Sir Charles Sladen was an accomplished lawyer and politician, and a prominent figure in the early days of Victoria’s colonial settlement.
He arrived in Geelong with his wife in 1842; according to Norman Houghton’s Story of Geelong, the burgeoning town was already home to 545 people and contained a church, hotel, store, wool store and 82 houses.
Sladen added to it a flourishing legal practice, but retired from business in 1854 to pursue a political career. He took office in 1855 as Treasurer in Victoria’s first responsible ministry. In 1864 he was elected to the Legislative Council for Western Province (a now-defunct rural electorate encompassing the south-west of the State) and took leadership of its conservative majority.
He was heavily involved in shaping the embryonic Legislative Council, and remained in politics for almost two decades until his resignation in December 1882 due to poor health.
During this time Sladen also held a number of public and private offices. He served two terms as a Winchelsea Shire councillor, and in 1878 he became chairman of the Trustees, Executors, and Agency Co., which later became ANZ Trustees and is now a part of Equity Trustees.
Sladen’s legacy can still be seen and felt today in the form of Christ Church in Geelong, the oldest Anglican Church in Victoria still occupying its original site. A devout Anglican, Sladen raised the funds to build the church in the early 1840s and served as secretary to its trustees.