Charles Wade

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The Honourable
Sir Charles Wade
Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales
In office
15 March 1920 – 26 September 1922
17th Premier of New South Wales
In office
2 October 1907 – 1 October 1910
Governor Sir Harry Rawson
Lord Chelmsford
Preceded by Sir Joseph Carruthers
Succeeded by James McGowen
Member of the New South Wales Parliament
for Gordon
In office
6 August 1904 – 21 February 1917
Preceded by New district
Succeeded by Thomas Bavin
Personal details
Born (1863-01-26)26 January 1863
Singleton, Colony of New South Wales, Australia
Died 26 September 1922(1922-09-26) (aged 59)
Potts Point, New South Wales, Australia

Sir Charles Gregory Wade KCMG, KC, JP (26 January 1863 – 26 September 1922) was Premier of New South Wales 2 October 1907 – 21 October 1910. According to Percival Serle, "Wade was a public-spirited man of high character. His ability, honesty and courage were quickly recognized and, though he could not be called a great leader, he was either in office or leader of the opposition for nearly the whole of his political life of 14 years. His career as a judge was short, but his sense of justice and grasp of principles and details, eminently fitted him for that position."[1]

Early years[edit]

Charles Gregory Wade was born in Singleton, New South Wales. He was the son of William Burton Wade, a civil engineer.[2] Educated at All Saints College, Bathurst, and The King's School, Parramatta. Wade won the Broughton and Forrest scholarships and went to Merton College, Oxford.[2] He had a distinguished career, both as a scholar and an athlete, graduating with honours in classics and representing his university and England at rugby union.[2] He was called to the bar at the Inner Temple in 1886[2] and in the same year returned to Sydney. He married Ella Louise Bell,[2] daughter of a civil engineer, in 1890. He made a reputation as a barrister and was appointed a crown prosecutor in 1891[2] and successfully prosecuted George Dean for attempted murder in a notorious case in 1895. From 1902, he represented employers before the new Industrial Arbitration Court.[1][3]

Political career[edit]

In September 1903, he ran successfully for the Legislative Assembly seat of Willoughby, with the support of the Liberal and Reform Association, People's Reform League, New South Wales Alliance for the Suppression of Intemperance, Loyal Orange Institution and Australian Protestant Defence Association. From 1904 to 1917, he represented Gordon.[3][4] Within a year of his first election he joined the Carruthers ministry as Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. When Carruthers resigned Wade became Premier on 2 October 1907, but still retained his previous portfolios. He was an energetic leader and a large number of acts were passed by his government dealing with among others, industrial disputes, neglected children, minimum wage, employers' liability, the liquor problem, and closer settlement. There was some remission of taxation and each year the treasurer was able to show a surplus. The great Burrinjuck Dam for which the Carruthers government was responsible was started, and special care was taken that the consequent increase in the value of the land should be preserved for the people generally and not merely the landholders.[1] During the 1909–10 coal strike, Wade appeared to favour the mine-owners and lost significant community support.[3]

In spite of his good record Wade was defeated at the general election, and a Labour government came in on 21 October 1910, Wade becoming leader of the opposition. In November 1916, Labor premier William Holman, a supporter of conscription, formed a coalition with Liberal Reform to stay in office; the great majority of his party strongly opposed conscription. Wade was prominent in the negotiations for a coalition, but the state of his health did not allow him to seek office. He thus had no role when Liberal Reform merged with Holman's pro-conscription Laborites a few months later to form the New South Wales branch of the Nationalist Party of Australia, though the new party was dominated by Liberal Reformers. He also declined the office of agent-general for New South Wales but went to London on holiday. A few months later, finding his health much improved, he became agent-general. A series of seven lectures on Australia delivered at University College, London, was published in 1919 under the title Australia, Problems and Prospects. In December of that year Wade was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales at Sydney and took up his duties in March 1920.[2]

Wade died after a short illness at his house at the Sydney suburb of Potts Point, New South Wales and was survived by Lady Wade, two sons and two daughters.[1]

His funeral was held at St. Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney on 22 September 1922. He was buried at South Head Cemetery on the same day.


Wade became a King's Counsel in 1906,[3] was knighted in 1918 and was created KCMG in 1920.[1][2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Serle, Percival. "Wade, Sir Charles Gregory (1863–1922)". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Project Gutenberg Australia. Retrieved 1 May 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Levens, R.G.C., ed. (1964). Merton College Register 1900-1964. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. pp. 123–124. 
  3. ^ a b c d Ward, John M. "Wade, Sir Charles Gregory (1863–1922)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 1 May 2007. 
  4. ^ "Sir Charles Gregory Wade (1863–1922)". Members of Parliament. Parliament of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 16 April 2008. Retrieved 1 May 2007. 
Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
George Howarth
Member for Willoughby
Succeeded by
Edward Larkin
New district Member for Gordon
Succeeded by
Thomas Bavin
Political offices
Preceded by
James Gannon
Attorney General of New South Wales
Succeeded by
William Holman
Preceded by
Thomas Waddell
Minister for Justice
Succeeded by
John Garland
Preceded by
Joseph Carruthers
Premier of New South Wales
Succeeded by
James McGowen
Preceded by
James McGowen
Leader of the Opposition of New South Wales
Succeeded by
Ernest Durack
Party political offices
Preceded by
Sir Joseph Carruthers
Leader of the Liberal Reform Party
Merged into Nationalist Party
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Sir Timothy Coghlan
Agent-General for New South Wales
Succeeded by
David Hall