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JAMES FRANCIS HOGAN, TEACHER, JOURNALIST & IRISH POLITICIAN

Three covers sent to the above were found on eBay on the same day and in dated order they were as follows: The first cover was postmarked with a duplex GEELONG/ 3H/ JA 31/ 72 with a BN ‘2' obliterator on the 2d lilac Victoria stamp, as well as an unframed reception postmark of ANAKIE/ JA 31/ 72/ VICTORIA (the same day delivery is not surprising as the 2 towns are only 25 km apart). The cover is addressed to Mr. James F. Hogan, School 21, Anakies, the sender has written ‘Immediate’ at the upper border, and there were no markings on the reverse (Figure 1).

The second cover was postmarked with 3 strikes of a duplex MELBOURNE/ 5X/ AU 30/ 80 on a block of four of the ½d rose-red ‘bantam’ stamp and is addressed to James F. Hogan Esq, St. Mary’s Grammar School, Geelong. (Figure 2).

The third cover is postmarked with an unframed RICHMOND/ A/ MR 7/ 81/ VICTORIA duplex with the BN ‘71' on a 2d sepia-brown Victoria stamp. It is addressed to Mr J.F. Hogan/ Victorian Review Offices, Collins Street East, Melbourne and the sender is indicated in manuscript as J Watson, S.J. re "New Views on Ireland". There is an unseen Melbourne reception mark on the reverse (Figure 3).

These covers with 3 different addresses for James Hogan from 3 different senders neatly summarizes Hogan’s work experience in the Colony of Victoria over a period of 1872 until 1881, but this represents only one third of his sojourn in Victoria from 1856 until 1887. He was born on 29 December 1855 in County Tipperary, Ireland, the only son of Rody Hogan and Mary, farm workers. The family migrated to Melbourne in the Atlanta in 1856 and settled in Geelong. James was educated at St Mary’s Catholic School, Geelong and for a year at St. Patrick’s College, Melbourne.

Instead of taking religious orders, in 1872 he turned to teaching after passing his examination through the Victorian Education Department. He first taught at Anakie where he was appointed in charge of the Anakies Catholic School 21 (his address in the first cover) at the tender age of 17, in spite of the departmental minimum age of 18. The reason for this precocious appointment was said to be due to his being a favourite of the Geelong school district education inspector, Mr. Main who knew James as a school boy at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Geelong. He subsequently became headmaster of the St. Mary’s Catholic School in Geelong (second cover).

While teaching Hogan contributed to newspapers and journals and his success inspired him to become a professional writer, contributing regularly to the Geelong Advertiser, the Victorian Review and the Advocate, a Catholic weekly. In 1881 he abandoned teaching, went to Melbourne and became the sub-editor of the Victorian Review (his address in the third cover) and soon joined the Argus. He continued to contribute to a variety of papers and maintained an active association with Irish-Catholic movements. In 1887 he went to London to seek a wider audience for his writings, and there he published his best-known work, The Irish in Australia (1887).

On 26 February, 1894 he was elected unopposed to the House of Commons in the middle division of Tipperary, Ireland and he sat until 1900 as a member of parliament as an Irish Nationalist. Hogan returned to Australia only once, on the occasion of the inauguration of the Commonwealth in 1901. He then returned to England where he lived quietly until his death in London on 9 November 1924. He never married and was survived by his sister Margaret.

While Hogan’s career was marked by dedication, his achievements were small and marginal in their effect. Single-minded and steadfast, he had a rigid personal morality and a strong conception of the responsibilities of citizenship. As a writer he was a conscientious and competent journalist, but his creative work was not outstanding.

There is a side issue to this paper, in that the sender of the third cover has probably been identified and is of considerable importance. I identified him as J. Watson, S.J. (Society of Jesuits) whereas Paul Fyfe S.J. of Norwood, South Australia has identified him as Michael Watson S.J., the only ‘Watson’ listed in that Order in Australia. He was a teacher, pastor and editor, born in Athlone, Ireland 11 February 1845 and died in Melbourne on 2 July 1931. He entered the Jesuit Society in 1867 serving a 2 years apprenticeship and then studied theology at Louvain where he was ordained in 1871.

He arrived in Australia in 1873 and was assigned to St Patrick’s College, East Melbourne where he founded and edited St. Patrick’s College Gazette. He spent a few years at Xavier College at Kew, Melbourne 1880-81 and 1882-88 as minister and teaching Christian doctrine, returning to St. Patrick’s College in 1888 where he remained for the rest of his long life. He edited the Messenger, the Madonna and contributed articles to the local Catholic paper, the Advocate. For many years he was the director of Catholic retreats in Victoria and South Australia. "Those who lived with him at St. Patrick’s College and those who knew him thought of him quite simply as a saint" (The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography: 1848-1998).

There are positives and negatives to the fact that Michael Joseph Watson S.J. was the sender of the third cover to Hogan. The positives are that they would have been known to each other, for they were both Irish Catholics, both associated with St. Patrick’s (albeit at different time periods) and they were journalists in Melbourne. Watson’s full name was Michael Joseph Watson (according to an Aust. Lit. Reference). The negative is that there is a slight doubt re the written name as to the certainty of ‘Wats(- -)’ being ‘Watson’ (Figure 4).

This paper is based on the entry of James Francis Hogan in the on-line Australian Dictionary of Biography. I am indebted to Paul Fyfe S.J. for the considerable biographical information he supplied on Michael Watson, as well as the confirmation of this man’s identity by Michael Head S.J., the archivist for the Society of Jesuits in Australia.

Addendum:  This cover (of the type to show that it contained papers only) was posted from Geelong to J.F. Hogan, Teacher at Anakie, Victoria in 1874, the postage the One Penny green 'Laureate' (Figure 5).


 
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