The Centenary of the House of Windsor, 1917 – 2017

The 2017 Australian Historical Association (AHA) Conference was held in Newcastle, New South Wales between 3 – 7 July.  It was held just before the centenary of the proclamation of the House of Windsor, and the paper I presented at the conference is posted here on the precise anniversary of that date, 17 July 1917.  It is a marker of the centenary and its continuing significance in the histories of Australia, the Australian States, the other old dominions, India, the United Kingdom, the contemporary Commonwealth, the Crown and the dynasty itself.

The post consists of two parts: an introduction with the conference abstracts and so on, followed by the paper proper with the images displayed in the presentation, and citations for all quotes.

Click on the images for a larger, more readable version.

INTRODUCTION (Conference papers)

Slide 1

Title

Allegiances beyond Borders: South Australia’s journey from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor

Summary of Abstract

Appealing for royal support during a crisis is an old tradition, but what happens when the king is cast as part of the problem?  Can new traditions, new entanglements emerge?

17 July 1917: The House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha metamorphosed into the House of Windsor.  German Süd Australien was dead, new/old histories and entangled genealogies were inscribed on palimpsest landscapes, and then…?

Abstract

A century ago this month the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha dynasty in Britain became the Windsors.  This was much more than a mere name change.  It capped a series of ‘de-Germanising’ or ‘de-Europeanising’ tactics by George V during the Great War to strategically reposition his dynasty and its future as fundamentally British.  The change drew upon, and consciously projected, stories and traditions of a mythologised ancient past of ‘Anglo’ and ‘Celtic’ mixing or fusing to create a new and uniquely ‘Briton’ dynasty with shared genealogical and emotional links to every British community in the world.

South Australia was one of those British communities, and the dynastic strategy both mirrored and was interlinked with responses to a vicious anti-German campaign in the State.  Between 1.5 and 4 per cent of South Australians shared some degree of German heritage, and the campaign to demonise, exclude and contain them between 1915 and 1918 was visceral and relentless.  It was also, measured by its own objectives, perhaps the most successful such campaign in the Empire.  Like the dynastic name change, the mass ‘toponymic cleansing’ of German place names in South Australia reached its fruition in 1917.

But, like the king, the opponents of South Australia’s anti-Germanists drew upon a mythologised traditionalism of what they called ‘admixture’ in response to anti-German ‘racialism’.  Both sides invoked the dynasty and its supposed histories in support of their claims and counter-claims. Eventually, a re-imagined and newly-traditional royal family emerged, transformed for the cultural needs of modern South Australia.

Author

Bruce Baskerville has an interest in the ways old institutions, such as crowns, are transported, adapted, re-formed and re-imagined in new realms, especially settler societies.  His recent University of Sydney PhD thesis is titled The Chrysalid Crown: An un-national history of the Crown in Australia 1808-1986.

The Session

Place: Newcastle City Hall, Hunter Room 1, Friday 7 July 2017, 11:00-12:30 session.

Session Chair: Prof Dane Kennedy, George Washington University, and opening keynote speaker on ‘Colonial Cosmopolitanism: Mobility, Cross-Cultural Networks and the Struggle for Postcolonial Sovereignty’.

Panel Theme: Royal Exile, Travel and Transformation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Speakers: Prof Robert Aldrich, Dr Cindy McCreery and Dr Bruce Baskerville.

 

THE PRESENTATION (largely as spoken)

I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the place where we meet, pay respects to elders past and present, and welcome Aboriginal people to this session.

Slide 2 | Spot the difference

JULY 1917 OR JULY 2017?

This paper is extracted and summarised from part of one chapter in a thesis, so because of the time available many details are passed over.  Please don’t hesitate to ask me in the Q&A.

In this paper I will tell a story about allegiance, and how it can dramatically change while appearing to be unchanging, how an ostensible disentangling was really a new entangling, presented as recovering an older, truer history.

Along the way, the Crown and dynasty were transformed, as were the people of South Australia and, perhaps more significantly, the emotional bonds between settler subjects and their king-emperor.

Looking at Slide 2, which is counter-factual story and which is journalism?  There are enough clues to tell them apart, but a century ago in 1917, the first was still a viable projection of a likely (but rapidly receding) future, while the second, by changing the references to Islam to Germans, would have sounded very much like every-day press commentary in Adelaide.

The settings are Balmoral, London and Melbourne, but replace them with the Barossa, Kaiserstuhl and Adelaide, and timelines and places become indistinct and mixed-up.

Let’s try and untangle a few knots.

Slide 3 | ‘A Good Riddance’

IMAGINING A BRITANNIC DYNASTY

A century ago this month the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha dynasty in Britain became the Windsors.  This anniversary on 15 July marks more than a mere name change.  It capped a series of ‘de-Germanising’ or ‘de-Europeanising’ tactics by George V during the Great War to strategically reposition his dynasty and its future as fundamentally British.  The change drew upon, and consciously projected, stories and traditions of a mythologised ancient past of antique peoples mixing or fusing to create a new and uniquely post-Roman ‘Briton’ dynasty with deep emotional links to every British community in the world.

