Port Fairy
Charles Martin's home page

  1. 28/5/78. Port Fairy State School No 1188
        1. The Port Fairy Township -
        2. The Port Fairy School -
        3. His Personal Circumstances -
        4. 1st June - Wreck of the Loch Ard.
        5. Scarlet Fever -
        6. School Life.
      1. 1879
      2. 1880. Two Very Bad Teaching Reports. Staff Trouble With Miss March.
        1. At School.
        2. Aug. 3rd - Argument and Conflict - Teacher Troubles with Mifs March.
        3. 29th October - Letter from Head Office.
        4. Travel Difficulties.
      3. 1881.
        1. 4th October - Letter From Head Office re D.I.'s Visit.
        2. 6th December - Death of Mary Davey -
        3. December 1881 - Mary Wins a Prize.

28/5/78. Port Fairy State School No 1188

     Appointed H.T. at £300 per annum from 28th Pay, 1878.

23rd May, 1878.
    On Thursday, 23rd May, Charles received the letter for which he had been waiting anxiously. It instructed him to report to the school at Belfast (Port Fairy), some 200 miles west of Melbourne. He made enquiries as to the best way to travel there, and paid 10/- for a passage for himself in a cabin on the steamer "Nelson" which did a weekly round trip between Melbourne and Belfast leaving early the following week. The children are to follow later, with Charlotte to mind them in the meantime.
    As the steamer pulled out from the wharf at Port Melbourne and headed into the calm waters of Port Phillip Bay towards the "Heads", Charles' mind no doubt went back to a similar journey 23 years ago when he had taken up his first teaching appointment at Point Nepean. On that occasion Elizabeth had been at his side, pregnant with their first child. Now there are seven children, Elizabeth is dead, and he is taking this trip alone. On that occasion he had gone into the unknown future full of confidence and hope. Now this hope and confidence have gone and the future looks bleak and uncertain - the years have taken their toll.
    Within a short time the steamer approaches the "Heads" and Charles can look across and see in the distance the actual spot where his Point Nepean school had stood. For just a few moments nostalgic memories of those happy days and Pleasant times overtake him as he views this distant shore in the silence of the sadness of his present situation. There are times in life when contemplation and reflection force themselves upon us. They will probably bring a certain amount of pain as we remember what was, and is no longer. For Charles, this was one such moment
    Then, within a few short minutes, the steamer passes through the "Heads" and into the rough waters of Bass Strait, where it turns right and heads towards Belfast. There appears to be a certain symbolism here, and his mind is jolted back to the harsh and painful realities of life as it is in the present time. Point Nepean and the calm waters of the past are behind him - Port Fairy and the stormy seas of the future are in front.

30th May 1878.
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 23rd inst, and to inform you that I left Melbourne as soon as possible, viz per steam ship "Nelson" and arrived here yesterday, but having reported my­self to Mr Young and shown him your letter, he declined to give me possession until he receives further information from you.
I therefore wait for further instructions and have the honor to be
Your most obedient servant,
Charles Martin (H.T.)              Image of Letter
    (In the shipping information of the Belfast "Gazette", the entry for "arrivals" on 29th May notes that Mr Martin was a passenger in a cabin.)
    A newspaper report in the "Belfast Gazette", Friday May 31st, 1878, noted his arrival -
    "Mr Martin, successor to Mr Young, as Head Teacher for the Belfast State School, arrived here on Wednesday to take charge. Mr Young leaves Bel­fast today for Ballarat East, for which place he is appointed Head Teacher of School No. 1071. The residents of Belfast very much regret Mr Young's departure as they are losing a warm friend. We are pleased to learn that it is intended to present Mr Young with something substantial as a mark of the esteem in which he is held."
    Mr Young was apparently an extremely popular Head Master and citizen of the town. There were three letters to the Editor in the next week or two extolling his virtues in a most enthusiastic manner, and suggesting that a gold watch should be purchased for him by public subscription as a mark of the esteem in which he is held, and suggesting that "a meeting should be called and a committee be formed to carry out what are, I am sure, the wishes of the great majority of the inhabitants of the town". It was suggested that the editor of the paper receive donations for this purpose, to which he enthusiastically agreed by writing, "We will most willingly take charge of such for so worthy an object as a testimonial to Mr Young '. Shortly thereafter, this small item appeared in the paper, "The testimonial list for Mr Young now lies in our office for signature, and we shall be glad to receive the names of persons wishing to subscribe to the same. " No doubt this warm farewell to Mr Young made Mr Martin feel "good" to take his place.

