Mayor Charles Whately
Alderman 1877-1894, Mayor in 1881 & 1886
Charles Whately was born in Exeter, Devonshire, in 1831, to Thomas Whately, a farmer, and his wife, Harriett. Charles arrived in Sydney on the ship “Lloyds” on 29 June 1850 as an assisted immigrant under the name Wheatley, giving his occupation as farm labourer. He could read and write and was in good health but had no relatives in the colony. In England Charles had served his apprenticeship as a coach and wagon builder and after his apprenticeship he had worked for two yearsas a journeyman in Stratton’s shop, Bristol. Upon his arrival he worked for a time in Sydney as a coachbuilder, perhaps with Bayliss who he had first met in Stratton’s shop, Bristol. When gold was discovered in 1851 Charles joined thousands of others on the gold fields. On 2 May 1853 he married Mary Ann Fidden, daughter of James Fidden and Sarah Abford, in Sydney and together they had ten children, six of whom survived infancy.
For a time Charles was a farmer in the colony at Greendale in the District of Penrith, but in 1854 he returned to Sydney and took up residence in Newtown, and became an employee in George Webber’s wheelwright and blacksmith shop, known as the “red house” on Newtown Road near the Wesleyan Chapel. Later Charles became the proprietor, and advertised widely, even in New Zealand, as wheelwright and coach builder. He built wagons, dog carts, sociables, Newport Pagnels, spring carts and drays, iron-bark spokes, dray poles and shafts, wheel naves and felloes.
His first wife, Mary Ann, died 23 October 1872 at the age of thirty-nine and was buried on 25 October at Haslems Creek Cemetery. On 9 April 1873 he married his second wife, Eliza Kirkham, who had operated a small private school on Newtown Road towards Brown Street, Newtown, near Charles’s coach building shop. Eliza was the sister of Robert Kirkham, stonemason contractor for St. Stephen’s Church of England Church then under construction. After his remarriage, Charles and Eliza resided on Newtown Road, later known as King Street, Newtown. At marriage Eliza assumed the responsibility for rearing three of Charles’s youngest children from his previous union — Charles (born 1866); Arthur (born 1867); and George (born 1871). To this young family, Eliza and Charles added four more children: Robert Kirkham, born 1874,in Newtown and who married Mary A. A. Bagley in 1895 at St. Peters; Sidney Herbert, born 1877, in Newtown, and who married Matilda A. (Tilly) Bagley (Mary’s sister) in 1902 at Paddington; Mina Eliza, born 1879, in Newtown, and who married Henry William Taylor in 1902 at St. Peters; and Mabel Lilly, who was born in 1881 and died in 1882.
Charles was elected an alderman in the Newtown Municipal Council in 1877 and remained an alderman until his death in 1894 at the age of 63. The Council Minutes show him to be a very active alderman, either making or seconding numerous motions for the improvement of the municipality. In his first year on the Council he was chosen, along with the mayor and two other aldermen, to be on the committee to investigate lighting the municipality with gas. He served two terms as Mayor — 1881 and 1886. Early in his first mayoral term there was a small pox scare and, as Mayor, Charles worked hard with the Council to improve the sanitary conditions of Newtown. Also, in his first term, the rails for the tramway were laid in King Street. In 1882 he urged the Council to have the tram lines extended along Cook’s River Road. In 1885 he pressed the Council to get the telephone extended to Newtown. In 1893 he made a motion that the name of the municipality be changed from Newtown to South Sydney. It received only two votes; his and the seconder, Alderman Bellamy.
Charles built Frederick Terrace in Union Street behind the old Union Inn. Whately Street, off King Street Newtown, and Whatley Lane, off Whately Street were named after Charles.
Like the family of Alderman Joseph Kingsbury, the Whatelys were members of the Newtown Church of Christ. The first Sunday School of the Church of Christ was held in August 1864 in Charles Whately’s carriage factory. Charles’s daughter, Harriet, by his first marriage, married John Kingsbury, son of Joseph Kingsbury and his wife, Sarah.
For more than decade (1868-1880) Charles was active in the temperance movement, speaking regularly at temperance meetings. He was a strong supporter and committeeman of the Newtown School of Arts during the mid 1860’s.
In 1887 Charles was appointed a Justice of the Peace.
Charles died 7 October 1894 at Newtown and was buried in the Independent Cemetery, Rookwood. Eliza died 15 April 1921 at 18 Belmore Street, Newtown, at the age of seventy-five, and was buried next to her husband Charles.