1871: Christ Church, Anglican, Beechworth, Victoria.

The foundation stone of the Anglican ‘Christ Church’ at Beechworth, was laid by Justice Thomas Spencer Cope (1821-1891) on Saturday 13th November 1858[1] and was built to the designs of prominent Melbourne Architect Leonard Terry (1825-1884). The foundation stone is now hidden beneath the tower which was erected in 1864[2].

Many 19th Century Australian Stained Glass artists and companies are now represented by later stained glass windows erected in Christ Church but only two of the original windows remain which were created by the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company of Curzon Street North Melbourne.

Photos dated 18th December 2011.

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At the liturgical north-west corner of the nave, near the tower entrance, are the remaining two original examples of Ferguson & Urie stained glass. These are just plain single light windows with the simple red and blue stained glass border designs with plain in-fill diamond quarries. These simple designs can be found in many Victorian Churches from c.1861 – c.1888. It’s likely that all the original windows in the church were created by the Ferguson & Urie Company at the time of its erection, but the course of time sees these original windows inevitably being replaced by memorial windows.

At the base of one of the two original windows is an obscure clue as to its donor. The lower edge of one window has the text;Presented 1871 BTW. A small pink and yellow flower appears on the bottom left of the text and the heraldic symbol of a demi-wolf on the bottom right. The Latin text below the wolf reads Res Non Verba, meaning “things, not words” or “facts instead of words,” but probably more commonly known in modern times as “actions speak louder than words.”

This a very clever, simple, and very conservative adaption of one of Ferguson & Urie’s plain ‘stock’ windows. In most cases these simple windows with coloured borders were the first windows to be erected in a new church but this particular modified window is the only one found to date that has the bottom edge modified, very simply, to include the text of the donor and his coat of arms.

Although the clues at the base of the window are obscure, a logical process of elimination has narrowed down the donor of this stained glass window as extremely likely to be ‘Bowes Todd Wilson’ (c.1812-1882), Superintendent of Police for the Beechworth district Apr 1869 – Dec 1870.

Who was Bowes Todd Wilson?

In 1857 Bowes Todd Wilson (1812-1882) was Inspector of Police and District Paymaster at Kyneton[3]. In May 1859 he was appointed Territorial Magistrate for Swan Hill by His Excellency, H. S. Chapman[4] which he resigned in February1861[5]. In April 1869 he was appointed Superintendent of Police for the Beechworth District and retired in December 1870[6] with a Government pension of £186 p.a[7]. He remained in Beechworth for a short period after his retirement and later removed to Melbourne where he died at the ‘Parade Hotel’, East Melbourne on the 12th August 1882[8], aged 70 years[9].

The heraldic symbol and associated Latin text in the stained glass window is identified as being the armorial crest of the “Wilson” family name;  “..This Lion is actually a “Demi Wolf”, and the motto is associated with the families names Wilson, as is the Demi Wolf…”[10]

About Christ Church:

On the 6th of November 1856, Major-General Macarthur had approved the appointment of the trustees of land set apart for the Church of England purposes at Beechworth. Those he appointed as Trustees were; Melnoth Hall, William Gore Brett, Edward Graves Mayne, Charles King and Samuel George Hogg. [11]

Two years later, William Gore Brett, was bestowed with the responsibility for the official invitations to the laying of the foundation stone of Christ Church and his invitation to the Beechworth Shire Council was read at the council meeting the previous day, 12th November 1858[12].

At the appointed time of two o’clock on Saturday the 13th November 1858, Judge Cope laid the foundation stone and immediately after the ceremony a Bazaar to raise money for the building fund was held in the former El Dorado Hotel “…which has been tastefully decorated with evergreens, and colors of all traditions, (including the Chinese)…

Significant tabloid transcriptions:

Ovens & Murray Advertiser, Beechworth, Wednesday 10th November 1858, page 3.

“THE NEW CHURCH OF ENGLAND.- The foundation stone of the new edifice, the erection of which has just commenced, will be formally laid this day by his Honor Judge Cope. The ceremony will take place at 2 o’clock p.m. and will doubtless attract a large number of visitors to witness it.”

Ovens & Murray Advertiser, Beechworth, Thursday 11th November 1858, page 3.

“THE FOUNDATION STONE OF THE NEW CHURCH OF ENGLAND.- A mistake occurred in our notice yesterday as to the day on which the interesting ceremony would take place, but the fault in this case was not ours. The foundation stone will be laid on Saturday (D.V.) with the formalities usual on the occasion of this nature, by His Honor Judge Cope. Two o’clock in the afternoon is the hour named and the event will we have no doubt attract a large concourse of persons.”

Ovens & Murray Advertiser, Beechworth, Saturday 13th November 1858, page 3

“THE FOUNDATION STONE of the Church of England in course of erection, will be laid at 2 o’clock this afternoon by his Honor Judge Cope.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 14th Aug 1882, page 1.

“WILSON.- On the 12th inst., at the Parade Hotel, East Melbourne, Bowes Todd Wilson, formerly Superintendent of police.”


[1] Ovens & Murray Advertiser, Beechworth, Saturday 13th November 1858, page 3

[7] prov.vic.gov.au, Will & Probate documents, Bowes Todd Wilson, 1882.

[9] Bowes Todd Wilson, Vic BDM: 9368/1882, age 70.

[10] Stephen Michael Szabo, Hon. Secretary, The Australian Heraldry Society– email, June 2012.


1872: Christ Church Anglican, Birregurra, Victoria.

