Culture and heritage


William Gullick

NSW Government Printer and Inspector of Stamps

William Applegate Gullick was baptised in 1858 in his mother's village of Edington, in Wiltshire, England (IGI). He arrived in Sydney as a young boy with his parents in the early 1860s and settled in Redfern. Within a short time after their arrival, his mother died in childbirth (Deaths Index, RGO 1864), and two years later his father re-married Sarah Dust (Marriages Index, RGO 1866). In 1869 his father was declared insolvent and his estate sequestered (Insolvency Index, State Records), although he later returned to business as a printer's broker and paper manufacturer's agent (Sands Directory 1877, 1893). These traumatic events no doubt had a great effect on the young William and shaped his search for certainty and stability in his adult life.

William Ransome Gullick was later employed as a Printer's Broker and within a few years was working for the printing firm of John Sands & Co., well known today for the Sands Directory (Death Certificate). Young William later obtained employment with the firm, which advertised, among many other things, its Heraldic Department (Sands Directory, 1890). Presumably young William was attracted to this department, before being appointed in 1896 as NSW Government Printer and Inspector of Stamps, a position he held until his sudden death in 1922 (Sydney Morning Herald 29 April 1922: 12).

By 1885 the Gullicks were living at 'Edington' in Bondi Road, Waverley, and the next year William married Mary Pierce at Balmain (Marriage Certificate). Over the next 13 years they had five children: Chloe, Zoe, Marjorie, Dorothy and Noel (Births Index, RGO), and the family moved several times to houses in Balmain, Willoughby, Turramurra, Pymble, Wahroonga and Killara during this time (Sands Directory, 1885-1922).

William Applegate Gullick was dedicated to his public duties, but his private life appears to have been troubled since childhood. Despite 26 years of employment in high public service, he left little material wealth to his family. The valuation of his estate for probate in September 1922 listed, among other things, 'Real Estate - nil, money in the bank £596, government stock £295, insurance policies £1851, and household furniture £354, which included several carpets 'badly worn', a marble clock 'damaged', a box ottoman couch 'not perfect', part of a china dinner set, and an oak overmantel 'out of date'. His workshop contained, among other things, a camera (£5), a turning lathe with stocks and dies (£40) and sundry useful carpenter's tools (£5) (Probate No 112707).

Something of the character of the man can be ascertained from the obituaries published after his death.

"Mr Gullick was the type of man with never an idle moment. He was an enthusiastic philatelist, and was no less keenly interested in the collection of old coins. Of heraldry he was a keen student. Other hobbies outside literature were photography, especially colour photography, in which he conducted many experiments, carpentering, and fishing. It was all these things, in association naturally with an artistic temperament, that made the late Mr Gullick one of the most delightful of companions. ... Although a strict disciplinarian, Mr Gullick was well liked among the big body of men who served under him, and thus he won their loyal co-operation." (SMH, 20/4/1922: 12).

Some questions to research:

  1. What would be some of the other records that might be used to learn more about the life of a high public official of this period?
  2. How could a more detailed biography of William Applegate Gullick help us to understand his personal values and their influence on his public life?


Image Source: State Library of NSW, GPO 1 - 26557 State Library of NSW, Picman

    Page last updated: 01 September 2012