Michael Collins Persse

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: [unknown]
Profile manager: Susie Officer private message [send private message]
This page has been accessed 131 times.



PLEASE NOTE: This profile is currently in draft with permissions for use being sought.

In December 1862, De Burgh Fitzpatrick Persse[1][2][3][4] left the family seat (since the 17th century), Moyode Castle in County Galway[5], for Queensland. Three years later, he bought Tabragalba near Beaudesert and, over the next 40 years, another 10 properties from the Channel country to the Burnett: Palparrara, Connemarra, Tally-Ho, Buckingham Downs, Lake De Burgh, Hawkwood, Yerilla, and Eidsvold.[6]

Meanwhile, in 1846, William Collins was born at Mundoolun[7], the first white baby to be born in the Albert River District. By 1900, William and his brothers had acquired 7 million hectares in the Northern Territory and Queensland.[8][9] In that year, the year of his marriage, William leased and later bought Nindooinbah[10], whose homestead the architect Robin Dods[11] extended to become a huge, exotic and very comfortable country house.

Michael with his beloved mother, Janette, c. 1935.
Michael with his mother Janette Persse
Sydney 1933.
Tapestry of Persse crest by his mother,Janette Persse, née Collins: Hope in God.
Tapestry of Persse crest by his mother,
Janette Persse, née Collins: Hope in God.

In 1930, Tabragalba’s Dudley Burton De Burgh Parry Persse (De Burgh’s grandson) and Nindooinbah’s Margaret Ann "Janette" (Collins) Persse (William’s daughter) married[12] and in 1931, after a year long honeymoon in Europe, their eldest child, Michael Dudley de Burgh Persse was born, in Toowoomba.

Life at Eskdale West, 3200ha cattle property near Esk, bought in 1931[13] by Janette and Dudley, was comfortable - the house designed by Kenneth McConnel[14][15]; with a tennis court and pool - and traditional, almost feudal. There was a cook, maid, gardener, cowboy, stockman; a governess and nurse. Michael, his brother, Jonathan, and sister, Jane, had a happy bush childhood with an extensive network of fellow pastoralists, cousins and kin.

In 1941, Michael was sent to Toowoomba Prep[16][17], where he thrived; then to The King’s School, Parramatta[18][19] where he shone - he was twice dux and school captain for two years. He then read history and theology[20] at Balliol College, Oxford[21][22], and in November 1955 began his illustrious career at Geelong Grammar School.[23][24]

He would spend an extraordinary 63 years at Geelong – 48 years teaching history; and then 15 years as curator and archivist.[25] His knowledge of the school, its characters and its history was encyclopaedic. His biographical register and elegant portrait of the school, Well-Ordered Liberty are proof of this. He served seven principals and taught an estimated 12,000 students. For years, he wrote to every boy and girl for their birthdays – some even after they left. His correspondence (an estimated 3000 handwritten letters a year) endeared him to generations.[26]

Despite his Victorian base, he retained his love for Queensland; returning ‘home’ to Shady Tree, the Buderim house and beautiful garden he inherited from his parents (still in family hands today).

Mr Persse at Geelong Grammar School,Timbertop Campus, circa 1960.
Mr Persse at Geelong Grammar School,
Timbertop Campus, circa 1960.
A favourite view from Shady TreeBuderim, Queensland, Australia.
A favourite view from Shady Tree
Buderim, Queensland, Australia.
Michael Collins Persse, GGS Staff 1955-2018.Written in his own uniquely recognisable handwriting.
Michael Collins Persse, GGS Staff 1955-2018.
Written in his own uniquely recognisable handwriting.

His other distinction was as history tutor to the Prince of Wales during the Prince’s two terms at Timbertop in 1966.[27] Lessons were managed by correspondence, phone calls and visits to Michael at the Corio campus. On his return to Britain, the Prince was awarded a distinction for his paper ‘The Age of Cromwell’ and admitted to Cambridge on his own merits[28]. Michael had done his job. Yet there was more than mere academic success. David Checketts, the courtier assigned to the Prince, observed, “I went out with a boy and came back with a man.” A warm, enduring friendship followed between Michael and the Prince.[29]

MDdeBCP M.V.O."The Gazette" Official Public Record and Medal.
"The Gazette" Official Public Record and Medal.