The Ferguson & Urie stained glass window in the chancel of Christ Church, Birregurra, was erected to the memory of the colonial pioneer John Davenport Bromfield who died on the 20th of May 1870 aged 52.[1]

Photos taken 28th December 2010.

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Geelong Advertiser, Vic, Friday 3rd January 1873, page 2.

“The village of Birregurra is prettily situated, on rising ground, on the banks of the river Barwon, at the termination of Ripple Vale, and can boast of a commodious two story parsonage built of brick, and a handsome stone church which has been erected at a cost amounting to some 2,500. The church was further embellished on Christmas Eve by the addition of a handsome memorial window of stained glass. In the centre compartment is the representation of our Saviour ascending on the clouds of glory. On the right hand is the figure of St. John, and on the left that of St. Peter. In the centre trefoil is the trangle an dove, emblematicical of the Trinity; on one side is the Pelican and on the other the Agnus Dei. The colors are rich and the general appearance is pleasing. At the bottom, in old English letters, is the following inscription:- “To the Glory of God.” “To the memory of John Davenport Bromfield, died 20th May, 1870; erected by his widow.” The chancel is laid with encaustic tiles in a handsome pattern.”

The historic township of Birregurra lies approximately 135km west of Melbourne. In 1837 the Englishman John Davenport Bromfield arrived in the colony and took up land west of Geelong.

“…It may be interesting to note that Mr. Bromfield pitched his first camp in the district in 1837, on the present site of the Anglican Church, Birregurra, which church he had the distinguished honor of laying the foundation stone thereof (April 6th, 1870), thirty years prior to which event he had conducted shearing operations within a few yards of said building…”[2]

In August 1838 Bromfield was granted a licence to “depasture” stock in the South-western Geelong region[3] in the area originally known as “Bowden’s Point” and later as known as “Birregurra on the Barwon”. In 1839 the Wesleyan Missionary Society established the Aboriginal “Buntingdale Mission” in the area which caused much resentment between warring tribes. Bromfield’s station was within a short distance of the mission and he made a detailed account of one of the savage conflicts between the Barabool Hill and Mount Rouse tribes, the deadly results of which he described in June 1942 as; “such a disgusting scene can scarcely be imagined”[4]

Geelong Advertiser, Vic, Monday 13th June 1842, page 2.

Ion Court, Geelong, June 4, 1842.

SIR.- I have to state to you the particulars of an affray which took place last Tuesday night, the 31st instant, the particulars of which are as follow:- “On the evening above-mentioned, two parties of aborigines encountered each other within a mile and  half of my station, part of the Barrabool Hill natives and part of the Mount Rouse tribe, which immediately gave battle, but were defeated with the loss of three men and two unfortunate young females. On the Wednesday morning the few natives immediately belonging to my neighbourhood arrived bearing this intelligence, evidently in a great state of excitement, and dreadfully afraid to return to their encampment without the protection of myself and servants, who were to be well armed. Directly after breakfast, I started, accompanied by the natives to within a short distance of their huts, where they all remained, and I proceeded forward myself, and on reaching the spot found their report to be perfectly correct. Such a disgusting scene can scarcely be imagined, the whole encampment deluged with blood, first lay the body of a middle aged man named Codjajah, speared through the breast in many places, his bowels taken off them, and a few pieces cut out of his thigh. The next was that of a woman speared in many places, quite dead. A short distance from her stood a young lubra with two spears through the belly, the whole of her intestines hanging to the ground – she was perfectly sensible – it would have been a charity to have shot her then, but she departed this life in the evening. Besides these three, within a short distance of the huts lay the bodies of two more men, known by the names of Jim and Big-one Tom, they were partly eaten, the fat being taken by their Christian brethren. These are the civilised aborigines who have been well instructed by our assistant protectors, and certainly have profited no little by the time and expense that have been lavished upon them. Such are the particulars of this affair, by the insertion of which, you will much oblige,

Your’s &c.,

Although the Wesleyan Missionaries held the belief that their concept for aboriginal protectionism was a success, white man’s diseases became more devastating than the effects of their own tribal conflicts and the Buntingdale Mission eventually failed. By late 1847 there were calls for the resignation[5] of the missionary Francis Tuckfield and by 1850 the site had been abandoned altogether.

John Davenport Bromfield remained in the Birregurra area and in 1860 he was appointed as a Territorial Magistrate for the Colac district[6] as well as a trustee of the Colac Cemetery[7]. In January 1864 he was appointed as a Returning Officer for the district of Polwarth & South Grenville[8], but resigned the position in January 1870[9].

In 1865 he built his (now Heritage listed) home “Elliminook” at Birregurra.

In 1867 he was appointed as one of the “trustees of the land set apart on the 12th of November, 1866, for Church of England purposes, at Birregurra[10]. In January 1869 he was appointed as a magistrate for the general session’s district of Geelong[11].

On the 6th of April 1870 John Davenport Bromfield laid the foundation stone of Christ Church at Birregurra[12], which would only a short time later contain his lasting memorial stained glass window created by the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company of Melbourne.

Illustrated Australian News for Home readers, Vic, Saturday 16th April 1870, page 84.


This pretty church will be built substantially of bluestone in the decorated style, the windows having freestone tracery and mullions. The foundation-stone will be laid in a few days. The church will consist of a nave forty-seven feet long by twenty-four broad. The chancel will be sixteen feet square. The tower will be fifteen feet square, and the height will be fifty-seven feet to the parapet. The size of the vestry is twelve feet by ten. The contract has been taken by Messrs. Trovana and Gubly, of Geelong, at £1998, without fittings. Mr. Terry, of Melbourne, is the architect”.

