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Parishes and people

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By 1800 the population of Sydney was approximately 2,500. In 1802 Governor King divided the colony into two parishes. Sydney Town was to be the Parish of St Philip's and the Parramatta area was to be the Parish of St John's. In 1803 the impressive St John's Church was opened in Parramatta by Reverend Samuel Marsden.

In October 1800 Rev. Richard Johnson returned to England with his family in the Buffalo. Reverend Samuel Marsden took over the role of Principal Chaplain to the colony.

Samuel Marsden's relationship with the government, and in particular, Governor Macquarie, was often difficult. Macquarie and Marsden disagreed on a range of issues. In particular, Marsden's sense of position and social order was offended by Macquarie's support of emancipists in the community. Macquarie's authoritarian style also clashed with Marsden's role as Principal Chaplain. Marsden was not allowed to introduce new versions of the Psalms which Macquarie viewed as "Methodist". He also ordered that Government notices be announced during services. As a landowner and successful farmer Marsden also objected to government control and interference in commercial activities.

In January, 1818, Macquarie summoned Marsden to Government House and in front of witnesses described him as 'the Head of a seditious low Cabal and consequently unworthy of mixing in Private society'. He commanded him to avoid his presence except upon public duty.

From 1810 a number of different denominations entered the religious landscape of the Colony. In 1803 the first authorised Roman Catholic Mass was celebrated by Father James Dixon in Sydney. Father James Dixon was one of three convict priests transported from Ireland after the 1798 Rebellion of the United Irishmen. At the time approximately one third of the population of the settlement were Catholics.

Between 1810 and 1830 representatives from the major denominations were established in the colony. In 1818 Reverend Walter Lawry, a Methodist, arrived from England and was stationed at Parramatta. In 1820 the first appointed Roman Catholic priests, Fathers John Joseph Therry and Philip Connolly, arrived in the Colony. Also in 1820 German-born convict Joseph Marcus conducted the first Jewish service. The Presbyterian minister, Reverend John Dunmore Lang, arrived in Sydney in May 1823. The first Baptist service was conducted by Scottish Minister John McKaeg in 1831.

Before the 1820s it was accepted that the Anglican church was the established church in Australia. The Church of England worked with the State to maintain order and organise the education system. With the influx of other denominations the influence of the Anglican church diminished. The shift in power and influence created tension between the different denominations and between the church and government. Both Governors Brisbane and Darling were sympathetic to the Catholic and Wesleyan churches who provided support to free settlers and convicts. Darling's successor, Richard Bourke showed further sympathy for the role of other denominations through the Church Act of 1836 which provided financial assistance to denominations other than Anglican.

The First New South Wales census was taken in 1828. The 36,484 respondents were asked to nominate their religion as Protestant, Catholic, Jewish or 'Mohammedan and pagan'. In 1828 there were reportedly 19 people classified in the last category.

 

Samuel Marsden

Samuel Marsden (1764–1838) was born at Farsley, Yorkshire, England on June 24, 1764. In 1790 the Elland Society, an evangelical group within the Church of England which sponsored the education for the ministry of promising youths, sent him to Magdalene College, Cambridge. In January 1793 he accepted an appointment as assistant to the Chaplain of New South Wales. Marsden arrived in the colony on March 10, 1794 with his wife and young child.

Read Samuel Marsden's account of the voyage out to New South Wales via the Library's catalogue

Marsden became the first rector of St John's Church Parramatta from its opening in 1803 until his death on May 12, 1838. Marsden's religious activities included the establishment of an orphanage and school in Sydney in 1801. He undertook a range of missionary activities amongst the Aborigines and organized the first Christian mission to the Maoris. He traveled across to New Zealand on a number of occasions.

This Yorkshire chaplain was a man of strong personality and deep religious conviction. He was appalled at the vice and immorality displayed by the convicts in the settlement and was determined to establish moral order in the colony. Acting as both a clergyman and civil magistrate he was at times a controversial figure. His reputation for extreme severity as a magistrate earned him the title of the "flogging parson".