The Port Fairy Township -

    Port Fairy was one of the earliest settlements in Victoria. It received its name after a cutter, the Fairy, that was sailed into the bay by Captain James Wishart on 25th April, 1810. Thereafter for more than thirty years it was used by sealers and whalers, many of them living in huts on the foreshore during the the fishing season. In the 1850's the port's seaboard trade was reported to be second only to that of Sydney. When Charles took up residence there it was quite a thriving little community with a population of about 2000, and was still an important fishing and whaling centre. At that time it was known as Belfast, this name having been given to it by a Mr Atkinson, one of the early large landholders of the district, after his native town in Ireland. Today, in addition to retaining its importance as a fishing centre, it is a popular seaside holiday resort with a population of about 2000, rising to more than double that number in the holiday season.
    Charles and Family in front of the House at Port Fairy                1997 Martin
in front of the House at Port Fairy

The Port Fairy School -

    The Port Fairy School was a large stone building, similar to Dana St. It was a new building, having been built only four years earlier in 1874, with Mr Young, (whom Charles succeeded) as its first Head Teacher. It is still in use as a school today, having very much the same exterior appearance now as it did then, although the interior has been considerably modernised. My grand-children are attending it at the present time. During the days when Charles was Head Teacher, about 250 children attended, with a teaching staff of five, although there appears to have been only three fully qualified teachers. The "allotment" (i.e. the number of children upon which the Department based the teaching staff) at the end of this year was in the range of 250 to 275. The staff was one Head Teacher, two assistants, and three pupil teachers. Quite a teaching load as was the norm in those days.
                    The School about 1880               
The School about 1997

His Personal Circumstances -

    It would appear that of his children, Charlotte (now aged 21) accompanied him, as well as Albert (14), Frank (10), Mary (8) and Fred (7). There is a photo of these (except for Albert) taken in about 1880, outside a house in Port Fairy. The house is still standing today and can be quite easily recognised from the photo. I don't know if Leonard (16) accompanied them to Port Fairy, although as he was employed on a farm there it seems likely that he did at the beginning.
    Charlotte, had just turned 21 shortly before they arrived. She was to become engaged to John Barnacle during the 4 years at Port Fairy and was to remain there when Charles left (except for the first few months of his time at Casterton when she accompanied him there).
    Leonard was 16 years of age, and apparently obtained a job as a farm hand near Port Fairy, as his name is mentioned in a newspaper article in connection with a farm owned by a Mr Goldie.
    Albert had just turned 14, and was still probably at school. There is a mention in the Port Fairy newspaper in December 1887 that an Albert Martin of the Belfast State School won first prize for "History” in an essay competition that encompassed a large portion of Western Victoria, and it is a reasonable assumption that this is Charles' son. As he became a doctor, he was no doubt fairly bright.
    Francis, nearly 11 , Mary, nearly 9, and Fred, 7 would have been still at school.
    I don't know which church Charles attended during his stay at Port Fairy, as a Church of Christ had not, as yet, been established there. That task was to be accomplished within a year or so of his leaving the town, and his daughter Charlotte, by then married to John Barnacle, was to be instrumental in its founding.
    So far as any other "extra-curricula" activities in which Charles may have engaged are concerned, the only information I have is that he was on the committee of the Mechanics' Institute, being for some time its president, and he was also on the Hospital committee. In this capacity, he took his place on the roster as a "visitor" - I assume this meant hospital visitation of the sick.

1st June - Wreck of the Loch Ard.

    On the very first week-end of Charles' sojourn at Port Fairy there occurred one of the most famous ship wrecks in Victorian history. The cutter "Lock Ard" was on its maiden voyage from London to Melbourne, and on the Saturday night some of the passengers and crew held a small party to celebrate the safe completion of their journey. Shortly thereafter, in the early hours of Sunday morning, the ship struck a reef near Port Campbell. It broke up and sank very quickly. All fifty people aboard were drowned, except two - a young lady called Eva Carmichael, and a young mid-shipman by the name of Tom Pearce. During the first week or two of Charles' time in Port Fairy there were lengthy reports of the incident in the Belfast "Gazette" and other newspapers, and no doubt there was much talk of it amongst the townspeople. The wreck has become part of the folk lore of Victoria, and the site is now visited by thousands of people each year, being part of the Port Campbell National Park. It is one of the most picturesque, spectacular and treacherous stretches of coast-line in Victoria (if not Australia). Charles had sailed that way only three days earlier.

Scarlet Fever -

    Within a few months of his arrival an outbreak of scarlet fever hit the town, and one of his own children was attacked. He was instructed to absent himself from school, which gave him about a fortnight's holiday (the only time he'd ever had off apparently), and then another week in September to allow the school to be disinfected.
    Also, not long after he arrived he wrote a letter to the Department putting in his claim for promotion, on the basis that Dana St was a school of over 400 children, the parents and the guardians in his schools had always beer, happy with his work (so he said), and his examination results were above; the standard of the other Ballarat schools. We get no indication of the reply, but he was obviously refused. At this stage of his career, I have no real indication of most of his teaching reports from Dana Street School, but the early ones do seem to indicate that the discipline problem that was to cause him such trouble was already creeping in as far back as his second and third years at Dana St in 1858. In view, also, of the extremely poor reports that he was soon to receive, especially those of 1880 and 1881, which brought about his Demotion, it is unlikely that his appeal was given any real consideration. In 1882 he was instructed to seek a school with a lower classification, and this brought about his enforced removal from Port Fairy to Casterton, with a salary drop from £300 to £250.
    He also had a rather severe problem with one of his staff members, and this no doubt gave him some worry . This teacher said that "He has no control over the children who do just as they like when under his supervision. But he tries to show his authority over the teachers, to whom he acts like a tyrant. No respectable person that can get away will remain in the school under him". He countered by writing, "In reply, I cannot but express my surprise at the charge of abuse. Teachers and pupil teachers, who have been under me for more than twenty years, have always parted from me with respect and friendship, and instead of having been regarded as harsh in my treatment of my subordinates, I have had the opinion passed that I am rather lenient".