Less than a month and a half later, on the 20th May 1870, John Davenport Bromfield died from an aneurism aged 52[13].

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Wednesday 25th May 1870, page 4.

“BROMFIELD.- On the 20th inst., at Birregurra, near Colac, from aneurism of the aorta, after a lingering illness, John Davenport Bromfield, aged 52; arrived in the colony 1837; eldest son of the late John Davenport Bromfield, formerly of Pershore, Worcestershire, England.”

Christ Church was opened just over seven months later on the 5th of February 1871 at a total cost of £3000[14]. The first incumbent of the Church was the Rev. Thomas Sabine.

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 27th February, 1871, page 7.

“One of the finest buildings in the Western District,” says the Geelong Advertiser, “has recently been erected at Birregurra; this is the new Church of England, which was completed about a fortnight ago. The church is constructed of bluestone, ornamented profusely with freestone from Pettavel. The sides of the windows and doors are lined with this material, which offers a beautiful contrast to the darker shades of the building. Situated to the west of the township, on a rise above the Barwon, it presents and imposing appearance. The interior is capacious, and well finished, and the total cost £3000. It was opened on the 5th instant, the services being conducted by the Bishop of Melbourne. There was a large assemblage, no less 1000 persons being computed to be present on the occasion.”

(The tower and spire of Christ Church were added in 1890 and the “Buntingdale” Aboriginal Mission bell is still located in the Church)

After John Davenport Bromfield’s death, his widow Eliza commissioned the Melbourne stained glass firm “Ferguson & Urie” to create the chancel window of Christ Church in his memory.

The three light window depicts the Ascension of Christ in the centre light with St Peter in the left light holding an open book in his left hand and the Key in his right. St John appears in the right light holding the poisoned chalice containing a serpent and a book in his right hand, his alter ego, the Eagle appears at his feet. The memorial inscription at the base of the windows reads:




Three years after Bromfield’s death, his widow Eliza married William Edmundson at St John’s Church in Colac, on the 8th of January 1873[15].

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Friday 10th January 1873. page 4.

“EDMUNDSON-BROMFIELD.- On the 8th inst., at St. John’s Church, Colac, by the Rev. Thos. Sabine, William Edmundson, of Birregurra, to Lizzie, relict of the late John Davenport Bromfield, of Colac.”

Interestingly, William Edmundson’s name appears in John Davenport Bromfield’s Probate documents as signatory to the documents. Undoubtedly Edmundson, who was wealthy and well known in his own right, was also well known to Bromfield!

The Colac Herald, Vic, Tuesday 3rd September 1889, page 2.

“A contract (writes the local correspondent of the Geelong Advertiser) has been let for the completion of the steeple of Christ Church at Birregurra, and the whole of the work will, it is expected, be carried out by the end of November. The steeple is being erected as a memorial to the late Mrs. J. F. Strachan. Mr. Laird, one of the partners of the contracting firm, visited the township a few days ago for the purpose of making preliminary arrangements in connection with the work. The architects are Messrs. Reid, Henderson and Co., of Melbourne. The building of a Sunday-school, to be erected by Mrs. Edmundson, of “Eliminook,” in memory of her late husband, will also shortly be commenced. On the completion of the school, Christ Church will well deserve the compliment paid to it by Bishop Moorhouse, when he designated it “the prettiest and most compact country Church of England in the colony.”

Camperdown Chronicle, Vic, Thursday 29th April 1920, page 4.


“The past week has been an important and memorable one for the Anglicans of Birregurra. The foundation stone of the fine stone church, with its Norman tower and spire, was laid in April, 1870, and the parishioners have been celebrating the jubilee…”

“…The vicar who opened the church, Rev. Thos. Sabine, died thirty years ago, but the people are very thankful to have had every other of their pastors with them in their jubilee each occasion the service was conducted by the present vicar, Rev. G. D. Frewin.” 

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Wednesday 3rd June 1931, page 12.

“BIRREGURRA.- Christ Church of England celebrated its diamond jubilee on Sunday. The Bishop of Ballarat (Dr. Crick) was the preacher.”


02-12-1871: Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Stawell, Victoria.

A two light Ferguson & Urie stained glass window exists in the nave of Holy Trinity Anglican Church at Stawell in western Victoria. The window depicts St Peter & St. Paul and is dedicated to the memory of William Henry Pettett (1814-1871), M.L.C, J.P. The memorial text on the window reads:



Photos taken: 12th June 2011.

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William Henry Pettett, M.L.C, J.P, was born in Greenwich, London, 4th September 1814. He arrived in Van Diemens Land in 1832 and in 1837 moved to Victoria where he managed property for W. J. T. Clarke[1] at Dowling Forrest, between 1838-1842, and then the James Hodgkinson run known as “Maiden Hills” in 1848[2].

In June 1847, he had a minor altercation in relation to a breach of the customs act regarding the stated value of thirteen horses he was to pay duties on and was subsequently fined £10. [3]

His first wife Caroline (nee Taylor) died at their residence in Lonsdale street on the 11th of October 1854[4] aged 27, (three children), he then married Emily Ruddle in St Mark’s Church, Collingwood, on the 28th of June 1855[5] (ten children).

In 1863 he was elected Mayor [6] of Hawthorn for a twelve month period and in October 1864, he soundly defeated Thomas Herbert Power M.L.C  for the seat of the Southern Province[7] by a completely unpredicted margin of 615 to Power’s 388 votes[8].

