Collingwood Notables Database
Philanthropist, charity worker
‘A notable worker in public causes’, ‘one of the most lovable and genial of women’, ‘a prominent figure in all philanthropic movements in Melbourne’ and ‘one of our best known and most popular women’ were among the phrases used to describe Margaret Saddler after her death. Born Margaret Martin, the daughter of James Martin, a contractor of Victoria Street, and Helen Sinclair, she married Joseph Saddler junior at St Philip’s Church in 1878. Saddler was a long-term resident of Marine Parade Abbotsford. The Saddlers had arrived in Victoria in 1853 and lived at first in Stafford Street before buying land in Marine Parade after John Orr’s Abbotsford Estate was subdivided in 1856. Joseph Saddler junior and senior worked for H.M. Customs.
Margaret knew everybody worth knowing in the local society: Mrs Shelmerdine, the Snowdens, the Langridges and their son-in-law Robert Best, the Vales, as well as wider Melbourne society. Her activities were widely reported in the press.
She was an honorary supervisor for the Department of Neglected Children, inspecting potential foster homes. She was involved in the establishment of working girls’ clubs, a fundraiser for hospitals, honorary secretary and life member of the Austral Salon, and involved with the Victorian Artists Society. The Austral Salon was founded in Melbourne in 1890 by a few journalists as a meeting place for women writers, and subsequently developed into a club for artistic and intelligent women. Artists such as Ada Castles, Ada Crossley and Florence Austral were first heard at the Austral Salon. The Salon was also active in philanthropic work and assisted many charitable organisations. Monthly meetings were held with a presentation of a paper and a musical or dramatic program. Musical 'At Homes' and literary afternoons were held weekly, and Margaret was frequently the hostess.
The Saddlers home, The Gables, was described as a beautiful and picturesque historic landmark and was painted by May Vale in 1924. It was surrounded by extensive gardens. The social pages delighted in describing the frequent ‘at-homes’ and luncheons at her Abbotsford home, often with more detail regarding frocks and flower arrangements than the musical and literary offerings.
She must have been a bundle of energy. Not only active in a constant round of charitable work and fund-raising and the social activities associated with these, she frequently had family members staying with her; her father-in-law and her mother and sister Jessie all died while living at The Gables. She had also been a regular visitor at her sister’s home at Murrindindi station near Yea. On the other hand she had no children and kept several maids, a manservant and two carriages.
After 42 years with H.M. Customs, Joseph retired in 1915. Margaret stayed busy with war work, but by the end of the war she was feeling worn out. The Saddlers began spending lengthier periods at their seaside home near Dromana. This led to Margaret’s untimely death, caused by a motoring accident on Point Nepean Road while being driven back to town by her nephew. Her husband died eighteen months later.
|Birth Date||Birth Place|
|Spouse Name||Date of Marriage||Children|
|Joseph Saddler (c. 1847-1927)||29 August 1878||None|
|Home Street||Home City||Status of Building|
|327 Victoria Street||Abbotsford||Demolished|
|54-56 Marine Parade Parade||Abbotsford||Demolished|
|St Philip's Anglican, Hoddle Street Abbotsford|
|Death Date||Death Place||Cemetery|
|10 August 1925||MGC|
The Argus; Table Talk; Punch; Victorian Heritage Register;
Records of Austral Salon (SLV MS 12379)
Reminiscences of Mildred Snowden (SLV MS 10748)