In 2015, Michael became a Member of the Royal Victorian Order, in the Queen’s personal gift[30][31][32]; and two years later, an OAM.[33][34] As the Prince put it in his foreword to Michael’s In The Light of Eternity, “As his writings show, he has become the guardian of so much wisdom and collective memory that by now he must surely qualify as a National Treasure.” Michael always referred to himself as ‘a country boy from Queensland’. He was a remarkable one.[35]

Lighting a candle in the Lady Chapel,Chapel of All Saints, Geelong Grammar School, Corio,in front of Our Lady of Corio by Dennis Ramsay 1998, at the School Leavers Service October 18th 2015.
Lighting a candle in the Lady Chapel, Chapel of All Saints, Geelong Grammar School, Corio,
in front of Our Lady of Corio by Dennis Ramsay 1998,
at the School Leavers Service October 18th 2015.

Michael Collins Persse
Michael Collins Persse

Author, Writer & Editor

A more extensive list of Michael's writing is available at the [National Library Australia]
  • Their succeeding race : A pageant-play performed by Geelong Church of England Grammar School in the centenary year, 1957. Persse, Michael. Published by F.W. Cheshire (1958)
  • Well-Ordered Liberty. A Portrait of Geelong Grammar School 1855-1995. Persse, Michael Collins. Published by Cliffe Books, Melbourne (1995)
  • Geelong Grammarians, A Biographical Register: Volume One, 1855-1913. Corfield, Justin & Persse, Michael Collins. Published by Geelong Grammar School (2006)
  • In the light of eternity : selected writings. Persse, Michael Collins, Oryx Publishing (2011)
  • Scholar gypsy : an Oxford friendship : a memoir of Sir Andrew Hills, Baronet, 1933-1955 and of an Anglo-Australian friendship and of Balliol College Oxford, 1853-1955. Persse, Michael Collins. Melbourne, Cliffe Books (2012)
  • Every Tree, Rock, and Gully: A Memoir of Pioneering Families: Beggs, Davidson, Perrse, and White. Alexander, Penelope & Persse, Michael Collins. Published by Grey Thrush Melbourne (2014)
  • Obituary Writer[36][37]
  • Editor of "The Corian", Geelong Grammar School's periodic magazine, from 1966-1992.[38]

Reference Notes

Michael was born Michael Dudley de Burgh Persse. In about 1971 he added Collins, in honour of his mother's brother, to his name by Deed Poll henceforth being known as Michael Dudley de Burgh Collins Persse, or MDdeBCP.[39]

Extract from the Sydney Morning Herald Death Notice published 26 June 2018 [40]has been included here so relevant profiles can be linked/created; as time goes by. The majority, as at 2021, are still living so it may be some time before their profiles appear in WikiTree for linking:

  • brother of Jonathan Persse and the late Jane (Persse) Robinson
  • brother-in-law of Georgina (Bassingthwaighte) Persse and David (Beau) Robinson
  • uncle of Anthony Robinson, Anne Cooper, Juliet Cook, Georgina Somerset, and their spouses, Anne Marie, John, Richard, and Robert
  • great-uncle of Christopher and Maeve Robinson, Katie and Jess (with Bertrand Almeida) and Justin Cooper, Annabel Collins Cook, and Benjamin, Macartney, and Gemma Somerset;
  • grandson of Charles Dudley Persse and Violet Vivian (Parry Okeden) Persse and William Collins and Mary Adelaide "Gwendolyn" (Roberts) Collins
  • cousin of many including Gracia (Parry-Okeden) Baylor, Susan Parry-Okeden, Penelope (Derham) and Nicholas Alexander, John Aiken, Susan (Persse) Zoomers, the late Margaret (Persse) Hockey, the late Elizabeth Parry-Okeden, and the late Alison (Ralston) Whiley
  • godfather of 23
  • friend of very many including Kate Baillieu, Charles and Primrose Bright, Peter Gray, Jari and Bobbie Hryckow, Edward Cabot, Mark Jamieson, John Fairfax, Mark McGinness, Andrew and Toni Purcell, the late Sir James[41] and Lady Darling
  • and his early mentors Jessie McDonald (nurse), Lucy Morgan (governess), Norman Connal (headmaster of Toowoomba Prep). Denys Hake (headmaster of the King's School, Parramatta).