By mid-1871 his political activities were being hampered by his declining health. He drew up his last will and testament on the 23rd of June 1871[9] and died five months later on the 2nd December 1871 at his property “Warra Warra[10]station near Stawell in Western Victoria, aged 56[11]. He left an estate valued at £12,709.

The memorial date on the stained glass window indicates his date of death as the 3rd of December 1871. Newspaper reports of the time, his probate documents, and the family gravestone at Stawell have this recorded as the 2nd December 1871.

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 4th December 1871, page 5.

News of the death of the Hon. William Henry Pettett, M.L.C., one of the members for the Southern Province, reached town on Saturday. Mr. Pettett had been ailing for some time past, and on that account had not taken an active part in political affairs. During the last three months of the late session he was absent from the Council on leave. Mr. Pettett’s connexion with the colony dates from an early period. The following reference is made to him in Mr. Wither’s ‘History of Ballarat’: “Messrs. Pettett and Francis in 1838 (as managers for W. H. T. Clarke) took up the country at Dowling Forest, so called after Mrs. Clarke’s maiden name. Shortly after they had settled there Mr. Francis was killed by one of his own men with a spear-blade at one of the stations on the run. Before Mr. Pettett took up the Dowling Forest run he was living at the Little River, and a native chief named Balliang offered to show him the country about Lal Lal.” Mr. Pettett was elected a member of the Legislative Council in October, 1864.[12]

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 4th December 1871, page 4.

“PETTETT.- On the 2nd inst, at Warra Warra, Hon. W. H. Pettett, M.L.C., aged 57 years.”

Foot notes:

[9] Vic Probate file 9/523, W.H. Pettett. 1871.

03-12-1871: St John the Divine, Anglican Church, Avoca, Victoria.

The township of Avoca lies at the cross roads of the Sunraysia and Pyrenees Highways in the North West of Victoria.

The foundation stone of St Johns was laid in the 21st of October 1869, the first service was held on the 3rd of December 1871 and the church was Consecrated on the 18th of October 1893.

This Ferguson & Urie stained glass window was only found by chance during one of my Western Victorian trips in early June 2011 and although it is no doubt an early Ferguson & Urie window, no newspaper articles of the time have been found mentioning the church or windows.

Photos were taken 11th June 2011.

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On close inspection of the digital  photos of the window, the bottom right lancet indicated that there was restoration work completed in 1993. The restorer had written names and dates on the outside edge of the window, which means that it can only be read back to front from the inside the church. A digitally enhanced mirror image of the text revealed that the restoration work was done by the church Organist, Mr Peter Lucey, whom I later tracked down to the “Mt Lonarch,  Fine Bone China, Gallery and B&B at Avoca”. I contacted Peter in in June 2011 and he indicated that the restoration  of the Ferguson & Urie window took him over a year to complete.

The window is typical of Ferguson & Urie’s early 1870’s Grisaille stained glass work and elements of this window are nearly identical to the east and west windows of St John’s church at Heathcote and the nave windows at St George’s Presbyterian Church at St Kilda.

Short link to his page: https://wp.me/p28nLD-QP

© Copyright

08-12-1871: Christ Church, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Victoria.


The Argus, Melbourne, Friday 8th December 1871, page 5.

 “A very handsome memorial window has recently been placed in the north transept of Christ Church, Hawthorn, by Lady Palmer, in commemoration of her husband, Sir James F. Palmer, the late president of the Legislative Council. It is the work of Messrs. Ferguson, Urie and Lyon, of Curzon-street, North Melbourne, stained glass manufacturers, and is an exceedingly creditable production. The design, which is typical of the three Christian virtues, Faith, Hope, and Charity, is identical with that of the west window of New College Chapel, Oxford, which was painted by Jervais, from cartoons furnished by Sir Joshua Reynolds. The colours are very rich, and harmonise well together. The whole treatment of he subject is good, the drapery of he figures, in particular, being admirably managed. Mr.Wyatt, architect, supervised the execution of the work.”

Photos taken 14th November 2010.

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Geelong Advertiser, Vic, Thursday 7th December 1871, page 3.

 “A very handsome memorial window has jnst been placed in Christ Church, Hotham, at the expense of Lady Palmer, in commemoration of the death of her husband, the late President of the Legislative Council. As a specimen of colonial art, the work is probably in its way the finest production in Victoria. The window consists of three compartments, containing allegorical representations of the three Christian virtues, Faith, Hope, and Charity, respectively. The last named of these personifications is represented on the centre compartment, which is 9 feet 8 inches in height and 2 feet broad; the two others being 7 feet high by 2 feet wide. The colours are extremely rich, and the execution compares very favourably with that of two other painted memorial windows of English manufacture in the same church. The work was executed by Messrs Ferguson, Urie, and Lyon, of this city, under the direction of Mr F. Wyatt, architect, the design, so far as the forms are concerned, being copied from a portion of the Hew College Chapel window, which latter was the work of Jervaise, from paintings by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Running along the lower portion of the new window is the following inscription in old English letters:—”To the memory of James Frederick Palmer, Knt., who died April 23rd, 1871.” I understand that the total cost of the work was a little over £100”.

The first parts of Christ Church Hawthorn were constructed in 1853-54 of bluestone in the Gothic design of Charles Vickers. The chancel and temporary organ chamber were added in 1873 and extensions to the nave and north transept in 1886. The church has many historic stained glass windows by craftmen such as Ferguson & Urie, Brooks Robinson & Co, William Montgomery, William Wailes and Hardman of Birmingham.

