Stories from the Archives

Who is this man and what does he have to do with PLC Sydney?


John Hay Goodlet (1835-1914) was a member of the Planning Committee for our College and a member of College Council from 1888-1913. He was a man who made a difference and is an important ‘founding father’ to us.


When it became clear that the Ashfield site, where the College started in 1888, was not capable of expansion, he was a member of the sub-committee that found ‘Shubra Hall’ in Croydon. 


📷 LeftJohn Hay Goodlet in military dress of the 2nd Regiment of the NSW Volunteer Infantry, taken sometime after 1881 and recently donated to the College Archives.

📷 Right: Rev. Dr Paul Cooper with John Hay Goodlet’s ceremonial sword

Indeed, it was Goodlet who successfully bid and purchased the site for the College for £7,500. He was one of the guarantors until the sale was approved by the Presbyterian Church. Goodlet was also instrumental in appointing Albert Bond as the architect for the new College buildings: the Boarding House, dining room and College Hall, all opened in 1891.


For 25 years Goodlet’s name is recorded in the College Council minutes, sometimes in the chair, occasionally taking the minutes, often on sub-committees, once in a while hosting Council meetings at his office at 493 George Street, and always actively involved.


For over 30 years he was involved with the 2nd Regiment of the NSW Volunteer Infantry, latterly as Colonel. The College Archives holds materials relating to Goodlet and his association with the 2nd Regiment but recently has received two more items to augment this military association.

First, a photograph of him in military dress, taken sometime after 1881 by the photographer J. Hubert Newman, who described himself as ‘under the patronage of the Royal Princes and of His Excellency the Governor’. The second item is Goodlet’s ceremonial sword, scabbard and canvas case.


📷 Left: Goodlet’s ceremonial sword, scabbard and canvas case
📷 Right: A detail of the handle of the sword


Beyond the gates of PLC Sydney Goodlet participated in many aspects of the Presbyterian Church as well as a wide range of business, civic and charitable activities.* The generosity of Goodlet and his wife Ann was both financial and practical in terms of their time and work and underpinned by the success of his building firm Goodlet and Smith.

These items were donated to the College Archives by Rev. Dr Paul Cooper, Research Fellow at Christ College, Burwood, formerly the Presbyterian Theological Centre, who has written a book about the philanthropy of John and Ann Goodlet, More Valuable than Gold. Rev. Cooper received them from the family of the late David Clark, a relative of J.H. Goodlet.

PLC Sydney Archives accepts donations of documents, photographs and objects that document the founding, organisation, administration, growth and development, and people associated with College.

*Goodlet’s philanthropy included supporting the YMCA, YWCA, NSW Institution for the Deaf and the Dumb and the Blind, Royal Naval House, Sydney Female Refuge, Sydney City Mission, Sydney Hospital, Ragged Schools, and the Seamen’s Mission He built the first hospital in NSW for patients with tuberculosis; he built a women’s hospital in India. 

Sources: PLC Sydney Archives, Series 1 College Council & Committees, Box 600.

In this issue

A Message from the Principal

Important Information for Parents & Students

PLC Sydney Community


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Thursday 21 September 2017

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