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Rendall, Charles Henry (1856–1925)

by I. V. Hansen

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

Charles Henry Rendall (1856-1925), educationist, was born on 26 November 1856, at Great Rollright, Oxfordshire, England, eldest of nine sons and a daughter of Rev. Henry Rendall, Anglican rector, and his wife Ellen Harriett, née Davey. He was educated at Haileybury College, Hertfordshire, founded ten years earlier. Matriculating in 1876, he won a scholarship to Hertford College, Oxford (B.A., 1879, with third-class honours in classics). He taught for twelve months at Bournemouth College, Hampshire, where he displayed undoubted teaching gifts, especially in classical studies, also attracting students through his cricketing skills: he played for Essex.

Seeking a climate even milder than Bournemouth's, Rendall left England for Melbourne, where in 1882 he became assistant classics tutor at Trinity College, University of Melbourne, under Dr Alexander Leeper. An enthusiast for all things musical, Rendall established a college musical society in 1884. In 1882-89 he was also classics master at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School where he established a reputation as one of the colony's foremost teachers of Latin and Greek. In 1890 he was dismissed from Trinity College by Leeper for disloyalty, after presenting demands to the warden on behalf of students, which Leeper took to be a rebellious act. Dr Alexander Morrison immediately appointed Rendall classics master at Scotch College.

In late 1891 Rendall purchased, in association with H. W. Mills and his wife, the Brighton Coffee Palace at Brighton Beach, formerly the home of J. B. Were, to establish a private school. Rendall had met several schoolmates who confirmed him in his dream of another Haileybury 'in another land'. His old school agreed to the use of the name; 'Altera Terra' would become the school's motto; the new Haileybury would take the school colours of the old and operate 'on traditional English Public School lines'.

Rendall opened his school on 10 February 1892, with seventeen boys: his four sixth-formers came from his classes at Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar. At the end of the school's first year (when the boys took out the Latin and Greek exhibitions at the public examinations), Rendall bought out the Mills's share. On 10 July 1893 he married Louisa Fanny Card Weaver at St Andrew's Church of England, Brighton. Although the depression of the 1890s killed off many private schools in Melbourne, Haileybury survived: by the end of the decade enrolments had risen and, by 1914, had almost reached 100.

An imposing figure, well over six feet (183 cm) tall, Rendall affected a gruff moustache and had a voice 'like the noise of dumping in the surf'. His pastimes ranged from croquet to ocean fishing: he was a talented photographer and cellist; he wrote one-act plays for his students to perform. Cricket was his consuming passion but he was also a competent tennis player. He was often untidy of dress, overbearing, off-handed, opinionated, ill-mannered and snobbish. Like his younger brother Montague, headmaster of Winchester College, England, in 1911-24, he was moody, conformist and dictatorial. But he was a supremely gifted teacher. An enthusiastic motor-car driver from the turn of the century, Rendall in 1914 was involved in an accident in which his wife sustained fatal injuries. At the end of the school year he retired and sold the school.

In retirement Rendall lived at Brighton Beach near the school where, temporarily, he continued to teach classics part-time, and wrote wayward letters to the newspapers on political and educational issues. He died on 14 January 1925 and was buried in Brighton cemetery. His son and daughter survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Melbourne Church of England Grammar School, Liber Melburniensis (Melb, 1914)
  • Brighton Southern Cross, 28 Nov 1891, 9 Jan 1892
  • St Arnaud Times, 19 Feb 1892
  • Argus (Melbourne), 19 Dec 1914, 15 Jan 1925
  • P. Holper, Charles Henry Rendall, Founder of Haileybury College (M.Ed. thesis, 1984) and for bibliography
  • testimonials to C. H. Rendall (Haileybury College Archives, Brighton, Melbourne)
  • students records, University of Melbourne.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

I. V. Hansen, 'Rendall, Charles Henry (1856–1925)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/rendall-charles-henry-8180/text14303, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 25 November 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

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