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Charles Maley (1858–1925)

by Chris Cunneen

This article was published:

Charles Maley (1858-1925) schoolmaster, preacher, journalist and Socialist

Birth: 17 May 1858 at Adelaide, South Australia, son of William Maley (1829-1920), a labourer, later postal employee, born at Ballynock, Ireland, and Sarah, née Burrowes (1829-1909), born at Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England. Marriage: 27 September 1882 at Port Augusta, South Australia, to native-born Catherine Charlotte Eda (Kate) Criddle (1863-1926). They had five daughters and four sons. Death: 17 March 1925 at Mount Lofty Hospital, South Australia; usual residence Aldgate, Adelaide. Religion: Methodist. 

  • His father arrived in Western Australia aboard the Dudbrook, as a convict, on 10 February 1853. Moving to South Australia in 1855, for many years he was closely identified with the Pirie Street Methodist Church.
  • After “a brilliant career as a student and assistant teacher”, Charles became headmaster of the Practising School in Grote Street, Adelaide, supervising the training of the young teachers, then was headmaster of Port Augusta school from 1880 to 1890 before teaching at Mr Caterer’s grammar school.
  • In 1891 he left the Education Department and moved to Broken Hill, New South Wales. That year he was a founding member and sometime president of the Broken Hill Literary and Debating Society. He regularly delivered lectures, recitations and readings on literary subjects. Also preached at the Wesleyan Methodist church, Railway Town. Was a candidate for Sturt ward in the Broken Hill Municipal Council in September 1894.
  • A Member of the Trades and Labor Council, he was also a Socialist agitator in Broken Hill, delivered lectures on the subject and in 1895 published a series of ‘Studies of Socialism’, in the Barrier Miner, followed by a three-part exegesis on ‘Labor’. That year he resigned from the Socialist League.
  • Prominent worker for the Australian Labor Party. After conducting a private educational establishment [Willyama High School] for six years, he became first editor of the official organ of the Barrier District Assembly of the Political Labor League, the Barrier Daily Truth, then a weekly, which first saw the light on January 8, 1898.
  • Active in the formation of a Barrier Boys’ Brigade in 1898 and founder of the Broken Hill Social Democratic Association in 1899. Appointed justice of the peace in February 1900.
  • Returned to South Australia in 1902 and rejoined the Education Department. Was headmaster from 1903 at Towitta school, near Angaston, then Scott’s Creek, out from Mount Lofty. From 1917 until his death he was headmaster of Aldgate Public School.
  • Publicly prominent at Aldgate, he was an ardent Methodist and a lay preacher in that church. He was president of the Aldgate Show committee and the Aldgate Institute, treasurer of the vigilance committee and conductor of the community singing.
  • For many years he was president of the Country and Suburban and of the Hills teachers’ associations. He was a vice-president of the SA Public School Teachers’ Union.
  • Cause of death: cirrhosis of liver and mitral and aortic disease.
  • In proposing a memorial to him in April 1927, the teachers’ union praised him as “pre-eminently a great teacher of children . . .and rendered valuable service to the union when it was a struggling institution”.
  • One brother Ernest Terry Maley (1869-1943), a well-known musician, was also editor of the Barrier Daily Truth. Another brother James Burrowes Maley (1864-1944) was also a school headmaster and a sister Miss Lily Maley (1872-1925) was a school mistress and “earnest worker in the cause of Methodism”.

Verity Burgmann, In Our Time: Socialism and the Rise of Labor, 1885-1905 (Sydney, 1985).

Additional Resources

Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Maley, Charles (1858–1925)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012