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Samuel (Sammy) Clemes (1845–1922)

The death of Mr. Samuel Clemes, which occurred with unexpected suddenness yesterday at his residence, Tower-road, New Town, brought to a close a life of great usefulness, the influence of which has been felt far beyond the boundaries of this State. Mr. Clemes was born in Cornwall in 1845, and was therefore 77 years of age. He was educated in England, largely at Friends' schools, such as Sidcot. Trained as a teacher, he followed that avocation for a time, but later volunteered for service as a missionary teacher in Madagascar, under the control of the Friends' Foreign Missions Committee. Ten years of useful service were given to this work, and Mr. Clemes then returned to England, and took up teaching there. In 1886 the English Friends decided to open a school in Hobart, and Mr. Clemes was selected to be the pioneer principal. He journeyed here, and a little later the first school was opened in Warwick-street, not far from Trinity Church. Larger premises were secured later at Hobartville, the old residence of the Lord family, in Commercial-road where the school has been carried on ever since. The subsequent success of the venture was largely due to Mr. Clemes's business capability and high ideals as an educationist. In 1900 Mr. Clemes severed his connection with the Friends' High School, and founded Leslie House School with which he had been closely connected ever since; in fact, on the day before his death he was engaged on work for the school, and may truly be said to have died in harness.

In educational matters Mr. Clemes was a revolutionary in every sense of the term. He was the first to advocate co-education in secondary schools here, and the F.H.S. is a standing testimony to the wisdom of the plan. He was the first man to adopt the kindergarten system in Hobart, the first to include physical culture in the school curriculum.

A scientist of no mean ability himself, he encouraged the study of all branches of science in his schools, and practical laboratory work in chemistry was undertaken by him from the commencement of his work at Friends' High School. Some of his old pupils have taken high honours in the world of science, doubtless as a result of the early seed sown in the school laboratory.

A citizen in the best sense of the term, Mr. Clemes was associated with nearly every institution in Hobart which had the good of mankind as a fundamental object. One of the founders of the Blind Society, he gave the best years of his life to the work among the afflicted ones as secretary, and later as chairman. His name will always be an honoured one in the annals of the society. He was a member of the Royal Society and of many kindred societies, and a lecturer on many and varied subjects. In the religious life of the community Mr. Clemes had taken a full share. A minister of the Society of Friends, a prominent member of the Y.M.C.A. ever since it became established in Hobart, at one time president of the Council of Churches, in fact, in the forefront of every movement for the uplift of the life of the city his was an influence which will be greatly missed. He leaves a widow and family of four surviving children. His eldest son (Mr. W. H. Clemes, B. A., B.Sc.) is the present principal of Leslie House School, and his second son (Mr. Alfred Clemes), one of the most brilliant of Tasmania's Rhodes scholars to date, is engaged in technical work in England.

Mr. J. H. Gould, president of the Friends' High School Old Scholars' Association, writes:—

As an association we deeply deplore the death of our old principal, Samuel Clemes. To many of us the memory of school days at Friends' will be associated for all time with the personality of one whom we have always called, and always will call with the utmost respect and veneration, "Sammy." Here and all over Australia there are those who will feel that they have lost a real friend when they hear of his death. He set us a high standard of conduct, he taught us to work for work's sake, and he did his best at all times to bring into the life of the school the real religion of Jesus Christ in its practical application to the life of every day.

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Citation details

'Clemes, Samuel (Sammy) (1845–1922)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 5 March 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


25 December, 1845
Liskeard, Cornwall, England


25 October, 1922 (aged 76)
New Town, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

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