Marsden was also involved in many aspects of colonial life including farming. By 1802 he had acquired 201 acres in grants and had purchased an additional 239 acres from other settlers. His holdings gradually increased to 3,631 acres by grant and 1,600 by purchase in 1827. In 1803–05 he made several reports to Governor King and to Sir Joseph Banks on the prospect of sheep breeding and wool growing.

Samuel Marsden was Senior Vice-President of the Agricultural Society which was formed on 5 July 1822. As early as 1811 he sent the colony's first commercial shipment of wool to England and continued to play a prominent role in the development of agriculture in New South Wales. This jug and stand were presented to Marsden by the Society in 1825.

[Jug and stand] Awarded to the Revd. S. Marsden by the agricultural society of New South Wales, 1825
1820-1825
Marsden, Samuel, 1765-1838
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Digital ID: 
a1177010
[Jug and stand] Awarded to the Revd. S. Marsden by the agricultural society of New South Wales, 1825
1820-1825
Marsden, Samuel, 1765-1838
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Digital ID: 
a1177009
[Jug and stand] Awarded to the Revd. S. Marsden by the agricultural society of New South Wales, 1825
1820-1825
Marsden, Samuel, 1765-1838
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Digital ID: 
a1177014
[Jug and stand] Awarded to the Revd. S. Marsden by the agricultural society of New South Wales, 1825
Digital ID: 
a1177013
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[Jug and stand] Awarded to the Revd. S. Marsden by the agricultural society of New South Wales, 1825
Marsden, Samuel, 1765-1838
Digital ID: 
a1177016
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Marsden and Macquarie

Samuel Marsden's relationship with the government, and in particular, Governor Macquarie, was often difficult. Macquarie and Marsden disagreed on a range of issues. In particular, Marsden's sense of position and social order was offended by Macquarie's support of emancipists in the community. For example, in 1810 Marsden refused an appointment to the board of trustees of the Parramatta turnpike road because two successful ex-convicts were also on the board. The Governor viewed his refusal as an act of insubordination. As a landowner and successful farmer Marsden also objected to government control and interference in commercial activities.
Macquarie became increasingly suspicious of Marsden's investigation and sentencing activities as magistrate and his tendency to challenge the authority of the Governor. He suspected that Marsden was sending reports back to England complaining about the administration.

In January, 1818, Macquarie summoned Marsden to Government House and in front of witnesses described him as 'the Head of a seditious low Cabal and consequently unworthy of mixing in Private society'. He commanded him to avoid his presence except upon public duty.

>View full record of Letter to Samuel Marsden, 8 January 1818 (A 797) 