School Life.

    The following correspondence gives some small insight into the main events of his life for the next four years, while he was Head Master of the, Port Fairy school. In reproducing this material, I have omitted the more routine type letters, even though many of them are most informative in regards to class sizes and the many difficulties faced in teaching at that time.
    Another striking feature is the artificial politeness of the convention of the time, with every letter beginning and ending the same way - e.g.. -
I have the honor to inform you that Mifs Marsh was absent this day because of face-ache.
    I have the honor to be Sir,
    Your most obedient servant Charles Martin.
    I have not reproduced this in the following letters for the sake of avoiding unnecessary repetition. Note also in the above, that the Old English use of "fs" for a double "ss" is still in use, as it was in the church minutes - i.e. "Mifs" = "Miss".
    Also to be noted is the fact that in many cases the correspondence files in­clude copies of the replies to these letters written by him. I have reproduced these in many cases. Sometimes the actual letter of reply is missing but the instructions of a senior official (maybe the Secretary) are Jotted down instructing a junior official as to the reply he is to make. I have included these when necessary. They are often extremely interesting.

10th June, 1878.
I have the honor to inquire -
(1) Whether I may change salary from 23rd ulto.
(2) May I change at the rate of £300 p.a.. The Hon. the Minister stated he would rate me thus in the presence of Mr Gilchrist and Mr Yeomans.
(3) Will any allowance be made to me for traveling expenses for self, family and furniture to this town?
{REPLY: Traveling claim reduced from £1.11.6 to £1.6.6, and passed}

5 August 1878. - Scarlet Fever still in the town.
I have the honor to report that Scarlet Fever is still spreading in this town and that last night one of my own family was attacked.
{REPLY - Inform teacher that if he can isolate himself from the sick room he should do so and there will be no necessity for his absenting himself from the schoolroom, but that if he cannot do so then school must be carried on by other members of the staff}

12 August 1878.
    I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 9th inst requesting me to isolate myself from the sickroom or to remain absent from the school, and to inform you that I have kept the other members of the family from the school, although I, myself, have attended to my duties there.
    I have now to report that the child appears past danger, that no other member of my family has been attacked, that I have no 2nd Assistant, and that today one of my pupil teachers is absent in consequence of the death of her father. If you still consider it necessary for me to remain from the school, send me a telegram on the receipt of this letter and I will do so.
                                                                                                                                    Image of Letter
13 August 1878.
    I have the honor to report that the local Board of Health has requested me to absent myself from the school for a time. I shall therefore await your instructions respecting the resumption of my duties.
29th Rug. 1878.
I have the honor to report that the local Board of Health has this day granted me permission to return to the school.
(NOTE - Looks like he had a couple of weeks off. The only time in all his career. Then, as the school was closed for 6 days in September, he may have scored a bit more of a holiday.)

September - School closed for disinfection for 6 days.

15th September - His father died in Castlemaine, and was buried on the 17th. I do not know if Charles attended the funeral. I guess it may have depended upon his situation at the time but in view of the fact that he had just had about three weeks enforced "holiday", and that communications and travel were much slower and more difficult than today, I doubt if time would permit a trip from Port Fairy to Castlemaine. Also, in view of his remark in a later letter that he has "often not attended the obsequies of near relatives" it is probable that he did not go. Another factor is that as the trip from Port Fairy to Castlemaine lay across the recognised coach routes of those days, it would have been rather difficult and time consuming.        Image of Death Registration

12th September, 1878.
    I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 23rd ulto stating that Miss Clancy has been appointed 2nd Assistant in this school and to inform you that she has not reported herself to me. As the time for the result examination is drawing near, I have no one to place in charge of the Needlework. I have to request (if Miss Clancy has declined the appointment) that another teacher be sent in her stead.
(REPLY: Acknowledge: Miss Clancy has been instructed to proceed without delay. She may be expected in the course of the next few days}

24th September, 1878.
I have the honor to report that Miss Clancy has this day commenced duty.
25th September, 1878. ,
    I have the honor to report that Miss Clancy is absent this morning without leave, and that it is rumoured that she has taken the steamer to Melbourne.
    I trust that an efficient teacher will be appointed without delay.
(Miss Clancy didn't last long).

13th October.