  1. Michael D. De B. Collins Persse, 'de Burgh Persse, Fitzpatrick (1840–1921)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/de-burgh-persse-fitzpatrick-812/text7155, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 11 April 2021. This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974
  2. 'de Burgh Persse, Fitzpatrick (1840–1921)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/de-burgh-persse-fitzpatrick-812/text813, accessed 11 April 2021.
  3. "Pastoral Celebrity - Mr. De Burgh Persse", THE PASTORALISTS' REVIEW, October 15, 1912, (https://oa.anu.edu.au/uploads/obituaries/812/de_burgh_persse_bio_1912.pdf), accessed 11 April 2021.
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "De Burgh Fitzpatrick Persse," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=De_Burgh_Fitzpatrick_Persse&oldid=1016271014 (accessed April 11, 2021).
  5. Roy, James Charles. "Triumphal Gateway, Moyode Castle, County Galway." Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society 49 (1997): 194-201. Accessed April 11, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25535679.
  6. "Persse, De Burgh Fitzpatrick", parliament.qld.gov.au - Members Biography, (Website - https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/members/former/bio?id=2132150725&p=1), accessed 11 April, 2021.
  7. Wikipedia contributors, "Mundoolun, Queensland," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mundoolun,_Queensland&oldid=990853141 (accessed April 11, 2021).
  8. Wikipedia contributors, "North Australian Pastoral Company," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=North_Australian_Pastoral_Company&oldid=1001244660 (accessed April 11, 2021).
  9. North Australian Pastoral Company "Our Story, Meet our five founders, OUR STORY BEGINS IN 1877", (https://napco.com.au/our-story/), accessed 11 April 2021.
  10. Wikipedia contributors, "Nindooinbah Homestead," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Nindooinbah_Homestead&oldid=979100621 (accessed April 11, 2021).
  11. R. J. Riddel, 'Dods, Robert Smith (Robin) (1868–1920)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/dods-robert-smith-robin-5991/text10227, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 11 April 2021. This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981.
  12. "Births, deaths, marriages and divorces, 1829-1946", Queensland Government, Databse online, (https://www.familyhistory.bdm.qld.gov.au/details/f56f05d534d71e2745c9446b1bef7781ad6290f82acd10adf60fbe07dd738310) Marriage registration: Dudley Parry Burton Persse, Marriage date: 12/07/1930 Spouse's name: Margaret Ann Janette De Burgh Collins; Registration details: 1930/B/8842. Accessed 11 April 2021.)
  13. "Former rich lister Jim Gorman sells Queensland cattle station", Domain Group, LARRY SCHLESINGER, APR 16, 2019. (https://www.commercialrealestate.com.au/news/former-rich-lister-jim-gorman-sells-queensland-cattle-station-33859/). Accessed 11 April 2021.
  14. "Kenneth McConnell", Design & Art Online, (https://daao.library.unsw.edu.au/bio/version_history/kenneth-mcconnel/personal_details/?revision_no=3). Accessed 11 April 2021.
  15. McConnel, Kenneth, and Hazlewood, Rex. Planning the Australian Homestead. Austria, Ure Smith, 1947.(https://www.google.com.au/books/edition/Planning_the_Australian_Homestead/xXJiswEACAAJ?hl=en). Accessed 11 April 2021.
  16. Wikipedia contributors, "Toowoomba Anglican School," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Toowoomba_Anglican_School&oldid=1011628280 (accessed April 11, 2021).
  17. Toowoomba Anglican School, "About Us, History & Values". (https://www.taschool.qld.edu.au/about-us/history), accessed 11 April 2021.
  18. Wikipedia contributors, "The King's School, Parramatta," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_King%27s_School,_Parramatta&oldid=1013386846 (accessed April 11, 2021).
  19. The King's School, "Values and History", (https://www.kings.edu.au/discovering/values-and-history/), Accessed 11 April 2021.
  20. Balliol College University of Oxford, "Graduation - the Oxford MA (Master of Arts)", (https://www.alumniweb.ox.ac.uk/balliol/graduation/ma-degrees), accessed 11 April 2021.
  21. Wikipedia contributors, "Balliol College, Oxford," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Balliol_College,_Oxford&oldid=1016183951 (accessed April 11, 2021).
  22. Balliol College University of Oxford, "History", (https://www.balliol.ox.ac.uk/about-balliol/history), accessed 11 April 2021/
  23. Wikipedia contributors, "Geelong Grammar School," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Geelong_Grammar_School&oldid=1012609061 (accessed April 11, 2021).
  24. Geelong Grammar School, "Our History", (https://www.ggs.vic.edu.au/school/our-school/our-history/timeline/Timeline), accessed 11 April, 2021.
