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Dr. Thomas Sherwin

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Sherwin, Thomas Aylwin (1885–1965)

By Milton Hook

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Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

Dr. Thomas Sherwin, a medical practitioner, was an ordained pastor. He was at various times the medical superintendent of the Australasian Union Conference, the Sydney Sanitarium, and the Warburton Sanitarium.

Early Life

Thomas and Elizabeth (née Aylwin) Sherwin operated a sheep and cattle station named “Nullawa” at New Angledool near the Queensland/New South Wales border. It was a lonely flat and dusty property dependent on an artesian bore that piped a continuous flow of water into a network of channels.1 Thomas was 48 years old and Elizabeth thirty when they married in Sydney in 1883. Both were immigrants from Sussex, England. It was Elizabeth’s second marriage. They had one son before her second pregnancy. Giving birth in such an isolated area carried grave dangers, so well before the arrival of their second child Elizabeth made the four hundred-or-more-kilometer journey to Armidale for the birth. In “Keston House,” Armidale, Thomas Aylwin Sherwin was born on December 26, 1885. Some weeks later they returned to “Nullawa.”2

The Sherwins employed a private teacher to educate their children during the elementary school years. When Thomas, Jr., was ten years old, he and his older brother were sent to a boarding school at Mount Victoria in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales (NSW). The circumstances of the family’s conversion to Adventism are not known except that it occurred about 1898. His parents then placed their two sons in an Adventist home, the Schowe family of Pennant Hills, suburban Sydney.3 Thomas attributed much of his introduction to Adventism to his reading of The Great Controversy.4 In 1899 Thomas, Jr., became one of the youngest boarders at the Avondale School for Christian Workers at Cooranbong, NSW.5 Later he recalled helping to build College Hall and clearing the area of tall eucalyptus trees. He carried a head scar all his life, inflicted when he got too close to a swinging axe.6 He returned to Avondale for the 1902 school year.7 Teacher Hattie Andre made a lasting impression on his religious experience. He aspired to train as a medical doctor at Battle Creek, Michigan, but church officials advised against it.8 Instead, he began the advanced biblical academic course at Avondale in 1905, at the same time exploring the possibilities of medical training in Sydney. Some church officials, once again, tried to dissuade him, arguing that a long course of medical study would be time wasted in view of Christ’s imminent return. Thomas, however, determined to go ahead, and in May transferred to private tuition in Sydney in preparation for exams to enter university.9

Beginning in 1906 Thomas studied at Sydney University and was awarded a bachelor’s degree in medicine in December 1911.10 In the church paper he published a brief message of appreciation, thanking those who had encouraged him in his quest.11

Church Employment

On January 16, 1912, Thomas began work at the Sydney Sanitarium, assisting Dr. Franklin Richards and teaching some classes of trainee nurses.12 At the Avondale Health Retreat on September 18 he married Dr. Margherita Freeman, a fellow student at the Avondale School and Sydney University.13 They rented a small cottage at the gates of the Sydney Sanitarium for one pound per week. Their combined wages were six pounds per week.14

The Sydney Sanitarium was black banned by the British Medical Association (BMA) because the Adventist doctors would not prescribe drugs, preferring natural remedies. Sherwin met with the BMA officers and endured a spirited grilling for hours about the aims and objectives of the institution. Despite their initial jibes and sarcasm, the BMA lifted its ban, and the reputation of the Sydney Sanitarium went from strength to strength.15

At the Gore Hill camp meeting in St. Leonards, Sydney, September 1914, Sherwin was elected as the medical secretary for the Australasian Union Conference (AUC), making him an ex officio member of the AUC executive committee in addition to his administrative and teaching duties at the Sydney Sanitarium.16 In May 1922 he was one of eight delegates from the AUC to attend the General Conference session in San Francisco.17 He visited Europe during his return journey, arriving back in Australia in November.