    I have the honor to apply for the position of H.T. of a school having an attendance of not less than 400.
    I have spent nearly a quarter of a century in the service, and have been a great sufferer through the present Education Act.
    I had charge of the Central School, Ballarat for 19 years, and gave universal satisfaction to the parents and guardians.
    The published returns of the late Board and present Department show that my results were above the average of the district.
    Thus the schools in Ballarat were 33, 57, 81, 587, 603, 695, and 1081. The average of the percentages in 1871 was 58.7, mine was 64. In 1870 mine was 68.9. In 1872 the average was 60.7, mine was 61.6. Only one school was higher than mine. The published reports show also that I commanded a higher fee, and that I was not under the necessity of looking out for free scholars in order to keep up my number.
    Notwithstanding this, I was removed and a gentleman with a lower classification, who has handed over the teaching of his trainees to his 1st Assistant, was sent in my stead. #
    My position in the Training Institute was given as an equivalent for my situation in Ballarat, and I confidently appeal to the passes obtained by the students in the subjects intrusted to me for a reply to any charge that may have been made against me, but which I have not been allowed to see.
    I have reason to believe that the present Superintendent, and the teachers in training at the time of my removal would have preferred me to Mr Hurley.
    In little more than two years, I have twice been put to the expense of breaking up my home, and traveling a long journey with my family, and I respectfully submit that having spent the best portion of my life in the service, without one definite charge having been brought against me, that I am worthy of promotion instead of being sent to a smaller school.
    When I left school No 33, it had an average of more than 400 so that according to the proposed regulation it would have been a 2nd Class school. The school at Belfast, is not likely to be more than a 3rd Class one during the present generation.
    Trusting that you will favourably consider my application, and grant my request.
{REPLY - Acknowledgment sent Dec 6th. £300 p.a.. 19/11.}

    (NOTE - This was an important letter, revealing that at this stage he believed that he was worthy of a higher classification, and should have been granted one. The really damning District Inspectors' reports of the next few years had not yet commenced, but in view of their devastating nature, and the fact that he was forcibly DEmoted instead of PROmoted, it appears unlikely that his request had any hope of being taken seriously. But it is interesting to note that at this stage, his self confidence and self esteem must have still been reasonably high - not yet crushed as was no doubt the case in the near future. It's also interesting to note the mention of a charge "which may have been brought against me but which l have not been allowed to see." He had no doubt heard a rumour of some accusation, and was probably correct in his suspicion. It's a pity that there is no indication of the reply - or the charge if there was one.)

6th November.
    I have the honor to request that in consequence of the prevalence of Scarlet fever in this town, during the late winter, and in accord with Regulation 11.5, the allotment for this school, from Jan next, may he based on the average attendance for the 6 months ended March 79, in­stead of the 6 months just expired.
{REPLY - Will receive consideration when allotment under revision}

21 November - Two more cases of Scarlet Fever.

Inspectors' Report -12th December.
12/12/78 - Stewart. "Had Mr Martin more life he would be more successful. "
    This is, so far as I can gather, the first teaching report that Charles had received since his final year at Dana St. It is in similar vein to that one, and although not flattering it doesn't give any indication of the trouble to come.
    The School "Allotment" at the end of that year shows that they were class­ified as having between 275 and 300 children, with attendances for the previous quarter being slightly over 250 per month. It appears that there were three teachers (including Charles) and three pupil teachers, although it's possible that there were four teachers and two pupil teachers, as I'm not quite sure how to interpret the staffing list.

1878 - To Mary and William Davey in Ballarat - a daughter - Elizabeth Maude (9th and last child. 8 surviving, and one Lucy, was to die the following year aged 5).


Early in the year he received his first District Inspector's report. Nothing wonderful, but not as bad as those which were to follow.
11/3/79 - Stewart. "Conscientious and diligent but might exercise more influence and controlling power. "
By about mid year the "allotment" figures show that they were still classed as being in the bracket of 250 - 275, but the numbers had declined from the commencement of the year and had been under 250 for the whole time. They had three teachers (including the H.T.) and three pupil teachers (including Miss March who by now had been teaching at the school for some seven years, and was later to have a severe disagreement with Charles)

13th June, 1879 - Frances Martin dies
    His mother died at Castlemaine, and was buried on the 16th. Again I have no idea as to whether or not Charles would have attended the funeral,although as the death was on the 13th and the burial not until the 16th I guess there is a very slight chance that he somehow did so (but I doubt it!).
    Image of Death Registration

July 16, 1 879. Letter to Kemp.

