Church to 1847
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Victoria before 1848
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Church to 1847

In March 1846 the population in Port Phiuillip District was around 32,800 with between 8,000 and 10,000 in Melbourne.
1. St Francis' Church started by Rev PB Geoghegan
2. The History of the Colony of Victoria
3. Anglican History

One historian says in the early days of the settlement 'it was long remembered in Melbourne that its three leading clergymen, the Rev James Forbes (Presbyterian), the Rev AC Thompson (Episcopalian) and the Rev PB Geoghegan (Roman Catholic), had been seen walking in Melbourne streets with their arms linked'.


Source- Baptist Church to 1847
Many Aboriginal people came from a range of Victorian communities to visit the confluence of the Merri Creek and the Yarra River. Most, however, were from local clans of either Woiwurrung-speaking (who were also referred to as the ‘Yarra Tribe’) or Boonwurrung-speaking (also known as the Western Port Tribe’).
[It was over this country, and these peoples, that William Thomas’s authority as Assistant Protector extended.] From March 1839, William Thomas was the Assistant Protector responsible for the Western Port or Melbourne District of the Port Phillip Aboriginal Protectorate. Although based at Narre Narre Warren, he began, in December 1841, to visit the confluence of Merri Creek and the Yarra River. In March 1842, Thomas witnessed many Woiwurrung people decamp from Narre Narre Warren (the central protectorate station of his district) as their water supply from Dandenong Creek failed.
The Merri Creek was selected on 3 June 1842 as the temporary headquarters of the Native Police Corps, under the command of Captain H. E. P. Dana. The site served this purpose until the relocation of the Corps to Narre Narre Warren in September 1843. Late in 1842, Thomas built a hut that was to become known as the ‘Assistant Protector’s Quarters’ or ‘Merri Creek Protectorate Station’. From 1843, the Merri Creek–Yarra River confluence was, in effect, the ‘Central Station’ of the Western Port District. Due to reductions in government funding of the Protectorate in 1843, infrastructure, building works and staffing at the Merri Creek Protectorate ‘station’ never matched the levels provided for the Protectorate Stations of Loddon, Mt Rouse, Goulburn or Narre Narre Warren.
From July 1842 until February 1843, the Western Port Protectorate schoolmaster, Noble Keenan, conducted European-style school classes from the site, to children of the families who frequented the encampments there. From Keenan’s departure in February 1843 until June 1844, William Thomas assumed responsibility for teaching Aboriginal children, most likely from the former Native Police Corps Barracks building erected during the Corps’ occupancy. In August 1845, the former Protectorate schoolmaster at Narre Narre Warren, Edward Peacock, attracted Aboriginal children to Sunday school classes at Richmond. He was supported in this venture by Mr Mortimer and the Committee of the Collins Street Baptist Church.
In November 1845, the Committee communicated with Superintendent Charles Joseph La Trobe, with the view to receiving government sanction and assistance in the establishment of a permanent school for the children of the ‘Yarra tribe’. The former residence of the McArthurs, situated at the confluence of Merri Creek and the Yarra River, was granted for use as a school and mission house.
Edward Peacock, who was a parishoner of the Collins Street Baptist Church and regular attendant of their Committee meetings, was employed as schoolmaster at the new institution. Some additions were made to the site’s structural features, including a schoolroom, dormitory building and part of a stable. Pupil numbers were high in the first six months of operation, and the school received support from government, church and public subscription. One reason for this was that Billibellary, an influential and important Wurundjeri ngurungaeta, or spokesman, gave his support to the scheme. From the second half of 1846, however, several factors contributed to a decline in attendance. Billibellary’s opinion of the school had radically altered. His opposition to the motives of the school and his death in August 1846 had important and far-reaching ramifications for the future of Merri Creek Aboriginal School. His death caused the Woiwurrung people to abandon the confluence for much of the rest of that year. The outbreak of a new wave of influenza from the middle of 1847 had a more lasting effect on the movements of Aboriginal people away from Melbourne.


or Church of England
the Reverend T. B. Naylor, of Hobart Town, a Church of England clergyman, visited the Settlement, and conducted service on 30th April, 1837. He also solemnized the first marriage at the Settlement, and christened John Melbourne Gilbert, son of James and Mary Gilbert, the first white child born at this Settlement.

