John and Ann Goodlet: a study in colonial Christian philanthropy
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 20:42 authored by Paul Francis Cooper
John and Ann Goodlet were Scots who came separately to the colony of NSW in 1855, married in 1860, and lived philanthropic lives to an extraordinary degree. The wealth generated by the entrepreneurial activities of John in developing the building supply and manufacturing company Goodlet and Smith not only advanced the economic development of the colony, but provided the financial resources for the Goodlets to be philanthropists. Not waiting until they had amassed a fortune they gave donations to a wide range of charitable causes during their lifetime. More significantly, Ann and John gave not just their wealth, but their personal involvement in governance roles to many charities. Their support, to which they did not draw attention, was loyal and often extended over several decades. Their philanthropic interests were broad-ranging including philanthropy as Relief, which sought to relieve immediate needs; as Improvement, which sought to equip people for the future; as Civic Engagement, which sought to build community structures; as Reform, which sought to address social problems through legislation for the betterment of society, and as Spiritual Engagement, which sought to bring people to a knowledge of the Christian faith. They each had particular interests; John in philanthropy as Improvement and Ann in philanthropy as Relief. Both shared a strong and overarching interest in philanthropy as Spiritual Engagement, and they were particularly supportive of the work of the Christian church in general and the Presbyterian Church in particular. The most remarkable philanthropic endeavour of the Goodlets was to found, administer and completely fund for 17 years, a home for the consumptive poor. While John received considerable acknowledgement for this work, Ann appears to have been the driving force behind it. The primary motivation for all their philanthropic endeavours was not self-aggrandisement, but an outworking of their Christian faith.