Arthur Sheridan Westneat
Arthur Sheridan Westneat was the third child of William and Priscelia Westneat. Arthur was born on May 14, 1877 and grew up in the town of Prahran. Two major events took place when Arthur reached 14 years of age. The first was the death of his mother and the second was the end of his compulsory schooling. The death of his mother left him in the care of his father with whom he had much conflict. In order to continue his education, he needed be accepted into a private secondary school system which would lead to the University of Melbourne. This was a path that was only open to the children of the wealthy and influential.
At the age of 15, Arthur left home to make his own way in the world. Arthur did, however, remain in the Prahran area and became a member of the Toorak and South Yarra Try Society. This privately owned organization maintained a community center for boys aged 14 through 18. These boys worked a trade during the day. The Society also offered athletic facilities, evening education in various skills and non-denominational religious services for the benefit of the 400-500 boys who were members during this period.
Toorak Try Building
It seems likely that young Arthur's commitment to further education and service in the ministry was strengthened during this period. He worked in several trades -- as a factory laborer, as a lens grinder and as a newspaper reporter. He was associated with an acting company where it is most likely he developed his love of Shakespeare. As a young man, he became an intenerate minister traveling by horseback among the lumber camps in northern Victoria. It is said that he would cook a meal for the lumbermen and then preach to them.
Arthur in Australia pre-1907 Arthur as a student in Australia
Apparently, his inability to gain access to further education became an issue for him because in 1908, at the age of 31, Arthur left Australia, never to return.