Museum of Freemasonry - Masonic Library

Chris Goy was born 0n 21st. December 1897 in Hertfordshire England. As a small boy his family moved to Australia and lived in Bondi until in 1910 until his father, the Rev. Thomas Goy, was accepted as a City Missionary of the Harrington St. City Mission at Dawes Point in a rough and dangerous area known as

“The Rocks” where the southern pylon of the Sydney harbour Bridge now stands. It was a maze of narrow street and lanes, crowded tenements, hotels, wine saloons, opium dens and brothels frequented by sailors from all over the world.

The family lived in a residential apartment on the top floor of the mission. Every day the young Chris made his way via Argyle cut to the Fort Street School (See George Wootten). His mother’s name was Ellen.

Thomas Goy was a great organizer and under his leadership the Mission became a bee hive of activity ministering in one of the worst slum areas in Sydney. Activities included: Bible classes, Tutorials, Women’s organizations, Sunday School & Youth groups, Public worship twice each Sunday, a Soup Kitchen every Sunday catering for 200-300 needy men and the distribution of clothes, shoes and blankets. He formed a choir and a fully uniformed brass band in which the young Chris played the tenor horn, the cornet and finally the euphonium. This band marched every Sunday from the rocks to circular Quay. They once conducted a concert in the Jenolan caves.

Chris remembered his friendship with a mate in the band, Ted Stevenson with whom he combined his pocket money (made from collecting and selling empty bottles) and went to the pictures on Saturday afternoon, where the admission fee of 3d and a milk shake for 2d constituted a major drain on their slender financial resources.

At the age of 12 Chris developed a cough which was diagnosed as “possible tuberculosis” and he was despatched to the R. T. Hall Sanatorium” at Hazelbrook in the Blue Mountains which described itself as “A hospital for gentlemen” where he spent a year before being pronounced cured!

A month after his 18th birthday, 24th. January 1916 he put his age up to 21, enlisted in his Majesty’s Forces and became a member of the 1st Australian Imperial Force.

In due course Chris was assigned to the Signal Corps and at Kiama where he learned Morse code, semaphore, heliograph, & Begby lamp.

When volunteers were required for the 1st. Australian Wireless Squadron to serve with the Indian army in Mesopotamia Chris stepped forward and was transferred back to the Engineers Depot at Moore Park. Two days later, in spit of the fact that the only horses he had seen were in baker’s carts and hansom cabs, he responded to the command “Anyone who knows how to handle horses step forward” and for the next two and a half years he was never away from horses day or night. Chris recalled his gratitude to 2 great horsemen from the Snowy Mountains who covered for his early ignorance of things equine whilst teaching him all he needed to know.

On 23 December 1916 he embarked at Sydney on a troop transport bound for Basra via Colombo, Karachi & Bombay

It was in Karachi that Goy was court marshalled for the 1st. time. He and 3 companions took 8 hours of unauthorized shore leave after fooling the Pommy sentry at the bottom of the gangplank that they were Aussie officers. On their return they posed as a “fatigue party” but were spotted by the provost Sergeant who threw them in the clink. The Colonel next morning threatened them with the firing squad but settled for “14 days number 2 field punishment”

The second time was when he was caught bathing in the Tigris out of permitted hours after his mates had put his watch forward. This conviction was never recorded as Goy resorted to the old trick of tearing the relevant page from his pay book.

The third occasion also happened whilst swimming in the river where in a playful mood he ducked a bald soldier saying, “Good heavens, how old are you? The Army should be ashamed to send a silly old man like you on active service.” In a perfect Oxford accent the figure replied, “Do you know who I am?” to which goy answered, “I haven’t a clue.” This brought forth the curt retort, “I’m Major-General Norton and you will report to my quarters in an hour’s time!” When paraded before the General the officer remarked “I had an idea you were an Australian – have you anything to say?” “Sir” Goy replied, “Please accept my apology, but it is rather difficult to distinguish the rank of any person in the nude.” The General’s finding: “The evidence in this case is unimpeachable – case dismissed.

