Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Henry Peach (1863–1947)

by Jan Kociumbas

This article was published:

Henry Peach (1863-1947), dentist, was born on 20 March 1863 at Parson Drove, Isle of Ely, Cambridgeshire, England, son of Charles William Peach, wine and spirits merchant, and his wife Alice Taylor, née Reddan. He attended University College School, London, in 1877-79 and migrated to Sydney in 1881. He was working for a draper when he married Melinda Jane Grey Herring on 10 February 1883 at St Peter's Anglican Church. He later became a temporary draftsman in the Department of Lands. After two years of instruction in dentistry, he established a practice in Walker Street, North Sydney, in 1888.

In 1892 Peach sought further training in the United States of America. In 1894 he obtained the licentiate of the Illinois State Board of Dental Examiners, and studied at the American College of Dental Surgery, Chicago, receiving the Columbian Dental College's D.D.S. He also reputedly obtained an M.D. degree from the National Medical College in 1895.

On his return to Sydney in 1896, Peach established a busy practice at Burwood. Two years later he moved to Macquarie Street. Here patients were treated in an ornate surgery: rich carpet covered the floor and embossed paper the walls, while in the elegant waiting-room objets d'art graced the white marble mantelpiece. Employing seven or eight apprentices at a time, Peach charged 200 guineas for three years tuition in anatomy, physiology, prosthetic and operative dentistry. He also offered training at his New South Wales College of Dental Surgery.

In 1892 Peach had helped to found the Dental Association of New South Wales which soon sought a dental Act. The campaign lapsed while Peach was overseas, but the Dentists Act, defining qualifications for registration, was enacted in 1900. He was a member of the Dental Board of New South Wales in 1901-09 (chairman, 1907-09). In 1902 he initiated the inspection of schoolchildren's teeth, and helped to establish the Dental Hospital of Sydney, where training for students and free dental services for the poor were provided. Next year he formed a second Dental Association of New South Wales to lobby for exclusion of unregistered practitioners. He contributed to the Commonwealth Dental Review and helped to organize the first Australian Dental Congress, held in Sydney in February 1907.

Since 1896, however, friction had been growing between liberal-minded practitioners, often trained in the new American dental institutions, and those who supported Professor (Sir) Thomas Anderson Stuart, who believed that the University of Sydney's medical school should control the training and examination of dentists and had promoted the establishment of a dental school at the university in 1901. In 1909 an amended Dentists Act provided for a new Dental Board, dominated by the university faction.

After this ignominious defeat, Peach's practice deteriorated. By 1912 he had to give up his Macquarie Street premises. In 1913 he became managing director of the Australian Dental Co., a large practice which had no compunction in advertising its services. Two years later he went into partnership with a former pupil, A. C. R. Johnston, in Elizabeth Street. Although he continued to practise until 1943, Peach withdrew entirely from dental politics, devoting himself to painting, Freemasonry and his garden at Ferncliff, Hunters Hill.

Peach died on 8 October 1947 at Concord and was buried in the Presbyterian section of Woronora cemetery. His wife and son Lyulph, who also studied dentistry in Illinois, survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • R. W. Halliday, A History of Dentistry in New South Wales 1788 to 1945, A. O. Watson ed (Syd, 1977)
  • Commonwealth Dental Review, 10 Feb 1905
  • Dental Journal of Australia, 15, no 3, Mar 1943, 20, no 2, Feb 1948.

Citation details

Jan Kociumbas, 'Peach, Henry (1863–1947)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 4 October 2023.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (Melbourne University Press), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2023

Life Summary [details]


20 March, 1863
Ely, Cambridgeshire, England


8 October, 1947 (aged 84)
Concord, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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