Charles wrote a letter at this time to "Bro" Kemp, a church associate, and a well known name in early Church of Christ circles especially at Swanston Street. It has somehow been preserved in the archives of the Dawson Street Church of Christ -
    Dear Bro Kemp,
    I thank you for the S.S. lessons received per your case, and hope you will not fail to cut your notch in some other conspicuous place, as you are afraid of disfiguring your grand new desk. I also thank you for covering Dunn and Collins's parcel. All the goods reached me in splendid order and speak well for the care of the packer. I made a mistake with the starch in putting down one pound, it should have been one packet. I forward you a cheque in payment of your account. 1 note your remark respecting the dullness of Melbourne trade, and from the newspaper reports consider the distress must be very great. Experience is a hard taskmaster, and the working class will only learn from this teacher, that if they drive away capital, instead of improving their position, they make it worse. The longer the present party retain office, the worse things will become. As the bishop of Melbourne said the struggle is only a contest between two parties as to who shall have the control of the taxes. For my part I prefer to be governed by those who have a share in the country rather than by a lot of adventurers who are simply fighting for their enormous salaries, and who do not care one straw for the people so long as they can gall them.
    The Upper House has been sinned against far more than it has sinned. The system of (?????) foreign matter to the Appropriation Bill is most unjustifiable. If the present party get an extension of their lease, I fear it will be a bad job for the colony. The lower house needs reform far more than the upper.
    Rev Porter's action is only another step in the development of the American system. If our brethren will send there for their preachers they must expect to get their system. If they do not expect, why do they send there?
    There is too great an anxiety to report converts, and this is an evil especially with the paid preachers. They cannot well be blamed for this, as they know they are looked to for result. These paid men sometimes get credit beyond their due. A brother at Ballarat posted me the July Advocate reporting the death of Brother and Sister Holm, and I see that Hamill has the credit of leading them to the truth. He had no more to do with it than you. One of the sisters of the Dawson St church had been in the neighbourhood and had brought home the truth to the consciences of four or five Wesleyans there. She induced them to come to Ballarat for baptism. Bro and Sr Holm were of this company. It happened to be just at the time of Hamill's arrival. They had tea on the Saturday at our house, and I believe some of them slept at our house on Saturday and Sunday. Hamill was introduced to them in our house, that was all he had to do with them, save baptising them on the Sunday evening. I have slept at their house several times when I have gone out on Saturday afternoons to conduct their services for them on the Lord's Days.
    Kind rememberences to Bro Lyall and others. Christian love to you, wife and family.
                Yours fraternally,
                    C. Martin.                                                                                    Images of Letter   
5/9/79 - Stewart. "I cannot say that I am quite satisfied with the management of this school. The work would be improved were the H. T, to evince more controlling power and more aptitude for guidance.
    These two teaching reports, while again not at all flattering, nevertheless give no indication of the severity of those which were to follow the next year.

On about the 10th of August, Mabel, 5 year old daughter of Mary and William Davey died at Ballarat, and was buried on the 12th in the grave purchased by Charles for his daughter Miriam in 1861.

1880. Two Very Bad Teaching Reports. Staff Trouble With Miss March.

17 Feb - His first grandchild - At Sandrldqe (Port Melbourne) to Charles and Sarah - a daughter - Mabel Lillian. I guess in those days one anticipated lots of grandchildren, but I suppose that there was also a certain amount of excitement with the arrival of the first one. By now, with Charles at Port Fairy, and the baby arriving in mid-February, it is unlikely that he was able to see it for some time. (Mabel was to marry a Henry Falconbridge in 1904, and to live at Healesville for most of her life.)

At School.

    The school enrolment had fallen by about 50 pupils as the year commenced, compared with two years ago, and the "allotment" or classification is reduced to 220 - 225. I'm not sure how this affected staffing, as there still appears to be three teachers and three pupil teachers. No inference as to Charles ability or lack thereof can be safely drawn from this reduced enrolment. However, the District Inspector's report early in the year contained the seeds of trouble.
25/2/80 - Stewart. "Does not manage school satisfactorily. The re­sult of the examination is, on the whole, very unsatisfactory. In all the classes above the Infants, serious weaknesses have been revealed. The work generally is below programmes. If improvement is not shown in the management of this school I shall have to recommend Mr Martin to be removed to a much smaller one. "
17th March, 1880.- Miss March Gains Promotion
    I have the honor to ask for the appointment of a pupil teacher, in the room of Mifs March, promoted to the rank of 2nd Assistant, and do recommend Clara Freeman, age 14 as a suitable candidate for this position. She passed her examinations at Warrnambool at Christmas.
    I believe her to be of good constitution and free from physical defect.
                            I have the honor to be Sir
                                    Your most obedient servant.
On the 16th April, a letter from Head Office was forwarded to Charles, in connection with the Inspector's recent report on the school -
    "The management of the school under your supervision as evidenced by the result of the examination was on the whole very unsatisfactory, that in all classes above the Infants, serious weaknesses were revealed: that the classification as well as the instruction in some of the subjects - and notably in writing and mathematics - required immediate attention: that unnecessary talking and moving about prevailed in the classes: and that the work of the school generally was below programmes.
    This unfavourable account of your school has been received with regret, and it is hoped that you will see the necessity for strenuous efforts in the direction of substantial improvement. "
    The next inspection was in July, and once again a very poor report from the Inspector -
29/7/80 - Stewart. "H.T, needs to exercise effective supervision over the whole school. The progress is slow. Lounging over desks should not be allowed, and faithful correction of desk work should be insisted on in the higher classes. Mr Martin does not manage his school satisfactorily. A better man is needed."
    This was, again, a very deflating District Inspector's report, and when taken in conjunction with the earlier one from this year, would appear to mark a low point in his career. But there was also trouble brewing for Charles on another front, as apparently he and Mifs March did not hit it off too well, and on August 3rd a clash occurred, the echoes of which were to be heard in faraway Melbourne.