Captain Lonsdale reported to the Bishop that there was no clergyman at the Settlement, and stated that "some of the inhabitants read the Church service at their own residences to such as were disposed to attend, and that he did the same to the soldiers and the convicts." (7). Two laymen however, were responsible for occasional ministrations; George Langhorne who had been appointed Missionary to an Aboriginal Mission Station on the banks of the Yarra Yarra, beyond Anderson Street, South Yarra; and James Smith who became secretary of the subscribers for the erection of a wooden church in William Street, when that subscription was started after the first death and funeral at the Settlement. The building was offered to Captain Lonsdale for use as a church and schoolroom, as he stated subsequently "for Church of England service." The Commandant collected further subscriptions, and the sum spent in plastering the walls and installing a cedar pulpit and pews raised the total expenditure to about £100. It was, however, "a mere wooden shell, and incapable of keeping out the cold." In December 1838, the building was moved to the westward, and rebuilt with additions on the site adjoining that of the future pro-Cathedral, St. James' Church. It was "surmounted by something very like the traditional gallows, carrying a large and sonorous ship's bell." (8). The [13/14] foundation stone of the pro-Cathedral itself, was laid on November 9th, 1839, by Mr. La Trobe, the newly appointed Superintendent of Port Phillip District. The cost of the church was about £6,000, of which £1,560 came from the Colonial Treasury. Further extensions were made in 1840, increasing the sittings to 200. At this period, there were three churches in Melbourne; St. James' Church of England; one Wesleyan Chapel; and a temporary wooden building which was the precursor of St. Francis' Roman Catholic Church. There were also 16 public houses, three butcher's shops, and three baker's shops.

Until the arrival of a resident minister, James Smith and George Langhorne conducted the services at St. James' Church. The Reverend James Clow, a Presbyterian minister officiated there for several months in 1838.
Bishop Broughton sent the first Church of England resident clergyman, the amiable Reverend James Couch Grylls, on October 12th, 1838, the building used by all would be required exclusively for Church of England use. Mr. Grylls received a Government stipend of £150 a year. During that first year of the Rev. J. C. Grylls' ministry in Melbourne there were 55 baptisms, 42 marriages and 42 burials amongst his parishioners, who numbered between 700 and 800. There was also a day school at St. James', with an average daily attendance of 30 males and 20 females under the schoolmaster, William W. Abbott, whose salary was paid from a combination of tuition fees, voluntary subscriptions and a grant from the Colonial Treasury.
On January 7th, 1840, the Reverend James Yelverton Wilson, a missionary from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, in England, arrived via Sydney, and relieved the Rev. J. C. Grylls, who obtained leave of absence to go to England in order to bring out his family, and in the meantime his place was occupied by Rev JW Wilson who was soon moved to Portland Bay. On his return to Australia, Grylls remained in Sydney, where he died in 1854.
On September 26th, 1840 the diplomatic Reverend Adam Compton Thomson arrived in the brig "Jewess," and on November 30th, he was able to open a little stone building at Brighton. Dr. W. B. Wilmot, a layman, carried on the services, until the Reverend Brickwood was appointed to minister there in 1849, after the arrival of Bishop Charles Perry.
Rev Adam Compton Thompson/Thomson served for many years at St James Church, Melourne.
In The Book of Common Prayer among the Nations of the World, in Chapter 32, "Translations Into Dravidian Languages" being Sanskrit, the form of speech of Southern India, the 9th paragraph ends with the sentence - The Thirty-Nine Articles were translated by the Rev Adam Compton Thompson, and published in 1842.
In 1842 prisoners were attended by the Colonial Chaplain the Rev. A. C. Thompson, who continued till the arrival of the Bishop of Melbourne, he then moved to Van Dieman's Land and afterwards back to England.
"I have known," says a contemporary, "that most excellent pastor and worthy man, the Rev. Adam Compton Thomson, perform the burial service over six persons, the marriage ceremony on three couples, baptize several children and visit sick persons in town and its suburbs, all in the course of one day."
In 1843, Bishop Broughton again visited the colony, landing first at Geelong,
By early 1846, the Colonial Bishopric's Fund, founded by Bishop Blomfield, of London, had borne fruit and three bishops had been selected for Australia, and when Bishops Charles Perry, William Tyrell, and Augustus Short were consecrated for the Australian church, and Robert Gray for South Africa, on St. Peter's Day in June, 1847, it became popularly known as "the birthday of the Colonial Church."
On the 18th June, 1846, that the foundation stone of St. Peter's, Eastern Hill, was laid by Superintendent La Trobe, in the presence of the Reverends Adam Compton Thomson, incumbent of St. James', Melbourne, and Ebenezer Collins, of Geelong.
Rev G Collier arrived on the 'Australia' from Liverpool, with his wife, 2 chn and 2 servants. Source Melbourne Courier 27 Feb 1846
For Melbournians of 1847, the appointment of Perry as first Bishop of Melbourne, showed the growing importance of a town, now to become a city, the residents of which were appealing to the Queen to shake off what was called the incubus of Sydney control.