In mid-1917 the Australian newspapers reported vague announcements about the King changing the dynastic name to the House of Britain, “a title that would embrace the dominions”.  Then, on 19 July, the papers across Australia reported

“The King signed a proclamation, announcing that he had adopted the family name of Windsor, and had relinquished all German titles and dignities”.[1]

Australian High Commissioner and former Labor Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher, and the South African High Commissioner were present when the king signed the proclamation. The dominions had been at the very heart of this decision.

The new name was reported to be “entirely English in its history”, which would “give gratification throughout the Empire”.[2]  Over the next few months, the nature of this ‘English’ history was spelled-out in the press.  Emphasis was placed on a royal lineage stretching over several dynasties to before the Norman conquest.  The change of name was presented as the workings of ancient and venerable ‘tradition’.

The characteristics of the tradition had four main inter-related elements: Windsor was ‘English’ in its historical associations, it was a ‘natural’ choice for a dynastic name, the new dynastic rules were ‘democratising’, and it would be welcomed throughout the Empire.  Paradoxically, this ‘tradition’ relied upon innovation to invoke a reimagining among the King’s subjects of the Crown itself.

 The change involved a sacralising component with its principal sacred site being Windsor Castle where, in its inner sanctum of the Chapel of St George chivalric rituals were performed beneath the armorial banners of the Knights of the Garter.  Press descriptions sought to invoke a mythical or even magical past for Windsor Castle, from the seat of King Arthur to being Charles I’s prison before his regicide.  Evoking the name Windsor was a key legitimating device.

Windsor was a ‘natural choice’ because it cleansed alien (non-British) influences and emphasized the ‘national character’ of the dynasty. Shed of its recent (Hanoverian and Saxe-Coburg) German influences, the name Windsor emphasized a return to the more ‘democratic’ traditions of the ancient past.  Princely status was to be limited to the immediate family of the king, and was welcomed as if something ‘Australian’ had become part of royalty.

It also allowed the related dynasties of continental royalty, a recent accretion, to be abandoned.  Marrying into European dynasties, said to avoid taking sides during the English civil wars, was no longer necessary. Royal children would now take British spouses from within the Empire.

Slide 4 | Windsor Castle, viewed from a train

The ancient royal pedigree stretched back to Cerdic of Wessex and Malcolm Canmore of Scotland, a pedigree Anglo and Celtic reflected in the British communities of the Empire. It was, reported the press, this

“… intimate association through that ancestry with the history and growth of the British nation that King George wishes to impress upon both his own family and the peoples of the Empire”.[3]

This was a powerful narrative about a tradition in which king and people had a shared ancestry that was emotional, spiritual and ideological.  It was a continuity with a past deeper than any historical research could verify.  This ‘natural’ continuity was cast, not as medieval, but as part of an enduring national character.  Having invented this continuity and its character, innovation masked as a restoration underpinned the abandonment of extended dynastic relationships.  The novelty of the dominions and the metropole equally sharing the imperial centre further extended the ‘tradition’ of a shared dynasty and common genealogy.

The 200 years of German influence since George I had assumed the throne in 1714 were thus swept aside as a mere detour from ancient tradition embodied in a venerable, mystical, unbroken lineage of sovereigns that linked old pre-Conquest Windsor with every modern imperial city and eventually every household and every subject in the remotest corner of the Empire.

Through this romanticised tradition the ‘intimate association’ between the King and every single subject, direct, emotional and unmediated, could be imagined.  The press across Australia reinforced the ‘tradition’ by providing the visual representations for audiences who would never actually see Windsor Castle.  This was a dynasty to which all true Britons could be loyal, and the new technologies of cheap mass printing and photography would make it accessible to all.

So, how was this change experienced in war-time South Australia?

Slide 5 | Kaiserstuhl

THE GERMAN THRONE IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA

South Australia was one of those British communities ‘intimately associated’ with the king.  The dynastic strategy both mirrored and was interlinked with responses to a vicious anti-German campaign in the State.  Between 1.5 and 4 per cent of South Australians shared some degree of German heritage, and the campaign to demonise, exclude and contain them between 1915 and 1918 was visceral and relentless.[4] Like the dynastic name change, the mass ‘toponymic cleansing’ of German place names in South Australia reached its fruition in 1917.

Anti-Germanism in an organized sense in Australia began early in the war. The All-British League formed in Port Adelaide in February 1915 is an example of one of the more virulent anti-German organizations.

The League’s core objectives were:

“First, to advocate forever the shutting out of all foreigners from Government and municipal posts; secondly, to prevent foreigners from becoming members of Parliament or justices of the peace; and thirdly, to jealously guard against the ascendancy of any language over English in the curriculum of State-aided schools.”[5]

‘Foreigner’ essentially meant German, and over the next four years the League campaigned relentlessly to have Germans (by which it meant anyone of German birth, or German parentage or grand-parentage, wherever they were born) removed from the South Australia Parliament and magistracy, municipal councils and public employment, to remove the franchise from all Germans in local, State and Federal elections, for all German or Lutheran schools to be closed or taken over by the State and to have all German-language publications suppressed.  It wanted all land owned by Germans to be compulsorily acquired and used for returned soldier settlements.  It demanded that all German-origin place names be replaced by British or ‘Australian native’ names.  By 1918 it was advocating the wholesale deportation of all Germans.