Aug. 3rd - Argument and Conflict - Teacher Troubles with Mifs March.

    Apparently on this morning Charles walked into her classroom just about the time that lessons were commencing, and saw Miss March cleaning the blackboard with a towel, instead of the duster, which was (according to his report) lying on the floor where she had left it the night before. He remonstrated with her - and -- well -- the sparks flew. She "put on her hat", stormed out the door, and went home and wrote a letter of complaint to the Education Department. The ensuing correspondence makes interesting reading, revealing as it does the the age old story of the problems of human relationships. Similar stories could be told in every school (indeed, every work-place) throughout the country. It is the stuff of life. The antagonists go home angry and upset, and it makes life difficult for all. As to who was telling the truth, or whose version is the more believable, I leave you to judge. The first letter to be written was by Mifs March when she arrived home.
August 3rd, 1880.
    I have the honor to inform you that I was obliged to leave school today through being upset by Mr Martin, H.T., and it is doubtful whether I shall be able to go tomorrow.
    I arrived this morning at 9 o'clock precisely and was busily engaged preparing needlework for next day till half past nine.
    The children were then brought in and arranged in their places and l was about to give an Arithmetic lesson to 4th Class when no duster could be found to clean the blackboard. After looking in vain for it I took an old osnaburg towel valued about 3d and with the end was cleaning it, when Mr Martin came in. He screamed and abused me before the children in a most unbecoming way for using his towel for such purposes.
    I was so upset through it that I was quite unable to continue my duties.
    I told him that I should certainly report him to Head Quarters as he was in the habit of doing this. I left at 9:40 a thing which never happened before although I am in my eighth year teaching at Belfast School.
    This is the third time during the month that he has done the same thing. Last Friday week I was again subjected to his cowardly attacks. In the afternoon of that day I got a dreadful wetting and because I asked him for fire for myself and children I was abused in the usual way before pupil teachers.
    He has no control over the children who do just as they like when under his supervision. But he tries to show his authority over the teachers, to whom he acts like a tyrant.
    No respectable person that can get away will remain in the school under him. I know that such behaviour from H.T. to subordinates is not allowed by the Department. Trusting that you will reprimand him and prevent such another occurrence.
I have the honor to be
Your obed. servant
Mary A. March                                                                    Image 
Meanwhile, as Miss March was at home busily writing her letter, Charles was at school writing a shorter one.
Belfast State School No 1188.
August 3rd 1880.
    I have the honor to report that Mifs March is absent without leave.
    At the opening of the school this morning, I found her using a towel, provided for the children, as a duster, and as I had before complained of the same thing, it had the appearance of setting me at defiance, so spoke to her about it, when she put on her hat and left the school.
1 have the honor to be
        Your most obedient servant
        Head Teacher.                                                    Image
Despite her statement the previous day that she didn't think she could re­turn to school the following one, she did front up - no doubt a little sheepishly.
Belfast State School, No 1188.
August 4th, 1880
    I have the honor to report that Mifs March returned to her duties this morning. I have no desire to injure the young woman in any way, she attends to her work very well, but at times manifests such an impatience of control, that it is unpleasant to speak to her. Having never been away from this school, she does not realise her proper position as assistant.                Image
    But Miss March's letter of complaint had been received by the Department, and had to be dealt with. Upon receiving this second letter of Charles' notifying of her resumption of duty, a letter was forwarded to him -   
"I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letters dated the 3rd and 4th instant, relative to the absence from duty of Miss A. March on the 3rd August, and to inform you that a communication has been received from Miss March giving the following account in connection with the matter -
(And here Miss March's letter was reproduced in full)
You are requested to be good enough to state whether you wish to offer further explanation in regards to this matter."
To which Charles replied -
Belfast State School, No 1188.
 August 16th, 1880.
    I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 14th inst, giving a copy of a letter from Mifs March, and asking whether I wish to offer any further explanation in regard to the matter.
    In reply I cannot but express my surprise at the charge of abuse. Teachers and pupil teachers, who have been under me for more than twenty years, have always parted from me with respect and friendship, and instead of having been regarded as harsh in the treatment of my subordinates, I have had the opinion passed that I am rather lenient.
    With respect to the unpleasantness on the morning of 3rd inst. I have simply to state that the duster was in the room, on the floor, apparently where she had thrown it, herself on the previous afternoon, and that I directed her attention to it, stating that if she used a towel for cleaning the blackboard it would not be available for its specified purpose, if required.
    I had complained to her for doing this before, but she took no notice of that. No other teacher uses a towel except for its legitimate purpose.
    Respecting her other charge, I have to state, that a fire had been in her room all the morning, and that it was burning in the afternoon when she asked for more wood, and I told her that the wood was nearly finished, and that it was necessary to be more careful of it. Although I had pointed out to her that in consequence of the reduced allowance smaller fires must be kept, she has been most extravagant and burnt far more than her share
    She mentions a third occasion, I know not to what she refers. I have simply to repeat my former statement, that she is at times so impatient of control, that it is unpleasant to speak to her. Little incidents I do not consider worth remembering, but one occurs to me that happened recently, and perhaps this is her third time.
    One of the parents complained to me, that Mifs March had kept his child in so long during the dinner time, that he was obliged to keep her from school in the afternoon. I mentioned this to Mifs March, and all the reply she deigned to give was, "if I did, she deserved it".
I have the honor to be, etc. Charles Martin.                                Image   
On the 24th August, letters were forwarded to Charles and Miss March as follows -
To Mr Martin -
    I have the honor to inform you that your remarks in your letter of the 16th instant relative to Miss March have been noted.
    Miss March has been apprised that you complain of her impatience of control, and has been requested to show a more ready acquiescence in your reasonable suggestions, or directions, so that no further misunderstandings may arise.
   It is hoped, at the same time, that you will as far as possible avoid reproving Miss March in the presence of the scholars.

