Rev. Stanley Howard writing to his family in England, 1872-1878‘Stanley, A Young Man’s Colonial Experience’
Rev. Stanley Howard writing to his family in England, 1872-1878
Written by Rev. Stanley Howard, Edited by Laurel Horton

‘Stanley’ looks at the life of Stanley Howard, a curate at St Peters Church, Cooks River in the 1870s.

Stanley Howard, after almost completing his degree at Cambridge, becomes tubercular. In 1872, for the good of his health, he sails for Australia. From that moment he records his everyday existence in letters to his family in England.

Arriving in Melbourne, he goes on to Sydney, the greater Brisbane area and Canberra before settling in Sydney as curate at St Peters Church, Cooks River, during the ministry of Rev. Charles Baber, and later St Johns Church, Darlinghurst with Rev. Thomas Hayden.

Travelling extensively, he visits Cobbitty, Berrima, the Blue Mountains, Bathurst, the Hunter Valley and North Queensland. His wide social circle includes both rich and poor: Alexander Stuart, a future Premier of NSW, Mrs Louis Hope, wife a founder of the sugar industry, the Campbells and other landowners in the Canberra area, Michael Metcalfe, merchant of early Sydney, prisoners at Berrima gaol, brickmakers of St Peters and German settlers in the Botany swamps.

Domestic arrangements, meals and medical treatment are recorded, providing a unique insight into 19th century Australian life. The letters are enhanced by editor’s notes from contemporary newspaper accounts of the times and biographical details of the people mentioned.

Other people who feature prominently are: Rev. William Cakebread, Breillat family, Coates family, Dean and Mrs William Cowper, Rev. John Done, Mrs Francis Dowling, Mrs Harriet Gibbes, Mr and Mrs Alexander Gordon, Richard Guille, Judge Joshua Frey Josephson and family, Revs. John and Henry Langley, Rev. R.L. King and family, Rev. Arthur Wellesley Pain, William and Letitia Price, Rev. and Mrs Pierce Galliard Smith, Henry E.A. Allan.

Prime Minister John Howard’s family links to Stanley
After receiving a copy of ‘Stanley, A Young Man’s Colonial Experience’, the former Prime Minister John Howard confirmed his family links to the book.

  • Jesse Howard and his wife Ellen (mentioned on pages 262 and 266) are related to him. Jesse’s mother Elizabeth is buried in the church graveyard. Jesse’s son, Walter Herbert Howard, married Jane Falkiner Jackson. Their son Lyall Howard married Mona Kell.

In his letter John Howard writes: “Your Howard history is correct. Lyall and Mona were my parents.”

Comments from a satisfied customer

“Stanley” is a wonderful record of “the way we were” in the late 19th Century.

I was halfway through this book and was thinking how I would have liked to highlight certain passages but I did not like to spoil the book. I am now using little sticky pad markers for the remainder of the book.

I love the scenery he describes and also the weather he experiences. 1873 and it is a very wet February! I think the last really wet February I remember may have been 1977-8. I, myself, prefer rain to the humidity.

Quite a few humorous incidents as well – the funeral where the grave had not been dug deep enough as the family had managed to buy a “bargain” coffin for two pounds (gilt an’ all)

I also had to laugh when Stanley hears the first cicadas and equates it with the return of mosquitoes for the summer. I call cicadas the “heralds” of Christmas and probably every year make that comment.

I rave… but I just want to say what a wonderful and precious gift you have given to your church and community through your research.


Book information
560 pages (245mm x 170mm) with 16 pages of original photographs
‘Stanley’ is priced at $20.00 plus $20.00 postage and handling per copy.

Order your copy of Stanley today, send a cheque or money order (payable to St Peters Church Cooks River) to –
St Peters Church,
187 Princes Highway,
St Peters NSW 2044