In late 1871 Lady Isabella Palmer had a memorial stained glass window erected in the South Transept of Christ Church, Hawthorn in honour of her husband Sir James Frederick Palmer (1803-1871)There is always the question of how or why particular subjects are selected for memorial windows, but in the case of Sir James’ memorial window it was made a little easier for Lady Isabella. She would have been acutely aware of her husbands taste in art. At the Art Treasures Exhibition in Melbourne in April 1869, “…Sir James Palmer contributes two relics of his illustrious kinsman, Sir Joshua Reynolds…” All Lady Isabella had to do now was pick something by Sir Joshua Reynolds with a religious theme that Sir James’ would have loved.

The resulting stained glass window she comissioned was to be made by local stained glass craftsmen “Ferguson, Urie & Lyon” of Curzon St North Melbourne and depicts the three Christian virtues, Faith, Hope, and Charity. The window uses quite large pieces of glass with very few lead lines and although quite spectacular to see is considered technically inferior to their earlier work. The depictions of Faith, Hope and Charity are copied from a stained glass window, located in New College Chapel, Oxford that was created by Jervais and based on the designs by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Ferguson and Urie also copied some elements of the same for the Foster memorial window erected in All Saints Church in South Hobart in 1868.

There is another Ferguson & Urie window in this church not mentioned in any other article found to date. The Henry Nathaniel Ray memorial window is by Ferguson & Urie circa 1879 and depicts Christ carrying the Cross. Henry Ray was the son of Henry Gibbons Ray & Mary Singer and husband of Maria Josephine Ray.  Ray was a Broker, formerly of Middlesex, and died at his home “Maida Estate” at Weinberg Rd Hawthorn on on the 6th of Aug 1879 aged 59 after only a few hours of illness (as reported in the Argus, 7th of August 1879). (Vic BDM: 8008/1879). His family home “Maida Estate”, situated at Glenferrie and Riversdale Roads at Hawthorn, went up for public auction on the 26th of February 1880.

External links:

Sir James Frederick Palmer (1803-1871)

Short link to this page: https://wp.me/p28nLD-gI

© Copyright

21-06-1871: Roman Catholic Mortuary Chapel at the Melbourne General Cemetery.

The Argus, Melbourne, Wednesday 21st June 1871, page 5.

 “The Melbourne Cemetery has received another adornment, now that the new mortuary chapel in the Roman Catholic portion of the ground has been completed. This elegant structure, of which the sanctuary only is wanting, is of bluestone, with windows and exterior ornaments of Tasmanian freestone, from Kangaroo Point. It consists of a pointed porch, enriched with carved finials, which leads into a lofty open-roofed chapel, lighted by four trefoil-pattern windows, and paved with encaustic tiles, and two crypts beneath. The style is Gothic, and the dimensions are – length 60ft.,width 22ft., while the slated roof reaches a height of 50ft from the ground. The Belfry is not yet finished. The crypts are solidly floored with concrete, and are provided with sufficient means of ventilation. They are intended as a final receptacle for the remains of deceased priests, which are to be placed there in leaden coffins. The bodies of about 10 deceased clergymen await their transit to this repository, which will take place contemporaneously with the solemn dedication of the building to the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph by the bishop. This will be celebrated in a few weeks, and the Rev. G. V. Barry will preach a special sermon on the occasion. This mortuary chapel is, we believe, the only one worthy the name in Australia; at least such was the opinion of Archbishop Polding, who visited it the other day, and whose knowledge on the subject is doubtless considerable. The entire edifice, which has cost over £1,000 is due to the Rev. W. M. Finn, who, with the permission of the bishop, initiated the movement which has resulted so successfully at the time that he was appointed to his present cure at Heidelberg. Since then the rev, gentleman has been unremitting in his exertions to obtain subscription, and when the money was forthcoming extended his careful supervision to every detail of the construction. The architect of the chapel is Mr. J. B. Denney, and the work was done in two contracts, the superstructure being erected by Messrs. J. Young and Co.”

The dedication ceremony of the chapel was to have taken place on Sunday 20th August 1871 but was postponed due to heavy rain. The service finally took place in the presence of a crowd of 10 to 15 thousand people on Sunday 10th September 1871.

Geoffrey Wallace Stained Glass Studio at Caulfield restored the windows after they were vandalised in 2008.

Four saints are depicted in individual lancets being:

  1. Saint Brigitta of Sweden, holding a candle,
  2. Saint Patrick of Ireland holding the staff with the snake at his feet,
  3. Saint Joseph holding a stalk of Lily flowers,
  4. Saint Maria with her hands folded in prayer.

Each window has the Latin Motto “ORA PRO NOBIS” (Pray for us) at the bottom.

All the photos of the windows have been kindly contributed by Geoffrey Wallace . The images show the remarkable transformation before and after the restoration by Geoff’s Studio.

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Short link to this page: https://wp.me/p28nLD-g8

21-03-1871: Struan House, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.

In Cameron-street in Launceston, Tasmania, stands the historical Supreme Court Building originally built in 1870-71 as “Struan House”[1] for the wealthy Scottish Colonist James Robertson. It was designed by architect Peter Mills[2] and constructed by building contractor Edward Ford.

In 1893 the building was used as a private maternity hospital and in 1929 was acquired by the Tasmanian Government for use by the Launceston Supreme Court.