The League’s campaigns were visceral, bigoted, jingoistic and highly public, and they found strong support in The Mail newspaper. League branches were established throughout the state and its activities were widely covered in the South Australian press.[6]  It had a spectacular success with cleansing the map of South Australia of German place names. In May 1916, The Mail published a map of South Australia showing German toponyms, followed a week later by a hysterical article urging their removal under the headline “Deutschland Über Süd Australien”.[7]  For The Mail, German names and the ‘gutteral language’ were becoming “outrageously offensive”, and the premier example was Kaisterstuhl, or the Emperor’s Seat, near Tanunda.  This place name showed the ‘characteristic audacity’ of Germanic thinking “in applying such an appellation to a portion of a British range of hills”.[8]  Another example was Sedan, named by German settlers to commemorate the Prussian victory over Napoleon III, a victory they still secretly celebrated every year.  Any traveller to South Australia, claimed The Mail, would think that the Kaiser, not King George, was ruler of the land.  A “few drab, unimaginative, anaemic and ductile individuals” might object[9], but in support of its quest The Mail quoted Henry de Halsalle, author of the sensationalist best-seller Degenerate Germany (surely one of the most appalling books ever printed), who had written:

“Germany is beyond question the most vice-ridden country in Europe.  She is as libidinous as the American negro, and vastly more diseased”.[10]

Any German who objected to changing the names was inherently disloyal, claimed The Mail, and should be immediately interned.

On the other hand, The Register cautioned against purity in regard to place names, noting that it was not always simple to decide which was a ‘British’ name: “One need not go beyond the Royal Family to illustrate the ease with which confusion may arise” wrote the editor.[11] However, rather than direct opposition it could only advance some gentle derision:

“It would be small consolation to a permanently disabled soldier a year or two hereafter to reflect that, even if he were not sufficiently fed and cared for, at any rate “Kaiserstuhl”, of which probably he had never previously heard, had been turned into some other less offensive specimen of nomenclature”.[12]

In early August 1916 the South Australian Parliament passed a unanimous resolution to remove all place names of an ‘enemy origin’.  The offending Kaisterstuhl was highlighted, as was the imagined probability that, if the Germans won the war, they would undoubtedly rename King William Street as Kaiser Wilhelm Strasse.[13] The League’s fear was not of German invasion, but of a German victory over Britain resulting in Australia being claimed by the Germans as a war prize.  The parliamentary debate was single-sided and at least 96 German-language place names were removed under the Nomenclature Act 1917. It was the largest mass toponymic cleansing of a landscape in Australia during the war.  The League’s campaign had captured the whole South Australian parliament, and it freely dragged the German ancestry of the royal family into public controversy.

Coupled with a more general equating of royal dynasticism with an insidious Deutschtum (or cultural infiltration) that had already set aside a site for the Kaiser’s new Australian throne near Tanunda, the storm was embroiling ideas about the Crown and dynasty within a larger conflict of ideas about Britishness in Australia. Britishness, not so much as a nationality, but as an ideal or a set of values, perhaps encapsulated in a revealing conflict between ideas of racial purity and miscegenation.

Slide 6 | Pirie Street Wesleyan Church

ADMIXTURE VERSUS RACIALISM

Like the king, the opponents of South Australia’s anti-Germanists drew upon a mythologised traditionalism of what they called ‘admixture’ in response to anti-German ‘racialism’.  They invoked the dynasty and its supposed histories in support of their claims.  The League was not without its opponents.

A letter writer to the Advertiser, styled ‘A Woman’ put their principle arguments forward a few months after the League’s formation.  She argued that old traditions of

“personal honour, domestic fidelity, commercial integrity, political probity, reverence for the law, chivalry towards woman and the Anglo-Saxon love of truth”

would send a cold shiver up the spines of the League.[14]  One of The League’s objectives, she argued, was to cultivate ‘race-hatred’, an objective that made vice-regal patronage of the League unacceptable.  The King’s representatives should not be taking sides and supporting ‘racialist distinctions’ between members of the community.  A Woman argued there were ‘enormous’ numbers of intermarriages between Briton and non-Briton in South Australia, including many leading citizens.  Further, she said, the League’s own rules would exclude the King and royal household from membership because of their ‘mixed descent’.  The League’s arguments, she concluded “are more fitting for a back-lane harangue, but most unsuitable for [exhibiting] British fairplay”.[15]

Responses to A Woman show two opposing streams of thought.  Captain Cromarty, secretary of the League, wrote that a Briton would never raise the issue of the King’s ineligibility for League membership and that mixed marriage was a menace.[16] Another critic invited A Woman to join the League, but was sure she wouldn’t because the King and the royal household would be absent: “Membership is an honour reserved for people of British parentage, and there are some privileges that even the King cannot enjoy”.[17]  Still another critic answered that the League had no fear of being disloyal to the British throne, as distinct from the German-blooded King.[18]

A Woman’s supporters, such as the influential Methodist preacher the Reverend Henry Howard, on the other hand, stated that the League’s rules were so ‘narrow and un-British’ that he would never join, would prevent “our own Governor’s Lady, the Prince of Wales, the Mother-Queen and even the King himself” from joining.[19]  Those with an ‘admixture of foreign blood’, he added, had ‘a splendid record of citizenship’.