Transcript: 
Sydney 8. Jan.y 1818 Thursday Noon Mr Marsden! To prevent the possibility of any misrepresentation, I have thought it necessary to have those three Gentlemen present at this interview, in order that they may hear and bear witness, eventually, of what I am now about to say to you. 1st. I have long known, Mr Marsden, that you are a secret Enemy of mine and as long as you continue only a secret one, I despised too much your malicious attempts to injure my character to take any notice of your treacherous conduct; but now that you have thrown off the mask, and have openly and Publickly manifested your hostile and factious disposition towards me, I can no longer consistently with what I owe to my own high station, and the tranquility of the Country I have the honor to Govern, pass over unnoticed, a recent most daring act of insolence and insubordination, of which you have been guilty.
Letter from Lachlan Macquarie to Samuel Marsden, 8 January 1818
Marsden, Samuel, 1765-1838
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Digital ID: 
a993005
Transcript: 
2nd. I therefore demand of you to inform me by whose order, and by what authority, you have dared to investigate, and take Depositions, respecting my Public Measures and Administration, as Governor in Chief of this Colony. I allude, Sir, to your late examination of the Public Executioner, Thomas Hughes, at the House of Robert Campbell Esq.r, relative to my ordering three men to be Punished some time ago for breaking into the Government Domain contrary to repeated Government Orders. Answer "That he did not consider that he had done anything wrong.- 3rd. I consider, Sir, that act of yours, not only as most insolent and impertinent as respects myself Personally; but also as highly insubordinate and seditious; in
Letter from Lachlan Macquarie to Samuel Marsden, 8 January 1818
8 January 1818
Marsden, Samuel, 1765-1838
Digital ID: 
a993006
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Transcript: 
as much as such conduct, on your part tends to inflame the mind of the Inhabitants, excite a clamour against my Government, bring my administration into disrepute, and disturb the General Tranquility of the Colony. Such conduct, Sir, would be highly Criminal in any man; but still much more so in you as being both a Magistrate and a Clergyman' who ought to be the first to set an example of loyalty, obedience, and proper subordination! 4th. As I was myself Personally the object of your seditious, malicious, and officious investigation, on the occasion adverted to, I did not wish tho' I knew what was going forward at the time to interrupt your treacherous and insidious endeavours to injure my Character and thereby gratify your own spirit of revenge! But now, that I conclude that you have fully completed your investigation on the subject
Letter from Lachlan Macquarie to Samuel Marsden, 8 January 1818
8 January 1818
Marsden, Samuel, 1765-1838
Digital ID: 
a993007
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Transcript: 
in question and transmitted Home the result thereof; I must thus Publickly warn you, that if ever you dare or presume again to interfere with, or investigate any part of my conduct, as Governor of this Colony, I shall consider it my indispensible duty as a measure of necessary precaution alike due to my own high station, the support of my authority, and the tranquility of the Country immediately to suspend you from the exercise of your Functions in your present offices, as a Clergyman and a Magistrate, until I report your conduct to H.R. Highness The Prince Regent. - 5th. Viewing you now, Sir, as the Head of a Seditious Low Cabal and consequently unworthy of mixing in Private Society or intercourse with me, I beg to inform you that I never wish to see you excepting on Public Duty; and I cannot help deeply lamenting, that, any man of your Sacred Profession should be so much lost to every good feeling of Justice, generosity and gratitude, as to manifest such deep rooted malice, rancour, hostility and vindictive opposition towards one who has never injured you but has, on the contrary, conferred several acts of kindness on both yourself and Family! L.M.
Letter from Lachlan Macquarie to Samuel Marsden, 8 January 1818
8 January 1818
Marsden, Samuel, 1765-1838
Digital ID: 
a993008
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Men of the Cloth

Within the Library's extensive portraiture collection are the images of some of the most influential churchmen of the nineteenth century. Here is a selection of images from the Library's collections.