During the construction of Struan House in early 1871 the Launceston Examiner tabloid reported;

“…We must not omit to mention that the side and fan lights of the entrance door, and of the doors leading out on to the verandah and balcony are glazed with rich designs in stained glass, manufactured by the well known firm of Ferguson, Urie, and Lyon, of Melbourne…”[3]

In 2011, enquiries revealed that there is still an original piece of Ferguson & Urie stained glass above a doorway in the building having the year 1870 emblazoned on it!

On the 18th April 2011 Mr Chris Nason, wrote:

“Dear Ray, Thankyou for your email. I confirm that Struan House does still exist and has been maintained as part of the Supreme Court since 1929. In terms of stained glass the only item that remains is above a door that opens onto the north facing balcony. I have taken a couple of shots of the window and attached for you. Unfortunately the shot from outside is not great. I hope this is of some use to you. Regards Chris Nason, District Registrar, Supreme Court of Tasmania…“

Photos kindly provided by Mr Chris Nason, 18th April 2011.

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James Robertson (1800- 18741800- 1874).

James Robertson was a native of Alvey, Inverness-shire, Scotland and arrived in Van Diemen’s Land in the early 1820’s where he joined his brothers John, William and Daniel, breeding sheep and cattle in the Campbelltown district.

Later they diversified to form Robertson Brothers Mercantile Importers in Elizabeth Street Hobart in 1829[4], run by John & William, and in Brisbane-street Launceston in 1831[5], headed by James and Daniel.

On the 18th of November 1833, at St David’s Church in Hobart, James married Mary McDonald, daughter of Roderick McDonald of Glengarry[6].

James had been a Justice of the Peace in Launceston since September of 1843 and was a supporter of the anti-transportation of convicts to the colony. In 1853 he declined requests to stand for the election of the first Mayor of Launceston[7] which was subsequently won, under much controversy, by William Stammers Button.

He was a local director of the Union bank of Australia and had been Captain and Paymaster of the Volunteer Artillery[8] and for many years was the treasurer[9] of the Launceston branch of the ‘St Andrew’s Society’ [10]

In January 1841 his brother Daniel had decided to dissolve his partnership leaving James as sole proprietor of the Launceston Mercantile business[11]. Just over twelve months later, on the 12th March 1842, Daniel drowned in the Esk River whilst on a fishing trip with friends[12]. In 1848 unknown persons referred to as “miscreants” attempted to rob Daniel’s grave![13].

In February 1850 James’ wife Mary died at the age of 35 [14] and on the 28th of May 1851 he married Mary’s younger sister Margaret, the eighth daughter of Roderick McDonald of Glengarry[15].

James Robertson died on the 1st of April 1874[16] and was interred in the Robertson family vault at the Scotch Cemetery in Launceston[17]. His wife Margaret died on the 3rd of September 1891[18].

His former residence ‘Struan House’ now forms part of the Launceston Supreme Court. Only the top portion of a fan light window above a doorway in the building exists of the original Ferguson & Urie stained glass created in 1871.

Of coincidental interest, James Robertson’s elder brother William went on to become one of the largest landholders in the western district of Victoria and in 1877 the Ferguson & Urie Company created a large ‘Rose’ stained glass window which was erected to his memory in St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at Colac, Victoria.

Significant transcriptions:

Launceston Examiner, Tas, 15th January 1853, page 4.

“MR. JAMES ROBERTSON. FEW inhabitants better deserve the tribute of respect about to be paid to him on his departure for Britain, than Mr Robertson. In his sphere of public usefulness, none have been more energetic and successful; and he has often taken the most arduous part, when a benevolent or popular object was in view. There can be no question that if he had assented to the request recently addressed to, him, he would have been the first Mayor of Launceston. But business arrangements prevented compliance, and the St. Andrew’s Society, of which he is a” pillar,” have gracefully come forward to recognise his claims to general esteem. In his commercial career he has been successful, and as a staunch anti-transportationist, he will doubtless exert his influence at home, in favor of the land of his adoption; and the birth-place of his children. The invitations to gentlemen, not members of the St. Andrew’s Club, ought to be very extensive, or they should be permitted, at their own cost, to be present on the occasion. We heartily wish him a pleasant voyage home, success in his mission, and a safe and speedy return.”

The Launceston Examiner, Tuesday 21st March 1871, page 2.

