Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Daws, Charles Kingston (1903–1980)

by Aubrey Quick

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

Charles Kingston Daws (1903-1980), Methodist minister, was born on 29 October 1903 at Llanelly, Victoria, second son of native-born parents Thomas Daws, miner, and his wife Emily Agnes, née Gansberg. Educated at Eaglehawk State School, Charles won a scholarship to the Bendigo School of Mines, but transferred to the Bendigo Business College. There he studied accountancy while working as a clerk and subsequently as accountant at a local grocery store.

Following a conversion experience on 24 May 1924 at Charlton, Daws became Sunday School superintendent and trust-secretary at the Methodist Church, Eaglehawk West, where he married Edith Isabel Dunstan on 15 May 1926. He was accepted as a candidate for the Methodist ministry in 1928, sent to Foster that year and ordained in 1933. In turn, he was appointed to circuits at Belgrave (1929), Diamond Creek (1931), Pyramid Hill (1934) and Wycheproof (1938).

Appointed chaplain in the Militia in November 1939, Daws transferred to the Australian Imperial Force on 14 January 1941. He was posted to 9th Division headquarters and served in the Middle East in 1941-42 before returning to Australia as deputy-assistant chaplain-general (Methodist), III Corps. In 1944-45 he was assistant chaplain-general (Protestant), New Guinea Force, then deputy-assistant chaplain-general (Protestant), Northern Territory Force. Transferred to the Reserve of Officers in March 1945, he succeeded T. C. Rentoul in the part-time post of chaplain-general (Methodist) on 30 January 1946. His immediate task was to resettle chaplains in the civilian ministry. He visited Australian troops in Japan (1947), Korea (1951) and Malaya (1958), and was a staunch advocate of character guidance and training in moral leadership. Retiring on 1 July 1963, he was appointed C.B.E. in 1966.

Concurrent with his service as chaplain-general, Daws had held important positions in the Church in Victoria. As superintendent (1945-52) of the North Melbourne Christian Community Centre, he inherited an innovative attempt to make the Church more accessible by establishing outlets for its mission in shop-front premises. After two years (1952-54) at Moonee Ponds, Daws was appointed managing secretary of the Methodist Church in Victoria, responsible for the direction of finance and property. He was president (1957) of the Victoria and Tasmania Conference, and president-general (1969-72) of the Methodist Church of Australasia. In 1966-72 he served on the joint-constitution committee for the formation of the Uniting Church in Australia.

A wartime colleague described Daws as one who `earned the reputation among combatant officers and other ranks with whom he served as having the qualities of a statesman and the strength to be firm'. This reputation was sustained as he assumed increasing responsibilities within the army and the Church, but he was sometimes displeasing to those who held different opinions or who sought favours from him. He made good use of his accounting qualifications (F.A.S.A., F.I.C.S.) and his experience in business, enabling the Methodist Church on 22 June 1977 to unite with Congregationalists and Presbyterians with its house in sound order.

Daws was an exceedingly busy, yet orderly man. With neat handwriting, cryptic to the point of illegibility, he was in the habit of personally typing many letters which flowed with advice, admonition and friendly discourse. He aimed to clear his desk by the end of each day. As a preacher he was practical and forceful. He had confidence in the orderly processes of the Church and its ability to be effective in the world.

Well built, open featured, with a bearing and composure consistent with his long military association, Daws encouraged conversation and friendship, though he was occasionally formidable. In his youth he aspired to be a professional cyclist; his later pursuits included fishing and gardening, and an unswerving loyalty to the players of the Collingwood Football Club. In 1974 he became a supernumerary minister. Survived by his wife, son and two of his three daughters, he died on 28 December 1980 at Blackburn and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • Methodist Church of Australasia, Minutes of Victorian and Tasmanian Conference, 1928, 1957, and Minutes of General Conference, 1963, 1972
  • Herald (Melbourne), 12 Feb 1946, 2 Feb, 16 May 1947
  • Age (Melbourne), 1 Mar 1955, 28 Feb 1957
  • Spectator (Melbourne), 27 Feb 1957
  • Church and Nation, 28 Jan 1981
  • private information.

Citation details

Aubrey Quick, 'Daws, Charles Kingston (1903–1980)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/daws-charles-kingston-9963/text17653, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 13 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

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