Fremantle Stuff > people > George Bland Humble 1839-1930
George Humble was Town Clerk of the Town of Fremantle and headmaster of Fremantle Boys School. He was the first deacon of the Congregational Church in April 1869. (Errington 2016)
George Bland Humble (1839-1930) was the son of a Yorkshire farmer. He was a young headmaster at a London school when the Government of Western Australia offered him a position to teach at Greenough Flats south of Geraldton. He arrived in 1862 after a perilous ten-month voyage and took up his position at the hamlet’s tiny schoolhouse. Bland remained at Greenough for one year, narrowly escaping drowning when the Flats were flooded.
He moved to Fremantle [in 1864] to take up the position of headmaster of Fremantle Boys School, where he stayed until 1889. For some of these years he combined his teaching duties with the position of part-time clerk of works with Fremantle Council. In 1892 he became a full-time council officer.
Humble was shocked when in 1904 the new mayor, Frank Cadd, demanded and eventually received Humble’s resignation, claiming Humble’s work had not been satisfactory. Humble – always a conscientious man – was understandably hurt. He ran against Cadd for election for the office of mayor the following year and lost only narrowly.
Humble had a steadfast interest in the Wesleyan Church; in Freemasonry; and in sport, particularly Australian football. He was a founding member of the Fremantle Cemetery Board and, in his meticulous fashion, devoted six weeks to planning his own funeral. Text and photo of Humble, Ron Davidson, MCB.
George Humble (22 December 1839–23 October 1930) was a Town Clerk of the Town of Fremantle, and headmaster of Fremantle Boys School. He married Ellen Allpike in 1864 and his grandson Captain Forrest Hopetown Bland Humble was Harbour Master of Fremantle Harbour in 1953. Wikipedia.
It was the beginning of 1864 that G. B. Humble took charge of the Government Boys School in Adelaide Street, which he conducted until 1889. He performed the duties of that position in conjunction with those of town clerk for most of that time. The school had no second master in those days, the assistant pupil teacher being the late Frank Pearse, who afterwards became one of the richest men in the State. Mr. Humble's predecessor in the school was an Irishman named Whiteman, and the Roman Catholic Boys' School on the opposite side of the street was conducted by another Irishman named Rooney. A battle royal took place every lunch hour between the scholars of the two schools and to such lengths were hostilities carried that a different lunch hour had to be arranged for each school. Hitchcock: 46-47.
THE schoolmaster helps to mould the characters of his pupils; as the twig is bent the tree grows. The town clerk fills an office not very dissimilar in a new and growing municipality.
In Mr George Bland Humble the citizens of Fremantle have a Town Clerk who has discharged the duties of a local pedagogue and of chief executive officer to the Council in a manner at which none can cavil. Mr. Humble is a Yorkshireman, and dates his connection with the colony to the days when Mr. Arthur Kennedy was Governor, from whom he received his first appointment as master of a school on the Greenough Flats.
Born at Laybarne House, Richmond, Yorkshire in 1839, Mr. Humble proceeded at an early age to the Wesleyan School at Richmond, Yorkshire, where he graduated as a pupil teacher. After five years apprenticeship as pupil teacher, he passed the Queen's Scholarship examination, which entitled him to admission to the Wesley Normal Training Institution, at Horseberry Road. During his sojourn there he attracted the attention of the president, the Rev. J. Scott, D.D., and the headmaster, Mr. Sugden, by his studious and exemplary behaviour, and at the age of twenty-one years, having gained the necessary diplomas, he received, at the instigation of those gentlemen, an appointment as headmaster of the Wesleyan School at Marylebone. He remained there for twelve months, when he was chosen by the Western Australian authorities to act as a teacher in this colony. Like most young Englishmen, Mr. Humble was not averse to travel, and in the year 1861 he gladly started for his new home. The ship in which he embarked, the Robert Morrison, had Captain Roe among her passengers. That gentleman with his wife and family had been on a visit to England, and being thoroughly conversant with the conditions of life in Western Australia gave the young fellow useful advice and information. The voyage was eventful, and it was not until the following year that the colony was reached. This delay was caused by the loss of the ship's masts in a squall off the island of Tristan d' Acunha. The vessel made for Cape Town under "jury" masts, where, after considerable detention, repairs were effected, and the voyage was resumed. She arrived at Fremantle in January, 1862. On reporting himself to Governor Kennedy, Mr. Humble was ordered to Greenough Flats, near Geraldton. The school was held in a very modest looking building erected by the settlers, all of whom subscribed towards the cost; the Government paid the teacher. The district was so sparsely settled that, although the schoolhouse was erected in the most central position, the distances were so great from many of the houses that the parents of the children subscribed money and purchased a horse and cart, which went round every morning to the various houses to collect the children, proceeding with them to the school, and returning with them again in the evening.
