Thomas E. Sedgwick
Extract from 'Special Notice to Lads' in Sedgwick's Lads for the Empire (1914).
Thomas Sedgwick was a civil servant who lived in the East End of London and led a committee of managers of lads' clubs and other social workers. The Committee asserted that its proposed model for colonial farm apprenticeships was 'the only hope of certain employment and future happiness of lads working in dead-end jobs in British cities'.
Sedgwick was a passionate lobbyist...some might also say a shameless self-promoter. The best contemporary description of him appeared in the Toronto Mail and Empire during 1912:
'A tall, heavily built man with a square, kindly face ornamented by black-rimmed spectacles, black clothes that suggest the pulpit and a black tie that clings around the collar's top, independent of all collar button restrictions; a man with a long distance enthusiasm and a readiness to talk of his "hobby" as often and as long as he can find and hold a listener'.
As outlined in Chapter 6 of Daniel Gorman's Imperial Citizenship: Empire and the Question of Belonging (Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2006), Sedgwick personally led two groups of 50 boys to New Zealand and Ontario, Canada, in 1910-12.
However, Gorman's assessment that Sedgwick's imperial migration scheme was a failure does not recognise his significant activities in Australia (nor two further groups sent to New Zealand). As explained in my thesis, it was his model for farm apprenticeship that the South Australian Government adopted in 1913-14.
Admittedly the number of boys that emigrated to South Australia at this time was relatively small (172). However, the same model was reinstated by the South Australian Government again after World War I, and just under 1,500 'Barwell Boys' emigrated in 1922-24.
Sedgwick also assisted other Australian states to recruit large numbers of boys before the war (especially for the Victorian Government and Dreadnought Trust).
In the 1920s he worked as a welfare officer on ships bound for Australia. 'Uncle Tom' was the welfare officer for the first contingent of Little Brothers to arrive in Melbourne. He continued to tirelessly promote imperial migration with the assistance of organisations such as the Millions Club, in particular the notion of bringing British war widows to Australia for domestic work.
Sedgwick died in London in 1929 aged approximately 55 years.