A Woman, or ‘those of her lineage’, was castigated for not only being rude, ill-mannered, and a complainer, but also for ‘no doubt’ being connected with German Australians, likely the wife of a ‘moneyed German’, a carping pro-German, and perhaps harshest of all, an accusation that A Woman was actually a man, born of pro-German parents in Adelaide.[20]

Another response to the shared genealogy of the British and German royal families was evident in the Catholic media.  “The present reigning house in England, the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha … is a German house”, stated Sydney’s The Catholic Press unequivocally, and so from a ‘racial descent’ point of view it was entirely accurate to say that the Kaiser is half English.[21] This inversion of the claims that the British royals were partly German to a claim that the German royals were partly English, and both were racially impure, added another tension.  Various ‘histories’ of the royal surnames of Wettin, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Hanover and Guelph, all indicating shared Germanic origins of the two royal houses, became common fare in some Catholic newspapers, especially in apparent responses to children’s letters. They presented a history that emphasized Orange subversion in Ireland supported by Germanic elements in the English royal family, the head of the Church of England being required to be a Protestant descendant of German Hanoverians, the extended dynastic network that turned royalty into assets of ‘Deutschtum’, and Lutheranism and Anglicanism being essentially the same (non-Catholic) denomination.

By the end of 1917 a further layering of this ‘history’ had evolved that positioned Ireland as the only truly non-German nation or race in the British Empire.[22] In this narrative the Welsh, the Scots and especially the English had for centuries been ‘enthusiastic’ for all things Germanic.  Only the Irish had supported the French in the Franco-Prussian War, it was claimed, while the Scots had been happy to be flattered by the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas wearing kilts and adopting Highland ways, and the Welsh kept the Prince of Wales Germanic motto of Ich Dien.

The racial inferiority of the royal family implied by the All-British League in South Australia was further complicated by a layer, also couched in a language of racial distinction and hierarchy, of Irish separateness promoted through the Catholic press in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide in which the royal family served as a metaphor for a Germanic and inherently repressive ‘English’ (i.e. German) state.

The king’s re-naming of the royal house cut through, although did not entirely dispel, these rancorous debates.

Slide 7 | George V knights Monash

SOUTH AUSTRALIA’S WINDSORS

The new Royal House of Windsor actively attached itself to the dominions.  King George personally invested General John Monash (Victorian-born son of Prussian-Jewish parents) as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on the battlefield at Amiens in 12 August 1918. The King’s use of the ‘ancient’ ritual of battlefield investitures was within the new context of a direct and ‘intimate’ relationship between the King and his dominion subjects.

During 1917 and 1918, at least two strands of dominion loyalty and settler Britishness were in open conflict, represented in the nationalist League and the less-organised traditionalists.  The populist, anti-German, jingoistic, tabloid press darling All British League was able to influence state politicians of all shades, from both the conservative and labour movements, with its head office in working class Port Adelaide and branches in working and middle class suburbs and country towns.  Its vision of Britishness was bigoted and proudly discriminatory, and quite prepared to reject a conjectural membership by the King on the basis of his German ancestry.

The League’s nationalism, through the medium of shared support for the White Australia Policy, segued into a left wing, pro-Catholic strand in the labour movement.  But, it never took on the League’s virulent anti-Germanism just as the League never accepted Catholicism as an authentic voice of Irishness.  Both, however, cast the dynasty as inherently ‘German’ in character.

The more-subtle strand was the dynastic loyalism of the ‘traditionalist’ that emphasized the ancientness of institutions and mythic and legendary origins. This provided a strong continuity over time that maintained social cohesion and allowed for evolutionary change.  Crude nationalism was an anathema, and ideas of ‘admixture’, or mixed marriages, were advanced as a continuation of historical traditions that had grown out of centuries of such mixing.  It was exemplified by the writings of A Woman and the Reverend Henry Howard.  The invention of the House of Windsor with its sacred imaginings appealed to their spiritual and esoteric leanings.  WJ Hudson wrote in 1988

“[In the 1930s] Australians … focused, not on the bond between dominion and king, but on ‘the individual relationship of the citizen to the King.’”[23]

That Australians could have such a focus is explicable by the invention of the House of Windsor that produced the enthralling affect described by Hudson.

A month after the change, the King instituted the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Its creation was welcomed across the Empire, clearly linking the new royal house and the dominions, with its first recipients including Australians, Canadians and South Africans, as well as trades unionists and nurses.

Slide 8 | Rhapsodic public greetings of the Prince of Wales, heir to the new dynasty, in Adelaide, 1920

The traditionalists focus on history and culture rather than politics emphasized the ‘intimate’, direct relationship between sovereign and subject.  This meant participating in a timeless mystical bond, connecting through the mists of ancientness to a time when people of different origins were coming together and forming a new people.  These relationships were evident in the rituals and ceremonies of orders of chivalry and the sacred place of Windsor Castle with its own magical origins.  These ‘conjoinings’ created, and continued to create, British peoples and communities around the globe that were historical and natural, that were enduring and would continue into the future.  This was a Britishness that placed the King in the heart of every subject, and it could be imagined, vice-versa.