Travelling in those days was anything but comfortable, the roads being bad and the country unsettled. In 1863 a flood cut the schoolhouse off from all communication with the outer world for three weeks. When the news reached Mr. Humble that the country was in flood he was returning home from a visit, and in anxiety to reach the building he nearly lost his life in the flood waters. In that year he was ordered to Fremantle, but the vessel on which he embarked at Geraldton, the African, struck on the Pelsart Rooks, and was so severely damaged that she had to return to Geraldton, where she was beached, and during bad weather became a total wreck. From the hull, which was timber, a schooner was built, but was fated to worse misfortune than the parent ship. The little vessel, named the Lass of Geraldton, left Fremantle for Bunbury, but fell in with storms and capsized, drowning, among others, the father of Sir George Shenton. Mr. Humble joined, in 1864, the Boys School, Fremantle, as headmaster.
He married in the same year a daughter of Mr. Stephen Allpike (Government official), and niece of Mr. J. Dyer, J.P., of Perth. Mr. Humble took a keen interest in military matters, and in 1865 joined the Volunteer Rifle Corps as Lieutenant, and subsequently filled the positions of secretary and treasurer. On his retirement in 1869 the corps presented him with a silver bugle. In 1872 a new corps was formed, in which Mr. Humble served as 1st Lieutenant under Commander R. M. Sutherland, and on that gentleman's retirement he assumed command, and held that position for five years, retiring with the rank of Major. During his connection with the Volunteers he was recognised as one of the most enthusiastic officers, and was so popular with both officers and men that on severing his connection with them he was presented with a gold locket and a Major's presentation sword.
Fresh duties had compelled him to relinquish his military services, for in 1872, on the passing of the first Municipal Act, he was pressed to accept the position of Town Clerk of Fremantle, the duties of which position he performed in conjunction with those of schoolmaster until 1892. The occasion of his retirement from the headmastership of the school was made quite a public event, the teachers and pupils presenting him with a beautifully illuminated address, and the old boys with a silver tea service.
In addition to these many important duties, Mr. Humble has taken an active interest in every movement which had for its object the advancement of Fremantle and its citizens. To him is due much of the credit of founding the Fremantle Benefit Building and Investment Society, of which he is at present the secretary. He is also a prominent Mason, and filled the office of Worshipful Master of the Lodge when the foundation-stone of the Masonic Hall was laid, and when the building was opened. He is still a trustee of the building, and has held the position of Grand Junior Warden of the Grand Lodge of Western Australia. As a Justice of the Peace Mr. Humble has done good service since 1895, when he was gazetted. In religious matters he has helped to build up the Congregational Church in Fremantle. He acted as deacon to the late Rev. Mr Johnston, and was instrumental in having the Johnston Memorial Church erected in Fremantle to his memory. In the Sunday School he has been a prominent figure, and at the expiration of twenty-five years' connection with it was presented with an address by the scholars.
The many useful offices Mr. Humble has filled in Western Australia merit him to receive the most pleasing praise of—"Well done thou good and faithful servant." Kimberly's 1897 History: 127-128.
Humble Street, the main street of Claremont, was named for George. It was renamed Bay View Terrace in 1894.
Errington, Steve 2016, 'Places of worship in Fremantle, 1829 to 1900', Studies in Western Australian History, 31: 145-158.
Hitchcock, JK 1929, The History of Fremantle, The Front Gate of Australia 1829-1929, Fremantle City Council.
Kimberly, WB 1897, History of West Australia: A Narrative Of Her Past Together With Biographies Of Her Leading Men, Niven, Melbourne: 72-73. Available online from Wikisource: 127-128. Second photo above from the book.
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