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Ebenezer Frank Vickery (1880–1970)

by Patricia Curthoys

This article was published:

Ebenezer Frank Vickery (1880-1970), solicitor and philanthropist, was born on 12 January 1880 at Burburgate, near Gunnedah, New South Wales, son of Ebenezer Vickery, a general manager from Sydney, and his wife Ellen Jane, née Firth, who was born at Vava'u, Friendly Islands (Tonga), the daughter of missionaries. Ebenezer Vickery was his grandfather and Joyce Vickery his cousin.

Educated at Sydney Grammar School and the University of Sydney (B.A., 1901; LL.B., 1904), Frank was articled to Arthur Wigram Allen of Allen, Allen & Hemsley and admitted as a solicitor on 19 November 1904. He belonged to the Sydney Rowing Club in the early 1900s and played for Waverley Cricket Club's second XI in 1908-09. At the Methodist Church, Bondi, on 2 July 1908 he married Ethel Agnes Rabbitts (d.1956); they were to have three children. In 1910-13 he was a member of Woollahra Municipal Council.

By 1908 Vickery had established his own firm in Vickery's Chambers. He later practised with various partners (including G. H. Wilson and R. J. B. Parkhill), operating from the Australasia Chambers, Martin Place. A shareholder (1902-39) in the public company, E. Vickery & Sons Ltd, merchants, colliery proprietors and graziers, he was appointed a director of the Alliance Assurance Co. Ltd in 1938.

Like his father and grandfather, and many other family members, Vickery was committed to Methodism. For forty years he was superintendent of the Sunday school at the Bondi Wesleyan Church. In 1910 he joined the committee of the Young Men's Christian Association. While serving on the general (from 1913) and executive (from 1921) committees of the Central Methodist Mission, he took part in the wider work of the Methodist Connexion in New South Wales. He was a councillor (1915-69) and benefactor of Wesley College, honorary solicitor to the C.M.M. and a member of the Lyceum Trust.

Vickery's share of his family's wealth enabled him to continue the generous benefactions to the Methodist Church begun by his grandfather. He donated Edina, the family home at Waverley, for use as a hospital; it was opened as the War Memorial Hospital in 1921 and Vickery was, at times, its honorary secretary. In 1941 he bought eleven acres (4.5 ha) at Sylvania on which the C.M.M. established a retirement village; it was re-named the Frank Vickery Village in 1962. He claimed to have been motivated in his work, both in the law and in the Church, by the 'desire for common justice for the greatest number and by Christian idealism'.

Frugal in his personal habits, Vickery reputedly had an allowance of 2s. 6d. a week while he was an articled clerk. He belonged to the University Club (from 1909) and enjoyed gardening. His family life was marked by tragedy: his younger son, Major Ian Vickery, Australian Army Medical Corps, was killed in action on 27 November 1942 in Papua and his daughter Mary died of a blood clot in 1947. Survived by his elder son, Vickery died on (or about) 9 July 1970 at his Bellevue Hill home and was buried in South Head cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • W. C. O'Reilly, Wesley College (Within the University of Sydney) (Syd, 1956)
  • D. Wright, Mantle of Christ (Brisb, 1984)
  • D. Wright and E. G. Clancy, The Methodists (Syd, 1993)
  • Central Methodist Mission (Sydney), Annual Report, 1906-57
  • Methodist (Sydney), 11 Jan, 26 July 1919, 12 Feb 1921, 25 Nov 1922, 8 Mar 1924, 20 Apr 1935
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 12 Jan 1970
  • Vickery papers (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

Patricia Curthoys, 'Vickery, Ebenezer Frank (1880–1970)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 18 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (Melbourne University Press), 2002

View the front pages for Volume 16

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


12 January, 1880
Burburgate, New South Wales, Australia


9 July, 1970 (aged 90)
Bellevue Hill, Sydney, New South Wales, 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.