Charles Whately (often misspelled as Whateley) was born in Exeter, Devonshire, England, in 1831. His parents were Thomas Whately, a farmer, and his wife Harriett. Charles Whately arrived in Sydney on the ship ‘Lloyds’ on 29 June 1850 as an assisted migrant under the name Wheatley, giving his occupation as farm labourer. After working in Sydney for about a year, he went to the goldfields and later became a farmer at Greendale in the Penrith district. On 2 May 1853 he married Mary Ann Fidden, daughter of James Fidden and Sarah Abford, and they returned to Sydney in 1854, settling in Newtown. They had ten children, six of whom survived infancy.
After Mary Ann’s death on 23 October 1872, aged 39, Charles Whately married Eliza Kirkham, who had operated a small private school on King Street, near Charles’s coach building shop. They had four more children together. When their youngest daughter Mabel Lily died in 1882, the family lived at Stanbury Hall, Unwins Bridge Road, Marrickville, but by 1887 they had moved to Brown Street, Newtown. Charles Whately died on 7 October 1894, at his residence, Gladstone, Wells Street, Newtown, aged 63. He was buried in the Independent Cemetery at Rookwood. Eliza died on 15 April 1921 at 18 Belmore Street, Newtown, aged 75.
Occupation & interests
Charles Whately served his apprenticeship as a coach and wagon builder in England and later worked for two years as a journeyman in Stratton’s shop, Bristol. Upon his arrival in the colony in 1850, he worked for a time in Sydney as a coachbuilder, but the following year Charles joined thousands of others on the gold fields. He then became a farmer in the Penrith district, but moved to Newtown in 1854, where he was employed in George Webber’s wheelwright and blacksmith shop, on King Street, between Whateley and Brown streets. Charles later took over the business and advertised widely, even in New Zealand, as wheelwright and coach builder.
Like fellow alderman Joseph Kingsbury, Whately was an active member of the Newtown Church of Christ and was its treasurer for 28 years until 1892. In 1863, Sunday services were held in the paint shop of his coachbuilding works on King Street and in 1864 the first Sunday School was held on the premises. Charles’s daughter Harriet married John Kingsbury, son of Joseph Kingsbury.
Charles Whately was involved in the temperance movement for more than a decade (1868-1880) and spoke regularly at temperance meetings. He was also on the committee for the Newtown School of Arts during the mid-1860s and was appointed a Justice of the Peace (JP) in 1887.
Local government service
Charles Whately was an alderman on Newtown Council in 1877-81 and 1883-94, representing O’Connell Ward. He was mayor in 1881 and 1886. Under his first mayorship, the rails for the tramway were laid in King Street and he worked hard with the Council to improve the sanitary conditions of Newtown as the community battled with an outbreak of smallpox. Charles Whately died in office in late 1894 and was replaced by alderman J. R. King.
Biographical information for this alderman was originally researched by Mark Matheson for the Newtown Project Website.
‘Family Notices’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 September 1882, 16, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28376789
‘New Magistrates’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 September 1887, 8, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13646841
‘Law Report. Supreme Court – Thursday, October 22’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 October 1896, 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14072055
‘The Churches’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 October 1925, 10, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16247484
‘The Churches’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 October 1936, 10, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17285484