Martyn Smith, writing about Wesley College


(June, 2013, personal research.  Thomas Rix is the writer's great great grandfather.  Read sequel to this story on pp 32-3 of Lion, August, 2016.)

  Quotations from the second part of ’A Memoir’ on page 609 of the Wesleyan Methodist Church’s ‘The Spectator’, 26 June, 1891, following Thomas Rix’s death on 20 April, 1890.  They testify to Thomas Rix's place in the nineteenth century Wesleyan Methodist Church in Australia.

1.    Rev John C Symons, Secretary of Wesley College at its inauguration, leading Wesleyan Methodist Minister and author:-

“At the first Conference which was held in Sydney, Mr Rix’s name appears as a member of the Connexional Committee and it so appears each following year until 1862.  He was, during these same eight years, a member of the Educational Committee, at that period a very important body.  I well remember that he took a very influential position in those Committees.”

2.    Rev Dr James S Waugh, President of Wesley College at its inauguration, leading Wesleyan Methodist Minister:-

“… I was associated with him for a series of years in our most important Connexional Committees.  He belonged to them from 1855 to 1862, and took a prominent part in our Education Committee.  He was then in the full vigour of manhood, and could not fail to make his mark in all discussions involving the interests of our Church.  His utterances on those occasions displayed such a grasp of the matter in debate, and such geniality of temper and expression, that he was always heard with respect and pleasure.  It was evident that he cherished an intense interest in our Connexional objects, and thoroughly understood them.  In the most exciting debates, whether in committee or District Meeting, he maintained the courtesy of a true Christian gentleman.”

   Quotation from Rev. John C Symons, The Life of the Rev. Daniel James Draper, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1870, pp 282/3 regarding first inklings of the establishment of a Wesleyan Methodist grammar school in Melbourne.

“At the district meeting of 1853, the Rev William Butters in the chair, the education committee adopted the following resolution:-  ‘Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee that measures should be at once initiated for the establishment of a grammar-school in this city, to be conducted on strictly Wesleyan principles; and that the following gentlemen are hereby appointed a committee to carry out this measure, viz:- Messrs. Parker, Cocker, Pascoe, Powell, Cooke, Gallagher, Wilkinson, Thacker, Forster and J. Lowe, with power to add to their number.’”

 The Wesleyan Methodist district meeting of 1853 mentioned here by Symons occurred in Geelong on 9 August, just fifty-two days after Thomas Rix and his family disembarked in that place on 18 June, 1853.  They had emigrated from England aboard the ‘Minerva’ [Scroll down at link to search by keywords: Rix AND Minerva]

 The first part of the Memoir cited above records that Rix’s Wesleyan Methodist “credentials” meant that “… within a week of his landing, he was made a class-leader” and subsequently “circuit steward … and was also chosen as superintendent of the Sabbath-school …” (p 585, ‘The Spectator’, 19 June, 1891).

 In January, 1855, Thomas Rix became a member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church’s Education Committee that had appointed the committee to initiate measures for the establishment of a Wesleyan grammar-school, which ultimately was named ‘Wesley College’

 Then, in late 1858, Rix was appointed to the first formal committee of the proposed grammar-school .....

   Quotations from Mr. T.C. Camm (Secretary of Wesley College Council), ‘A Brief History of Wesley College’ (compiled from the Minute Books of the Committee), Wesley College Chronicle, No. 114, Melbourne, July, 1907, pp 1-4.

“A meeting of ministers and laymen interested in the erection of the Victoria Wesleyan Methodist Grammar School, convened by the Rev. D.J. Draper, Chairman of the District, was held in the vestry of Wesley Church, Lonsdale-street, Melbourne, on 1st November 1858; Rev. D.J. Draper in the chair.”  [Attendance and finances are outlined here, then …]  “The following names were recommended to the district meeting to form a committee, with three additional ministers and six additional laymen from the country, viz. : - Revs. Draper, Williams, Binks, Waugh, Wells, King, Messrs. Webb, Davis, Vasey, Cooper, Cutts, Crouch, Powell, Sumner, Fraser, Guthridge, Anderson, and Finlay.  The district meeting appointed the above and the following, who thus became members of the first committee: - The superintendent ministers of the Geelong, Ballarat, and Castlemaine circuits, Messrs. Parker, Rix, Oddie, Row, Thacker, and Harker.  The first meeting of the committee was held on 8th December, 1858.”

During the period that Thomas Rix served on the Education Committee and the Victoria Wesleyan Methodist Grammar School committee

  • money and land for the school were granted to the Church by the Government,

  • a six-day fundraising ‘Bazaar’ was held,

  • an architect was appointed,

  • plans and cost estimates were established,

  • tenders were invited,

  • postponement due to insufficient funds occurred and

  • an alternative site was considered  ..... see footnote.

Thomas Rix was a highly-regarded Wesleyan Methodist layman who was officially and actively involved in his Church’s extensive educational work, including the establishment of Wesley College, in the mid-nineteenth century, especially between 1855 and 1862.


Additional references used:

 Rev. W. L. Blamires & Rev. John B. Smith, The Early Story of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Victoria, Wesleyan Book Depot, Melbourne, 1886.

 The Rev. C. Irving Benson (ed), A Century of Victorian Methodism, Spectator Publishing Co., Melbourne, 1935.

 Benjamin Gregory, The Thorough Businessman: Memoirs of Walter Powell, Strahan & Co., London, 1872.


Footnote:  Details of these events are found in Chapter 26 of Symons’ Draper biography, the 1860s pages of the Church’s ‘The Wesleyan Chronicle’ (particularly its report of the opening of the school in its 20 January, 1866, edition, pp 10/11) and the ‘Wesley College Chronicle’, July, 1907, pp 1- 4.

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