College – Issue 41

senior. In June he played marbles in school and the final act before exemption was to laugh. Reminiscences draw attention to out of school events, particularly fights between Mr Bilton’s School across the road in a building that doubled as both a church and a schoolroom. The “louts” would meet the “grammar cocks” in the middle of Oxford Terrace and “fight for an hour at least, using stones, tussocks or anything that came to hand”. A truce was called and the College champion “Charley” and their champion would fight with fists until tea time, wash at the ford and disperse. 26 In-House fights were also arranged and took place in the gully behind Bilton’s School. This same gully was where the school went to ”eat their dinner grub at 12 o’clock”. Frederick George Brittan (39) describes “the envy with which we regarded one fortunate youth, who everyday unfolded – the gift of an over-indulgent mother – jam puffs enough for three”. 27 On 21 July 1852 Dudley was among those who petitioned John Robert Godley, the Superintendent of Canterbury, for some additional land to play football and cricket. An acre close to the school was made available. 28 1855 signalled a time of change for Dudley. He had turned 16 in November of the previous year and had been the only pupil in the first class since 1853 and Head of School in 1853 and 1854. In the week beginning 13 August a small note in the top left, hand corner in the Form Book read: “Dudley Snr was elected a scholar on the Rowley Foundation of the College on Saturday August 11th and from this time became a Student of the College.” 29 The Rowley Scholarship had been advertised in the Lyttelton Times for some weeks previously and was worth £12 per annum for four years. An examination expected

proficiency in Scripture, History and Divinity and any three of Classics, Mathematics, Ancient and Modern History, Geography, French and German. 30 Dudley was now considered to be a member of the Upper Department. It was while he was still at Christ’s College that Dudley began to consider his future. He had perhaps first met the Bishop of New Zealand, George Augustus Selwyn when he was in Lyttelton in January and February 1851, holding a Synod of clergy and formally appointing them to various positions as well as meeting Thomas Jackson, the Bishop designate, on his arrival in the Castle Eden. He may also have met him in November 1851 when Selwyn made another visit. At the time of his Confirmation by Selwyn on 11 November 1855 he also met Sarah Selwyn and John Coleridge Patteson. Patteson had been recruited by Selwyn when he was in England in 1854–55 to return with him to New Zealand and take charge of the Melanesian Mission. 31 Writing later to Mrs Selwyn, Dudley recalled a sermon preached by Patteson, “That indescribable charm of manner, calculated at once to take all hearts by storm, was not perhaps as fully developed

in him then as afterwards, and my experience was then comparatively limited, yet his words in the sermon he preached on behalf of the Melanesian Mission (a kind of historical review of the growth and spread of the Gospel), although coming after the wonderful sermon of the Bishop in the morning, made a deep impression on several of us, myself among the number.” 32 Dudley had just turned 18 when Selwyn, Mrs Selwyn and Leonard Williams visited Lyttelton and Christchurch in December 1856 to welcome Henry John Chitty Harper and his family and to enthrone Harper as the first Bishop of the Diocese of Christchurch. Selwyn also took the opportunity to hold a missionary meeting in Christchurch “to give an account of the progress of the Melanesian Mission”. 33 The conversation that ensued can only be surmised, but on 5 January 1857 Benjamin Thornton Dudley left Lyttelton with Selwyn and Williams on board the schooner Southern Cross via the Chatham Islands and Wellington for St John’s College in Auckland. 34 This was the beginning of a long association with Melanesia (Figure 8). On 15 November 1856 Selwyn, Patteson and Dudley returned to Auckland after spending the winter in Melanesia having

Figure 7 – Record of the Confirmation and First Communion of Benjamin Thornton Dudley. Lyttelton Parish Records, Christchurch Anglican Diocesan Archives

Christ’s College Canterbury


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