Five Ways to Remember: Dedication – Peter Nathaniel

You Peter N, were named after Nathaniel, a god fearing great-great-grandfather of yours. Seeing as I am somewhat of a toss-pot like Nathaniel’s father Richard, I thought it well to remind you of my sins of the flesh by incorporating ineradicably in your name a reminder of righteous reaction against the wilfulness of self-indulgence.

Your forebear removed way back along the ladder to Adam, was a very notable character. So much so, that the Australian Dictionary of Biography asked me to do an itsy-bitsy piece about his life and works.

Knowing that you won’t read useful knowledge I will thunder out that he came to Sydney from County Wexford, Ireland and landed here in May 1841 with related family expatriates. Sixteen, including himself, had started off, but poor old Richard had not survived the voyage, and was buried at sea.

Now Nathaniel was not only a very strict Methodist and lay preacher, he was a damn good carpenter and did quite well in the Maitland district. About 1850, he really got with the sermons and in 1861 became ordained as an Independent Methodist minister, with a power to solemnize marriages.

If ever you get around to it, have a browse through his journal published in 1864. It is full of no-tom-foolery and is an example to the mods of what befalls those who do not behave. Now take this quote:

“If Satan ever appeared as an angel of light, and in the shape of a woman, it was in the person of Mrs. H.. So polished a hypocrite, I have never met. She was the wife of the master of a vessel, which sailed out of the harbour; had a fine personal appearance, and polished manners. She had been living with a man, who was not her husband. A pious woman found it out, and spoke to her, and brought her to the meetings, which I conducted. She left the man, and after some time her husband took her again, and they lived together. He often accompanied her to the chapels. She soon began to profess religion, and possessed a fine gift for prayer, and gained the esteem of many of God’s people; but a married man, who was brought to God in affliction, and who had been very wicked, fell a victim to her wiles. She spread a net for his feet, in which he became entangled. He first commenced to see her home from the meetings, and after a little, it was found out that there was something wrong between them, but it soon proved to be a certainty. When I challenged her about it, she dropped on her knees, and with uplifted hands and falling tears, in the presence of God declared her innocence. They were both turned out of society. She still continued to attend the chapels, and some believed she was hardly dealt with. One man of long standing in the church, and a public teacher was of the number, he visited at her house and kept her company, until he fell into the same deep ditch as the other. He too was expelled the church, and the cause of much scandal to religion: both these men were married; but this was not all. A minister of a Christian church was so infatuated with her, that he took her to be his house-keeper in the country, and soon after brought great scandal on the cause of God.

I have in the course of my experience, known great injury done to the work of God by company keeping, especially amongst young people. They get acquainted in the meetings, and then begin to escort each other home, until attachments are formed, and religion trifled away, if not great scandal brought on the Lord’s work, and the best of causes deeply injured by it. Young people who profess religion, should not keep company alone, until they see a suitable person, and a proper time, and then get married immediately. No devil does more harm in the church, than the courting devil. I have often heard people complain of their temptations, and blame the enemy of souls, whom we know is always ready enough to ruin the human family, when they themselves are to blame after sending an invitation to the devil to tempt them. What else can they expect but that it will be accepted? Those who wish to enjoy religion must take care and keep a tender conscience, which if well regulated, will always warn them of danger. If the light is in the smallest degree opposed and resisted, happiness departs and back-sliding begins. What I say unto one, I say unto all, watch.” [The Life, Religious Experience, and Journal of Nathaniel Pidgeon, 1864, pp51-52]

Old Nathaniel was good enough for his flock to build him a substantial church on a corner of Sussex and Liverpool Streets. It still exists but is without the sanctity of hosannas, alleluia’s and hallelujahs – it reverberates now only to the bangings and swearings which go with garages – ex churches.

[W.E. Pidgeon c.1970]

Note: Nathaniel’s church on the southeast corner of Sussex and Liverpool Streets, Sydney no longer exists today; replaced by a high-rise building containing commercial retail outlets and serviced apartments.

Five Ways to Remember: Dedication – Graham Richard

You, Graham R. were named after your great-great-great grandfather Richard P because he seemed to me to be something of a real broth of a bhoy – very left of the extreme right in his excesses. He was of all things, a Loyalist Protestant living in County Wexford during the days of the 1798 Rebellion. A yeoman in Ogle’s Loyal Blues he took his loyalties to his heart without question as this account by his son Nathaniel testifies.

“My father, at this period was a great loyalist – fond of company, and possessing an undaunted mind, was often led astray, and sometimes got into difficulties. In Ireland about this period, no Protestant was safe; Government had issued orders to have the leaders of the rebels seized and executed. Many individuals were sent to New South Wales. One of this class, named McDonald, being in a public house near Ferry Carrig Bridge, my father and uncle Foley, while passing the same (house) at night, on looking in, saw McDonald and determined to make him a prisoner, although surrounded by many of his friends.

