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George Pitty Barbour (1867–1951)

by Rupert Goodman

This article was published:

George Pitty Barbour (1867-1951), headmaster, was born on 27 January 1867 at Williamstown, Victoria, son of Robert Barbour and his wife Catherine, née Pitty. Educated at Sydney Grammar School in 1878-84 and in classics at the University of Sydney (B.A., 1887; M.A., 1889), he won the (Sir Daniel) Cooper scholarship in classical studies and was a founder of the magazine Hermes.

Barbour taught at Sydney High School for a year, founding its magazine the Chronicle, then joined Sydney Grammar School in 1888-1910 as classics and sports master. As a pupil at Sydney Grammar he had been in its 1883 cricket team, said to be the best ever. He played club cricket with Burwood which he represented on the State association from 1902. In 1907-09 he was a member of the Australian Cricket Board of Control and was chairman in 1908-09. He also represented New South Wales at Rugby Union in 1888 and tennis in 1891. Barbour became headmaster of Toowoomba Grammar School in 1910 and over twenty-five years built it into one of the best public schools in Queensland, especially by broadening the curriculum. He was a liberal voice for broadmindedness and tolerance against bias and bigotry. In the Arnold tradition, he emphasized hard work and disciplined study. He developed boarding-houses, the prefect system, the cadet corps and sport and continued himself to play competitive sport in Toowoomba for many years. After retirement in 1935, he settled at Roseville in New South Wales; he died on 7 September 1951 and was cremated. He was survived by his widow Isabella Fredericka, daughter of Rev. Frederick Hibberd, whom he had married in the Baptist church at Ashfield on 3 April 1890, and by four sons and four daughters.

His son Eric Pitty (1891-1934) was born on 27 January 1891 in Sydney. Dux of Sydney Grammar School, he too distinguished himself at cricket while young; his aggregate of 2146 runs in 1908-09 was a school record. Entering the University of Sydney's medical school he played for New South Wales in 1910-14 and was selected for South Africa in 1914 but the tour was cancelled. He graduated M.B. in 1915, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and sailed for Egypt in October and after service in Egypt, England and France was demobilized in 1919 as medical officer of the 2nd Divisional Train. He represented the A.I.F. against England at cricket. On return Barbour practised medicine at Dorrigo in 1919-23, Stockton in 1923-29 and at Kensington until his death on 7 December 1934. He wrote on cricket for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sydney Mail, and published two textbooks, The Making of a Cricketer and Cricket Coaching, and Anti Bodyline in collaboration with Alan Kippax. He married Jessie Nicholson and was survived by two sons and two daughters.

Another son Robert Roy Pitty (b.1899) was Queensland Rhodes Scholar in 1920, master of St Andrew's College, Adelaide, in 1928-36, warden of Melbourne University Union in 1940-54 and senior lecturer in classics 1954-67. His son Peter was director-general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in 1970-75.

Select Bibliography

  • R. Goodman, Toowoomba Grammar School 1875-1975 (Toowoomba, 1976)
  • Toowoomba Grammar School, School Magazine and Old Boys Register, Nov 1934
  • Sydneian, Dec 1954
  • Toowoomba Grammar School archives
  • EDU/BC 359-362 (Queensland State Archives)
  • family papers (privately held).

Citation details

Rupert Goodman, 'Barbour, George Pitty (1867–1951)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 21 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (Melbourne University Press), 1979

View the front pages for Volume 7

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