Rev Waterfield arrived in 1838.
Services held in the home of John Gardiner,and after Fawkner's hotel was opened, in the large room of that establishment.
Chapel was erected in Collins St in 1839


Rev James Dredge, Mrs Sarah Dredge, Master Theophilus Dredge and younger children came 3 Jan 1839 on the coastal ship Hope.
James Dredge was baptised in 1796 in the small English village of Britford, within sight of Salisbury Cathedral. His wife Sarah and four surviving children — left England on board the barque Elizabeth, bound for Australia. After three months in Sydney, the Protectors were formally gazetted and travelled by boat to Port Phillip. Four Assistant Protectors were assigned districts where, with the aid of two convicts, they were to protect the native people from ‘any encroachment on their property and from acts of cruelty, oppression or injustice’. They were given the powers of a magistrate to help in this work. James Dredge's district covered more than a quarter of the present state of Victoria, stretching an unspecified distance to the north-east of Mount Macedon. If he had time, he was also to induce the Aboriginal people to assume more settled habits; to teach them how to cultivate the ground and build habitations; to educate the children and to instruct them in elements of the Christian religion.
James W. Dredge, a schoolmaster from Salisbury in England who arrived in Melbourne in the barque Hope, out of Sydney, on 3 January 1839. On 21 May he wrote in his diary, 'A shepherd has been murdered by the blacks on the Goulburn so hope to be off tomorrow'. His gear was loaded on a bullock dray and his men, two ex-convicts on parole, wore corduroy jackets, trousers, shirts, hats and shoes, which he supplied for £1.5.0 per man. On 22 May he wrote, 'Left Melbourne 2 p.m. on Billy, his horse which had cost £50 in Port Phillip. 26 May Pitched tent on bend of river a little above Clarkes'.
Here he built a hut, getting the blacks to cut bark for his roof as it leaked so badly. By Christmas he had peas, beans, cabbages, carrots and potatoes from his own garden, although it had been a hard summer in 1839 after a long drought of seven months. Though he quickly succeeded with his garden, James Dredge had so many other difficulties that he resigned and the protectorate was moved further down the river nearer to Murchison.

Standing up for the Aborigines resulted in James being regarded as a failed colonist, a lonely figure who attracted derision as he stood against the weight of colonial opinion on Aboriginal rights. After just seven months on the Goulburn he tendered his resignation under controversial circumstances which highlight the rift between his humanitarian views and the Port Phillip of 1840.
In June 1840 James Dredge returned to Melbourne to settle back into his beloved Methodist community. He returned to preaching but maintained a strong desire to help the Aboriginal people. He kept close contact with the Wesley Mission and by 1842 had begun to appreciate the importance of the land not just as a source of food for Aboriginal people but as a place of immense cultural significance.
Dredge was appointed head teacher of a new Methodist school and opened a small chinaware shop in the front room of his Collins Street house in August 1840. Financial problems still plagued him, however, and he was advised to declare himself bankrupt in October 1841. He died in 1846 on board the Arab, two days before reaching Land's End. Where Robinson acquired wealth and prestige through his work with the Aborigines, returning in comfort to Bath, Dredge lost both his health and his livelihood.

