John Woolley P005
John Woolley (1816-1866) MA DCL (Oxon), first Professor of Classics
was born in Hampshire, England, the son of a physician. He entered
University College, London in 1830, studying Logic and Classics. In
1832 he won a scholarship to Exeter College, Oxford. In 1836 he took
a first in Literae Humaniores, and an MA in 1839. In 1840 he was
awarded a Stowell graduate scholarship to University College, and later
that year was elected a fellow. In 1841 he was ordained in the Church
of England. He married the same year and resigned his fellowship of
University College. Woolley now became a schoolmaster, first being
appointed Headmaster of the Free Grammar School at Hereford in 1842.
From 1844 to 1849 he was Headmaster of Rossall School, Lancashire. In
1849 Woollley became Headmaster of Norwich Grammar School, but stayed
only until 1851. In 1852 he was appointed Principal and Professor of
Classics at the University of Sydney, taking up his duties in July 1852
as Australia's first Professor.
Woolley was a dedicated teacher and inspiring lecturer. However, his attitude to the proper role of the Church in education and society, and his religious liberalism, kept him isolated from Sydney society. Woolley was an active Freemason and involved in many religious organisations in the colony. He was also an elected trustee of the Australian Museum and a councillor of the Philosophical Society of NSW.
In late 1864 Woolley left for England, without his family, feeling he had failed in his work. Apparently, he tried to obtain an academic post in England, but did not find one. On his return to Sydney in 1866 the ship was lost in a storm and Woolley drowned.
Item Description Date Range No. 1 Notebook containing notes on Euripides play n.d. "Agamemnon". 2 Notebook entitled "Mr Sewell Woolley (sent 25 Nov 1835)". 1835 3 Testimonials to Rev. John Woolley, n.d. headmaster of Rossall College, Fleetwood, England. 4 Printed copy of sermon given by Woolley at 14 Jul the Cromer Parish Church, entitled 1850 "Religious Education the safeguard of the state". 5 Handwritten draft of lecture given by 27 Nov Woolley, entitled "The Idylls of the King", 1860 dated Randwick 29 November 1860. 6 Inaugural lecture given by Woolley at the 28 May School of Arts Wollongong on 28 May 1861, 1861 entitled "Schools of Art and Colonial Nationality". 7 Printed copy of lecture given to the Darling 18 Dec Point Mutual Improvement Association on 1860 Tuesday 18 December 1860, entitled "The Idylls of the King". 8 Printed copy of sermon preached at a special 6 Apr 1862 parade of the volunteer forces at Christ Church Sydney, entitled "The Soldier's Ministry". 9 Undated letter sent to Mr Manning. n.d. 10 Printed extract of resolutions passed at a 26 Mar meeting at the Prince of Wales' Theatre, 1866 Sydney, "for the purpose of certifying the public sympathy with Dr Woolley's family". 11 Mr Cope's speaking notes about the life of n.d. Woolley (8 pages). 12 Loose, printed copy of testimonials to Rev. n.d. John Woolley [see item 3].
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