1873: Christ Church Anglican, Geelong, Victoria.

The John Rendall Morris (1820-1872) Memorial Window.

In October 1872 the committee of Christ Church in Moorabool Street, Geelong, requested the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company of North Melbourne to provide some designs for a memorial window to be erected in the liturgical north transept.

“Members of almost every denomination have contributed to the memorial window which it is proposed to place in Christ Church to the memory of the late Mr. J. R. Morris, the total amount received to date being about £112. About £40 more will be required, but, as several friends of the deceased have not sent in their subscription, and as others have intimated their willingness to increase their subscriptions, if found necessary to do so, the committee have requested Messrs Urie and Ferguson to furnish two designs, which are expected to arrive shortly.”[1]

The window was to be a memorial the memory of their much respected Church Warden and Trustee, John Rendall Morris who died aged 53 on the 15th September 1872.

An extraordinary list of prominent citizens of Geelong, including the Mayor, Sir Charles Sladen, was formed as the committee for the erection of the window[2].

By the end of November 1872 a total of £145 had been subscribed for the window of its reported total cost of £160[3] and by early December a design by the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company was on public display at the establishment of Henry Franks, stationer and book seller, of Malop Street in Geelong:

“The coloured design for the stained glass window to be placed in the north transept of Christ Church as a memorial of the late Mr J. R. Morris is now being exhibited at Mr Franks’s. In the centre of the design there is a representation of the Transfiguration of our Saviour, Moses and Elias being on either side, and Peter, James, and John underneath as witnesses. In the tracery there are figures of Abraham, Joshua, and David – representative characters of the patriarchs, judges, and kings of Israel. Next are busts of the twelve minor prophets, and on the outer side lights there are figures of the four greater prophets – Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.”[4]

On the 23rd of December 1872 a meeting of the subscribers was held at the Market-Square offices of Geelong accountant, George Bowes Fraser (1810-1881)[5] , for the purpose of approving Ferguson & Urie’s proposed design[6].

The extremely ambitious and complex design contains the figures of twenty six prophets and saints and has the memorial text at the base;

“TO THE GLORY OF GOD – AND IN MEMORY OF – JOHN RENDALL MORRIS – CHURCHWARDEN & TRUSTEE – WHO DIED SEPTR 15 1872”

Exactly when the window was erected or dedicated in early 1873 has not yet been determined but 140 years later, in November 2013, mindless vandals managed to smash the lower centre area of this window and many others with bricks.

The Caulfield stained glass studio of Geoffrey Wallace is undertaking the repair and conservation work.

Photos taken between 2010 and 2013.

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The twenty six saints and prophets depicted in the window are:

Top Row:

ABRAM, ISAAC, JACOB, JOSHUA, SAMUEL, DAVID

2nd Row:

JOEL, AMOS, OBADIAH, JONAH, MICAH, NAHUM, ZEPHANIAH, HABAKKUK, HAGGAI, ZECHARIAH

3rd Row:

ISAIAH, MOSES, IMMANUEL, ELIJAH, EZEKIEL,

4th (bottom) Row:

JEREMIAH, ST JAMES, ST PETER, ST JOHN, DANIEL


John Rendall Morris (1820-1872).

John Rendall Morris was born 23rd January 1820, Islington, Middlesex, England, the son of John Morris and Jane Frances Watkins[7].

As a young man in his early 20’s he immigrated to Australia where, on the 6th of April 1843, he married Annie Wesley Morris nee Howe (c.1824-1866), daughter of a founder of the Sydney Gazette, Robert Howe, at St Lawrence Church, in Sydney[8].

Circa 1852 they moved to Geelong where he was appointed manager of the Bank of Australasia[9]. He was very active in community and church circles and in 1860[10], 1862[11] and 1869[12] he held appointments as Territorial Magistrate for Geelong. In 1861 he was a member of the Committee of Management for the Geelong Infirmary and Benevolent Asylum[13] but known to be involved in some capacity with that institution as early as 1858. He was also a well-respected member of the Anglican Church community and held the position of Trustee and Warden of Christ Church Geelong where his memorial window is located.