In February 1927 Thomas and Margherita embarked on an 18- month study tour accompanied by Marion Sherwin, younger sister of Thomas.18 Their travels were documented in 18 episodes published in the Australasian Record throughout the year, beginning at Margherita’s home state, Western Australia, and moving through Colombo, Aden, Cairo, Jerusalem, Beirut, Constantinople, Athens, Vatican City, Rome, and Venice, and culminating at Lake Geneva Sanitarium, Adventism’s medical institution in Switzerland.19 They then moved on to the United Kingdom to begin further academic studies. Thomas remained in London for 12 months, completing a Diploma of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene20 with a view to teaching the subject to missionary nurses at Sydney Sanitarium, who would later be appointed to the Pacific Islands. In May 1928 the trio returned to Sydney via the Cape of Good Hope.

Thomas was transferred to the Warburton Sanitarium, Victoria, in 1932. For 13 years he served as manager and medical superintendent of the institution.21 Then, in 1946, he returned to headquarters in Wahroonga as medical secretary for the AUC once again.22 Prior to leaving Victoria he was ordained in the East Prahran church, Melbourne, on December 22, 1945.23 His work at headquarters included the oversight of Sydney Sanitarium, Warburton Sanitarium, and Amyes Memorial Hospital in the Solomon Islands. Late in 1947 he was reappointed to be manager and medical superintendent of Sydney Sanitarium until he retired in 1949.24

Retirement

Thomas made a return to his boyhood life on a sheep station. He and Margherita settled at Collie, WA, hoping to graze sheep, but the local foxes savaged his lambs. Admitting defeat, they sold the farm and moved to Mount Pleasant, suburban Perth.25 He pastored Gosnells church and was a member of the executive committee of the West Australian Conference during the planning stages of a retirement village for Seventh-day Adventists.26 In 1963 he had the satisfaction of being present when the main building at the retirement village was named Sherwin Lodge in his honor.27 On October 15, 1965, he died after a heart attack. A private service was held at Fremantle Crematorium three days later.28 He published no scientific papers or articles promoting health topics. He was known as one dedicated to his profession and a quiet achiever in hospital administration.

Sources

Adams, C[yrus] S. “Thomas Aylwin Sherwin obituary.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey 69, no. 48 (November 29, 1965).

“At one o’clock on the afternoon . . .” Australasian Record 16, no. 40 (September 30, 1912).

Avondale School Register, 1892–1906. South Pacific Division Heritage Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Box 1487, Cooranbong, NSW. Document: “Avondale School Register, 1892–1906.”

“Dr. T. A. Sherwin arrived at the sanitarium . . .”Australasian Record 16, no. 5 (January 29, 1912).

“General Conference Proceedings.” General Conference Bulletin 9, no. 1 (May 14, 1922).

“Life Sketch of Doctor T. A. Sherwin.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey 69, no. 48 (November 29, 1965).

Medical Dictionary of Australia. Glebe, [Sydney]: Australian Medical Publishing Company, 1948.

“Medical Examinations.” Sydney Morning Herald, issue no. 23,058, December 7, 1911.

“New Home for Aged Opens in W.A.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey 67, no. 34 (August 26, 1963).

New South Wales. Birth Certificates. Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, Sydney, NSW.

“Nominations.” Australasian Record 18, no. 41 (October 12, 1914).

Power, Rose-lee, Born to Serve: Dr. Margherita M. Freeman, Woman of Courage and Determination. Warburton, VIC: Signs Publishing Company, 2012.

“Session Appointments.” Australasian Record 49, no. 42 (October 15, 1945).

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbooks. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1914–1949.

Sherwin, T[homas] A.“First Australian S.D.A. Doctors.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey 60, no. 8 (February 20, 1956).

———. “First Australian S.D.A. Doctors.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey 60, no. 9 (February 27, 1956).

Sherwin, Tho[ma]s A. “An Appreciation.” Australasian Record 16, no. 2 (January 8, 1912).

———. “Notes of Travel—Nos. 1–18.” Australasian Record 31, nos. 26–48 (June 27–November 28, 1927).

Thomas Sherwin Biographical Information Form. Sydney Adventist Hospital Archives, Wahroonga, NSW. Work Service Records. Document: “Thomas Sherwin Biographical Information Form.”

Williams, C., comp. “Scenes at Angledool, NSW, circa 1900–1928.” Mitchell Library, Sydney, NSW. Call no. PXA1312/nos. 1–7. Retrieved from digital.sl.nsw.gov.au/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=FL1655518&embedded=true&toolbar=false.