The League’s anti-Germanism left deep scars, evident in 1920 during the Prince of Wales’ tour of South Australia.  There were complaints that the prince’s emblem displayed the German words Ich Dien, and snide questions of whether his great-grandfather (Prince Albert) was a ‘good German’. The Catholic Southern Cross noted that as “King George V of Windsor (late Saxe-Coburg Gotha)” was celebrating his 55th birthday, the English continued to pursue a policy of “Prussianism’ in Ireland”, and the Prince chose to visit Adelaide on 12 July, “the festival of hate on which the ‘loyal’ Orange lodges … are accustomed to vilify Catholics”.[24]  The traditionalists’ recognition of multi-ethnic ‘conjoinings’ as an element in the forming of new Britons/Britains needs to be set against these war-time shadows, but as the slide shows ‘Windsorness’ had its victories.

The German contribution to communal or national identities in Australia was effectively silenced for several generations (and, I think, remains one of Australian history’s characteristic ‘silences’).  But, the traditionalists beliefs suggest there were counter-narratives to ideas of racial purity and White Australia that invites further research.

Slide 9 | George V’s funeral hatchment, Adelaide 1936 (thanks to Richard d’Apice for bringing this image to my attention)

The dominions were not passive recipients of these changes.  Through the war effort they affirmed their status as equal but separate bodies politic within the empire.  But the body natural of the one king was also transformed, transfused with mythic ancient Briton-ness and re-born as wholly British.  There would be no more membership of the once great, now wrecked, European royal and imperial dynastic network.  It was a naturalization and modernisation shaped by the times, and by it the Windsor’s avoided the fate of the continental imperial dynasties.

Settler Britons in the dominions, like South Australia, through their own often conflicting imaginings of loyalty, dynasticism and Britishness eased the way for the Crown to evolve and change while all the time appearing to be maintaining, even recovering, continuity and tradition.  The dominions helped save the Crown during the Great War.  After 1918, a British sovereign would no longer be a mere European dynast, instead she would be the living embodiment of the greatest and only truly imperial Crown left on the planet.  A truly Briton king had been born on 15 July 1917, and only he was fit to wrought a victorious new throne atop the ruins of the Kaiserstuhl in South Australia.

Slide 10 | Windsor triumphant, Saxony vanquished

[1] ‘House of Windsor | Royalty’s New Name’, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July 1917, page 7.  Some 40 different newspapers carried this same story, some in abridged or extended versions, around Australia.  The official notice was in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, No 121, 2 August 1917, page 1

[2] ‘House of Windsor | Royalty’s New Name’, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July 1917, page 7

[3] ‘Royal Names and Titles’, Gippsland Mercury, 24 July 1917, page 3

[4] Figures from Commonwealth of Australia, Census 1911 http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/ausstats/free.nsf/0/0354DDBB061331F2CA2578390011E1AF/$File/1911%20Census%20-%20Volume%20II%20-%20Part%20II%20Birthplaces.pdf

Peter Monteath cites a figure of 10% in ‘German South Australia on the Eve of the War’, in Melanie Oppenheimer at al, South Australia on the Eve of War, Wakefield Press, Mile End 2017: page 161.

[5] ‘The All-British League | Important Additional Aims | Stirring Address by Mr Owen Smyth’, The Daily Herald (Adelaide), 4 March 1915, page 6

[6] The League was established in a meeting at Port Adelaide on 15 January 1915.  By the end of 1915 it had 18 branches, by the end of 1916 24 branches, by the end of 1917 34 branches, and by the end of 1918 40 branches.  None were operational by 1920.  It also had a rifle club, which members were encouraged to join.  It claimed to have ‘well over 5,000 members’ in March 1917 (about 1.2% of the South Australian population).  Database of branches compiled by author.

[7] Deutschland Ueber Sued Australien | Work for the Government Christener’, The Mail, 27 May 1916, page 10; ‘Deutschland Über Süd Australien | How does the Government regard German names?’, The Mail, 3 June 1916, page 10

[8] ‘German Names Must Go | British Spirit and Sentiment Thoroughly Aroused | Pseudo-Patriots Vigorously Condemned’, The Mail, 17 June 1916, page 10

[9] ‘German Names Must Go | British Spirit and Sentiment Thoroughly Aroused | Pseudo-Patriots Vigorously Condemned’, The Mail, 17 June 1916, page 10

[10] Degenerate Germany, T. Werner Laurie, London 1916.  Online edition available here https://archive.org/details/degenerategerman00halsuoft , accessed 5 October 2014.  De Halsalle is a shadowy figure, described variously as an intelligence officer and a journalist, author of several moralistic tracts on the allegedly sordid behaviour of German women, actors, homosexuals and others he classed as degenerate; he also railed against using the term Anglo-Saxon as being a Germanic term.

