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Morality of Charles Kingston MP
Title : Morality of Charles Kingston MP Morality of Charles Kingston MP
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Date of creation : ca. 1916
Format : Photograph
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The naming of Charles Kingston M.P., son of Sir George Kingston, as co-respondent in a divorce case in March 1886, caused a flurry of moral outrage in Adelaide. The major city newspapers, the Register and Advertiser, were besiged with indignant letters. In May a meeting was arranged by Matthew Goode, a wealthy draper who was involved with the work of the Adelaide City Mission. This body provided some support for those who had succumbed to moral temptations, as well as working amongst groups such as the Adelaide Chinese. Goode's meeting at the YMCA forwarded a petition to Parliament requesting that the state's laws be altered so that, "any member of the House of Assembly who shall at any time be proven guilty of adultery or any scandalous offence against morality shall vacate his seat." (South AustralianRegister 5 May 1886, p. 4) The Register criticised the meeting and its petition, "It is evident ... that the object was to express disapproval of the conduct of a member of the House of Assembly who recently appeared as correspondent in a divorce suit."

The committee decided to arrange a 'Day of Humiliation', "on account of the low standard that religion exercises in our midst." (Register, 22 May 1886, p. 5) The day of prayer was duly held in June at the YMCA, attended by "fifty ladies and gentlemen". (Adelaide Observer, 19 June 1886, p. 30) A 'Vigilance Association' was also formed as a moral watchdog, but seems to have had a short life.

The woman involved with Kingston was Elizabeth Watson. In November 1886 she gave birth to a son. The child was adopted by Kingston and his wife Lucy, as the couple had no children of their own. Charles Kingston went on to become Premier of South Australia for a record six years, and was responsible for many prominent reforms, including that which allowed South Australian women to become the first in the country with the right to vote and stand for Parliament. He played a major role in Federation being enacted in 1901. Kingston's private life however, continued to be questionable. In 2008, claims that he fathered a known four other children were investigated, based on DNA evidence gathered via exhumations carried out by the University of Adelaide, at the instigation of two supposed great grandchildren of Kingston. One of those said to be an illegitimate child of Kingston was the colourful pre-war M.P., Bert Edwards. However, there was no DNA evidence to support any connection between Kingston and Edwards.

Related names :

Edwards, Albert Augustine, 1888-1963

Goode, Matthew, 1820-1901

Kingston, Charles Cameron, 1850-1908

Kingston, George Strickland, 1807-1880

Kingston, Lucy, d. 1919

Watson, Elizabeth

Adelaide City Mission

Vigilance Association of South Australia

Young Men's Christian Association of Adelaide (S. Aust.)

Coverage year : 1916
Place : Adelaide (S. Aust.)
Region : Adelaide city
Further reading :

Bonython, John Langdon, Letters to Alexander Cockburn, 1898-1910, PRG 979/1

'Day of Humility', Adelaide observer, 19 June 1886, p. 30

Glass, Margaret. Charles Cameron Kingston: Federation father, Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1997

'Morality of Parliament', South Australian register, 5 May 1886, p. 4

Owen, Michael, 'Dead for 100 years, a former Premier is dug up to prove paternity,' Advertiser, 26 May 2008, p. 1

Owen, Michael, 'The premier and the maid: why Kingston is my grandfather too,' Advertiser, 29 May 2008, p. 13

Way, Samuel, Letterbooks, 1897-1908, PRG 30/5

Internet links :
Australian Dictionary of Biography Online: Search for Charles Cameron Kingston



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