Charles Wade

Charles Wade

Sir Charles Gregory Wade KCMG (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. 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. He had a distinguished career, both as a scholar and an athlete, graduating with honours in classics and representing his university and England at Rugby football. He was called to the bar at the Inner Temple in 1886 and in the same year returned to Sydney. He married Ella Louise Bell, daughter of a civil engineer, in 1890. He made a reputation as a barrister and was appointed a crown prosecutor in 1891 and successfully prosecuted George Dean for attempted murder in a notorious case in 1895. From 1902, he represented employers before the new Industrial Arbitration Court.[1][2]

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.[2][3] 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.[2]

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. When the Nationalist ministry was formed in November 1916 he was prominent in the negotiations, but the state of his health did not allow him to seek office. 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.

Wade died after a short illness at his house at the Sydney suburb of Potts Point, New South Wales 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 Cemetery on the same day.


Wade became a King's Counsel in 1906,[2] was knighted in 1918 and was created KCMG in 1920.[1]


Political offices
Preceded by
Joseph Carruthers
Premier of New South Wales
Succeeded by
James McGowen
Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
George Howarth
Member for Willoughby
Succeeded by
Edward Larkin
New district Member for Gordon
Succeeded by
Thomas Bavin

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