On the 5th June 1866 his wife Annie died at the age of 42[14] and two years later he married Priscilla Emily Ryland at Christ Church Geelong, on the 12th November 1868[15].

John Rendall Morris died on the 15th September 1872 aged 53[16]. He was buried at the Geelong Eastern cemetery on the 17th with his first wife Annie, who died in 1866 and second wife Priscilla, who died in 1891[17]. He is not known to have had any children by either marriage.


Significant transcriptions:

Geelong Advertiser, Vic, Tuesday 24th September 1872, page 2.

“It is proposed to place a large stained glass window in the north transept of Christ Church, in memory of the late Mr J. R. Morris, who was a constant attendant at the church, and an indefatigable office-bearer. That the window will be a valuable one may be judged from the fact that the following influential committee has been formed to carry out the object in view, and will receive subscriptions in its aid, viz:- The Hon. C. Sladen, the mayor of Geelong, and Messrs D. C. Macarthur, J. Bell, M. Elliott, E. Morrah, F. G. Smith, J. Galletly, J. Simpson, A. Buchanan, S. V. Buckland, S. A. Bryant, F. Shaw, M.D., J. B. Wilson, M.A., G. F. Belcher, T. C. Harwood, A. Douglass, C. Ibbotson, T. Roadnight, H. Franks, and G. A. Stephen. Mr A. S. Park, of the Colonial Bank, has been appointed treasurer, and Mr. G. Fraser, hon. secretary of the committee.”

Geelong Advertiser, Vic, Friday 18th October 1872, page 2.

“Members of almost every denomination have contributed to the memorial window which it is proposed to place in Christ Church to the memory of the late Mr. J. R. Morris, the total amount received to date being about £112. About £40 more will be required, but, as several friends of the deceased have not sent in their subscription, and as others have intimated their willingness to increase their subscriptions, if found necessary to do so, the committee have requested Messrs Urie and Ferguson to furnish two designs, which are expected to arrive shortly.”

Geelong Advertiser, Vic, Thursday 19th December 1872, page 3.

“A MEETING of Subscribers to the Memorial Window to be placed in Christ Church, in memory of the late Mr. J. R. Morris, will be held at the office of Mr. G. B. Fraser, Market-Square, on Monday, 23rd instant, at 4 o’clock, to approve of the design. A. STEELE PARK, Hon. Treasurer.”

Other historic Ferguson & Urie windows in Christ Church:

1869: The Chancel window.

1872: The Anglican Diocese 25th Anniversary window.

Footnotes:

[1] Geelong Advertiser, Vic, Friday 18th October 1872, page 2.

[2] Geelong Advertiser, Vic, Tuesday 24th September 1872, page 2.

[3] Geelong Advertiser, Vic, Saturday 30th November 1872, page 2.

[4] Geelong Advertiser, Vic, Monday 9th December 1872, page 2.

[5] Vic BDM: 4555/1881, age 71. Geelong Eastern Cemetery EAS-COE-OLD-A-807-355.

[6] Geelong Advertiser, Vic, Thursday 19th December 1872, page 3.

[7] Vic BDM: 6921/1872.

[8] The Sydney Morning Herald, NSW, Friday 7th April 1843, page 3.

[9] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 16th September 1872, page 5.

[10] Victorian Govt Gazette 58, Friday 11th May 1860, page 881.

[11] Victorian Govt Gazette 140, Tuesday 9th December 1862, page 2507.

[12] Victorian Govt Gazette 1, Tuesday 5th January 1869, page 4

[13] Ninth Annual Report of the Committee of Management, Geelong, 1861.

[14] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Wednesday 6th June 1866, page 4.

[15] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 7th December 1868, page 4.

[16] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Tuesday 17th September 1872, page 4.

[17] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Friday 16th October 1891, page 1.

 

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