Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Frank Lade (1868–1948)

by A. E. Vogt

This article was published:

Frank Lade (1868-1948), clergyman, was born on 21 December 1868 at Kilmore, Victoria, son of Stephen Lade, farmer, and his wife Anne, née MacConchie. He was educated at state schools and worked on the farm before in 1890 beginning training for the Methodist Church. He attended Queen's College, University of Melbourne (B.A., 1903; M.A., 1905), and began his ministry with two years in Tasmania. In 1895 he was transferred to the Toorak Methodist Church, Melbourne, where he met Lillian Frances Millard, the church organist, whom he married there on 17 March 1898; they had four daughters and two sons. That year they visited England where British preachers impressed the young Australian minister.

After ministries in Victoria and Tasmania, in 1911 Lade transferred from Hobart to the historic Kent Town Methodist Church in Adelaide for five years; then followed three years at the Archer Street, North Adelaide, pulpit. He was active in the South Australian Temperance Alliance and led the successful fight for a referendum that resulted in 6 o'clock closing of hotel bars by the Licensing Act of 1915. This was followed, after further agitation led by Lade, by the 1917 Licensing Act which stipulated that a local option poll must be held before any additional liquor licence could be granted for a defined local area. In 1919 Lade was seconded to the Temperance Alliance for two years as a field officer and public lecturer on abstinence. He maintained an influential and fiery attack on drinking and gambling throughout his life. In retirement he edited the South Australian Patriot, the alliance's journal. His articles showed clarity and zeal. He desired prohibition, but only if decreed by the 'will of the people'. His opponents argued that alcohol was a stimulant, but Lade reiterated 'It is a narcotic'. In this he was fifty years ahead of his time. His argument reflected a deliberate shift in strategy from the doctrinal to the dietary.

Lade was scholar, preacher, social reformer: for him all were compatible and complementary. All his work was marked by masterful logic, yet his fundamental message was always delivered with striking simplicity. He was tall, dignified, immaculately dressed, yet ready to preach in Victoria Square, or wherever people could be gathered. Though intensely evangelical, he was sensitive and respected by his adversaries. His repartee was spontaneous and entertaining: an interjector once called, 'You're not a producer, Lade, you haven't produced anything'. 'Yes, I have', replied Lade. 'I've produced this crowd, and I doubt if you could do that.'

In 1922 he became the first principal and revered pastor of his Church's theological college, an institution which began as Brighton College and, upon moving to North Unley, became Wesley College. Lade belonged to the Adelaide Theological Circle and read several papers to it. He retired in 1939. In 1916 and 1936 he had been president of the South Australian Methodist Conference and, in the latter year, delivered an occasional address as part of the State's centenary celebrations. As president-general of the Methodist Conference of Australia in 1929-32 he visited missions in the South Pacific.

Lade's wife had died in 1933 and on 18 September 1940 he married Amy Maud Dunstan at Malvern, Melbourne. Survived by his second wife and five children, he died of cancer in Adelaide on 9 October 1948 and was buried in Payneham Methodist cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • General Conference of the Methodist Church of Australasia, Methodist Ministerial Index, 1936, and South Australian branch, Conference Minutes, 1939, 1949
  • Temperance Alliance of South Australia, S.A. Patriot, Jan 1944–Dec 1945 (copies at State Records of South Australia)
  • Mail (Adelaide), 9 May 1914
  • Australian Christian Commonwealth, 24 May 1929
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 11 Oct 1948
  • S. Close, Social Attitudes to Liquor and Liquor Legislation in South Australia, 1876-1917 (B.A. Hons thesis, University of Adelaide, 1961)
  • family records.

Citation details

A. E. Vogt, 'Lade, Frank (1868–1948)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 26 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (Melbourne University Press), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


21 December, 1868
Kilmore, Victoria, Australia


9 October, 1948 (aged 79)
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.