AUGUSTUS MAY SOULE of Adelaide
This article was originally published in the December 2012 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
In the August edition of Sole Search there was an article that used Trove (www.trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper), an index of Australian newspapers, to take a look at the life of Charles May Soule and his wife Harriet who lived in Romaine, Tasmania. Charles’ brother Augustus had also moved from London to Australia and became curator of the Adelaide Art Gallery, an appointment that was reported on 25th December in The South Australian Register. The gallery is now the Art Gallery of South Australia. Reproduced below are a couple of newspaper reports relating to his retirement as curator of the art gallery and his death.
Adelaide Register, Wednesday 15th March 1916
Mr. Soule’s Retirement.
After 27 years’ service as custodian at the Art Gallery, Mr. A. M. Soule will relinquish the post at the end of the present month. Not the age limit, but failing health is the reason of his retirement. His term of office does not actually expire until November, but the Board of Governors of the Public Library, Museum, and Art Gallery generously decided to release him on March 31 from the position which be has held so long with credit to himself and the institution, and to reward him with eight months’ leave of absence.
The Art Gallery of South Australia
The Old Board.
Chatting to a representative of The Register, Mr. Soule referred to his early associations with the State and the Art Gallery. ‘Prior to receiving the appointment of Custodian,’ he observed, ‘I was for five years a sergeant in South Australia’s permanent artillery, and for the greater part of that time was orderly to Sir John Fletcher Owen, who was then Brigadier-General of the South Australian Military Forces. A soldier was wanted for the Custodian’s position, and I was chosen out of 250 applicants. The late Sir Samuel Way was the last surviving member of the original board of the Gallery. In the days of my appointment other members included Mr. Medway Day (Chairman), at one time a member of The Register editorial staff, Sir Charles Todd, Mr. David Murray (then Chief Secretary), Mr. Rowland Rees, MP, the Rev. Roby Fletcher (of Stow Memorial Church), Drs. Allan Campbell and Whittle (City Coroner), and Mr. David Bower.’
The Gallery’s Development
‘Where were the old quarters?’
‘From1889 to 1900 I was in charge of the gallery, which was located in three rooms at the old Exhibition Building, where the School of Arts now is. For about four or five years from 1894 pictures were exchanged with the galleries of Sydney and Melbourne, but this arrangement was discontinued owing to the premises being considered unsafe from the dangers of fire, and also on account of the pictures being damaged in transmission. In 1900 a move was made into the present building, [Ed. see picture on previous page] which has been visited by nearly 2,000,000 people, among whom were the present King and Queen of England, in July, 1901, on the occasion of their coming to Australia for the opening of the Commonwealth Parliament.’
A Military Enthusiast
Speaking of his career in England before coming to Australia Mr. Soule referred with soldierly pride to his 15 years’ association with the Honourable Artillery Company, the oldest military body in the world, in which he held the rank of captain at the time of his retirement. ‘Our last two Kings,’ Mr. Soule added, ‘have been captains-general of that company, but previously that rank was held mostly by the Princes of Wales. Among the distinguished men connected with the ‘Honouraries’ were John Milton, Sir Christopher Wren, the Dukes of Marlborough, Norfolk, and Monmouth, William III, and Georges I, II, and IV.’
Adelaide Chronicle, 7th January 1922
Mr. Augustus May Soule (72), an inmate of the Aged Men’s Retreat, dropped dead in Linden Park, Burnside. on December 30. He had been to the city to obtain goods for one of the other inmates of the home, and his death occurred as he was on his way back. Mr. Soule had been in Australia over 30 years, having come from England, where he had served in the militia and police force.