The Five; The Smith Family was founded in 1922 by five NSW Freemasons

Post date: Jan 21, 2016 12:2:51 AM

Right ! Nice Find - now we have some names !!!!!

I knew I had read that the Smith Family was founded by Freemasons and was pretty sure I'd seen it on the Smith Family web site, which the below cites as a source.... however the sources pages are now redirecting to a new page....

I note Fleming is not mentioned.. but he might have been a "founder" when the Smith Family was Incorporated or just an early supporter.

The Smith Family history

The Smith Family was founded in 1922 by five NSW Freemasons, who identified a need and responded accordingly. In many ways, this typifies The Smith Family today - an organisation that is enterprising and evidence based. Freemasons are still actively involved with The Smith Family in many senior management roles in addition to the many generous lodges who donate their time and funds annually.

Shortly before Christmas in 1922, the five freemasons, from western Sydney (Rupert Cropley, Benjamin Drummer, HB Carrington, JG Bannerman and LC Packer) were returning from a trip to the Blue Mountains. They debated whether everyone was enjoying the Christmas spirit but rather than go on their opinion only, they established that there was disadvantage and decided to do something about it.

They believed that all children should be able to join in at Christmas so they went to an orphanage where children were without the love of families surrounding them and gave them the joys of Christmas - toys and sweets. They were happy to do this anonymously and when the matron asked them their names so that the children could write a letter of thanks, one of the men replied:

"Er .. Smith." "What about the others?" asked the matron. "They're Smiths too," replied the man "We're all Smiths. We're The Smith Family..."

And so The Smith Family came into existence.

During the Depression of the late 1920s and early 30s, The Smith Family assisted with the food and clothing needs of thousands of Australians as unemployment soared and responsibility for the care of children and families fell to organisations such as The Smith Family.

In 1933 when rheumatic fever became a major health issue affecting children, The Smith Family set up a special hospital to care for them. Mt Arcadia operated in North Parramatta until 1958.

In 1960, The Smith Family, under the leadership of General Secretary George Forbes, founded VIEW Clubs Australia (Voice, Interest and Education of Women) to provide a support network for women to meet in friendship and to support the work of The Smith Family. Today, over 23,000 women are members of a VIEW Club in their local community.

The 1970s saw The Smith Family react to the needs of refugee families fleeing war in Vietnam and Timor and supporting the residents of Darwin recover from the devastation inflicted by Cyclone Tracey.

Throughout the 1970s and 80s The Smith Family was spending more than ever before on direct financial relief - in many cases to generations of the same family. In 1987, The Smith Family asked their emergency help clients what they believed needed to be done to put an end to intergenerational disadvantage. They replied "help us help our children to get an education."

In response, The Smith Family set up EDU-CATE for students in the junior secondary years. The program was designed to ensure kids didn't miss out at school just because of their family's financial situation.

During the 1990s the program was extended as Learning for Life which has so far supported 40,000 children and young people to make the most of their educational opportunities and break the cycle of disadvantage.

Throughout the past 85 years, The Smith Family has continued to review the needs of disadvantaged children and families and responded accordingly.

Source was viewed 20 Jan 2016 (the link is now down so I have attached a PDF of the page, and the original page can be viewed here


This source draws on Wikipedia and these names would have come from an old revision of the Wikipedia page. I've got over excited on seeing some names,.... but there is no source for them. My cognitive bias has overlooked that someone could have fabricated these mens' involvement..... because I just don't think like that and hence had a short term blind spot to the possibility. These names are a lead, but prove nothing. I'm very keen to read some of the family's early writings and expect have have at least one of them soon.


Yesterday I obtained more information on these brothers. This came via email from the Smith Family's files and was a PDF showing a creation date of 2003.

Also attached were news articles;

Hills News - Tuesday 8 August 2009 Page 6 "Masons keep reaching out" by Amanda Keane. This article mentions the men by name as starting the Smith Family


Northern News - Tues 18 August 2009 "Who are Freemasons". This article mentions "Rubert Cropley and four others Masons" starting the Smith Family.

The main attachment of interest is produced below in full and I am trying to contact the author who still resides in NSW. ( I did end up doing that and he confirms the below is based on much research).

A Story of Brotherly Love and Relief

M W bro. R S Cropley PGM UGLNSW is well remembered in NSW for his 30 years service as Superintendent of the William Thompson Masonic School, which cared for the orphans of Masons. But there much more to the story of this truly caring Mason.

In 1922, together with 4 other Masons, Cropley decided to share their business successes with an orphanage. Arriving with a car load of presents, they were asked, "What is your name?" They replied "Smith, we are all Smiths, in fact we are the Smith Family" So was born one of the most fantastic public charities in out land today.

From that beginning, the SMITH FAMILY has grown to a charitable organisation, distributing food, clothes and presents etc. until in 2001, more than $30 million was spent on its community programs and Christmas hampers. There were 650 paid staff and 2000 volunteers.

The Five Founders.

RUPERT CROPLEY, born 1881 died 1949. Initiated on 28/1/1909 in Lodge Manoah No.41 UGLNSW. Installed as foundation Master of Lodge Fortitude No. 439, Baulkham Hills in 1922. The rank of PGM was conferred upon him in September 1938. Was he a Royal Arch Mason? Yes ! Exalted in Chapter Temperance No.219 Scottish Constitution and was foundation First Principal in Chapter Hurlestone No. 444 where he remained a member until his death.

BENJAMIN DRUMMER was also a member of Lodge Manoah No. 41, was WM in 1899 and secretary from 1908 to 1926.

H B CARRINGTON became a Mason on 4/9/1912 in Lodge Cosmopolitan NO. 67 he died 23/4/1946.

J G BANNERMAN was a member of Lodge Manoah No.41 and a foundation member of Lodge Fortitude No.439 serving as WM in 1925.

L C PACKER served as a Grand Steward in the UGLNSW in1890.

Lodge Manoah was a strictly temperance Lodge and remain so throughout its 113 years, however not all its members were so devout. As legend has it that the idea of the SMITH FAMILY was conceived over a beer in a Parramatta hotel!

We are grateful for the time and energy spent in researching this piece by Rt. Ex. Comp. Graham Cumming PGH, SGC of M and RA Masons of NSW and ACT and thank him for his permission to reproduce this fascinating piece of Australian and Masonic history.

Note from early April 2016 - I've had a representative of Grand Lodge NSW confirm the above document after speaking to its author and am trying to make telephone contact with Graham Cumming to see if he can shed any further light on the history of the Masonic connection with the Smith Family.

The Smith Family - The Full Wiki.pdf