 “MR. ROBERTSON’S NEW RESIDENCE. The new residence of James Robertson, Esq., situate in Cameron-street near the old Military Barracks, and now rapidly approaching completion, is a building that deserves something more than a mere passing notice, for it is one of the best finished, and certainly the most commodious of private dwellings on this side of the island. Erected on the summit of a gentle slope which extends down to the bank of the River Tamar, it commands a fine view of the windings of that stream, and a still finer view of the Cataract on the South Esk, with its bold romantic scenery, and the pretty light looking iron bridge which spans the entrance to what may fairly be termed on of the lions of Launceston. Turning his back on these, a considerable portion of the town is presented to the gaze of the spectator. But the building itself is an ornament to the town, and forms a prominent object that that is sure to attract the attention of visitors or others sailing up the river. The main building is in style Italian, and two storeys high. The walls are constructed of brick, the dressings to the windows, string courses, quoins, cornices, chimneys, and the enrichments generally being executed in Portland cement. The brickwork is uniform in color, and neatly finished with a white joint. The roofs are of slate, and the roof of the main building overhangs the wall about three feet, the projection being supported by ornamental cantalivers [sic]. The front of the building faces the north, but there is an entrance on the east, by means of a massive looking porch and steps. On the ground floor are the large entrance hall, staircase hall, dining, drawing, breakfast and ball rooms, also a business room. The entrance hall is divided from the staircase hall by fluted Corinthian columns and pilasters, supporting a decorated cornice of the same order. The dining and drawing rooms which are well proportioned, open into the entrance hall. The breakfast and ball rooms are entered from a wide corridor leading from the staircase hall to the kitchen, the former room being well lighted by a large bay window of clear plate-glass, from which an excellent view of the Cataract and Tamar can be obtained. The whole of the fittings are of bright cedar French polished, and the finishing’s round the hall side of the doors are ornamented and carved very handsomely. The principal rooms also have elaborately wrought marble mantle-pieces, and are enriched with light and elegant moulded cornices. A verandah, accessible from the staircase hall, runs round the front and a portion of the two sides of the building, terminating on one side against the kitchen wing, and on the other against the entrance porch; and above the verandah is a balcony accessible from the first landing of the staircase. The roof of this is curved and covered with corrugated iron, the railings, trellis work, and brackets being of cast iron, and in appearance very ornamental. The verandah and balcony are wide, and furnish a very agreeable promenade, in which the eye can not fail to be delighted with the surrounding scenery. We must not omit to mention that the side and fan lights of the entrance door, and of the doors leading out on to the verandah and balcony are glazed with rich designs in stained glass, manufactured by the well known firm of Ferguson, Urie, and Lyon, of Melbourne. The kitchen wing contains a large kitchen, scullery, washhouse, stores, pantries, and servants’ staircase. A first-class cooking range manufactured by Mr William Peter, Wellington-street, is fitted up in the kitchen, and from this, by means of pipes, the bedrooms on the upper floor are supplied with hot water for baths, &c. Underneath the building are dry cellars floored with cement. The upper or chamber floor is reached by a handsome staircase, having a continuous ornamental iron railing, and here we find a number of lofty, well-ventilated bedrooms with dressing and bathrooms attached. The nursery and servants’ bedrooms are placed over the kitchen, &c. The baths are fitted up so that hot or cold water can be turned on at pleasure. The whole of the fittings in the rooms, except the mantle pieces, are of French polished cedar. The court yard is enclosed by out-offices – including accommodation for men servants, a coach house, stables, harness room, cow house, hay loft – and by entrance gates, provision been made to get a carriage drive through this court yard round to the river frontage. The Cameron-street frontage is enclosed by an ornamental iron palisading of cast iron with gates, &c., to correspond.
The total cost of erecting these fine premises will be about ₤6000. Mr E. Ford is the contractor, and appears to have executed his work very faithfully. The buildings were designed by Mr Peter Mills, and have been erected under his vigilant superintendence, and we must say that the manner in which everything has been carried out reflects the greatest credit on him.”

Launceston Examiner, Tas, Thursday 2nd April 1874, page 2.

Another old colonist has gone from our midst: JAMES ROBERTSON, so long connected with various interests of Launceston, died last evening, in his 75th year, having completed his 74th on the 23rd of March.
After a few years’ occupation as sheep farmer in the Campbell Town district, in this colony, Mr Robertson came into Launceston in 1830, to enter into commercial business with his younger brother, Daniel, unfortunately drowned in the South Esk, in 1841 [sic], which business he carried on very successfully, first on premises now occupied by Messrs. Smith and Poole, and subsequently in the large premises built by the firm for the purpose now known as the International Hotel, until a comparatively recent period, when he retired from more active pursuits to the handsome residence he erected in Cameron-street, known as Struan House, and in which he died.

           Through a long mercantile career Mr Robertson maintained the character of a strictly honourable merchant, and sincere friend. Amongst his mercantile connections he numbered most of the older colonists; and he enjoyed the immediate friendship of an unusually large circle.
            There are some incidents of his “settler life” which possess unusual interest, at once characteristic of his personal courage and of the peculiar difficulties of early settlement in these colonies. On one occasion when sitting reading at the fire in his hut, his back to the door, he was surprised by the entrance of a notorious bushranger, with two equally notorious companions. They had previously secured his shepherd servant, and came so sudden upon him that resistance was useless. After helping themselves to provisions, they set off for a distant rendezvous, marching Mr Robertson and his servant before them, still tied, until they arrived at midnight, on the banks of the South Esk, at a crossing place where they expected to find a boat; which, however was on the opposite shore. One of the bushrangers crossed the river to fetch the boat for the conveyance of the party and their plunder; when the subject of our memoir, seeing an opportunity, succeeded in getting one of his arms sufficiently at liberty to get his hand into his pocket and secure a penknife. The robbers were so intently engaged in watching the progress of their companion that they gave to Mr Robertson the opportunity of communicating by signs, in the light of partial moonlight, with his servant; and after cutting the cord which confined his own arms, he cut that of his servant. They both remained in a position of apparent confinement until they could hear the splash of oars of the returning bushranger, when they each closed upon one of the confederates, and with the handkerchief torn from their own necks tied the hands of each. The man in the boat hearing the conflict turned for the other shore, but was promptly fired on with the arms now in the possession of Mr Robertson and his servant. The two prisoners were soon handed over to the police, and were conveyed to Launceston gaol; and on further enquiry the boat was found riddled with ball but abandoned by the robber, who was afterwards found wounded and captured. On another occasion the self-possession and courage of Mr Robertson were even more conspicuously displayed. A bushranger, who had become the terror of the district, occupied a mi-mi in the depths of the forest. Mr Robertson discovered it, or was informed of the locality – no matter which. Having obtained the co-operation of a neighboring settler he determined to effect capture. Keeping their secret they set out together for the place, but when they arrived found the fellow that occupied it away. They laid their plans accordingly – crouching themselves in the scrub until the evening, when they saw their man return, watched him dismantle himself of his fire-arms with the exception of pistols in his belt, cook his evening meal, and creep into his mi-mi. Mr Robertson immediately rushed in the aperture requiring almost a crawling posture whilst his settler friend made loud demonstrations of directing a body of men outside. He threatened to shoot the robber and disarm him, tied him securely, and led him out to show him (as Mr Robertson often told with considerable humour), to his great disgust, that he had been captured  by two nearly unarmed men!
            Mr Robertson’s genial countenance and bustling habits will long be missed in the streets of Launceston. He leaves an estimable widow, his second wife, and a large family, comfortably provide for. Mr Robertson has been in the Commission of the Peace since the 20th September, 1843. It will be remembered that his eldest brother William died in Victoria on 18th January last.”

