DOVE, William Woodman, Rev. (1832-1867)
[HUNTER VALLEY; DARLING DOWNS] Letter from clergyman and colonial artist Rev. William Woodman Dove, to his sister in Gloucestershire. Sydney, 1857.
Manuscript in ink, 1 page, small quarto, written by William W. Dove and addressed to his younger sister, Miss Selma Dove, of Falfield House, Berkeley, Gloucestershire, dated 22 January 1857 and written from Sydney while Dove was on Sabbatical from the Darling Downs; signed at the foot ‘My dear Selma, Your loving brother, William W. Dove’; address panel on outer side tied with two New South Wales 3d postage stamps and with postal markings including ‘Sydney, New South Wales, FE 7 1857’ and arrival stamp ‘Berkeley, APR [?] 1857’, with remants of wax seal; original folds; complete, clean and legible.
A previously unknown and unpublished letter which exposes the corporeal appetites, rather than the spiritual faith, of the Rev. William Woodman Dove.
From DAAO online:
‘William Woodman Dove, sketcher and clergyman, was born in Gloucestershire, son of a Congregational minister. He came to New South Wales in 1853 and briefly taught at Christ Church of England parochial school at the southern end of Sydney. He was soon recommended to the Bishop of Newcastle and began training for a theological career in the Anglican Church. After teaching at country schools in Cassilis, Muswellbrook and Morpeth, Dove was ordained deacon in September 1855 and sent to the Darling Downs district (Queensland), then still part of New South Wales. He was priested in 1857. Two years later, Rev. W.W. Dove married and accepted the living of Jerry’s Plains in the Hunter River district. He contracted a hereditary disease in 1865 and, after suffering much pain, died on 23 March 1867, survived by his wife and children.
Halcombe states that Dove was ‘very active’ while stationed at Cassilis and Muswellbrook and ‘most useful in church decorations’. A letter to his sister Bessie in England dated 13 January 1855 (private collection, photoprint Mitchell Library) describes this period in some detail. It is embellished with numerous pen-and-ink sketches, including Church at Mt Dangar; East End of Chancel Decorated for Christmas, School House at Cassilis, St Alban’s Church School, Muswell Brook [sic], Oleander Flower and Native Cherry Fruit and Christmas decorations. The style of the letter was, he said, inspired by the Illustrated London News. His larger ink drawing of St Alban’s Church, Muswellbrook is in the Mitchell Library.’
In the present letter, William writes candidly to another sister, Selma, back home at Falfield House, Gloucestershire – the Dove family seat – on a rare visit to Sydney whilst on Sabbatical from his posting on the remote and sparsely populated Darling Downs:
‘I have been very busy lately taking my pleasure for a week. This is the first real holiday I have had for about three years and a half. I cannot tell you how dull one gets after so long a residence in the bush, seeing very few ladies and never going to a party of any sort. Except a few dinner parties and two or three picnics, I have not been to one since I left Sydney. It would do me real good to have a gay season in England.’
He then goes on to ask Selma how she is getting on with her music, ‘an indispensable part of a lady’s education’, and advises her to ‘get on also with French first & then German’, recommending some romantic (note, not moral or religious!) literature for her to read. The letter closes with his request to be remembered to various old friends, including a single woman, Unity Bennett, as well as a Mrs Gingell ‘and her husband’.
It is unusual, to say the least, that a clergyman’s letter from this time should make no mention whatsoever of God, providence or faith.