Stephen Montague Stout

State Library of WA 054988PD - Stephen Stout, 1868
State Library of WA 054988PD – Stephen Stout, 1868

Stout arrived in Fremantle as a convict aboard the Lord Raglan on 1 June 1858 with 268 other convicts.
He left behind a wife (Pauline) who he later divorced and child (Kedgewin) who died of scarlet fever in 1860.

Being a literate man he used his time on board the ship to produce a weekly paper called the Life Boat. Stephen had been educated at a Sunday and day school in France and who was, in the surgeon’s opinion, a “good scholar”. He delivered lectures to the prisoners during the passage with his subjects varying from Eclipses, including a special reference to an eclipse of the sun, to talks on Australia and Australian employment.

 

stout2
Perth Gazette – 19 July 1861

His convict record describes him as; 5’8¼” tall, dark brown hair with dark hazel eyes. Face full and complexion fair. Of slight build and with no distinguishing marks.

Stephen received his ticket of leave on 30 April 1859, which allowed him to find his own work, although he still had to adhere to a curfew and certain other restrictions. He managed to do so in the Vasse area until 1861, finding work as a schoolmaster, before moving to High St, Fremantle where he established a boys school in July 1861, before being given his Conditional Pardon on 1 September 1862. But even after receiving his ticket of leave he still made time to speak about the experience as seen in this Letter to the Editor.

stout
The West Australian – 4 Aug 1864

Stout branched into photography and according to the book ‘A Place of Consequence, a Pictorial History of Fremantle’ he partnered with a R. Wilson, opening a photographic studio on Pakenham Street around 1863. The book also mentions he moved to Hay Street, Perth this year, but I’ve found no evidence to support this.
The next year he opened a studio in Henry Street, Fremantle, opposite the Castle Hotel, around July 1864, producing some of the earliest photos of the area. The seal used in his newspaper article indicates he was receiving patronage from the Government at the time.

He was back in Bunbury by 1867  and the following year he remarried there, to Elinor Brown, the stepdaughter of a Perth solicitor.

 

In March 1870, Stephen advertised the opening of a Perth Middle School on 4 April, offering a first class English education, including Latin, French and Mathematics. But just before he left he was charged with converting 4 pounds into his own name and was briefly remanded to Bunbury.
It’s not known if the Perth school eventuated as in July of that year he was advertising the reopening of the High Street, Fremantle school with the intention of settling in Fremantle.

Stout - Inquirer and Commercial News - 7 Dec 1870
But then his photographic studio is advertised again in Perth, in December 1870, at the City Restaurant. It’s possible he was using the studio of fellow photographer, Alfred Chopin who ran the City Restaurant and Temperance Hotel on St George’s Terrace, near Howick Street.

Over the Christmas break later that year he journeyed to Pinjarra to offer his photographic services for two weeks, returning this time to the ‘Perth Academy & Boarding School’ which opened on 9 January 1871 in Perth. In February he was teaching English classes at the YMCA and made an honorary member there. A very lengthy advertisement in the newspaper is printed to show the public his respectability.
Just 2 weeks later the YMCA, referring to information in the newspapers that week, decides to resolve: “That the election of Mr. S. Stout as an honorary member be cancelled; and also that his assistance in the Elementary English Class be dispensed with.”

Stout writes to the newspaper the following week to explain:

“Sir, — The ambiguous wording of an advertisement emanating from the Perth Young Men’s Christian Association, in your impression of the 22nd inst., is so calculated to mislead, that I must request your insertion of an explanation.
The ‘local’ referred to stated that I had been elected an honorary member of the Association, and that I was to take charge of the English Class. The advertisement states that in consequence of such local appearing,” my election as an honorary member of the Association is cancelled, and my services as an assistant in the elementary English class are dispensed with.”
Had the local stated that I was to assist instead of take charge of the English class all would have been right. I was not aware, until informed by the Secretary, that I had been proposed and unanimously elected a member of this association; nor did I solicit the distinction of assisting in the Elementary English class: it was offered to me. I cannot tell what feeling prompted the publishing of an advertisement greatly calculated to injure my prospects, but I am thankful to be able to say that without soliciting any one’s patronage I have established myself, and that my qualification as a teacher, and my conduct as a man, will convince the public that the very Christian- like advertisement was totally uncalled for. Voila tout!”

STEPHEN M. STOUT,
Principal Perth Academy.
February 28th, 1871.

 

In August he opens a studio out of Mr Duffield’s in Pakenham Street, Fremantle for a brief 10 days, most likely between school terms. It seems that Elinor, his wife was also working in the studio and is even mentioned in a September 1871 advert. But they were struggling, in that same month, Stephen was in court for failing to pay £6 13s rent for furniture. By November he was advertising that he was looking for work.

 

 

 

Although he’s advertising again that same month, seemingly deciding on opening an Accountant, Collector and Commission Agent service.  In 1872 he starts and ceases a newspaper, The Express, as printing irregularities cause its demise.

By May he was taking photos from his residence at Phoenix Cottage on Cemetery Terrace near the Narrows Bridge.

In June 1873 Mr and Mrs Stout took over the running of the Pensioner Guard school. Stout was the first and only expiree to be appointed to a government school in the city.
In October 1873, he opens a photographic studio in Hay Street, opposite J.H. Mongers store (probably the same studio Alfred Chopin would move into a decade later.)

Stout also conducted magic-lantern shows on occasion, the commandant of the Pensioner Force lending him his equipment for charitable functions. He had access to a very complete collection of slides: on historical subjects, the Crimean War, the Victoria Cross, the polar regions, natural history and astronomy, and ‘innumerable comic slides guaranteed to produce roars of laughter’.

In April 1878 the family moved to Geraldton where Stephen was offered the position of headmaster of the Government Boys School. Later that year he also started the Victorian Express newspaper for the region.
In May 1880, Stephen, as a former editor of the newspaper, was charged with embezzling a measly 10s from the former employers. The court felt the charge was in bad taste and the case dismissed. Stout implied he would be seeking damages from the former employers for the amount of £1000 as damages for malicious prosecution. The employers counteracted by having him charged with stealing newspapers.
Stephen then started up the Geraldton Observer the following month. This didn’t last long as the following year he was back in Perth as the Editor of the Inquirer & Commercial News. He was dismissed the following December and didn’t take the news well. After receiving a letter of dismissal he assaulted the sender, threatening to murder him. He was fined and set free.

He later worked for the Daily News and the Morning Inquirer

Stout died on 11 April 1886, just under a year after Elinor died in June 1885 after a ‘lingering and painful illness’, leaving six children aged 2-16.
He collapsed outside the Colonial Hospital, his son ran inside for help but when they went back he had already died. An inquest ruled it natural causes from heart disease and congested lungs.

165x210mm
SLWA 5323B/51 – Fremantle 1864

 

Fremantle History Centre 2034A - Bather's Beach, Fremantle c1890
Fremantle History Centre 2034A – Bather’s Beach, Fremantle c1890

 

Fremantle History Centre 32 - St John's Church, Fremantle c.1863
Fremantle History Centre 32 – the original St John’s Church, Fremantle c.1863
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