This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000
Edith Latham Kernot (1877-1967), community worker, was born on 4 December 1877 at Geelong, Victoria, second of eight surviving children of Henry James Hobday, a clerk from England, and his Sydney-born wife Charlotte Amelia, née Walters. She began her education at Geelong and completed it at Miss Watson's Hadleigh College, Malvern. Musically gifted as a child, Edith took weekly steamer trips to Melbourne for violin lessons and, as an 8-year-old, made her dèbut at a charity concert for the Ladies' Benevolent Association. From the age of 14, her most treasured possession was an eighteenth-century Duke violin. She continued to play at church and charity concerts for most of her life.
On 5 March 1901 at Christ Church, Geelong, she married Walter Charles Kernot (d.1941) with Anglican rites. Walter was one of a large Geelong family which supplied that city and Melbourne with a number of chemists and engineers. Charles Kernot was his uncle; William Charles, Wilfred Noyce and Maurice Edwin Kernot were his cousins. He himself was a chemist who was to become a councillor of both the Pharmaceutical Council of Victoria and the Pharmacy College, Melbourne. Like his wife he was active in local affairs, as a foundation councillor (1905-31) of Geelong Church of England Girls' Grammar School (the Hermitage), honorary treasurer to the city council, vice-president of the Geelong and District Hospital, vestryman at Christ Church, and worshipful master (1898) of the Geelong Masonic Lodge of Unity and Prudence.
Besides raising their three children, Edith was an indefatigable worker for numerous community organizations. From the early 1900s she participated in the development of the District Nursing Society, of which she was later vice-president for twenty years. An original member of the Geelong branch of the Australian Red Cross Society, she was president for three years and, on completing fifty years service, was awarded its laurel wreath. She was also vice-president of the City Mission for a decade. In 1933-48 Mrs Kernot served on the Charities Board of Victoria, chairing its country standing committee in 1945-47. Elected to the committee of management of the Geelong and District Hospital in 1934, she sat on its house and building committees (1937-65), and was a vice-president (1951-65) of the hospital. In 1958 she was appointed M.B.E.
Much of Edith Kernot's work was directed towards the welfare of women and children. She served on the council of the Geelong Female Refuge for ten years and on the Girls' Friendly Society provincial council for eight. A long-standing member of the Ladies' Benevolent Association, she was president in 1932-52. In addition, she was a foundation member and president (1921-58) of the Geelong Baby Health Centres Association, and for thirty-four years a vice-president of the Baby Health Centres Association of Victoria.
Vital and energetic, Mrs Kernot carried herself erectly until old age. Those who observed her in her public duties remarked on her dignity, discipline and foresight. She was brisk and efficient, and could be formidable when occasion warranted, but her descendants also remember her sense of fun. Survived by her son and two daughters, she died on 23 March 1967 at Geelong and was cremated.
Diane Langmore, 'Kernot, Edith Latham (1877–1967)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/kernot-edith-latham-10727/text19009, published in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 29 July 2014.
This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000