Samuel Barraclough (image supplied by Lyn Collingwood)
Samuel Barraclough (image supplied by Lyn Collingwood)

In 1892 Samuel Barraclough’s family home was Gareloch 16 Toxteth Rd. This was the year he graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering degree from the University of Sydney. He later became Dean of the faculty and a fellow of the university senate over a three-decade period.

Born on 25 October 1871, Samuel was the second child of William Henry Barraclough and Dublin-born Hannah Arabella née Egerton who met on board the ship bringing them to Sydney and who married in 1868, soon after their arrival. William Barraclough joined the revenue branch of NSW Treasury as a clerk in November 1873; by the time of his death at age 46 on 9 December 1892 he had been promoted to Registrar of Conditional Purchases on an annual salary of £500. He and Hannah were living in Paddington when their fourth child, Hannah Eveleen, died aged nine days in 1876. Prior to their moving to Glebe ca 1890 the family home was at Parramatta Park, Prospect.

Samuel Barraclough’s secondary schooling was at Sydney Boys’ High (then sharing premises with Sydney Girls’ on the site now occupied by the David Jones Elizabeth St store). The winner of a postgraduate Exhibition scholarship, he studied at Cornell University where he edited the Sibley Journal of Engineering. In 1895 he returned to Australia and taught physics at Sydney Technical College and Sydney High; in 1897 he joined Sydney University’s staff as an assistant lecturer in mechanical engineering. Lawrence Hargrave consulted him about a suitable engine for his ‘lightest and most compact’ flying machine. Barraclough’s writings included Abridged Mathematical Tables, republished several times, and numerous articles on steam boilers and engines.

He also lectured in military engineering. During World War 1 he worked as a censor before organising the transferral of some 5,000 Australians to work in munitions factories in England. Praised by Churchill, he remained in England overseeing their repatriation until 1920, in which year he was knighted. He was Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at Sydney University 1924-33 and 1936-41 and a Fellow of the Senate 1925-33 and 1938-56. For 20 years he was chairman of the Australian Student Christian Movement.

Samuel’s younger brother Francis was born on 21 September 1873 and educated at Sydney Boys’ High, Sydney Grammar (matriculating in 1892) and Sydney University (BA 1895, LLB 1899, MA 1909). He was Secretary to the Registrar-General, and in 1933 sat on a Royal Commission into problems with the Water Board pressure tunnel from Potts Hill to the pumping station at Waterloo.

For nearly three decades from 1913 Francis Barraclough was Deputy in the Office of the Master in Lunacy, a position created in 1879 to oversee the State’s asylums and to protect the interests of inmates judged incapable of managing their own finances. (The estate of Henry Lawson – who died without making a will – was handled by the Master in Lunacy.) Francis left his workplace on the top floor of the Hyde Park Barracks ca 1942 and set up practice as a city solicitor.

Energetic and socially committed, Francis Barraclough was president of the Sydney Female Refuge ‘for fallen and intemperate women’ at Glebe (housed in Rosebank, Hereford St), a director of Modern (Non-licensed) Hotels Ltd, a director of the YMCA, a councillor with the Sydney City Mission and president of the 2GB Community Chest. As president of the League of Nations Union (NSW) he took an interest in unemployed soldiers, broadcast speeches on peace and international affairs, and predicted that the League (founded by good men and a reflection in them of the purposes of God) would be reborn after World War 11. He worshipped regularly at the Pitt St Congregational Church and in 1945 organised radio broadcasts and concerts to mark 50 years’ service by the church’s organist.

Samuel and Francis’ sister Ethel (1869-1957) in 1898 married Henry Pratt, the Samoan-born son of missionaries. A partner in Pratt and Pratt, accountants for the London Missionary Society, Henry Pratt became treasurer of the Pitt St Congregational Church and of the Congregational Union.

The Barraclough children followed the example of their parents who were devout members of the Congregational Church. Their father William was an executive member of the Congregational Union of NSW and treasurer of the Christian Endeavour Movement. Their mother Hannah, who died aged 80 on 22 January 1928 at Ethel’s home in Lewisham, was religious and philanthropic.