My father stepped into the room where he was, drew his sword, ordered him to rise, adding that he was the King’s prisoner.

Some of his companions rose to take his part upon which my father struck the mantel piece with his sword, saying – the first man that moves from his seat, or offers resistance, shall take the consequences. He brought his prisoner out from amongst them, led him along two miles of a lonely road and lodged him in the gaol.

The act of committal being informal, the prisoner was discharged, and my father confined for a period of three months for false imprisonment.

Another instance of his rashness and over-zeal was shown whilst in the yeomanry. There was a corporal in the company to which he belonged of enormous stature and bulk, who on coming into the barrack-room one night, said some insulting words to my father, who immediately challenged him to fight, although not much more than half his size; the corporal struck my father and knocked him into a coal tub, but on recovering himself, and again encountering him, struck him such a blow in the stomach as to render him unable to renew the personal combat. I recollect my mother sending me to the country public-house to bring him home, and having to pass a lonely church-yard it being a late hour at night, he stopped on the road to challenge all the spirits to fight. I was greatly terrified, and ran, as if for my life, leaving my poor father to contend with his ghostly antagonists single-handed.”

Great-great-grandpa Nathaniel also records that his dear old dad and his brother Henry were Church of England and were stationed at Dungannon during the insurrection. Uncle Henry went off to the fight the wars in Europe, and Richard returned to Bellevue to marry Elizabeth Foley of Baladicken.

Sometime after this a relative named Evans, who lived at Newton Barry, sold his property and went to America. He returned, chartered a ship, and offered Richard and his family a free passage to America and a farm in Ohio. “My mother however would not consent” reports Nathaniel. But how do we know other Pidgeons didn’t accept this offer and progenerate Walter Pidgeon the actor? How else should I always be called Walter (after the actor) when I’m really only William?

Strangely enough, after this bit of conservatism on Elizabeth Foley Pidgeon’s part they allowed themselves to converted by an itinerant preacher, Mr Bulger, to the Wesleyan Methodist faith. All this conversion stuck and much later at a revivalist meeting, Nathaniel met and later married Miss Eliza Proud whose old granddaddy had looked after John Wesley during his visit to Ireland.

[W.E. Pidgeon c.1970]

Note: Walter Pidgeon’s family line extends back into Canada in the 1700s. There is no known family connection.

Five Ways to Remember: Preface

Many years ago, my intellectual uncle, Cyril Pearl kindly found me an intact copy of Nathaniel Pidgeon’s journal of his experiences as the first city Missionary in Sydney in 1850 or thereabouts. Uncle Cyril was greatly taken by Nathaniel’s graphic descriptions of that pagan rum-sodden citizenry. Somewhere amongst these oozy woozy recollections of the past, I have interpolated a potted history of the Reverend Nathaniel Pidgeon and a couple of examples of his quite unequivocal prose.

Grandpa White’s family speak, not for themselves unfortunately but only through the errant dark and inexact tunnels of my fading memories. There is no point in expecting either sequence or chronological order in these effusions. If I am over-repetitious, it is because I lack a concentrated mind and was at any moment only seeking the immediacy of past feeling fingers.

None of the faces of memory are recollected now, or seem even meaningful. Such experiences as these shadows cast upon me are the purpose for these remembrances of things past and of no great consequence at all.

Most of the reminiscences of Paddington have been written spasmodically over a period of twenty years. True and what is a dream, I cannot tell, now. All the names mentioned are, or were, realities in the social scene. No offence to any was, or is, intended and I do not think that I have libelled or contemned any identifiable person. Some of the old ancient thinking of Paddington may be revived in the memories of old-timers, who may waste a little more of their time in ploughing through its content. Most people wish to identify themselves to their children and in a hesitant and long delayed way, I have attempted to give them some background of at least one side of their parent’s past. I included an extract from my Pidgeon history to help the rather overwhelming emphasis on the White family, who in my own case rightly deserve remembrance and honour. It is sixty years and a little since I began school at Glenmore Road. Memory has now no alluvial offerings – recollections have been submerged under current problems and there is no more to say, Perhaps one day while I stay at 290 Glenmore Road, something of no consequence will surface. –It will please me.

Now after all these years it seems to be very much a sentimental waste of time. An excursion backwards into nostalgic stations which have neither reality or purpose in the present age.

The unfolding tapes of memory sound off as the bones and vapourising odours of an age of smelling salts and the drifting fumes of alcoholic memories.

Paddy you seemed so much bigger in the old days.

[W.E. Pidgeon c.1975]