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Thompson, Mr Charles William

A schoolteacher from 1886 to 1933, he taught in seven country schools during his 46-year teaching career. Five of these schools were located within the now ACT border; Gibraltar, Naas, Ginninderra, Gungahleen and Hall. All of these schools except for Ginninderra were still operating in 1913.

Born in 1868 at Sutton Forrest, NSW the ninth child in a family of eleven. Charle's father came from Liverpool, England, a labourer with no known relatives. His mother was an Irish orphan from Tipperary. In 1871 the family moved to Towrang near Goulburn. Charles grew up and went to school in the district; his father was a fettler on the railway until he was killed in a train accident in 1888. Charles was a bright student and at the end of his normal schooling at 14 years became a pupil teacher assisting the Master until 1885.

After the Public Instruction Act was passed in 1880, little schools began popping up along the eastern fringe of the mountain country, at Uriarra, Barnes Creek, Church Rock Valley, Gibraltar, Tharwa, Naas, Naas Upper, Bobeyan (or Tin Dish) and Shannon's Flat. Usually the parents had to build the first schoolhouse themselves, which was often just as simple as a slab room. If the school survived long enough, a more permanent structure was provided by the government.

Naas and Gibraltar - June 1886 to December 1888

In 1886 at age 18 Charles joined the NSW teaching service as a House-to-House teacher. Charles received his first teaching appointment as the inaugural 'House to House' teacher at the remote and difficult locations of Naas and Gibraltar. These were 16 miles apart, Charles taught alternately for one week at each .

Charles next two postings were to public schools in the Goulburn district; Claremont – 1888 to 1890 and Yarra (between Goulburn and Canberra) – 1890 to 1895. In 1893 he married Matilda Jane Wetherspoon, daughter of a prosperous farmer from the Crookwell region.

Ginninderra and Gungahleen – March 1895 to December 1910.

Charles and Matilda took up residence at the Ginninderra Schoolhouse where they lived and raised their family for 38 years until 1933. As a 'half time' teacher Charles taught at both the Ginninderra and Gungahleen schools; Matilda, who took weekly classes in needlework and sewing, assisted him. Charles on occasions also took adult classes in the evenings and helped members of the community with their business and private correspondence.

Charles became deeply involved in the wider Ginninderra district community, he was Secretary of the Ginninderra Farmer's Union for the eleven years of its existence, Secretary of the School of Arts, and involved in many more community activities. He was a poet, the author of many school magazine articles and a great contributor to the local press, mainly the Queanbeyan Age. Charles and Matilda had four children who were all taught by Charles at Ginninderra or Hall. In 1907 Ginninderra became a Public school with about 45 pupils and Charles as teacher. Gungahleen became a separate Provisional School with its own teacher.

Hall – January 1911 to 12 February 1933

In 1910 the Ginninderra School closed and the new school at Hall opened with 29 pupils and Charles as teacher. Charles and Matilda continued to live in the Ginninderra schoolhouse. Charles continued his association with many community and sporting activities including Secretary of the committee raising funds for the building St Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Hall. On 12 March 1913 the Federal Government took responsibility for funding the Federal Capital Territory) services, including education, but it was still serviced by the NSW Government. Under this arrangement Charles Thompson became the first schoolteacher to be employed by the Federal Government. Charles was a fair but strict disciplinarian, a naturalist, a scribe, and a great contributor to the community; he loved children and was born to be a teacher. Among his students - including at least two generations of families - were some great achievers. Both he and Matilda were very popular within the Hall/Ginninderra community.

In 1933 Charles and Matilda retired to Manly, NSW. Charles died on 10 December 1948 at age 80 after a short illness. Matilda and family received many letters of condolence when his past pupils and friends heard of his passing. There were obituaries in the Manly Daily, Canberra Times and the Queanbeyan Age relating to his esteem; as a teacher, to his involvement in the Ginninderra district and with the Village of Hall. His life from 1868 until 1948 was in an interesting period and he made the most of it in passing his knowledge and wisdom on to others.

TIMELINE Charles William Thompson

Born 13 February 1868 at Sutton Forrest, NSW to parents William and Catherine Thompson. Charles was the 9th child in a family of eleven. William was a labourer and Catherine was an Irish orphan transported under the Earl Grey scheme.
1871 - the Thompson's moved from Sutton Forrest to Towrang in the Goulburn district. William worked as a fettler on the railway line, the family lived in various locations including Murray's Flat and Carrick.
1874 - it is assumed that at age six Charles would have commenced school, probably at Murray's Flat or Carrick.
1882 - it is assumed at age fourteen Charles would have completed his normal schooling.
1882 – 1886 - it is fairly certain that Charles undertook three to four year pupil/teacher training under his school's master, a form of apprenticeship. He may have needed to attend a short course elsewhere, say Goulburn or Sydney.
18 June 1886 - Charles was appointed House-to-House Teacher at Naas and Gibraltar. These were inaugural schools in this district.
28 December 1888 - Charles was appointed at Clermont Public School in the Goulburn/Crookwell district.
15 July 1890 - Charles appointed to Run of Water Public School at Yarra, which is located between Goulburn and Canberra.
4 July 1893 - Charles married Matilda Wetherspoon at Crookwell.
27 February 1895 - appointed to halftime schools of Ginninderra and Gungahleen.
1906 - Ginninderra became an independent full time school with Charles as master.
1906 - Gungahleen became an independent Provisional school with William Ridge as teacher. 1911 to 1933 - appointed to Hall Public School.
1933 – Charles and Matilda retired to Manly NSW.
10 December 1948 - Charles died at age 81

Charles William Thompson ('Chas Wm Thompson')

Born: 19 February 1868. Sutton Forrest, NSW
Married 1 July 1893 to Matilda Kane Wetherspoon
Died: 10 December 1948. Manly, NSW Buried French's Forrest Cemetery

Archives ACT has assembled more information about Charles Thompson from their collection.


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