Referring to my letter of the 14th Instant, I have the honor to in­form you that Mr Martin, in a letter explanatory of the circumstances mentioned in your communication of the 3rd instant has denied that he abused you on the occasion in question.
    Mr Martin complains that he has found you on some occasions impatient of control. You are requested to show a readier acquiescence in the reasonable suggestions, or directions of the Head Teacher, and thus avoid the occurrence of any further misunderstandings.
    Image of Department File Note
(So it was a nil-all draw - or maybe a narrow win on points for Charles as Mifs March didn't get the satisfaction of having him reprimanded. No doubt it was a rather unpleasant and saluatory experience for both of them.)

So that was the end of that - as far as the correspondence is concerned, at any rate.

29th October - Letter from Head Office.

    On 29th October a letter was forwarded to Charles from Head Office, referring back to the Inspector's visit of 29th July, noting that the Inspector complains of -
    "objectionable writing, a drawing on the door of the girls out office, that your supervision of the school was not sufficiently effective and that a more experienced teacher was required to take charge of the infants. He also states that the progress made was slow and that much greater interest must be awakened in the scholars if the work is to be successful, adding that lounging on desks should not be allowed and that faithful correction of desk work should be insisted on in the higher classes.
    l would remind you of your duty in regard to seeing that the school premises are kept free from objectionable writings as well as point out to you the necessity for improvement in the work of the school generally. "
    Life sure wasn't a bed of roses for Charles at this point in time.

Travel Difficulties.

    It seems hard for us today to comprehend the problems involved in travel in those days. It is only 18 miles from Port Fairy to Warrnambool. We think nothing of that distance nowadays - only twenty minutes or so by car (and about an hour by bike for keen members of the Port Fairy Cycling Club). On quite a few occasions during holidays at Port Fairy, I have run around the beach to Warrnambool for a "keep fit" jog. Once I even did the return trip. But in those days it wasn't so simple, as the following letter reveals.
December. 1880.
    I have the honor to report that Miss Clara Freeman did not return from the Warrnambool examination until today.
    I had directed her to return by the coach, so that she could be at school in the afternoon of yesterday.
    On her arrival today I asked for an explanation, when she informed me, that a friend of hers was in Warrnambool on Tuesday and he offered her a seat in his buggy home on Wednesday morning. This would have enabled her to reach Belfast earlier than by the mail, but after the departure of the coach, she found that her friend was unexpectedly detained another day.
    As there is only a daily conveyance between the two towns, she was compelled to remain until this morning.
    However, in spite of all her difficulties, Miss Freeman gained her Certificate of Competency at this time.
    The teaching allotment indicates that the numbers at the school had declined to between 200 and 235, and the staffing list appears to indicate that there were only two teachers (including Charles) and three pupil teachers (including Miss Freeman, aged 14)


    The District Inspector visited in March. More bad news for Charles.
4th March - Stewart. "There appears in some instances some slight improvement; but the examination has again revealed some serious weaknesses. These I consider to be attributable to the unsatisfactory management of the Head Teacher. The progress is slow. Discipline weak. H.T. does not manage his school satisfactorily. I would recommend him to a less important position. His work would be better, in my opinion, if he were paid by results."

26th April - Letter from Head Office re D.I.'s Visit.
    On the 26th April, another letter was forwarded from Head Office, referring back to the District Inspector's earlier visit in February.
"The examination revealed serious weaknesses in the instruction of the school which he considers are attributable to your unsatisfactory management. The Inspector further reports that the progress of the school was slow, and that the discipline was weak.
    I have to express regret that it should again be necessary to draw your attention to the unfavourable character of the District Inspector's report on the school, and I would state that unless at next inspection a marked improvement in your management shall be apparent, it may be deemed advisable not only to withdraw your special salary but to reduce you to a less responsible position."
As a result of this report and letter, the following comment was noted on Charles' official teaching record
(?/?/81) - Stewart. "Mr Martin again informed of the unfavourable character of D.l.'s report. The department has observed that the instruction has become less effective year by year - and that unless an early and decided improvement be effected Mr Martin's Special Sal­ary will be withdrawn or Mr Martin transferred to another position."

