WADE, Sir Charles Gregory (1863-1922)


WADE, Sir Charles Gregory (1863-1922)
premier of New South Wales
was born at Singleton, New South Wales, on 26 January 1863. He was the son of W. Burton Wade, a civil engineer. Educated at All Saints' College, Bathurst, and The King's School, Parramatta, Wade won the Broughton and Forrest scholarships and went to Merton College, Oxford. He had a distinguished career, both as a scholar and an athlete, graduating with honours in classics and representing his university and England at Rugby football. He was called to the bar at the Inner Temple in 1886 and in the same year returned to Sydney. He made a reputation as a barrister and was appointed a crown prosecutor at an early age. In September 1903 he was elected to the legislative assembly as member for Willoughby, and within a year joined the J. H. Carruthers (q.v.) ministry as attorney-general and minister of justice. When Carruthers resigned Wade became premier on 2 October 1907, but still retained his previous portfolios. He was an energetic leader and a large number of acts were passed by his government dealing with among others, industrial disputes, neglected children, minimum wage, employers' liability, the liquor problem, and closer settlement. There was some remission of taxation and each year the treasurer was able to show a surplus. The great Burrinjuck dam for which the Carruthers government was responsible was started, and special care was taken that the consequent increase in the value of the land should be preserved for the people generally and not merely the landholders. In spite of his good record Wade was defeated at the general election, and a Labour government came in on 21 October 1910, Wade becoming leader of the opposition. When the national ministry was formed in November 1916 he was prominent in the negotiations, but the state of his health did not allow him to seek office. He also declined the office of agent-general for New South Wales but went to London on holiday. A few months later, finding his health much improved, he became agent-general. A series of seven lectures on Australia delivered at University College, London, was published in 1919 under the title Australia, Problems and Prospects. In December of that year Wade was appointed a judge of the supreme court at Sydney and took up his duties in March 1920. He died after a short illness on 26 September 1922 and was survived by Lady Wade, two sons and two daughters. He was knighted in 1918 and created K.C.M.G. in 1920.
Wade was a public-spirited man of high character. His ability, honesty and courage were quickly recognized and, though he could not be called a great leader, he was either in office or leader of the opposition for nearly the whole of his political life of 14 years. His career as a judge was short, but his sense of justice and grasp of principles and details, eminently fitted him for that position.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 September 1922; The Wade Ministry; Its Record and Its Platform, Policy Speech, 30 August 1910; H. V. Evatt, Australian Labour Leader.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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