Chris Goy served in Mesopotamia as a driver, 1st Australian Wireless squadron, 26th infantry brigade, fighting the Turks until the cessation of hostilities in November 1918.

Among the engagements in which he participated was the famous charge of the Australian Light Horse at Beersheba on 31st October 1917.

Mesopotamia is an area geographically located between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates largely corresponding to modern day Iraq and western Iran.

On his return to Australia he was discharged on 22nd. March 1919.

The post war years saw Goy, employed by the local council in the Hunter Valley, cutting prickly pear and later packing at the meat works, during this period he met and courted Irene Dagma Petersen.

Under the Soldier Settlers Scheme Goy and his Brother-in-law selected adjacent blocks near Bellingen and began dairy farming. After building a house on his block he married Irene at Coff’s Harbour. The two couples worked the farm for 18 months until the butter fat price fell to two pence 3 farthings a pound and they had to sell up. They then bought a picture theatre at Tumut which sent them totally broke.

He was then approached by the Superintendent of the Presbyterian Home Mission Department and Dean of theological studies and offered a posting to Ungarie-Tullibigeal-Lake Cargelligo at £4 a week. There were no churches and no manses in any of the towns. He was given a couple of hours to decide and when he returned at 3.00 and accepted, he was given a ticket for that evening’s 7.45 Lake Cargelligo mail train. He wrote a hasty letter to Irene in Crookwell packed his meagre belongings and hurried to Central Station.

At 3.45 next day he alighted at the two building village of Tullibigeal.

Thus began Chris Goy’s long and colourful life in the Presbyterian ministry.

Alighting from the train Chris asked, “Are there any Presbyterians here?” and he was directed to one Hugh Boyd of “Boorabil” station. The Boyds took him home and he and Irene, who joined him in 6 weeks, were to stay with them for the next 10 months. As well as accommodation, Hugh Boyd provided them with transport, a horse & buggy in which they travelled the long distances involved in serving the parish.

The Goys became part of the community lending a hand on farms and Chris even played a season with Tullibigeal Football Club and tried his hand at umpiring until attacks by hostile women with umbrellas caused him to give that away. He was the foundation secretary of the local branch of the Farmers and Settlers Association. Following a meeting at Weethalle during the big drought of 1924-25 he and Tom Templeton formed a deputation to the N.S.W. Government for Drought Relief which succeeded in gaining much needed government assistance.

An urgent priority was the building of a manse, they set to work with a great deal of community co-operation. Many farmers donated a Cyprus pine, volunteers cut them down and Robert Barr carted them to Tom Alexander’s timber mill at Burgooney and soon 6 table-top wagons delivered the finished timber to the Manse site and 6 weeks later they moved in!

A lively congregational meeting of 130 people soon followed and a local farmer stood and proclaimed, “This young parson cannot carry on much longer in a bloody horse and sulky – he must have a motor car. I move we buy him a “Tin Lizzie”, they are damn good and I have just ordered one for myself. I’m going to back my suggestion by laying a fiver on the table and I hope all you flamin’ bastards will cover it with yours. “The proposition was seconded (in more moderate language) by Harrison the school teacher who laid down his £5. In the hullabaloo that followed £90 arrived on the table and a fortnight later Chris and Irene caught the train to West Wyalong and returned in a new T model Ford purchased from Harry Leadbitter at the reduced price of £92. It was the 3rd. car to arrive in the area and became known as the “maternity car” because of the numerous occasions it was used to transport expectant mothers to the hospital at Lake Cargelligo.

Chris Goy was the driving force behind the building of the Presbyterian churches at Ungarie, Tullibigeal and Lake Cargelligo. In each of them Chris himself made the pulpit and baptismal font.

They spent 6½ years at Tullibigeal through drought, floods, grasshopper and mouse plagues and the good times attending many concerts, dances, balls and picnics. All the time learning both by experience and study until Chris was able to pass his entrance exams and be admitted to St. Andrew’s University College and become ordained.

