Notable People of Collingwood

Collingwood Notables Database

Caroline (Carrie) Earle


Charity worker

Personal Photo 1
Caroline in 1924

The name ‘Mrs W J Earle’ made a very frequent appearance in newspaper articles from the 1890s to the 1930s. Caroline Earle was a tireless committee worker for several charities, including the Children’s Hospital, the Women’s Hospital, and the Collingwood Crèche. The last had been established in 1886 by the Reverend Dr Strong of the Australian Church and his wife Janet. Caroline became honorary treasurer and later president of the Crèche committee, while living for over forty years at Rathgael on the corner of Hoddle Street and Noone Street in Clifton Hill.

Born Caroline Evamy Pardey and christened in the Catholic church of St Mary and All the Angels in Geelong, in 1881 Caroline was married to wool merchant William Murray by the Presbyterian minister of St Andrew’s Church, in Geelong. The newly-weds settled in Victoria Crescent Abbotsford, where their only child was born.  Scottish-born Murray was involved in fellmongering on the property (which backed onto the Yarra River) with his relative and importer of Scottish tweeds, Elliott Murray, and Hamilton Fitts. Later in the 1880s Murray purchased property from Robert and Midgley Hall in Hoddle Street between Noone Street and Alexandra Parade, then known as Reilly Street. Here he took over the Hall Brothers wool works to the south and built his own residence to the north of the block. Both in Abbotsford and Clifton Hill he followed a typical nineteenth century pattern of an owner residing near his works. 

Murray died young, while he and Caroline were on a trip to Japan in 1892. Prior to his death, Murray had come to an agreement to sell the wool works to Hamilton Fitts. The sale went through shortly after Murray’s death. Caroline retained ownership of the house, and the following year Fitts married Caroline’s younger sister Catherine Allye Pardey at Rathgael.Within a few years Caroline re-married, to William John Earle, manager of the Bank of New South Wales in Flinders Street. The marriage was conducted at the Australian Church by Dr Strong, who had broken away from the Presbyterian Church. Among her wedding guests were a number of well-known Collingwood faces: Dr Grace Vale, artist May Vale, Sir Arthur and Mrs Snowden, Mrs George Langridge, and Margaret Saddler.

Caroline had possibly met some of these friends as a member of the Austral Salon, whichwas 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. 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.

Whether Caroline was much involved in charitable and social affairs prior to her marriage to Earle is not yet clear, nor is her connection to the Australian Church. Certainly by 1895 she was on the Collingwood Crèche committee. By this time the Crèche had moved from cramped accommodation in a Cambridge Street shop to architect-designed premises in Keele Street. Caroline had been left comfortably off by her first husband, and marriage to a bank manager could only have added to that comfort. Rathgael, though by no means palatial, was a nine-roomed timber house set in a garden, with stables at the rear where the Earles kept their horses, phaeton, and buggy. They employed a man to attend to the horses, as well as a maid. Caroline settled into her role as a society hostess, and threw herself into her charitable work, conducting At Homes at the Austral Salon and other venues and attending a round of balls, parties and afternoon teas. Her son was schooled in England for at least part of his education. By 1903 she had joined the committee of the Children’s Hospital, and by 1907 the Women’s Hospital committee. She became a member of the Alexandra Club, founded in 1903.

Her wide circle of acquaintance included local residents Mildred Demaine and Mary Kate Rennick (Arthur Snowden’s daughters), Margaretta Shelmerdine, and Alice BakerIn 1913 the Earles sold their horses and carriages, and at some point a garage was added to the property, so presumably they had purchased a car.

Caroline’s son died in 1925 while in his forties, and Earle died in 1932. She increased her frequent short holidays to visit friends and relations in the country and interstate. Despite her advancing years, she remained very active in her charitable fund-raising and social activities. She took a trip to England and Rome, returned to Clifton Hill in January 1933, but within a few months made a sudden decision to travel abroad again, leaving an estate agent with instructions to auction both her house and its contents. This provides us with a description of the property: land 95 feet by 131 feet, a scullery and cellarette in addition to the nine rooms; quantities of walnut furniture (dating from Murray’s time), carpets, even a blouse cabinet. The house was demolished in the late 1950s and replaced with a factory for the firm of Patience and Nicholson, tool makers. Carrie died in Daylesford in 1938, but where she had been in the intervening years remains to be discovered.

The firm William Murray and Co remained in existence until 2000, when it went into receivership. The premises had been re-built in red brick around 1917-1918 and that building remains to this day, with the name engraved on the façade. Since 2015 it has housed Provan’s, a long-running Clifton Hill timber and hardware business, which has also taken over the neighbouring factory on the Rathgael site.

Work Photo 1

Wm Murray Woolworks

House Photo 1

Rathgael c. 1901

Life Summary

Birth Date Birth Place
1855, Caroline Pardey Geelong, Victoria
Spouse Name Date of Marriage Children
William Murray, 9 September 1855 – 22 June 1892 26 January 1881, Geelong William Elliot Murray, 13 November 1881-1925
William John Earle, 18?? – 1932 30 May 1895 None
Home Addresses
Home Street Home City Status of Building
Victoria Crescent Abbotsford Demolished
477 Hoddle Street Clifton Hill Demolished
Death Date Death Place Cemetery
23 May 1938 Daylesford, Victoria Springvale crematorium

Geelong AdvertiserThe AustralasianThe AgeTable TalkThe HeraldMelbourne PunchThe ArgusWeekly Times; MMBW Detail Plan 1234; Proceedings of the Second Australasian Conference on Charity, 1891; Swain, Shurlee, ‘In whose interest: volunteerism and child care 1880- 1980’.

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