Before his premature death in 1875 from hepatitis at age 42, Stuart Hawthorne MA had been the first Headmaster of Ipswich Grammar School in Queensland (1863 to 1868) and the third Rector of Otago Boys' High School in New Zealand (1869 to 1874).

He held these appointments at a time of great social upheaval, when new secular schools were breaking away from centuries-old religious domination and the narrow focus on 'classics' was being displaced by a wider range of new 'liberal' subjects.

Hawthorne was at the forefront of these changes but more than this, Hawthorne introduced a new way of looking at education, modelled on the ideas of Thomas Arnold of Rugby school.

For Hawthorne, schooling was not just classroom lessons; rather, the whole student was to be educated through the way of life of the school.