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MARDEN, John (1855-1924)

MARDEN, John (1855-1924),

John Marden, staff member, was foundation headmaster of the Presbyterian Ladies College, Sydney.

John Marden has been alleged to have been a student at Geelong College however there is no evidence held by the School to confirm this. He is not listed in the enrolment registers nor in the prize lists of the period. His son, Stanley Armstrong Marden (1888-1969) did, however, attend Geelong College from 1902 until 1904 rowing in the crew in 1904.

John Marden taught at Geelong College from around 1883 to at least 1885. An anecdotal comment alleged that the entire staff resigned after a disagreement with George Morrison in 1882 and it is assumed that John Marden was one of the new staff members appointed as a consequence. Morrison was clearly pleased with his appointment and wrote in the Annual Report of 1883: ‘Our two upper classes, the Fourth and Fifth, have gone through a regular science course this year. Mr Marden, who is an enthusiast in this department, taught this subject, imparting an additional interest to it by performing a number of experiments with appropriate apparatus. For the first time the Matriculation Class took up Physics as a pass subject for the Matriculation examination. Very few took up such an apparently easy subject as Geography, for the simple reason that no Text Book is prescribed, and that such strange questions are propounded, that no amount of preparation is any guarantee for passing. Mr Marden kindly gave a prize of two guineas to the boy that took the first place in Physics, and this was won by J McDonald.’ As Mathematics Master, together with the ill-fated Classics Master, Thomas Henry Rout, he is listed as one of the two assistants to George Morrison in the Annual Report of 1884. He is also referred to that year as taking the Post Matriculation class. In the Annual Report of 1885, George Morrison makes the following comment: ‘Mr Marden - to whom I take this opportunity of tendering my best thanks, for his unwearied efforts in everything tending to further the interests of the School – intends next year to start a class of the older boys for Field Surveying. The requisite instruments have been obtained.’ At the time Marden was also the commanding officer of the recently formed College Cadet Corps.

He was born at Prahran, the fifth child of John Marden, butcher and Catherine Murphy and studied at Melbourne University gaining an MA. He married Jane Armstrong at Cape Clear in 1883 while teaching at Geelong College. He is believed to have taught at Methodist Ladies College, Melbourne in 1886 and 1887. In 1888 he was appointed to PLC Sydney and opened the new school with 39 students on 30 January, 1888 at Fernlea. In 1890 the year he was conferred LLD by the University of Sydney the school closed on the Fernlea site to open at Shubra Hall, Croydon. John Marden retired in 1919 and died at Randwick survived by his wife, son and three daughters.

Sources: Annual Reports 1884,1885 The Geelong College; Dougan, Alan (1986). “Marden, John 1855-1924 ‘Australian Dictionary of Biography MUP pp 407-408.
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