[11] ‘German Names’, The Register, 12 July 1916, page 6

[12] ‘German Names’, The Register, 12 July 1916, page 6

[13] ‘German Names Doomed | Parliament Orders Change | Legislators’ Unanimous Vote | “The Mail” Thanked | “No More Loyalty In Germans Than In A Fly”, The Mail, 5 August 1916, page 10

[14] ‘All British League | To the Editor’, The Advertiser, 18 June 1915, page 10

[15] ‘All British League | To the Editor’, The Advertiser, 18 June 1915, page 10

[16] ‘All British League | To the Editor’, The Advertiser, 18 June 1915, page 10

[17] ‘All British League | From W R Butler’, The Register, 21 June 1915, page 3

[18] ‘All British League | From Once Too Tolerant’, The Register, 21 June 1915, page 5

[19] ‘All British League | From the Rev. Henry Howard’, The Register, 19 June 1915, page 13.  The Governor’s wife, Lady Marie Galwey, was the daughter of a Bavarian countess

[20] ‘All British League | From GLJ’, The Register, 24 June 1915, page 5

[21] ‘The Kaiser’s English Blood’, The Catholic Press (Sydney), 29 June 1916, page 4

[22] ‘Irish always Anti-German | Historical facts’, The Catholic Press, 13 December 1917, page 12

[23] WJ Hudson and Martin Sharp, Australian Independence: Colony to Reluctant Kingdom, Melbourne University Press, Carlton 1988: pages 4 and x

[24] letter to the editor from ‘Nothing German’, The Mail, 17 July 1920, page 5; ‘Some Pertinent Answers to Correspondents’, Southern Cross, 25 June 1920, page 18

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Save Historic 38 Moreton Terrace, Dongara, Western Australia

NEWS JUST IN | The Irwin Shire Council voted 8-0 on 28 March 2017 not to de-list 38 Moreton Terrace from the Shire heritage list.  Thirteen public submissions were received, all opposing the de-listing, and the Council’s own Heritage Committee recommended Council reject the de-listing request.  The one submission in support of de-listing referred to the Shire’s “oppression”, “tyranny” and “officialism” over an “old residence from the 1950s” where “nothing of real importance happened”.  The minutes of the Council meeting can be viewed here , and the submissions and reports can be viewed here (see Attachment P103). 

Thanks to all who made submissions and otherwise fought the good fight

No 38 Moreton Terrace is a significant heritage-listed building in the main street of the little town of Dongara, on the Batavia Coast of Western Australia.  The local Irwin Shire Council has received a request to de-list the building – that is, remove it from the local heritage list.

38 Moreton Terrace, corner of Moreton Terrace and Point Leander Drive. Image L Baskerville 11 December 2016

38 Moreton Terrace, corner of Moreton Terrace and Point Leander Drive. Image L Baskerville 11 December 2016

Council was receiving public submissions on the de-listing until 19 December 2016, and will consider the request and the submissions made for and against de-listing at its meeting on 28 February 2017.

I made a submission opposing the de-listing, and set out my arguments in a lengthy seventeen-page assessment of the heritage values of the place.  Both the submission proper (a one-page letter) and the seventeen-page attachment (the more interesting document) are attached to this post and can be downloaded and shared.

38 Moreton Terrace, West Wing. Image L Baskerville 11 December 2016

38 Moreton Terrace, West Wing. Image L Baskerville 11 December 2016

Why do I think 38 Moreton Terrace is of heritage significance?  Because, at its simplest, this magnificent old rubble limestone pile, like a good book, can be read and bring to life stories of independent women running their own businesses, of the great hopes and dreams of Edwardian Westralia that were crushed and broken in the Great War, of the old landed gentry and their not-always happy relationships with ‘coloured’ labour, of the 20th century’s great transition from horse power to motor power, of the demise of coastal shipping and the rise of seaside tourism, and so very much more.  These are stories that might be unexpected in a remote beachside village, but which because of that have an added poignancy and capacity to speak to a whole continent.  And, I have to admit, I also think it is significant because I grew up playing in and around this romantic and mysterious old building in a childhood that still seems idyllic, an old building that still survives while so much has been lost to mammon.

But, don’t take my word for it – please read the submission and attachment, and make up your own mind.

38 Moreton Terrace, back of West Wing (left) and South Wing (right). Image L Baskerville 11 December 2016

38 Moreton Terrace, back of West Wing (left) and South Wing (right). Image L Baskerville 11 December 2016

I am sure the Irwin Shire councillors would appreciate hearing from anyone who opposes the de-listing, and wants to see 38 Moreton Terrace in particular, and the heritage assets of the Irwinish people and the Irwin shire generally, conserved and passed on to coming generations. Councillors and Shire planning officers contact details can be found here http://www.irwin.wa.gov.au/Contact-Us.aspx .

Two useful websites to explore are the Shire of Irwin http://www.irwin.wa.gov.au and the Irwin District Historical Society http://www.irwinhistory.org.au .

Black Swan (wrongly painted white), in pediment above shop front, corner of Moreton Terrace and Point Leander Drive. Image B Baskerville, 23 August 2007

Black Swan (wrongly painted white), in pediment above shop front, corner of Moreton Terrace and Point Leander Drive. Image B Baskerville, 23 August 2007

Heritage is not about nostalgia, it is our legacy to the future.  Once it is gone, we can’t get it back.  Please help the Irwin Shire Council reach the right decision on 28 February 2017.

