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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Calvert, John Jackson (1830–1915)

by J. R. Stevenson

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

John Jackson Calvert (1830-1915), by unknown photographer

John Jackson Calvert (1830-1915), by unknown photographer

State Library of New South Wales, GPO 1 - 16162

John Jackson Calvert (1830-1915), public servant, was born on 31 August 1830 at the Deanery, Manchester, England, the second son of Thomas Calvert, D.D., warden and dean of Manchester, fellow of St John's College and Norrisian professor of divinity at the University of Cambridge, and his wife Julianna, eldest daughter of Sir Charles Watson of Wratting Park, Cambridgeshire, and Fulmer, Buckinghamshire. He was educated at Shrewsbury School and Brasenose College, Oxford. He arrived at Sydney in 1853 and in May Sir Charles FitzRoy appointed him clerk in the Colonial Secretary's Office. On the inauguration of responsible government he was transferred by the Donaldson ministry to the office of clerk of select committees in the Legislative Assembly on 22 May 1856. He was appointed first clerk of the Legislative Council on 7 April 1859 and clerk assistant on 1 January 1860. He was promoted on 1 April 1871 clerk of the parliaments and clerk of the Legislative Council, a position he held until his resignation on 30 September 1914, a record term of service. On his retirement he was the sole survivor of the original members and officers of the first parliament with responsible government.

While clerk of the parliaments Calvert was granted two terms of leave: the first was twelve months from 1 June 1882 to enable him to return to England and take possession of landed property in Lancashire; the second was for eighteen months from 15 May 1892.

Calvert took an active part in community affairs; on 24 June 1878 he was appointed an additional member of the board of the Marrickville Public School; a street in Marrickville still bears his name. He was a trustee of the Sydney Domain, a founder of the Civil Service Club, and for some years a member of its house committee. He was a member of a number of commissions which attended to the representation of New South Wales at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1878, the Adelaide Jubilee International Exhibition in 1887, the Centennial International Exhibition at Melbourne in 1888, and the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893.

As a keen supporter of sporting activities in New South Wales Calvert was the first president of the Rugby Football Union for forty-one years and acted as referee in many of the matches between the Sydney and University Clubs. In conjunction with Peter Curtis he was honorary secretary of the Albert Cricket Club, then the leading club, and for some years as vice-president of the Cricket Association acted on the selection committee for intercolonial cricket matches. He was on the council of the Agricultural Society whilst Sir William Macarthur was president, and officiated on the committee which arranged and conducted the exhibitions in Prince Alfred Park. He was president of the first Cycling Club and vice-president of the original Amateur Athletic Club. He was an active member of the Australian Jockey Club and contributed several articles and letters to the sporting press under the noms de plume of 'Newmarket' on turf subjects and 'Old I.Z.' on cricket. The Imperial Service Order was conferred on him in 1904.

In 1869 Calvert married Mary Murray, daughter of James Barker. He later bought Maybank in Addison Road, Manly, where he died on 19 March 1915 and was buried in the Church of England portion of the Manly cemetery. He was survived by his wife, a daughter who lived in England and two sons: Cecil Harnett Hamilton, who was clerk assistant of the Legislative Council and on 1 September 1932 became clerk of the parliaments; and Thomas Copley who was a civil engineer.

Select Bibliography

  • Sydney Morning Herald, 20 Mar 1915.

Citation details

J. R. Stevenson, 'Calvert, John Jackson (1830–1915)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 26 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

View the front pages for Volume 3

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