About this item: 
Thomas Hassall (1794 - 1868) was raised and educated at Parramatta and worked as a clerk before opening the colony's first Sunday School in 1813. He acted as the superintendent and secretary of the New South Wales Sunday School Institution from 1815. He travelled to England in 1817, and was ordained deacon and priest in 1821. On his return to NSW he was married to Reverend Marsden's eldest daughter, Ann, and worked as curate at Parramatta. Later he also served as chaplain of the Port Macquarie penal settlement and the Bathurst district.
Thomas Hassall, ca. 1818 - portrait
ca. 1818
Digital ID: 
a1528138
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About this item: 
John Bede Polding (1794-1877) was appointed vicar-apostolic of New Holland, Van Diemen's Land, and the adjoining islands in 1834. He arrived in Sydney in September 1835 at a time when there were only three Catholic priests in New South Wales and one in Tasmania. Polding immediately started to organise the vast diocese, as well as the reform of religious services and Catholic education. He also undertook missionary work among the large number of Catholics in the convict community. Polding was elevated to the rank of Archbishop in 1841.
[Album of portraits, mainly of New South Wales officials, ca. 1836] / by W.H. Fernyhough
ca. 1836
Fernyhough, W. H., 1809-1849
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Digital ID: 
a1122013
About this item: 
John Dunmore Lang (1799-1878) arrived in Sydney in 1823. He was the first Presbyterian minister in the colony. Unable to secure government funding, Lang raised money through private subscriptions to build the Scots Church which opened in 1826. Lang was a strong supporter of education and established his own secondary school, the Australian College. On a number of visits to the British Isles he recruited ministers for the church as well as free settlers. Lang served as a member of the New South Wales Parliament for over twenty five years.
[Reverend John Dunmore Lang, 1841 / watercolour by William Nicholas]
1841
Nicholas, William, ca. 1807-1854
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Digital ID: 
a928172
About this item: 
William Grant Broughton (1788-1853), travelled to Australia in 1829 as Archdeacon of New South Wales. On his arrival he was also appointed a member of the Legislative Council and of the Executive Council. In 1836 he became Bishop of Australia. When the See was divided in 1847 he was made Bishop of Sydney. In 1840, as a member of the Legislative Council, he attempted to enforce a strict observance of the Sabbath on New South Wales. His attempts were strongly opposed by the other members, including Governor Bourke.
Bishop William Grant Broughton, 1843 / W. Nicholas
1843
Nicholas, William, ca. 1807-1854
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Digital ID: 
a928950
About this item: 
Lancelot Edward Threlkeld (1788-1859), missionary and Congregational minister arrived in Sydney in 1817. After serving as a missionary in the Society Islands he established a mission to Aboriginies on Lake Macquarie in 1825. The mission was eventually closed in 1841, whereupon Threlkeld moved to Sydney to become minister of the South Head Congregational Church. Throughout his like Threlkeld maintained his interest in Aboriginal welfare and was always a strong opponent of discrimination. In 1824 he married Sarah, daughter of Thomas Arndell, assistant surgeon on the First Fleet.
Reverend Lancelot Edward Threlkeld, 1788-1859 [ambrotype portrait]
ca. 1850s
Digital ID: 
a128176
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About this item: 
Robert Cartwright (1771-1856), emigrated to NSW as an Anglican chaplain in 1810. He worked in the Hawkesbury district and at Windsor for several years. Cartwright was a strong supporter of Governor Macquarie and his Aboriginal welfare policies. He also accompanied Macquarie on an expedition across the Blue Mountains, preaching the first sermon near Lake Bathurst in 1820. Cartwright was appointed to Liverpool in 1819 and remained there for seventeen years, until he was made incumbent of St. James' Sydney.
Rev. Robert Cartwright, born 1771, died 1856 [framed portrait] View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a928730
About this item: 
William Branwhite Clarke (1798-1878) arrived in Sydney with hi family in 1839 and was appointed to the Anglican ministry at St Peter's, Campbelltown. Within a week, he was re-assigned as headmaster of The King's School, Parramatta. In August 1846 he moved to St Thomas' Church, North Sydney, remaining there until retirement in 1871. Clarke is remembered as a geologist rather than as a churchman. In his spare time he collected specimens of rocks and fossils and published his findings in the Magazine of Natural History. In 1841, Clarke discovered particles of gold near Hartley in the Blue Mountains.
Scott family - collection of studio portrait photographs, ca. 1865-1921
ca. 1865-1900, 1902, 1908, 1921
Digital ID: 
a755029
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a283047h.jpg
William Cowper (1778-1858) was recruited by Reverend Samuel Marsden in 1808, to serve as an assistant chaplain in New South Wales. On his arrival in 1809 he became minister to St Phillip's Church, Sydney, preaching his first sermon on August 20 1809. He remained as the rector for the next 49 years. Cowper's evangelical services were not popular with Governor Macquarie. Cowper was also active in a number of evangelical societies, including the British and Foreign Bible Society, the Religious Tract and Book Society and the Benevolent Society of New South Wales.

Made possible through a partnership with Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation