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Percival Stacy Waddy (1875–1937)

by K. J. Cable

This article was published:

Percival Stacy Waddy (1875-1937), Anglican clergyman, was born on 8 January 1875 at Carcoar, New South Wales, second son of Richard Waddy, a bank clerk from India, and his native-born wife Elizabeth Ann, daughter of John Stacy. After the family moved to Morpeth, Stacy attended East Maitland Grammar and The King's School, Parramatta. He captained King's, played cricket for the Cumberland district against Lord Sheffield's English team in December 1891, and won the Broughton and Forrest exhibition. At Balliol College, Oxford (B.A., 1897; M.A., 1901), he read law and excelled at cricket. Capped for the university after scoring 107 not out against Surrey, Waddy played against Cambridge (1896 and 1897) but declined to assist the 1896 Australian touring team, preferring to travel home to visit his family.

Abandoning his intended career as a barrister for welfare and religious service at Oxford House in London's East End, he was made deacon on 18 December 1898 and ordained priest on 21 December 1899 by Bishop Mandell Creighton of London. Waddy had great gifts as a teacher, organizer, writer and sportsman. His physique was superb and he had an attractive personality, though tinged with acerbity. He almost did too many things too well to give his full attention to one activity and sometimes resented the consequent lack of recognition, but his faith was constant and his vocation as a clergyman unwavering.

Returning to New South Wales in 1900, Waddy married Etheldred Spittal at St James's Church, Morpeth, on 28 October 1901. Working in the Newcastle diocese, he served at the cathedral, Stockton and Singleton, combining parochial work with pamphleteering and raising money for a lectureship in memory of his mentor Bishop Stanton. He also played cricket for Northern district and in December 1903 made 93 and 102 against (Sir) Pelham Warner's visiting Englishmen.

In October 1906 Waddy accepted an invitation to become headmaster of The King's School. At a time of expansion and change, he founded a junior school (1908), set up a house system and began 'land classes' for boys without academic pretensions. All boys over 12 now had to belong to the school cadet corps and wear its distinctive uniform. Popular and vigorous, Waddy attended the Delhi Durbar (1911) with a party of cadets and wrote about it.

A part-time chaplain from 1908, during World War I Waddy was twice refused leave by the school council to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force; in May 1916 he resigned and, despite Archbishop Wright's disapproval, became an army chaplain. Waddy was always to regret this action, but believed he had no alternative. He served in France with the 3rd and 1st Battalions, and in August 1917 sailed for Egypt. In October he was transferred to headquarters, Desert Mounted Corps, where he became senior chaplain and an honorary major with the Light Horse.

The Middle East was to claim him. Following a spell in Australia in 1918, Waddy returned to become a canon of St George's Cathedral, Jerusalem, archdeacon of Palestine with responsibility for education, and chaplain of the Order of St John of Jerusalem (1922); he published two local guides and gathered material for his popular Homes of the Psalms (London, 1928). Appointed secretary in 1924 of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, he moved to London.

Faced with the society's decreasing finances and the fading attractiveness of mission work, Waddy embarked on tours to North America, the Far East and Pacific, India and Africa. He preferred travel to administration and proved an effective inspector of missions. A prolific author of devotional works, he also wrote detective stories with a biblical setting. He was a canon of Peterborough, preached at Oxford, maintained his interest in Freemasonry, substituted golf for cricket, and developed into a competent pen-and-ink artist. His constitution was weakened by hard travelling in difficult regions: Waddy contracted cerebral malaria on the Gold Coast, Africa, and died in the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, London, on 8 February 1937, survived by his wife, three sons and two daughters.

Select Bibliography

  • S. M. Johnstone, The History of The King's School, Parramatta (Syd, 1932)
  • E. Waddy, Stacy Waddy (Lond, 1938)
  • Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, 1893, 1905, 1938
  • Australian Board of Missions, ABM Review, 1 Mar 1937
  • The King's School Magazine, May 1937, p 2
  • Church Times, 12 Feb 1937
  • Times (London), 13, 18 Feb 1937
  • Australian Church Record, 25 Feb 1937
  • Church Standard, 2 Apr 1937
  • P. J. Yeend, Aspects of the History of The King's School, Parramatta (M.A. thesis, Macquarie University, 1980)
  • P. S. Waddy files (The King's School Archives).

Citation details

K. J. Cable, 'Waddy, Percival Stacy (1875–1937)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 26 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (Melbourne University Press), 1990

View the front pages for Volume 12

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


8 January, 1875
Carcoar, New South Wales, Australia


8 February, 1937 (aged 62)
London, Middlesex, England

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