Woolley, John (DNB00)

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WOOLLEY, JOHN (1816–1866), first principal of Sydney University, born at Petersfield in Hampshire on 28 Feb. 1816, was the second son of George Woolley, a surgeon of that place, by his wife Charlotte, daughter of William Gell of Lewes in Sussex. Joseph Woolley [q. v.] was his younger brother. His father removing to London a few years after his birth, he was educated at the Western grammar school and at Brompton, and in 1830 entered London University (afterwards University College), where he won a first prize in logic and otherwise distinguished himself. He matriculated from Exeter College, Oxford, on 26 June 1832, and, after being elected to a scholarship, graduated B.A. on 9 June 1836, M.A. on 28 Feb. 1839, and D.C.L. on 26 April 1844. He held a scholarship at University College, Oxford, from 1837 to 1840, and a fellowship at Exeter from 1840 to 1841. While at Oxford he formed a warm friendship with Arthur Penrhyn Stanley [q. v.], then a fellow of University College. In 1840 he published an ‘Introduction to Logic’ (Oxford, 12mo), which was much used for some years, and which attracted the notice of Sir William Hamilton (1788–1856) [q. v.] On Trinity Sunday in the same year he took holy orders. In 1842 he was appointed headmaster of King Edward the Sixth's grammar school at Hereford, and in 1844 he was elected headmaster of Rossall. In this post he was not successful, for, though an able scholar, he was a poor disciplinarian. In 1849 he was appointed headmaster of Norwich grammar school, and in January 1852 he was chosen principal of Sydney University. He arrived in June, and delivered an inaugural speech at the opening of the university in October in the hall of the new Sydney grammar school. Besides filling the post of principal, he discharged the duties of professor of classics and logic in the university. He was one of the original trustees of the Sydney grammar school, and spent much time and labour in organising it. He was the first to propose the scheme, since established, for connecting the primary schools of New South Wales with the university by a system of public examinations. In 1865 he visited England, and during his absence in 1866 he was elected president of the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts. Woolley was lost on his return voyage in the steamship London, which foundered in the Bay of Biscay on 11 Jan. 1866. A public testimonial amounting to 2,000l. was collected in New South Wales and presented to his widow as a tribute to his services. On 14 July 1842 he married, at Frankfort-on-the-Main, Mary Margaret, daughter of Major William Turner of the 13th light dragoons. There are portraits of Woolley in Sydney University and in the Mechanics' School of Arts.

Besides the work already mentioned, Woolley was the author of: 1. ‘The Social Use of Schools of Art,’ 1860. 2. ‘Lectures delivered in Australia,’ London and Cambridge, 1862, 8vo. He also published some single sermons and lectures.

[Article by Samuel Neil, from materials supplied by Dean Stanley, in the British Controversialist, 1866, xvi. 161–78; Heaton's Australian Dictionary, 1879; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886; Boase's Reg. of Exeter College, pp. 219, 372; Allibone's Dict. of Engl. Lit.; Beechey's Rise and Progress of Rossall, 1894, pp. 12–22 (with portrait).]

E. I. C.