Some of the many families he remembered were the Harleys, the Copes, the Crammonds, the Macfadyens, the Hendersons, the Beaties, the Exons, the Crouchs, the Tyacks, the Irelands, the Glasgows, the Priors, the Mathews, the Templetons and a bachelor Jack Steele who spent his life planting and tending pepper trees a legacy still benefiting the community today.

During his time at Tullibigeal Chris, because of his great friendship and respect for Hugh Boyd, became interested in Freemasonry and was initiated into Lodge Bland on 20/8/1924. There were 55 brethren present. There were 5 initiates on the night, the others being C. Aiken, A.W. Badgery, S.R. Marshman & D. J Boyd His sponsors were T.E & B.L. Alexander, Hugh Boyd and G. Husking. They travelled to Lodge each month by sulky returning the following day. In those days the Lodge met on the Wednesday nearest the full moon. They started a Lodge at Tullibigeal, Bland being its mother Lodge, and Chris was the foundation Junior Warden and then became its master. It was the beginning of wonderful Masonic career and outside his family and church was to be the sphere which afforded him the greatest and most abiding satisfaction.

At public farewells at Milby and Tullibigeal in February & March 1928 Goy stated, “After we arrived we made two wonderful discoveries, firstly, that the district was not a wilderness, but a rich country with wonderful possibilities; but better still we discovered that it was populated by the finest men and women that god ever made. We had reason to admire the brave spirit of the Western people and no difficulty was too great, nor could it break their stout hearts.”

Wherever he went he always became active in the local Masonic Lodge. At Cootamundra he joined Cootamundra St. John, here also he took the Mark and Royal Arch degrees and went through the chairs of both those wonderful orders.

During the years that he was in the inland, he was a member of Lodge Darwin. When the Japanese bombed Darwin, the Temple suffered a great deal of damage and he and another brother gathered up the books, regalia and other Masonic furniture from the rubble, packed them up in a strong packing case and had them locked up in a cell in Fanny Bay Gaol from where they were recovered after the war and returned to the rebuilt Temple.

During the war, the Darwin Lodge did a magnificent job of entertaining the brethren of the various armed services, on some occasions they had over 300 visitors. It was a costly business and most of the local members got to putting in £2 a week. They usually met twice a month. Chris and the Darwin brethren regarded these activities as a privilege and a valuable part of the war effort.

In Melbourne, he joined a Presbyterian Lodge, Lodge Nec Tamen (The Latin words, “nec tamen consumebatur,” meaning “and yet not consumed” are emblazoned over the meeting hall of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh.) He later joined Lodge Observance, a Returned Servicemen’s Lodge of which he remained a member until his death.

His dedication to Freemasonry was such that he rose to the rank of Past Grand Master in the craft and Past Grand First Principal in the Royal Arch.

Chris Goy’s first appointment after 3 years at theological college was to Cootamundra. As ever Goy became involved in every aspect of the community’s life and on his departure 7 years later to join the Inland Mission he had to submit no less than 13 resignations from various committees! These were the depression years and Chris and Irene spent many hours collecting and mending clothes and shoes for distribution.

At the prompting of Chris, brothers the Hon. Major General Alexander Mackay M.L.C. and Donald Mackay donated the stone from their old homestead “Wallendoon” at Wallendbeen and Goy raised the necessary money and designed the beautiful Scots Church which has been described as “A Poem in Granite” and still stands on the corner of Francis & Parker streets as a lasting legacy and a monument to Chris Goy’s drive and initiative.

In 1935 came the challenge from the reverend John Flynn: “Chris would you like the honour of being minister to the biggest one man parish in the world?” Producing a chart, Flynn drew a line from Camooweal in Western Queensland right across the continent through Tennant Creek to Port Headland in Western Australia “That” he said, “is the Northern Patrol – the entire country north of that line – and that is the area I would like you to take over as its Patrol Padre.” Naturally they accepted and left Cootamundra to set out on their great adventure to northern Australia.