Rev Peter Gunn


Rev James Clow had retired from being a chaplain in the East India Company, and retired in Port Phillip. Rev Clow, who died 1861 aged 69, performed divine service till Rev James Forbes arrived in Jan 1839. A schoolhouse was erected and in 1841 the first Scotch hurch was erected in Collins St. Rev Love arrived from Scotland and settled in Geelong in 1840.
22 Jan 1841 The foundation stone of the first Scot's Church laid by Dr David Patrick. Samuel Jackson was architect, Webb and Alee were the stone and brick contractors and James Rule contractor for carpentry, plumbing and glazing. 15 Nov 1841 15 Trustees appointed to the Savings Bank of Port Phillip were: James Simpson, Thomas Wills, Skene Craig, J D L Campbell, George Ward Cole, James Graham, Charles Hutton, Jones Agnew Smith, Robert Martin, Rev A C Thompson, Rev J Forbes and Rev P B Geoghegan. La Trobe was President and J Simpson Vice President.
In 1842 3 clergy arrived, Rev Messrs Gunn, Mowbray and Laurie
Rev Peter Gunn arrived in January, 1842 and was specially appointed to serve the Gaelic speaking people in and around Melbourne. He won election for pastor for Scots Church, Campbellfield. Source - Melbourne Weekly Courier 24 Jan 1845 and died in 1864 aged 52.
View a photograph taken Aug. 15, 1979 by John T Collins of his tombstone in Campbellfield cemetry
Rev Thomas Mowbray arrived 26 Jan 1842 from Greenock went first to a charge in the Port Phillip District and then to one in Sydney. Following a breakdown in health he moved to Brisbane and established a school in the grounds of his home Riversdale, now Mowbray Park
Rev Alexander Laurie, and Mrs Janet Laurie arrived 9 Feb 1842 from Leith and first served at Presbyterian Portland, then Geelong Advertiser 20 May 1844 announced they have left Portland to live in Belfast.

John Dunmore Lang, (1799-1878), a Presbyterian clergyman, was the Colony’s first Presbyterian minister, becoming also a politician, educationist, and supporter of free immigration. He arrived in Sydney in May 1823 from Scotland and through private funds begun the Scots Church, which was finished in 1826.
Wilhelmina Mackie (1812-1891) was born in Greenock, Scotland on the 24th September, 1812. Rev. Lang was escourting his cousin Wilhelmina Mackie to Sydney to marry his brother, Andrew. However he persuaded her to marry him whilst on board the ship 'Stirling Castle' in Simon's Bay, Cape of Good Hope on the 25th August, 1831. The wedding took place before their arrival in Sydney to avoid opposition from Lang's mother, anticipated because of the difference in their ages. The marriage and family life was happy, marred only by tragedies involving their children; of ten, five died in infancy. Wilhelmina died at Blackheath, N.S.W. on 6th October, 1891.
Rev Dr Laing make visits to Port Phillip in 1841. He was based in Sydney, and is recorded in Book Review as The Presbyterian clergyman Rev. Lang, a vocal critic of existing missions in the colony, founded Zion Hill, the first Aboriginal Mission in colonial Queensland, in 1838. Lang organised the establishment of a Moravian style mission settlement in convict Moreton Bay, administered by twenty Protestant volunteers from Germany. Upon arrival Lang’s missionaries took up a section of land seven miles to the north of the convict settlement, and cleared the area for farming and the construction of houses. The resulting settlement, Zion Hill, reflected the German origins of the missionaries in both design and arrangement of its fields and buildings. The early years of the mission were marked by hardships and difficulties, including the absence of Lang from the colony, the subsequent neglect of the mission committee and Aboriginal raids on the crops. Lang’s return in 1842 revitalised the mission, with the Germans gaining farming equipment and additional livestock. An economic downturn resulted in the withdrawal of Government funding from all colonial missions and the Zion Hill community made the decision to support itself through market gardening. The strategy enjoyed immediate success, with the missionaries finding strong demand for their produce.