Save 38 Moreton Terrace – Submission Letter

Save 38 Moreton Terrace – Submission Heritage Assessment and History

 

‘Yes-No’ South Sydney: the federation referenda of 1898 and 1899

‘Yes-No’ South Sydney: a brief study of how the people of South Sydney voted in the two federation referenda of 1898 and 1899.

 A Centenary of Federation 1901-2001 essay

Looking back, it all seems so inevitable. Federation. Could we imagine the Australian continent divided into six separate countries – a Republic of New South Wales, a Dominion of Western Australia, and so on? Could we imagine an Australia without the Anzacs?, without Qantas? Could we imagine a national flag without the southern cross and federation star? Could we imagine a country without a capital named Canberra? Could we imagine border disputes, perhaps even wars, between say New South Wales and Queensland over land use in the headwaters of the Darling River? Could we imagine that the word ‘Australia’ was merely a geographical description? Federation – it seems so sensible, so logical, so inevitable. But, was it always so?

‘Yes-No South Sydney’

The men of what is today the City of South Sydney voted for delegates to a Federation Convention in 1897 and in two referenda in 1898 and 1899 on the question of whether to federate. Women in New South Wales did not gain the vote until 1902. The results of the men’s voting suggest the possibilities of alternate histories, of federation today not being at all inevitable, of there being no Commonwealth of Australia.

English: Boundaries of the City of South Sydne...

Boundaries of the City of South Sydney (1989-2003) at the time of the Centenary of Federation in 2001 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The New South Wales Premier of the time, George Reid, was nicknamed ‘Yes-No’ Reid for his equivocation over whether to recommend a yes or no vote in the federation referendum of 1898. It is an epithet that could perhaps also be applied to the male South Sydneysiders of a century ago.

George Reid (Australian politician)

‘Yes-No’ Reid – New South Wales and later Federal politician George Reid: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is interesting to consider some of the referendum results of 1898 and 1899. In 1898 the ‘no’ case in South Sydney won the day with 51% of the vote, while in 1899 the situation reversed when the ‘yes’ vote just reached 52%. Between the two referenda the ‘yes’ vote increased slightly in each of the South Sydney electorates except Redfern where the ‘no’ vote increased and Paddington where it stayed equally divided 50:50. The most consistent ‘no’ voters were in Erskineville, Newtown-St. Peters and Woolloomooloo, while the strongest ‘yes’ vote (of 57%) was recorded in Darlinghurst in the 1899 referendum. Generally, the more working class the electorate, the more likely it was to vote ‘no’. Thus, Woolloomooloo recorded a 54% ‘no’ vote and Newtown-St. Peters recorded a 58% ‘no’ vote in the 1898 referendum. In contrast the ‘yes’ votes were concentrated around the university in Campderown, the wealthier heights of Darlinghurst, and the city side of Surry Hills. The biggest change between the two referenda was in Waterloo, where a 54% ‘no’ vote became a 53% ‘yes’ vote.

Why two referenda, and why such results? The first question is fairly straight-forward to answer, the second rather more complicated. Voters in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia voted in a referendum on 3rd June 1898 on whether to accept federation. In New South Wales the parliament required the ‘yes’ vote to be greater than 80 000 for the referendum to pass. In the event, the number of ‘yes’ votes was only 71 595 – although 5 300 more than the ‘no’ vote. Following the failure of the referendum the colonial premiers met in secret and agreed to several changes to the proposed federal constitution. These changes included more power for the House of Representatives relative to the Senate, and locating the federal capital somewhere in New South Wales. The New South Wales parliament removed the 80 000 votes requirement, and a second referendum was held in five colonies (this time including Queensland). On the 20th June 1899 the referendum passed in NSW, 107 420 ‘yes’ votes to 82 741 ‘no’ votes.

The second question of why such results in South Sydney is a little more complex to answer, and involves issues of labour and capital, catholic and protestant, votes for women, and white Australia. South Sydney is one of the birthplaces of the Australian Labor Party, and the 1896 party conference called for election to the proposed House of Representatives and the Senate to be on a population basis, and was critical of the proposed equal representation of the states in the senate as being undemocratic. In 1897 the party called for a single chamber federal parliament, and the use of the citizen’s initiative referendum. The party ran candidates for election to the Federation Convention in 1897 but, like the catholic candidates, failed to have any elected. It then campaigned for a ‘no’ vote in the 1898 referendum and, although Premier Reid succeeded in having the proposed constitution amended to reflect some of the Labor Party’s concerns, it also campaigned for a ‘no’ vote in 1899.

This badge from 1906 shows the use of the expr...

This badge from 1906 shows the use of the expression “White Australia” at that time (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Party was, however, supportive of the possibility of extending the colonial white Australia policies across the whole continent by a federal government. They particularly criticized the immigration and use of coloured labour in Queensland and the pearling industry of northern Australia. There was a constantly reiterated fear of coloured labour being paid lower wages than white labour, and thus driving white wages downwards. Keeping Chinese and Pacific Islanders, in particular, out of Australia was argued as the best way of raising white wages. All of the elected Convention delegates subscribed to a White Australia Policy for this or other reasons.

