The Great Cause: F. B. Boyce’s Campaign to Abolish Alcohol in New South Wales
Francis Bertie Boyce wore many hats throughout the 87 years of his life. Chief amongst them and the longest worn was that of Church of England clergyman. After graduating in 1868 from Moore Theological College, Liverpool, Boyce served in ordained ministry in the Bathurst and Sydney Dioceses for the next 63 years. These years saw Boyce engaged in parish life in the Bathurst Diocese, pioneering mission work along the Darling River), and urban ministry in Pyrmont and Redfern. Yet the other hats which adorned Boyce’s life feature prominently across the 63 years. Boyce was a social reformer, who campaigned on the issues of his day which he understood as great scourges of society: alcoholism, aged-poverty, inner-city slums are to name but a few. On these issues, particularly after taking occupancy of the Rectory of St Paul’s Redfern, Boyce was famous for his letter writing campaigns in the local newspapers and the friendship he enjoyed with politicians of differing persuasions. His involvement in the temperance movement in particular brought him into contact with the leading citizens of NSW of his day, and provided a platform from which he could campaign for slum-clearance and the aged-pension. So closely was Boyce associated with the fight against intemperance that he earned the moniker ‘Father of Prohibition’. Yet Boyce’s work on this front was not disconnected from his parochial duties. He considered alcoholism the cause of most afflictions to the body and soul of his parishioners: ‘Drink is the right-hand of sin and the sire of countless woes.’ Boyce’s involvement sprung from his pastoral concern for a farmer in 1871. Just over a decade later Boyce had returned to Sydney, and had united the various temperance movements under one banner, guided by Boyce for the following four decades.