Goy’s years with the Australian Inland Mission warrant an entire lecture on their own, suffice it to say that they involved many miles of travel over some of the most inhospitable country in the world, meeting some of the most interesting and often poorest people in the world – once their guide was the infamous murderer “Frying Pan” made famous by novelist Ion Idress. He became a man of incredible versatility being at various times a part time mechanic, builder, dentist teacher, electrician wireless operator, repairman, plumber, but always a full time Pastor.

Chris was always a welcome visitor. At most stations he visited he repaired radio receivers and other essential equipment: a pressure lamp; an iron; a water pump etc.

In 1938 he visited a Mr Henry Wintle who resided by himself at No.3 bore on Nicholson Station. While he was there he assembled and installed a radio and radio mast for Wintle who was able thenceforth to listen in on, and broadcast to, others in the district.

Chris with Irene and their children spent 7 exciting and exhilarating years with the A.I.M. as Patrol Padre in Northern Australia. During this time they worked closely with and forged a wonderful and enduring friendship with that great Australians “Flynn of the Inland” and his successor Fred Mackay.

In 1939, at the behest of his good friend the Rt. Rev. John Flynn Chaplain General to the Australian army, Goy attended Victoria Barracks where, 5 days after the declaration of war he was commissioned as Chaplain in His Majesty’s forces.

The next 3 weeks were very busy. A club was to be built in Darwin as a place where the many servicemen who would be in Darwin could go for rest and relaxation. Plans needed to be drawn up, materials obtained and shipped, and suitable furnishings such as a piano, billiard table, canteen requirements and assorted sporting and recreational equipment was acquired much of which was donated. He built the club and ran it for 3 years until the refusal of the Chaplain General to allow him a posting to New Guinea prompted his resignation and discharge in December 1942.Thousands enjoyed facilities of “Goy’s Club” and the council and friendship of its founder during those dark times.

Padre Goy’s speciality was mass entertainment. With 2 fixed & 4 mobile cinema units he kept 35 talkie programmes going with double features & 2 changes each week, often with audiences of up to 3,000 men of 2 nations and 3 services. His boast was that the concert party is never off the air except when it is on the road.

Immediately upon his return to Melbourne Goy was offered, and accepted, the ministry of Ewing Memorial Church East Malvern. Here he was to spend 25 happy and fruitful years, as ever not only involved in church affairs but true to his conviction “that to be really effective as a minister, one must resist the temptation to limit one’s involvement solely to parochial matters.” He immersed himself in community affairs. Apart from his Church and Masonic commitments, he became deeply involved in: Y.M.C.A (President), Rotary, Scouting and the Returned Soldier’s League (Life Member) not neglecting his parochial responsibilities, he was elected and inducted as the Right Reverend the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria to which was associated South Australia and Tasmania. During this time he counted amongst his close friends Sir Dallas Brooks, Governor of Victoria and Grand Master.

Chris often had problems with people misspelling his name. Once as when visiting a country town the local rag announced his presence as The Right Reverend Christ Goy the editor’s apologetic correction the following day was even worse – “the Rev Chris God” The editors final apology read “Our distinguished visitor wishes all our readers to know that he is a mere man named Chris Goy, and our previous elevations have been cancelled.”

On 21st. May 1981 125 brethren attended a meeting of Lodge Bland where the work of the evening was the initiation of Mr. Phillip Miller by his father Wor. Bro. Eric Miller. A Grand Lodge Delegation led by Most Wor. Bro. Harry Maas included Most Wor. Bro. Chris Goy who enchanted the gathering in the Temple and in the South with his wonderful recollections of times past.

References:

“A man is his friends” Chris Goy
www.awm.gov.au (Australian War Memorial)
Recollections of his son Mr. Ian Goy.
“Recreation and Entertainment on Northern Territory Pastoral Stations, 1910 – 1950”.Lyn Riddett
“Nec Tamen Consumebatur” “A Poem for a Son” Bill Long
Archives of Lodge Bland No.337.
West Wyalong Advocate.

Lecture prepared by V. Wor. Bro. John Scascighini Lodge Bland Historian