At least two of the Convention delegates favoured votes for women. Action to achieve such a goal in the proposed federal constitution was spearheaded by the Women’s Federal Leagues. The League had been founded during the 1898 referendum campaign in Sydney by Maybanke Wolstenholme, and early in 1899 a second branch was founded by the Lady Mayoress of Sydney, Mrs Helen Harris. How much the functions and activities of the Leagues influenced the votes of the men of South Sydney requires further research, but it may be relevant to note that the two supporters of women’s suffrage at the Federation Convention where amongst the five delegates who also supported restricting the powers of the proposed Senate – a goal of the Labor Party.

The respectable women of the Women’s Federal Leagues, however, were also supported to varying degrees by the liberal, middle class men of the Australasian Federation League and the Young Men’s Federal Convention. The Federation Leagues had begun in the Riverina border towns in the early 1890s, and when a meeting was called to form a League in Sydney Town Hall in mid-1893 it was disrupted by Labor Party leaders who attempted to have a resolution made supporting a ‘democratic republic’. The Young Men’s Federal Convention had originated in the St. Paul’s Young Men’s Union in Redfern, and its convention in Castlereagh Street in early 1897 drew about 250 professional men aged under 30. Their Convention argued for the Crown, for two houses of parliament and a strong senate, for the federal capital to be in Sydney, and for federation to go ahead without Queensland if required. These men generally supported a strong senate with equal representation from each state, which distanced them from the Labor Party goals.

Thus, when the men of South Sydney voted in 1898 there were clear divisions between the working and professional classes. They all supported a White Australia (for different reasons), but differed on most other issues with the powers of the proposed senate being a symbol of those differences. Following the failure of the first referendum Premier Reid had succeeded in having the proposed federal constitution amended to reflect some of the Labor Party concerns regarding the senate, and to have the capital located in New South Wales as advocated by the Young Men. These changes appear to have influenced at least some of the men of South Sydney to change their vote. It is notable that the ‘yes’ vote in the city side of Surry Hills increased from 51% to 56%. This was the location of Sydney’s Chinatown at that time and, despite the threat of a continental White Australia Policy under federation, the Chinese men were reported to favour federation as it would remove the harassment they continually faced at the inter-colonial border posts.

A complex web of motivations can be seen here influencing how the men of South Sydney cast their votes in the federation referenda. The change between the two referenda was not great, although it changed the balance from narrow support for the ‘no’ case to narrow support for the ‘yes’ case. This contrasts with the strong support shown in the border districts and the north coast where the ‘yes’ vote reached into 80 and 90 percentage points. The men of South Sydney, working class and professional, did have an influence of the shape of the federal constitution in areas such as the powers of the senate and the location of the new federal capital, and early Commonwealth legislation such as the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901 which implemented a national White Australia Policy and the Franchise Actof 1902 whereby white women gained the vote nationally and in NSW.

Federation Monument, Grand Dr, Centennial Park...

The Federation Pavilion in Centennial Park, Sydney enclosing the ‘Commonwealth Stone’ on the site where the Commonwealth of Australia was proclaimed on 1st January 1901.  (Photo credit: trent shepherd)

The South Sydneysiders of a century ago were not whole-hearted federalists and many were no doubt attracted to the rival proposals by the nationalists for NSW to be a separate country, and the unificationists for New South Wales and Victoria to merge as a single nation without the rest of the colonies in Australasia. In the end, the results were accepted, and South Sydneysiders were no doubt heavily represented amongst the 250 000 people who lined the great parade route through the city and into Centennial Park where the Commonwealth of Australia was proclaimed at 1pm on the 1st of January 1901.

The new Commonwealth established some of its first functions in South Sydney: the High Court sat for the first time in 1903 in Darlinghurst Courthouse, the first headquarters of the defence forces established in 1901 was in Victoria Barracks, Paddington, and the Commonwealth Pensions Office was first located in Chalmers Street, Surry Hills. Interestingly, these were the ‘yes’ vote areas.

Darlinghurst Court House, Sydney

First seat of the High Court of Australia: Darlinghurst Court House, Sydney (Photo credit: State Records NSW)

It is important to understand, therefore, that federation was not inevitable. It is a historical processes that continues today, and it has many varied causes that can be explained and understood. South Sydneysiders today may be more enthusiastic about federation (or at least, about being Australian) but history shows that we cannot inflict that enthusiasm on our forebears, but instead must strive to understand their motivations in their times for what was simply one of several alternate futures.

Premier ‘Yes-No’ Reid probably reflected the mixed attitudes of ‘Yes-No’ South Sydneysiders a lot more than he realised.

Citation

This essay was written by Bruce Baskerville, and presented at a public forum organised by South Sydney Heritage Society Inc. and South Sydney City Council as a Centenary of Federation event, at the new Florence Bartlett Library in Kings Cross on Saturday, 20th January 2001.

The right of Bruce Baskerville to be identified as the moral rights author of this work is hereby asserted in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968 of the Commonwealth of Australia.