19th May. Charlotte Emil, his second grandchild, born to his eldest son, Charles Henry in Melbourne. Charlotte was to live for only 9 months.

22nd August - Another visit from D.I. Stewart - and Charles sinks further down into the quicksand -
22nd August - Stewart. "I do not notice improvement in Mr Martin's work my opinion as given in last report is confirmed. Mr Martin's attention called to unfavourable character of D.l.'s report, and inform­ed that unless marked improvement be exhibited at next inspection Special Salary may be withdrawn and a less responsible position assigned to him."

4th October - Letter From Head Office re D.I.'s Visit.

    "I have the honor to inform you that the District Inspector, in furnishing a report of his visit to the above named school in August last, again speaks in unfavourable terms of the organisation and instruction of the school. The Department has observed with regret that since you took charge of the school the instruction has become less effective year by year and it must be understood that unless early and decided improvement be effected and maintained it will be necessary in the interests of the scholars to consider the advisability of removing you elsewhere. At the same time, full opportunity will be afforded you of bringing your school into a proper state of efficiency, and the result of another inspection will be awaited before steps are taken to withdraw your special salary or transfer you to another position."
    The 1880 reports were bad enough, but these are even worse. I guess that by now Charles is feeling quite crushed and desperate.
    Along with this report was a small note concerning the teaching of Euclid -
"The District Inspector found that the teaching in Euclid was not satisfactory. It will therefore be necessary for you to forward to this office the amount of the reserved percentage of fees received on account of the extra subjects alluded to".
    Looks like they had to send some of the money back to Head Office, because their Euclid teaching wasn't up to scratch.

Clara Freeman
- Breach of Discipline.
At about this time Miss Freeman was found guilty of a "breach of discipline" and was notified that if anything similar occurred again she would face a fine or dismissal. Wonder what she did? Possibly another headache for Charles (albeit only a minor one).

6th December - Death of Mary Davey -

Mary Davey, sister of Charles' wife Elizabeth, died at Ballarat aged 42. Her children were aged from 20 down to 3. She was buried in the grave originally purchased by Charles for his daughter Miriam, where two of her children who pre-deceased her were also buried.
    The following obituary appeared in the Church of Christ magazine, "The Christian Pioneer".
"On the 6th inst., our dear sister fell asleep in Jesus. For nearly six years she has been a sufferer, but a few months back she had appeared much better, and we had good hope of her recovery, for the last time. Shortly after that date she became very bad, and her friends expected each day would be her last. She, however, rallied for a few days, but had a presentiment that her end was very near, and called her family around her and gave each a word of advice, and her thankfulness that she was able to do so. Two or three days after she was again taken with most distressing pains, and these continued until the end. Her death was, however most calm and peaceful, gradually her breath grew fainter and fainter, until without a struggle her spirit passed away to God who gave it. Our brother is left with a large family who lament their heavy loss, which it no doubt is. But Paul says: "My God shall supply all your needs." And our brother will find the promise sure. Our late sister is the oldest sister on our books, having joined with her husband in 1863. While on her death bed she sent the following message to the church:- I send my love to you all, I am not afraid to die, but for the children's sake would liked to have lived a little longer. Still Jesus knows what is best for all, and although I feel I have not lived so near to Him as was my privilege, I have every confidence, and am quite willing and ready to go and be with him."
    Our late sister's age was 42 years. We are now looking forward to the time when
We shall meet on the banks of the river,
Happy, happy there for evermore,
And dwell with the angels, and join with choral song
Our loved ones gone before.
                C. M.
(NOTE - The C.M. who wrote the obituary was probably Charles, although it may have been a friend of his at the Dawson Street Church, Charles Morris.)

    Also during 1881, it appears that Charles was appointed secretary of an "Evangelistic Union" which was a kind of a regional committee set up to organise work amongst the churches of Western Victoria. As most of the member churches were based around Ballarat, I'm not sure how he managed to do this job from Port Fairy.

December 1881 - Mary Wins a Prize.

    At the annual examinations in 1881, Charles' daughter Mary apparently won a rather prestigious award, as a report in the "Gazette" indicated -
The following paragraph, culled from that very "dry as dust" volume, the Education report for the year 1880/81 just issued by the Education Department at a cost of f756 to the tax-payer, contains references to a subject not altogether devoid of interest to many of our readers and will commend itself to those of our fellow-townsmen who subscribed to the scheme in order to enable the local school to enter pupils for competition. One of these it will be remembered was successful and has received a prize and a certificate of competency, a very high honor indeed for the young girl, Miss Mary Louisa Martin, daughter of Mr Martin, head teacher of State School No 1188 Belfast - considering that she was pitted against all the ????? children of her own class in the district whose preceptors had courage enough to present them for examination.
    The paragraphs in question are exercises from the report of Mr Inspector Stewart. "
The newspaper then quoted at length from the report. Details of the prize won by Mary were not given, but it appears to have been quite a considerable amount. No doubt Charles was quite proud of his daughter - bearing in mind that Albert had also won a prize of some kind two years earlier.

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