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Charles Wade

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
GovernorSir Harry Rawson
Lord Chelmsford
Preceded bySir Joseph Carruthers
Succeeded byJames McGowen
Member of the New South Wales Parliament
for Gordon
In office
6 August 1904 – 21 February 1917
Preceded byNew district
Succeeded byThomas Bavin
Personal details
Born(1863-01-26)26 January 1863
Singleton, Colony of New South Wales, Australia
Died26 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

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 as Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) with honours in classics in 1884 and representing his university and, eight times, England at rugby union[1] (for example, he played for England in the first Home Championship, becoming first to score a hat-trick of tries when playing against Wales).[2][3] He played county cricket for Herefordshire and Shropshire between 1881 and 1884,[4] and also excelled at lawn tennis, rowing and target shooting.[1]

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. He was an acting Judge of the District Court between 1896 and 1902.[5] From 1902, he represented employers before the new Industrial Arbitration Court.[1][6]

Political career

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.[6][7]

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.[6]

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 there was a split in the Labor party on the issue of conscription, with premier William Holman and 17 other pro-conscription Labor MPs were expelled from the party on the issue,[8] and formed a grand coalition with Liberal Reform, giving the coalition a majority in parliament, with Holman remaining Premier.[9]

Wade was prominent in the negotiations for a coalition,[10] 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 ex-Labor MPs 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 heart attack at his house at the Sydney suburb of Potts Point, New South Wales on 26 September 1922(1922-09-26) (aged 59) 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 General Cemetery on the same day.


Wade became a King's Counsel on 6 March 1905,[11][12][13] was knighted in 1918,[14] and was created KCMG on 5 June 1920.[1][2][15]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g 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. ^ "Wales 0G – 2G England (FT)". ESPN. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  4. ^ Percival, Tony (1999). Shropshire Cricketers 1844-1998. A.C.S. Publications, Nottingham, England. pp. 28, 52. ISBN 1-902171-17-9.Published under Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians.
  5. ^ "Hon. Sir Charles Gregory Wade KCMG". NSW State Archives & Records.
  6. ^ a b c Ward, John M. "Wade, Sir Charles Gregory (1863–1922)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. ISSN 1833-7538. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  7. ^ "Sir Charles Gregory Wade (1863–1922)". Former members of the Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  8. ^ "PLL expulsions". The Sydney Morning Herald. 7 November 1916. p. 7. Retrieved 7 May 2020 – via Trove.
  9. ^ "Proceedings in the Assembly: censure motion defeated". The Sydney Morning Herald. 11 November 1916. p. 13. Retrieved 7 May 2020 – via Trove.
  10. ^ "No state crisis". The Sydney Morning Herald. 13 November 1916. p. 6. Retrieved 7 May 2020 – via Trove.
  11. ^ "NSW senior counsel appointments". NSW Bar Association. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  12. ^ "Appointments: King's Counsel (136)". Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales. 14 March 1905. p. 1809. Retrieved 15 July 2021 – via Trove.
  13. ^ "Commission as King's Counsel". Retrieved 14 July 2021 – via NSW State Archives and Records.
  14. ^ "New Year Honours". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2 January 1918. p. 9. Retrieved 15 July 2021 – via Trove.
  15. ^ "Chancery of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George". The London Gazette (Supplement). No. 31931. 5 June 1920. p. 6317.


Parliament of New South Wales Political offices Preceded byJoseph Carruthers Premier 1907–1910 Succeeded byJames McGowen Preceded byJames Gannon Attorney General of New South Wales 1904–1910 Succeeded byWilliam Holman Preceded byThomas Waddell Minister of Justice 1904–1909 Succeeded byJohn Garland Preceded byJames McGowen Leader of the Opposition 1910–1916 Succeeded byErnest Durack New South Wales Legislative Assembly Preceded byGeorge Howarth Member for Willoughby 1903–1904 Succeeded byEdward Larkin New district Member for Gordon 1904–1917 Succeeded byThomas Bavin Party political offices Preceded bySir Joseph Carruthers Leader of the Liberal Reform Party 1907–1916 Merged into Nationalist Party Diplomatic posts Preceded bySir Timothy Coghlan Agent-General for New South Wales 1917–1919 Succeeded byDavid Hall
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Charles Wade
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