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Charles Penrose, c. 1896. (Photo courtesy of Colin Orr)
Charles Penrose Charles Penrose i(7430580 works by)
Also writes as: C. P.
Born: Established: 21 Sep 1853 Richmond, Surrey,
United Kingdom (UK),
Western Europe, Europe,
; Died: Ceased: 7 Dec 1897 North Sydney, North Sydney - Lane Cove area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Male
Arrived in Australia: 1884
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Charles Penrose was born in Richmond, Surrey on 21 September 1853. He was the only son of the Revd. C.T. Penrose and his wife Ellen. Charles’ paternal grandmother was Elizabeth Penrose, better known to us as 'Mrs Markham', author of the standard Victorian school history books. His great aunt, Mary, who died in 1873, was the wife of Dr Thomas Arnold. Matthew and Tom Arnold were Charles’ distant cousins and well known to him. His favourite uncle, Francis Cranmer Penrose was an eminent architect who founded the British School in Athens. Public education was the cause that united the Penrose-Arnold clan. W.E. Forster, the British Minister responsible for the elementary education act of 1870, was married to an Arnold cousin.

From the age of 7 Charles Penrose attended a variety of boarding schools. There is a charming collection of letters written to him by his father between 1859 and 1868 and of his boyhood poetry. Charles’ father died when he was 14: his mother when he was 17. With the assistance of the extended family he was able to complete his education and go on to Oriel College, Oxford in 1872. He graduated BA in 1877 with a Second in Classical Moderations followed by an MA in 1880. He taught at a number of English schools.

Charles’ first love was boating. Both his father and uncle, Francis, were famous rowers (for Cambridge). In his time at Oxford Charles met the pugnacious boat builder, Henry Goatley. Charles also found his second love, Henry’s daughter, Annie-Louisa. Following trouble with his neighbours, Henry emigrated to Sydney with his family in 1883 and established a boatyard in Balmain. Charles followed to Sydney in August 1884 on the SS Cuzco.

In Sydney, Charles worked as a relief teacher at Sydney Grammar School and elsewhere before setting up business as a private tutor, first in Paddington and later at Milson’s Point. Charles and Annie-Louisa were married at Kogarah on 19 December 1885. In due course they bought a property on the Lane Cove River which they christened 'Oriel Cottage'.

In December 1892 Charles was diagnosed with Bright’s Disease, a death sentence which originated in an attack of Scarlet Fever while at boarding school. His fascination with boats continued unabated. In April 1894 he wrote to the Australian Town and Country Journal suggesting that a Sydney Canoe Club be established. His suggestion was greeted with enthusiasm. The Club was set up at McMahon’s Point, a short walk from Charles’ office. The 'canoes' were not kayaks but 'canoe yawls' soon to become Sydney’s famous 'flying eighteen footers'. (The enterprising Henry Goatley built a number of boats for club members.) Charles Penrose’s association with the Australian Town and Country Journal seems to date from this time.

Charles Penrose died, age 44, after a short illness, on 7th December 1897 and was buried at St. Thomas’, North Sydney. Annie-Louisa was carrying his fifth child.

(Biography courtesy of Colin Orr)

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Last amended 3 Jun 2014 18:24:44
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