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McPhail, Mr Samuel

'When Mrs Francis resigned later that year due to ill health, there were 68 pupils enrolled. She requested that a married couple with 'first-class credentials' replace her, which the Board undertook to do, appointing Samuel McPhail and his wife as the new teachers in September. Before his time at Queanbeyan Samuel McPhail was teaching at the Presbyterian Denominational School, Dapto. The school, meanwhile, was shifted temporarily into better premises in the Oddfellows Hall. In December 1866, Queanbeyan Age reported that Inspector Harris, on visiting the school, had found the children 'acquitting themselves most creditably' and had commended Mr McPhail on his 'unremitting care and exertion' as head teacher.

Under the Public Schools Act of 1866, the NSW Council of Education supplanted the Board of National Education. As this required the formation of local school boards, Queanbeyan School's four patrons were replaced by a school board consisting of Messrs JJ Wright, A Levy, WF Hayley, John Gale, JB Thompson and Dr A Morton.

During 1869, various complaints from influential Queanbeyan citizens were made about Mr McPhail, in particular regarding his drinking habits: Dean White compelled some of the Catholic children to leave the school, the Anglican rector, Rev. Soares publicly castigated his teaching capacity, and school board member, Abraham Levy, called him 'a drunken sod' in front of the pupils at school. As a result, McPhail was transferred to Jembaicunbene in December that year, however he failed to alter his drinking habits and was dismissed in 1871 'on account of intemperance'."(from entry on Queanbeyan Public School)

The judgement of the local newspaper was not so harsh. In 1866 visiting school Inspector Mr T Harris reported that 'The result was highly satisfactory reflecting credit on the teacher Mr SR McPhail'. [Queanbeyan Age, 6.12.1886] In 1868 the Age reported that 'the only teacher who has received promotion for his attainments and pastoral skill as elected on that occasion, we are given to understand, is Mr SR McPhail of the public school who has been promoted to Class II Section B. [Queanbeyan Age 12.9.1868]. At the end of 1869 he received notice that he was being posted elsewhere: 'the present teacher of the Queanbeyan PS Mr SR McPhail, who is a highly efficient teacher, has received notice to take charge from the commencement of the year of the public school at Jembaicunbene. [Queanbeyan Age 16.12.1869].

His death was reported in 1883: 'News reached Queanbeyan yesterday of the death at Bergaba on Monday of Mr Samuel Rae McPhail. The deceased gentleman was the first teacher under the Public Schools Act of the Queanbeyan Public School many years ago when the school was conducted in the Oddfellow's Hall. He was an excellent teacher and will be remembered with gratitude by his pupils in Queanbeyan, most of whom have now grown to man's estate. [Queanbeyan Age 9.3.1883]


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