Major Donors to the College Library

Major Donors to the College Library

Key to academic life at St Paul’s is the college library which was established by and maintained through the generosity of our many benefactors.  The following is a list of the Major Donors who made the library what it is today.

William Charles Wentworth (1790-1872) gave “200 books” in 1862 (Council minutes, 20 May 1862). Wentworth was one of the half-dozen most significant figures of the colonial period. He was a distinguished local barrister, the principal agitator for an elected legislature in New South Wales during the 1820s and ‘30s, a brilliant legislator during the 1840s and, in the 1850s, founder of Sydney University and author of the constitution which gave self-government to New South Wales. He was not among the original subscribers to the College. His gift of books was presumably a result of his breaking up his household at Vaucluse in preparation for a long sojourn abroad. He sailed in October 1862 and died in England. The donation included Law books dating from his period as a Law student in England. Other items included The Statutes of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, 25 volumes (1763-1817), some or all volumes being stamped on an inside page in heavy black letters, “W.C.WENTWORTH”, and some being annotated; and Acts of the New South Wales Legislative Council, 1823-28. The Sydney Gazette, the first Australian newspaper, from 1804 (most of which is now in the Mitchell Library) was also probably part of this gift.

Sir Charles Nicholson, Bart, MD, FRSA, FRGS (1808-93), donated a large number of books, presumably before he left to live in England in 1862. He was a graduate of the University of Edinburgh who arrived in NSW in 1833. He was Speaker of Legislative Council 1846-56, a prodigious collector of rare books, antiquities, pictures and manuscripts, one of the founders of the University and its first vice-provost, its second provost and its first Chancellor. He was a keen supporter of the College in its early years, taking a particular interest in plans for the Chapel. His books can be identified by his bookplate. They include The Parliamentary History of England, 22 volumes (1763) and The Literary Gazette, 12 volumes (1820-30). But it is very likely that many of the older volumes in the College’s collection, going back to the sixteenth century) include, came from Nicholson.

The Right Reverend Alfred Barry, MA, DD, DCL, Bishop of Sydney (1826-1910), donated to the Library “300 books” in 1884 (Council minutes, 15 August 1884). These had been bought from the collection of the late Percy Smythe, eighth and last Viscount Strangford (1825-69). Strangford was a linguist, who had learnt Arabic and Persian at Oxford, and went on to acquire “an extremely thorough knowledge of Turkish, modern Greek, Sanskrit, and oriental philology”. He also had some knowledge of Celtic and Romani. (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography). His donation includes A Dictionary of the Portuguese and English Languages (1805; inscribed “Strangford, Rio de Jano. 1811”); The Bridgewater Treatises on the Power Wisdom and Goodness of God as Manifested in the Creation, 12 volumes (1830s); James Archbell, A Grammar of the Bechuana Language (1837); W. Barnes, Se Gefylsta (The Helper): An Anglo-Saxon Delectus (1849) Henry Scott Riddell, The Song of Solomon in Lowland Scotch (1858); The Qoran, two volumes, in Arabic (1856,1861); W.H.I. Bleek, A Comparative Grammar of South African Languages, published 1862.

Arthur Todd Holroyd, MB, MD, FZS, FLS, FRGS (1806-87), bequeathed his library to the College. Hodgson was a graduate of Edinburgh and Cambridge, an English and New South Wales barrister and an original Fellow (1855-87). He was also a Middle-East explorer, a banker and a member of the NSW parliament. He died in debt on 15 June 1887 and his executors asked that the College buy the books for ₤190. Council declined. The collection was described at auction as a “very valuable old Library”, rich in early colonial works (Council minutes, 29 December 1887, 8 March, 12 April, 10 May 1888; Sydney Morning Herald, 24 November 1888).

The Right Reverend James Francis Turner, DD (1829-93), Bishop of Grafton and Armidale, gave “300 books” in October 1892 (Council minutes, 13 October 1892). Turner was a graduate of the University of Durham. He was consecrated bishop in 1869 and was a Fellow 1872-75. He was trained as an architect before being ordained, and had a life-long interest in building design. He was “[c]learly High Church in outlook, … insist[ing] on the Catholic rather than the Protestant character of the Church of England, but … consistent in advocating less party spirit within the Church” (Australian Dictionary of Biography). The donation followed his resignation as Bishop. He died on way to England, on 27 April 1893. His books included XXX in rare Books; Tracts for the Times, six volumes (1839-40); Pusey’s Sermon on the Eucharist (1843; marked by Turner, “Original edition valuable”); and volumes of pamphlets, including now valuable colonial ones.

Adrian Consett Stephen, BA, LLB (1892-1918) was in College 1910-12. He was born 4 July 1892, at Darling Point, son of Alfred Consett Stephen, a solicitor (the balladist “Banjo” Paterson spoke of “wonderful capacity for finding inetrest and hunour in the every-day incidents of life … some gift of insiught which gave him the personal touch, rarely equalled by his contemporaries”), and great-grandson of Sir Alfred Stephen, Fellow). Adrain Stephen took after his father. He was a fine writer, especially of drama, and dedicated to making Australian audiences familiar with new plays (including Ibsen and Bernard Shaw). He graduated in Arts in 1913 and in Law in 1915, and edited the Pauline and Hermes. During World War One he rose to acting Major in the Royal Field Artillery, was mentioned in despatches and won the Croix de Guerre avec palme and the Military Cross. He was killed in France on 14 March 1918, and in his will left ₤50 to the College for the formation of a library of modern drama and fiction.

Lindon Helton Biddulph, BA, LLB (1890-1963) was in College 1907-09. He was born 7 March 1890, at Bourke, son of Philip Biddulph. He graduated in Arts in 1910 and in Law in 1913. During World War One he was a Captain in the 35th Battalion, AIF, anbd was awarded the Military Cross. He was afterwards a solicitor in Armidale (Mackenzie & Biddulph) and then in Sydney (Biddulph & Salenger). “Lin had a great zest for life; and his unfailing cheerfulness and his enthusiasm for whatver matter he took in hand made him a grand companion” (Pauline 1964). In 1963 he donated a large collection of books mostly having to war history. His bookplate, with its elaborate armorial bearings, commemorates his connection with the Biddulph baronets of Westcombe, in Kent.

Ralph Edwin Smith (1901-93) was in College 1921-25. He was born 21 October 1901. He studied Law but did not graduate. According to the Pauline, “His sumptuously furnished apartment in College – a combination of lounge and library – was the starting point of many mysterious exploit and no chapter of Edgar Wallace could outdo the thrills of his nocturnal adventures.” In July 1958 Felix Arnott visited his hiome at visit to his home at Darling Point, and saw his library, “a magnificent vcollection of several thousand volumes”, including numerous collectors’ items, and urged himn to leave it to the Coilege. It is not yet clear what he did with the rest of his life. He died 24 July 1993, at Darling Point. He donated a large number of miscellaneous books.

“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment” lao tzu