“Word has been received of the safe arrival . . .” Australasian Record 31, no. 26 (June 27, 1927).

Notes

  1. C. Williams, comp. “Scenes at Angledool, NSW, circa 1900–1928,” Mitchell Library, Sydney, NSW, call no. PXA1312/nos.1–7, retrieved from digital.sl.nsw.gov.au/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=FL1655518&embedded=true&toolbar=false.

  2. New South Wales, Certificate of Birth no. 30404 (1886), Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, Sydney, NSW.

  3. T[homas] A. Sherwin, “First Australian S.D.A. Doctors,” Australasian Record and Advert World Survey 60, no. 8 (February 20, 1956): 2, 3.

  4. Thomas Sherwin Biographical Information Form, Sydney Adventist Hospital Archives, Wahroonga, NSW (Work Service Records: Document: “Thomas Sherwin Biographical Information Form”).

  5. Avondale School Register, 1892–1906, Avondale College Archives, Box 1487, Cooranbong, NSW. Box: 1487. (Document: “Avondale School Register, 1892–1906,” 109).

  6. Sherwin, 2, 3.

  7. Avondale School Register, 1892–1906 (Document: “Avondale School Register, 1892-1906,” 211).

  8. Sherwin.

  9. Avondale School Register, 1892–1906. (Document: “Avondale School Register, 1892-1906,” 227).

  10. “Medical Examinations,” Sydney Morning Herald, issue no. 23,058, December 7, 1911, 12.

  11. Tho[ma]s A. Sherwin, “An Appreciation,” Australasian Record 16, no. 2 (January 8, 1912): 7.

  12. “Dr. T. A. Sherwin arrived at the sanitarium . . .” Australasian Record 16, no. 5 (January 29, 1912): 8.

  13. “At one o’clock on the afternoon . . .” Australasian Record 16, no. 40 (September 30, 1912): 8.

  14. T[homas] A. Sherwin, “First Australian S.D.A. Doctors,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey 60, no. 9 (February 27, 1956): 2, 3.

  15. Ibid.

  16. “Nominations,” Australasian Record 18, no. 41 (October 12, 1914): 17, 18.

  17. “General Conference Proceedings,” General Conference Bulletin 9, no. 1 (May 14, 1922): 12, 13.

  18. “Word has been received of the safe arrival . . .” Australasian Record 31, no. 26 (June 27, 1927): 8.

  19. E.g., Tho[ma]s A. Sherwin, “Notes of Travel. No. 3,” Australasian Record 31, no. 29 (July 18, 1927): 3, 4.

  20. Medical Dictionary of Australia (Glebe, [Sydney]: Australian Medical Publishing Company, 1948), 455.

  21. Sherwin, “First Australian S.D.A. Doctors,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey 60, no. 9 (February 27, 1956): 2, 3.

  22. “Session Appointments,” Australasian Record 49, no. 42 (October 15, 1945): 5, 6.

  23. Thomas Sherwin Biographical Information Form.

  24. Sherwin, “First Australian S.D.A. Doctors,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey 60, no. 9 (February 27, 1956): 2, 3.

  25. Rose-lee Power, Born to Serve: Dr. Margherita M. Freeman, Woman of Courage and Determination (Warburton, VIC: Signs Publishing Company, 2012), 63–69.

  26. “Life Sketch of Doctor T. A. Sherwin,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey 69, no. 48 (November 29, 1965): 6.

  27. “New Home for Aged Opens in W.A.,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey 67, no. 34 (August 26, 1963): 4, 5.

  28. C[yrus] S. Adams, “Thomas Aylwin Sherwin obituary,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey 69, no. 48 (November 29, 1965): 7.

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Hook, Milton. "Sherwin, Thomas Aylwin (1885–1965)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Accessed January 27, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=6HR5.

Hook, Milton. "Sherwin, Thomas Aylwin (1885–1965)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Date of access January 27, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=6HR5.

Hook, Milton (2021, April 28). Sherwin, Thomas Aylwin (1885–1965). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved January 27, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=6HR5.