Roman Catholics

Rev Fr Patrick Bonaventure Geoghegan arrived in Melbourne 15 May 1839 on the ship Paul Pry following his appointment to the newly formed parish of Port Phillip. He conducted his first Mass in Melbourne on 19 May 1839 on an altar prepared for the occasion by Mrs. Coffee. He also performed Melbourne's first Roman Catholic baptism on this day on Catherine, the daughter of Thomas Connor and Elizabeth (Kavanagh).
His details Caholic clergy - Patrick Bonaventure Geoghegan was born in Dublin, Ireland, and was baptised in March 1805. After he was orphaned at an early age some of his relatives sought to have him raised as a Protestant, however a Franciscan priest arranged for his placement in an orphanage. The Franciscans later arranged for his schooling at Edgeworthstown, County Longford, Ireland. His education was furthered at the Irish College at Lisbon, Portugal and the Franciscan Order at Coimbra, Portugal.
After ordination as a priest in Portugal he was appointed to St. Francis' Church, Dublin, Ireland. In 1837 Dr. William B. Ullathorne, Vicar General of the Australian mission, visited Dublin and following an interview with him, Patrick volunteered for seven years work in Australia. Fr. Geoghegan arrived at Sydney, New South Wales on the 370 ton barque "Francis Spaight" on 31 December 1838. He spent some months in New South Wales before being transferred to Melbourne in May 1839 by Bishop John Bede Polding.
On 26 August 1839 Fr. Richard Walsh arrived at Melbourne from Sydney on the 351 ton barque "Christina" to act as Fr. Geoghegan's assistant. Church services in Melbourne continued to be held in temporary premises for some time.
In June 1841 Baptisms were solemnised by Rev Michael Ryan at Roman Catholic St Francis, Melbourne
On 4 October 1841 Fr. Geoghegan laid the foundation stone for St. Francis' Church on two acres of land at the north-east corner of Elizabeth and Lonsdale Streets, Melbourne. This church was opened by him on 23 October 1845. He later laid the foundation stone for St. Mary's Church, Geelong in August 1846.
Fr. Michael Stephens OSA was appointed administrator of St Francis' during the time Fr Geoghegan was away ill, in Sydney, from April to September 1842. After Fr Geoghegan's return, Fr Stephens was appointed to Geelong.
Rev Daniel McEvey and Rev PB Geoghegan made visits to Melbourne Gaol in year of 1843
Geelong Advertiser 25 Apr 1844 announces the arrival of Very Rev PB Geoghegan by Saturday's steamer to conduct a solumn Jubilee, to commence on Monday 29 Apr and end on Thursday, assisted by Rev Michael Stephens.
Source - Port Phillip Herald 6 Jan 1846 - The 'Martha and Elizabeth' has brought to Melbourne the Rev M Bourgenis who is to assist the Very Rev Mr Geoghegan.
Rev John Joseph Thiery was in Melbourne 1846

Wesleyan Methodists

in April 1836 the Rev Orton, a Wesleyan minister of Van Dieman's Land, who had accompanied Mr Batman when he brought his family across Bass's Straits, celebrated divine service when Melbourne consisted of 3 houses and 2 bark huts. Mr Batman's Sydney blacks, and local aborigines attended, with all others. The Church of England service was read, and an excellent discourse was preached on 'Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God'. Source - Page 314-5 of History of Victoria.
As a result of Rev Orton's report to the English Society that Messrs Tuckfield, Hurst and Skeavenden were sent to 'reclaim the aborigines' Wesleyans celebrated divine service in the house of Mr William Witton, an ironmonger who afterwards abandoned his business to devote himself to ministry.
A temporary chapel was erected by Mr John Jones Peers, a respectable builder
The first settled gentleman was Mr Hursy, who was succeeded by Mr Schofield, and when he removed to Paramatta, by Mr Sweetman
Rev W Scholield made 19 visits to Melbourne Gaol in year of 1843
Geelong Advertiser 23 May 1844 report on excellent progress made by members of the Aboriginal establishment under the charge of Mr Tuckfield at the Buntingdale Mission Station.
PORT PHILLIP CLERGY, SYMONS, John Christian (Rev.) (1821-1894) ( Wesleyan Methodist ) Born on 24 January 1821 at Lower St. Columb/Trevilly, Cornwall, England, Arrived at Melbourne on 9 November 1846 per "Maitland" from London, England. Acted as religious instructor to convict exiles on the voyage out. Returned to England and wed 1848
Arrivals in 1840, 1841, 1842, 1843, 1844, 1845, 1846, 1847,
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