Graduations

The University's first annual Commemoration of Benefactors and Conferring of Degrees held in the Great Hall, 18 July 1859

At its meeting on 17 June 1859, the Senate decided that the term ‘Commemoration’ would be used to refer to the public occasion when the names of University benefactors were announced. (The first such ceremony had been held in 1854.)

The first Commemoration of Benefactors and Conferring of Degrees ceremony was held at 11.00am on Monday 18 July 1859, and was the first held in the Great Hall.

It also served as the official opening of the Hall, with a Musical Festival lasting from 19 to 23 July 1859 held in celebration of the opening of the Hall.

Great Hall 1859

The Great Hall, with the caption "Sydney University Hall - in commemoration of the grand festival at the opening of the Sydney University - the 18th of July 1859", albumen paper photograph by William Blackwood (1824 - 1897), with the kind permission of the Josef Lebovic Gallery.

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Those who attended the ceremony

At eleven o' clock am, numerous visitors began to arrive and continued rapidly to assemble in large numbers until the doors of the hall were thrown open and admitted the expectant throng. The noble and spacious apartment was almost immediately and densely filled in every part; the organ on the dais at the western extremity playing whilst the many hundreds of personages present, official and unofficial were gradually settling into their respective places.

Most of our principal colonial families were represented amongst the audience in the body of the Hall, a large proportion of whom were ladies, the eastern gallery below the Cambridge window being similarly occupied.

Directly in front of the organ on the raised seats sat the resident Consuls. The Legislative Council was represented as was the Legislative Assembly. At the back of these gentlemen sat several Reverend Ministers in the various Presbyterian Churches, wearing their academic robes, also Wesleyan Clergymen, Ecclesiastics of the Roman Catholic Church occupied benches at the oblique angle and still further forward were placed the functionaries of St. Paul's College.

The Hon Charles Cowper, Premier, the Hon L H Bayley, Attorney General, Sir Alfred Stephen, Chief Justice, Sir Charles Nicholson, (Provost) in his gorgeous robes, having on his left hand, His Excellency, Sir W T Denison, KCB (in full uniform, wearing his orders), and on his right, the Most Reverend Archbishop Polding in his robes.

To the right of His Grace, Mr Deas Thompson, Mr Alfred Denison, Rev W Purves, the Hon James Martin and Mr Peter Faucett, members of the Senate, wearing academic robes, the Hon F J S Merewether, Rev Robert Allwood, Sir Daniel Cooper, Hon H G Douglas, Hon J H Plunkett, James Macarthur and B O' Brien.


The Conferring of Degrees ceremony

The Provost (later Chancellor), Sir Charles Nicholson, opened the proceedings in the proper Latin formula.

The Rev Principal Dr Woolley, who filled the office of Dean of the Faculty of Arts, then read the list of freshmen of candidates for degrees and prizemen.

Read the Latin for the presentation of prizes and honours which give the words to be spoken by officials and candidates, as well as directions for the sequence or physical movements to be observed.

Prizemen 1857
Prizemen 1858
  • Classics: J Garland, W P Cowlishaw, F J Gibbes, W Tom, S S Cowper, G Land, C Stephen
  • Mathematics: W P Cowlishaw, J Garland, F J Gibbes, W Tom, F H Quaife, R R Terry, F E Rogers, C Stephen, G Lane, W Dixson
  • Physics: F H Quaife, J Garland, W Tom, J E Bowden, W P Cowlishaw, C Stephen, G Lane
  • French: F E Rogers, H T S McCarthy
  • Prize composition "Captain Cook's meditations on the Future of Australia": W H Yarrington
Recitation of the poem 'Captain Cook meditating on Australia's Future'

At the direction of the Principal, Mr Yarrington then ascended the pulpit, and in a clear and emphatic voice recited the poem 'Captain Cook meditating on Australia's Future', which was attentively listened to, and loudly applauded at the conclusion.

Conferring of Bachelor of Arts degrees

The following undergraduates were advanced to the degree of Bachelor of Arts.

Read the Latin for the conferring of degrees which give the words to be spoken by officials and candidates, as well as directions for the sequence or physical movements to be observed.

Conferring of Master of Arts degrees

The following Bachelors of Arts were advanced to the degree of Master of Arts:

  • Marshall Burdekin, from the original 1852 cohort of students. He had graduated BA in 1856.
  • William C Cyprian Curtis, from the original 1852 cohort of students. He had graduated BA in 1856.
  • John Donovan, who had graduated BA in 1857.
  • Robert Marsden D Fitzgerald, from the original 1852 cohort of students. He had graduated BA in 1856.
  • James William Johnson, from the original 1852 cohort of students. He had graduated BA in 1857.
  • John Kinloch, from the original 1852 cohort of students. He had graduated BA in 1857.
  • Edward Lee, from the original 1852 cohort of students. He had graduated BA in 1856.
  • David Scott Mitchell, from the original 1852 cohort of students. He had graduated BA in 1856.
  • James Paterson, who graduated BA in 1857.
  • William Charles Windeyer, from the original 1852 cohort of students. He had graduated BA in 1856.
Scholars
  • Scholars for 1858:
    – Deas Thomson Scholarship: Henry Chamberlain Russell
    – Ordinary Scholarships: Cecil Stephen, George Lane
  • Scholars for 1859:
    – Barker Scholarship: W P Cowlishaw
    – Deas Thomson Scholarship: F H Quaife
    – Ordinary Scholarships: Cecil Stephen, E Bowman, W Perry

The Commemoration of Benefactors ceremony

The Registrar, Hugh Kennedy referred to the Commemoration of benefactors as an ancient usage of universities in the United Kingdom and then read the names of benefactors and their gifts, which included the following

  • Solomon Levey, Esq, for the sum of £500 bequeathed to the Sydney College - now applied annually in support of a scholarship called the Levey Scholarship.
  • Thomas Barker, Esq, as donor of £1000 for the endowment of a scholarship for the encouragement of mathematical science.
  • The Hon Edward Deas Thomson, as donor of £1000 for the endowment of a scholarship for the encouragement of physical science.
  • The Hon Sir Daniel Cooper, as donor of £1000 for the endowment of a scholarship for the encouragement of classical literature.
  • H K Salting, Esq, as donor of the sum of £450 for the foundation of an exhibition to be held by a scholar from the Sydney Grammar School.
  • William Charles Wentworth Esq, as donor of £300 for the endowment of a prize for the best English essay.
  • Sir Charles Nicholson, Provost of the University, as donor of a prize of the annual value of £20, to be awarded for the best composition in Latin hexameter.
  • The Hon Francis Lewis Merewether, Vice-Provost of the University, as donor of a prize of the annual value of £10, to be awarded for the best composition in Lating elegaics.

Addresses

The Provost gave an address, followed by His Excellency, Sir W T Denison, KCB.

The proceedings then concluded.