Province Archives

May 1, 2006

Passionist deported from Australia

Filed under: Finding the Answers — archivesoz @ 1:51 am

Charles Jerger was born at St.Blasien in the Diocese of Freiburg in the Grand Duchy of Baden in Germany in 1869.

He was the son of Phillip Morlock and Wilhelmina Ellenwehn. His father died the year he was born, and his mother re-married two years later to John Jerger. John was born in Germany but was naturalised as a British subject in 1863.

As a child Charles moved to England with his parents and settled in Plymouth in Devonshire, he attended Beaconsfield College and later was a member of the Prince of Wales Rifles Volunteers in Devonport. His family came to Australia in 1888,  Charles after finishing school at Paramatta worked as a jeweller and watch repairer in Goulburn. Although his parents were naturalised citizens, his mother was not naturalised at the time he was born, and hence come the hysteria of the First World War he was officially classified as an alien (Although he had lived in Britain and Australia nearly all his life.)

He entered the Passionists on the 10th April 1893 and was Ordained a Priest in 1899 in Goulburn. He preached in many parts of Australia but was mainly based in Goulburn, Adelaide and Marrickville.

He was a very tall man, massive build, and very popular with both the Community and students, a gentle giant, but he did have a strong sense of justice, and this it seems was his undoing. He was known by the Parishioners of Parkside in Adelaide as a good man who performed many acts of kindness, He was respected by both by young and old for his jovial manner and his many eminent qualities won him lifelong friendships in the hearts of many Australians

He was stationed in Marrickville at the time the First World War broke out and it was here he spoke out about the issue of compulsory conscription. His sermon that caused the trouble was in September 1916. His objection was based on the inequality of Australian conscription compared to the British Conscription numbers. Australian Conscription rates were almost double the rate in England. Being of German Origin and having a German passport, did not endear him to a few of his audience, and a Parishioner screamed out he was a traitor and should be interned.

An enquiry was called for and Charles was interned in 1918. Huge protests were held at the Sydney Town Hall, and letters of protest beseiged the Government.

Politicians. Business Identities and the Sydney and Melbourne's Archbishops all voiced opposition, but to no avail. The government would not be swayed.

Because of his popularity and seemingly injustice in the case further protests and large scale demonstrations took place. The Government was unmoved but shipped him secretly to be deported. He was to be sent away on the SS Nestor by a police launch in Adelaide, but the crew of the Nestor refused to work unless he was given a fair trial. So he was eventually transferred to the P.O. liner Kyber, manned by a "coolie crew" and forbiden to berth in Fremantle where it was due to go. As the result of this deportation the watersiders placed a black ban on all P.O. ships to Australian ports, which was only lifted when the P.O. company convinced the watersiders that it had been forced to act under duress.

After leaving Australia Charles Jerger  was granted refuge with the S.V.D's at their head house in Holland later transferred to the United States, where his brother was a Physician, In 1922 he took up residence in St Paul's Retreat in Dublin, Ireland and finally in to join his English Passionists where he worked and eventually died of pneumonia.  He is now buried under the name of Morlock (His real father's name)

An interesting memento of this wonderful Passionist is a mantle clock in the Reception Room of St Joseph's Hobart, Tasmania, that once graced our Novitiate in Goulburn, and was altered by his skill as a watch-repairer to chime at the appropriate meditation times.



  1. In dictionary of Biography the spelling of the birthplace of Jerger is spelt St.Blasien, in the Grand Duchy of Baden.

    Comment by Gerard — May 11, 2006 @ 3:47 am

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