was the only teacher, and spent about nine months here.

Pascoe Vale. This had been a relatively large school, and had three classrooms. In the year before Charles taught there, it had an average daily attendance of over 50. However, there were two denominational (or church) schools close to it, and coinciding with Charles arrival at the beginning of 1856 a new Roman Catholic school opened almost next door. The number dropped dramatically, and during Charles' year there was an enrolment of only 30, with an average attendance of 20. It appears, however, that both Charles and Elizabeth were employed as teachers. At the end of the year it was decided to close the school and Charles was instructed (I believe) to find another position.

Dana St - Dana St opened in February 1857 with about 50 pupils attending each day, and during the first year the number increased to about 80. This increase continued at least for the first half of the second year, but then seemed to steady and hovered around the 100 mark for the next 12 or 13 years into the early 1870's. In general, Charles and Elizabeth were the only teachers, but at times they had an assistant, plus monitors and pupil teachers. During this time, the number of boys at the school was about double that of girls (sometimes triple). I'm not sure as to the reason for this imbalance. The overall situation in Victoria was similar, but nowhere near as pronounced, the general percentage being about 25% higher - not 100% (and sometimes more as in Charles' school.
    In 1873, with the formation of the Education Department and education be­coming compulsory, the school numbers began to increase. In 1875 there was a large increase to more than 800 on the rolls and about 400 in average daily attendance and with these increased numbers there was a staff of 5 teachers and 4 pupil teachers (including Charlotte, then aged 18). During this year the new school at Dana Street was under construction. Charles found it necessary to rent other accommodation for his extra classes.
    When the new school opened in 1876, it had an enrolment of over 2000, with an average daily attendance of about 1000. This was owing to the amalgamation of three or four schools into one. After 19 years at the Dana Street School, Charles lost his position as a result of this merger.
Melbourne Teachers' College. Charles spent slightly over two years as a lecturer in Mathematics and-Latin at the Melbourne Teachers' College (then known as the "Teachers' Training Institution". Elizabeth died six months after he started here. He was removed from this position in a general shake-up of the institution, which was unfortunate, as I believe that he was well suited to this type of work.

Port Fairy. The numbers fell during the time that Charles was there, but in general there was an average daily attendance of about 200, with three teachers (including Charles) and three pupil teachers. He spent four and a half years at this school, but then was demoted to Casterton.

Casterton. The numbers here were about 150 daily average, with a staff of two teachers and two pupil teachers. Charles was here for about five and a half years, and retired on superannuation from this school in 1888.

Victoria - Map of the places mentioned in this book


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