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Austin, Charlotte Elizabeth (Lottie) (1878–1933)

by B. H. Fletcher

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (MUP), 2005

Charlotte Elizabeth (Lottie) Austin (1878-1933), community leader, was born on 4 June 1878 at Dubbo, New South Wales, fourth surviving child of Sydney-born parents George Fullerton, commissioner of crown lands, and his wife Georgiana Sarah, née Clarke. Educated at Rivière College, Woollahra, Lottie graduated with first-class honours in history and second-class in English from the University of Sydney (B.A., 1902; M.A., 1905). Her supervisor was G. A. Wood and like many of her fellow history honours students she made her mark in Australia.

At university, partly through their membership of the Australasian Student Christian Union, Lottie met Alfred Herbert Austin, a former South Australian National Bank employee who came to Sydney to study for the Congregational ministry. He was ordained in December 1902 and next year graduated with honours in philosophy. The two were married on 21 March 1903 in the Presbyterian Church, Randwick, and departed for South Australia where Alfred was Congregational minister at Gawler. They were to remain childless.

In 1905 the couple returned to Sydney where Alfred became pastor of Mosman Congregational Church. In 1916-17 he ministered as senior chaplain in troopships and was then called to the church at Ipswich, Queensland. He and Lottie went overseas in 1924 and from 1926 until Alfred's death on 30 December 1930 served at Hunters Hill, Sydney.

Lottie taught at schools in Sydney and Queensland and she was also active in parish work, conducting reading circles and Bible-study groups and counselling young people. Her interests, like those of her husband, were far from parochial. Prominent in the London Missionary Society she was president of the New South Wales ladies auxiliary in 1911-17 and secretary in 1928. While in Queensland she became commissioner in the Western Moreton district for the Girl Guides' Association. She was involved with the Congregational Women's Guild, and with women's meetings at the annual assemblies of the Congregational Union.

She also played a prominent role in the Young Women's Christian Association, a branch of which her husband had established at Gawler. A charter member of the national body, formed in 1907, Mrs Austin joined its board and in 1919 and 1922 presided over national Y.W.C.A. conventions. In 1913 she wrote an Outline Sketch of the Young Women's Christian Associations in Australasia. In 1916 she gained temporary release from the national board to take over as general secretary of the Sydney branch. This position she relinquished after her husband returned from the war, but while at Ipswich she became vice-president of the Brisbane association and chair of the finance committee. She resigned from the national board to again become general secretary of the Sydney branch in August 1928, after visiting North America to learn more about the functioning of the association. A devout Christian whose high intellectual qualities and talents as an organizer and public speaker were used to spread the gospel and assist young women, she died of myocardial infarction on 21 November 1933 in St Lawrence Private Hospital, Chatswood. She was buried in the Congregational section of the Field of Mars cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • B. H. Fletcher, History and Achievement (Syd, 1999)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 22 Nov 1933, p 21, 23 Nov 1933, p 13
  • G. L. Lockley, The Foundation, Development and Influence of Congregationalism in Australia with Emphasis on the Nineteenth Century (Ph.D. thesis, University of Queensland, 1966)
  • Uniting Church archives, Parramatta.

Citation details

B. H. Fletcher, 'Austin, Charlotte Elizabeth (Lottie) (1878–1933)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/austin-charlotte-elizabeth-lottie-12776/text23049, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 23 February 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (MUP), 2005

View the front pages for the Supplementary Volume

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