1868: All Saints Anglican Church, South Hobart, Tasmania.

The Colonial Victorian Stained Glass firm, Ferguson & Urie created the John Henry Foster Memorial Window, and the ‘St Matthew & St Luke’ and ‘St Mark & St Peter’ windows at All Saints Anglican Church, South Hobart, Tasmania.

The vast majority of our historical stained glass memorial windows have an element of tragedy and mystery surrounding them, but over the course of more than a century the story behind who they were memorials to has long faded from memory.

In August 1867, James Urie, a principal partner in the Colonial Victorian Stained Glass firm, Ferguson & Urie, was travelling Tasmania with a portfolio of the companies secular and ecclesiastical stained glass designs. Amongst the many commissions he had received for stained glass windows, was one for Mr John Foster Esq, to be erected as a memorial to his eldest son, John Henry Foster[1].

 “DECORATIVE ART– The admirers of art workmanship will be glad to hear that there has for the last couple of weeks been sojourning in Tasmania, a partner of the Victorian firm of Ferguson, Urie, and Lyon, to whom many ecclesiastical and private edifices in this and the neighbouring colonies are indebted for some of the finest specimens of pictorial decoration on glass, of which they have yet become the possessors…”[2]

“…the firm are in receipt of commissions from John Foster, Esq, for a memorial window to be placed in All Saints’ church, Hobart Town, in remembrance of the donor’s deceased son, and from A. Kennerley Esq[3], for other decorated windows for the same church…” 

Photos taken 8th October 2010.

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The two light Foster memorial window for All Saints Anglican Church in Hobart was created by Ferguson & Urie and erected circa 1868.

A trefoil above both lights depicts the Lamb of God (Latin ‘Anus Dei”) carrying the Christian banner.

The central figures in each light depict beautifully coloured and intricately designed figures that correspond with verses from Mark 11:22, with the text below: “HAVE FAITH IN GOD” and Luke 18:16 with the text, “SUFFER LITTLE CHILDREN TO COME UNTO ME”.

Above each figure is an angel carrying a ribbon with text from Revelations 14:13 “Blessed are the dead” and “Which die in the lord”

The bottom edge of the window has the memorial text:

“ERECTED BY JOHN FOSTER ESQ. IN MEMORY OF HIS DEAR SON”.

The memorial text on the window doesn’t reveal much information, but the prominent Tasmanian newspapers of the time reveal the sad story of the boys demise.

On the evening of the 3rd of December 1866 a tragic accident occurred near the Foster family home at 94 Davey street Hobart. In the vicinity of the barrack gates in Davey street, the young John Henry Foster was knocked from his pony by a coach and subsequently run over by its wheels and he died shortly after.

“DISTRESSING AND FATAL ACCIDENT.- One of the most distressing and fatal accidents, which it has for some time past been our lot to record, occurred in Davey-street at about half past four o’clock yesterday afternoon. It appears that Master Foster, son of John Foster, Esq., of Davey-street, a promising little lad between six and seven years of age, was riding on his piebald pony along Barrack-street, being accompanied by Master Hinsby, who was also on horseback. When nearing the corner opposite the barrack gate a cab was observed coming down Davey-street at full speed. Master Hinsby kept his right side, taking a full sweep, and passing the cab. He was closely followed by Master Foster, but the cab took rather a wide sweep in turning the corner and ran right into the poor lad, who was struck it is believed by the pole, knocked off his pony and the wheels of the cab passing over him. He was at once picked up, and under the direction of the Hon. R. Q. Kermode, Esq., and Dr. Benson, who were passing at the time, he was conveyed into a cottage near the residence of Captain Clinch…”[4]

Young John Henry Foster was subsequently dispatched to hospital and Dr Bright was in attendance within half an hour but “…on his arrival the poor little fellow had breathed his last.”[5] Equally tragic was the fact that the boys parents were away in Melbourne at the time and it was left to the Hon R. Q. Kermode to contact them and advise of the tragedy.

“Mr. Kermode has, we believe, written to the bereaved gentleman informing him of his terrible loss.” [6]

An inquest was held in the absence of the boys parents, at the Greyhound Inn on Wednesday the 5th of December 1866 [7] before A. B. Jones, Esq,. and a jury of seven. The jury foreman was none other than the long time friend of John Foster, the Hon Alfred Kennerley, Esq.

The inquest found that the cab was not speeding as previously reported and that the pole brace attached to the collar of the cabs outside horse had bumped the rear of the boys pony causing the boy to fall off and go under the wheels. No blame was attributed to any anyone for the accident.

“…The jury would not call upon the coroner to go through the evidence, and returned a verdict that deceased had been accidentally killed, requesting that it might be noticed by the press that no blame was attached to John Newhey, the driver of the cab, nor did the jury attribute any blame to Mr. Hinsby, junior. The inquest was then closed.” [8]

The funeral of Master John Henry Foster didn’t occur until his parents had arrived back from Melbourne some twelve days later and was interred in the Foster family vault at Cornelian Bay Cemetery, Hobart, on the 15th of December 1866 [9].

 Over 144 years has passed since the tragic event and the windows creation by Ferguson & Urie. The newspaper article from 1867 also mentioned that Alfred Kennerley had also commissioned Ferguson & Urie for other decorative windows:

“…and from A. Kennerley Esq[10], for other decorated windows for the same church…”

The windows donated by Alfred Kennerly are the ‘St Matthew & St Luke’ and ‘St Mark & St Peter’ windows. None of these windows appear to be memorials as such and are likely to have been erected at the same time as the Foster memorial window.

Biographies:

John Foster (1792-1875)

Alfred Kennerley (1810-1897)

End Notes:

[1] John Henry Foster, born 27th January 1860. (date as per memorial at Cornelian Bay Cemetery, Hobart)

[2] The Mercury, Hobart Tasmania, Wednesday 7th August 1867, page 2.

[3] The Hon. Alfred Kennerley. Alfred Kennerley (1810-1897)

[4] The Mercury, Hobart, Tasmania, Tuesday 4th December 1866, page 2.

[5] ibid

[6] ibid

[7] The Mercury, Hobart, Tasmania, Thursday 6th December 1866, page 3.

[8] Ibid

[9] The Mercury, Hobart, Tasmania, Saturday 15th December 1866, page 1.

[10] The Hon. Alfred Kennerley.

Restoration/Conservation:

The Ferguson & Urie windows are undergoing restoration in 2013 by Gavin Merrington. The Foster memorial is the first in the series to be restored and has been removed as at May 2013.

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