Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Edward Mallan Collick (1868–1959)

by E. W. Doncaster and Elizabeth Willis

This article was published:

Edward Mallan Collick (1868-1959), Anglican priest, was born on 4 November 1868 at Hoxton, Middlesex, England, son of Charles Henry Hornfray Collick, lawyer, and his wife Rosette, née Mallan. Educated at Christ's Hospital, London, in 1892 he obtained his diploma as a Theological Associate of King's College, London. Ordained deacon that year, and priest in 1893, he became assistant curate at St Andrew's, Hoxton, in the slums of London's East End. In 1894 the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel sent him as a missionary to the Western Australian goldfields; he arrived at Coolgardie in December.

During that summer's typhoid epidemic, his untiring work with the sick and dying won him repute for self-sacrifice. Collick pioneered church work in Coolgardie, then in Menzies and Boulder. For some time he was the only Anglican priest on the goldfields. He roughed it like his flock, and gave his money to the needy: when parishioners raised money for a holiday for him, he gave that away too. His churchmanship was modified in the face of great distances and needs. He established schools, tent hospitals and churches, and formed church-related debating societies, gymnasiums and sporting clubs so that the church could become a community centre. He remained unmarried and his parishioners became his family. He included Aboriginals in his flock—he visited their settlements, nursed their sick, and organized annual tribal Christmas feasts. His example was an uncomfortable one: in 1897 the Coolgardie Miner called him 'the white man's living apology … of whom we are not worthy'. The Aboriginals called all clergymen 'Mr Collick'.

In March 1901 he went as chaplain with the Fifth Western Australian Contingent to South Africa, and saw action. He worked in England before returning as curate of Kalgoorlie in 1905. He became rector of Boulder in 1907 and archdeacon of the Goldfields and rector of Kalgoorlie in 1912. He continued his habitual self-denial and charity and became a well-known figure in the community. In 1915-19 he was chaplain 4th-class with the Australian Imperial Force in Egypt, England and France, where he worked among stretcher-bearers at the front. He was nominated, probably without his consent, to become second bishop of Kalgoorlie in 1919, but he lacked administrative skills and his nomination received little support.

In 1924-50 Collick was canon of St George's Cathedral and rector of St John's, Fremantle. Congregations grew only slowly under his charge. He assisted ex-prisoners from Fremantle gaol and worked with the Mission to Seamen. He gave money, food and sometimes his own furniture to the port's poor. Contemporaries spoke of his tolerance, sympathy, broad-mindedness and love of laughter; he was a familiar sight on his bicycle around Fremantle. Despite some later eccentricities and an increasing irascibility he retained the respect and admiration of church people and the community and was a special favourite with children.

In 1950 Collick retired in Perth; he was appointed O.B.E. for his 'philanthropy, generosity and practical Christianity'. He died penniless in Mount Hospital, Perth, on 3 June 1959 and was cremated. That year St Andrew's Church at Coolgardie was rebuilt and renamed Canon Collick Memorial Church.

Select Bibliography

  • Church of England Diocese of Perth, Quarterly Magazine, Jan 1895, Jan 1897, Oct 1898
  • Western Australia Church News, Mar 1897, Mar 1901, May 1902
  • Kalgoorlie Diocesan Quarterly, Apr, Oct 1915, Jan 1924
  • Church of England, Diocese of Perth Year Book, 1949, 1950
  • Coolgardie Miner, 3, 16 Mar 1897
  • Westralian Worker, 23 Dec 1910
  • Kalgoorlie Miner, 25 June 1924, 4, 5, 9 June 1959.

Citation details

E. W. Doncaster and Elizabeth Willis, 'Collick, Edward Mallan (1868–1959)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 14 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (Melbourne University Press), 1981

View the front pages for Volume 8

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Collick, Henry

4 November, 1868
London, Middlesex, England


3 June, 1959 (aged 90)
Perth, Western Australia, Australia

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