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Walch, Charles Edward (1830–1915)

by Neil Smith

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

Charles Edward Walch (1830-1915), bookseller and lay preacher, was born on 8 May 1830 at Cannanore, Kerala, India, son of Major James William Henry Walch, 54th Regiment, and Eliza, née Nash. The family returned from India to England in 1837 but, probably influenced by Henry Hopkins, they migrated to Van Diemen's Land in 1842 in the Royal Saxon and were granted 300 acres (121 ha) in the Westbury district. About three years later they moved to Hobart Town, where Walch's father bought the bookselling business of S. Tegg; with his eldest son James Henry Brett he traded as J. Walch and Son; another son was G. Walch.

In 1845 Walch was apprenticed for five years to Captain William Crosby in the barque Jane Francis, trading between Hobart and London. He spent two more years as an able-seaman and second officer but, soon after his father's death in 1852, went to the Victorian gold diggings. Unsuccessful, he returned to Tasmania intending to go back to sea. But J. Walch and Son had prospered and his brother offered him a partnership and position as buyer in London, where he worked in 1854-58. Growth of business in Tasmania led to his recall, but he returned to London in 1861 to buy stock and printing machinery and engage tradesmen. Walch's Literary Intelligencer, first produced in 1859 and edited by him for some fifty years, and Walch's Tasmanian Almanack became standard references.

In England Walch had joined the Young Men's Christian Association and the King's Weigh-House Chapel, in Eastcheap, under Rev. Thomas Binney. Back in Tasmania he took charge of a Sunday school held in the Ragged School building, Collins Street, Hobart; later he became a regular teacher and was superintendent for thirty-five years of the Davey Street Congregational Church Sunday School. He sought new and improved teaching methods on which he gave lectures and published pamphlets. In 1868 he led 516 teachers and 4618 children in an ode of welcome to the Duke of Edinburgh. He became a well-known Congregational lay preacher and an advocate of the principles of competitive business.

In 1874 Walch opposed plans to build showgrounds and buildings on the Queen's Domain and later became chairman of a committee to advise on its use. He was a member and sometime chairman of the Central School (Bathurst Street) Board in Hobart and campaigned successfully for new buildings. In evidence to the 1882 select committee on education he criticized the Board of Education for 'the want of a head to the department'. He moved resolutions at a Town Hall meeting in 1875 supporting the public works proposals of the Kennerley government, and again in 1876 protesting against the proposed closure of the Hobart-Launceston railway line. He was a director of the Commercial Bank and other companies, and a foundation member of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Among Walch's many writings was The Story of the Life of Charles Edward Walch, with a Selection of his Writings, printed in 1908 for private circulation. He was married twice; first at Halstead, Kent, England, on 27 February 1861 to Emma Elizabeth (d.1863), youngest daughter of Henry Stoe Man, R.N.; their daughter died in 1864; next year he married Fanny Eugenia Clara, daughter of George Birch; they had four sons and six daughters. He died at his home in Davey Street, Hobart, on 25 March 1915 survived by his wife and five daughters. His estate was sworn for probate at £42,855.

Select Bibliography

  • Cyclopedia of Tasmania, vol 1 (Hob, 1900)
  • P. Bolger, Hobart Town (Canb, 1973)
  • Votes and Proceedings (House of Assembly, Tasmania), 1882 (106)
  • Mercury (Hobart), 26 Mar 1915
  • indexes and correspondence file under C. E. Walch (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

Neil Smith, 'Walch, Charles Edward (1830–1915)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/walch-charles-edward-4783/text7961, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 25 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

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