Students at the University of Sydney

The first 24 students

Frederick Hale Forshall

Frederic Hale Forshall was admitted as a student at the new University of Sydney in 1852 in the first cohort of students.


His early years

Frederic Hale Forshall was the son of the Reverend Josiah Forshall (1795–1863), who worked at the British Museum, initially
as an assistant librarian and keeper, becoming Secretary for over twenty years (1828–50).

Frederick was a Queen’s Scholar at Westminster School and in 1848 won a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, but left there a year later when he was about 19 years old without having taken his degree, and came to Sydney. His father had a mental breakdown at about this time and was compelled to retire the following year, 1850, which could be an explanation for Frederick's leaving Cambridge.

His student days at the University of Sydney

From 1849 until 1852 he worked in Sydney as a tutor before being admitted as a student at the new University of Sydney in the first cohort of students.

However, his name was wrongly entered in the Register of Matriculants as William Hale Forshall, an error that came to be replicated in subsequent University Calendars, so that he appears in different Calendars of the time in four separate erroneous variations of his name as well as under his correct name.

In 1853 he won the Sir Charles Nicholson's Medal and the Vice-Provost's Medal for the best composition in Greek Iambic Verse.

In the same year he became the first person to be employed as university librarian. He was appointed as University librarian, on a salary of 50 pounds p.a., apparently while still a student. He also seems to have continued tutoring while attending the University and carrying out his duties as librarian. However, in 1854 he left the University and his position following a disagreement with John Woolley, Professor of Classics. Frederick seems to have wanted to claim an ad eundem status (i.e. he would have sought exemption from some subjects in recognition of his time at Cambridge) in order to graduate early, but he says Woolley would not permit it, so he resigned and and withdrew his candidature for a degree.

His career

Forshall returned to England where, by his own account, he was subsequently ‘engaged in the classical and English preparation of candidates for the University, army, and civil examinations’ and published his history of Westminster School some thirty years later.