  25. "Farewell to GGS Archivist", OGG | Old Geelong Grammarians, (https://www.ggs.vic.edu.au/enewsletters/ogg-update/ogg-updates-2021/ogg-update-march-2021/articles-march-2021/farewell-to-archivist-geoff-laurenson), accessed 11 April 2021.
  26. "COLLINS PERSSE Michael Dudley deBurgh MVO OAM OGG Fellow 1931 - 2018", The Age, (Website - https://tributes.theage.com.au/obituaries/31191/michael-persse/?r=https://tributes.theage.com.au/obituaries/theage-au/search/?Query=Michael%20PERSSE), accessed 11 April 2021.
  27. "Royal honour for Prince Charles’ Geelong Grammar mentor Michael Collins Persse", Courtney Crane, Geelong Advertiser, January 6, 2015 (https://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/news/geelong/royal-honour-for-prince-charles-geelong-grammar-mentor-michael-collins-persse/news-story/d8fe2c049c154ce523515d8f3a374d0f). Accessed 11 April 2021.
  28. "Prince Charles", Geelong Grammar School, LightBlue September 2012. Published Oct 16, 2012, (https://issuu.com/geelonggrammarschool/docs/light_blue_september/38). Accessed 11 April 2021.
  29. "Plans for Prince" The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995) 14 January 1966: 4. Web. 11 Apr 2021 (http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article105882245).
  30. "The Queen and Honours, Royal Victorian Order", from the official web site of the British Royal Family. (https://www.royal.uk/queen-and-honours). Accessed 11 April 2021.
  31. Wikipedia contributors, "Royal Victorian Order," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Royal_Victorian_Order&oldid=1016849003 (accessed April 11, 2021).
  32. "Michael Dudley de Burgh Collins Persse. For services to the Prince of Wales". Wikipedia contributors, "2015 New Year Honours," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=2015_New_Year_Honours&oldid=1014464956 (accessed April 11, 2021).
  33. "AUSTRALIAN HONOURS SEARCH FACILITY", Australian Government, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Mr Michael Dudley COLLINS PERSSE, Medal of the Order of Australia, OAM, 26th of January, 2017, Vic, Corio, 3214, For service to secondary education, and to history. Australia Day 2017 Honours List. Award ID 1154908. (https://honours.pmc.gov.au/honours/awards/1154908). Accessed 11 April 2021.
  34. "VALE – Michael Collins Persse MVO OAM", ORDER OF AUSTRALIA VICTORIA BRANCH, Barwon Regional Group Newsletter. Page 6. (http://www.theorderofaustralia.asn.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Order-Of-Australia-Victoria-Branch-Newsletter-16-Sept-2018.pdf). Accessed 11 April 2021.
  35. "Memorial service for the late Mr Michael Collins Persse MVO OAM, Speech by His Excellency on behalf of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales", Government House Queensland, (Website - https://www.govhouse.qld.gov.au/the-governor-of-queensland/speeches/2018/october/memorial-service-for-the-late-mr-michael-collins-persse-mvo-oam.aspx), accessed 11 April 2021.
  36. "Author: Collins Persse, Michael D. De B.", Australian Dictionary of biography, (Website - https://adb.anu.edu.au/biographies/author/?author=818). Accessed 11 April 2021.
  37. "Mary Ethel Moseley (Molly)", Sydney Morning Herald - Obituary, April 29, 2003, (https://www.smh.com.au/national/indomitable-molly-just-got-on-with-it-20030429-gdgodx.html), Accessed 11 April 2021.
  38. Periodical/Journal, magazine, other - 1914-2020, Geelong Grammar School, The Corian 1914 - ongoing. Publisher Geelong Grammar School. Trove, National Library Australia. (https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/12934590/version/15308979%20208542990%20260894820). Accessed 11 April 2021.
  39. Michael Collins Persse, Irish-Australian Schoolmaster who taught Prince Charles and defended him after Princess Diana's Death". Sunday Independent. Telegraph. 8 July 2018. (https://www.pressreader.com/ireland/sunday-independent-ireland/20180708/282398400174395). Accessed 11 April 2021.
  40. "Sydney Morning Herald Tributes", COLLINS PERSSE, Michael Dudley de Burgh, MVO, OAM, MA (Oxon), 10 November 1931 - 25 June 2018 (https://tributes.smh.com.au/obituaries/21270/michael-persse/). Accessed 11 April 2021.
  41. Wikipedia contributors, "James Ralph Darling," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=James_Ralph_Darling&oldid=993238822 (accessed April 11, 2021).



  • Obituary used with the kind permission of Mark McGinness (pending Susan Officer 09:11, 11 April 2021 (UTC))[42] who with Michael's prior knowledge and blessing, wrote the piece which has been used for the Biography above, and published elsewhere. Mark spent time talking with Michael and others to obtain the information and insights which he has conveyed so accurately. Some of the information has been handed down through the generations in Michael's family.
  • Referencing/citing of the Obituary, where it is currently available, researched and added by Susan Officer.


Leave a message for others who see this profile.
There are no comments yet.
Login to post a comment.