Launceston Examiner, Tas, 9th April 1874, page 3.


The funeral of the late Mr James Robertson took place on Tuesday afternoon, and was attended by a very large number of personal friends and others from various parts of the colony anxious to pay the last tribute of respect to the memory of one who had maintained business and social relations with the colonists, especially of the Northern districts, for so lengthened a period. By request of Mr Robertson communicated shortly before his decease, the funeral obsequies were superintended by his old friend, Mr Alderman Tyson, Messrs Richards and Son being the undertakers. The remains had been enclosed in a leaden coffin which was encased in a shell, neatly covered with black cloth, and suitably furnished. Shortly after 3 o’clock the coffin was   deposited in a plain hearse drawn by a pair of horses, and the mournful cortege left Struan House, deceased’s late residence in Cameron-street: the following gentlemen acting as pall-bearers, viz., the hon. James Aikenhead, M.L.C., a local Director of the Commercial Bank ; J. T. Sale, Esq., J.P., Manager of the Union Bank of Australia, of which deceased had been for many years a local director; C. J. Weedon, Esq., J.P., one of the Directors of the Bank of Tasmania; Thomas Corbett, Esq., J.P., a director of the Bank of Van Diemen’s Land; John Fawns, Esq., J.P., one of the Executive Committee of the Savings Bank; and Dr. Miller, J.P. The pall-bearers were flanked on either side by members of the Volunteer Artillery Corps, of which deceased had been Captain and Paymaster. The sons of deceased, Messrs. Hector and Angus Robertson were chief mourners with other relatives following; and in addition there were from 140 to 150 townsmen and colonists. There were also a number of private carriages behind. The route of the cortege was Cameron-street, Charles-street, Brisbane-street, and High-street to the Scotch Cemetery, where the family vault is situated; and the esteem in which deceased had been held by his fellow townsmen was evinced by the closing of the shops and other places of business along the line of route. The Revs. J. Gardner, W. Law, J. Lindsay, and R. M’Clean were among the ministers who attended. At the grave the Rev. R. McClean, of Hobart Town, read a portion of Scripture, and delivered an appropriate address. The Rev. J. Lindsay offered prayer. The coffin was borne to the hearse, and to the vault by the Volunteer Artillerymen.”


[1] The Launceston Examiner, Tuesday 21st March 1871, page 2.

[2] Peter Mills also designed the Launceston Town Hall in 1864 and several other historical buildings in Launceston.

[10] Formed in 1841 to not only entice skilled labourers from Scotland to the Colony, but to provide friendship and assistance to them and their families and benevolent acts to their widows and orphans in times of need.

[17] The Scotch Cemetery opened in 1835 and closed in 1928. It was re-developed as “St. Andrew’s Gardens” from c.1951 with some of the grave stones transferred to the Carr Villa Cemetery.

1871: St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Wangaratta, Victoria, Australia.

St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Wangaratta, Victoria.

The triple light stained glass windows behind the altar were the work of  Ferguson, Urie & Lyon  of North Melbourne. There is also a single light in the north transept (very hard to photograph due to obscured light in lower half)  and there is also the Lamb of God (aka Agnus Dei) located above two art deco lights that are not by Ferguson & Urie. Whether there were any original Ferguson & Urie windows below the Lamb of God medallion is not known but it looks highly likely that this window has come from another position in the church prior to modern extensions.

The Argus, Melbourne, Saturday 11th March 1871, page 7.

 “The new Roman Catholic church at Wangaratta, dedicated to St. Patrick, was solemnly opened and consecrated by the Right Rev. Dr. Goold, on Sunday last. High mass was performed, the bishop being assisted by the Re. Dr. Fitzpatrick, vicar-general, and Fathers Hogan and Egan. The church was crowded with people, collected from almost every place within 30 miles of Wangaratta”.

Advocate, Melbourne, Vic, Saturday 18th March 1871, page 6.


“…The stained glass windows are admirable illustrations of the proficiency of the colonial manufacturers, Messrs. Fergusson,[sic] Urie, and Lyon – the central figure of the Saviour on the cross, with the Blessed Virgin kneeling at the foot, being represented with special correctness of drawing and colouring…”


Photos taken 19th December 2011.

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27-02-1871: Shipping Intelligence notices.

The Argus and other local newspapers of the time included hundreds of shipping notices detailing cargo notices for the colony’s businesses.

The Argus, Melbourne, Monday 27th February 1871, page 4.


“Dilharce, from London – 28 cases, Ferguson, Urie, and Lyon;”