1867: South Yarra Presbyterian Church, Victoria

In August 1867 the ‘Hobart Mercury’ newspaper published an article about the travels of Mr James Urie who was a principal partner of the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company of North Melbourne.

James was travelling throughout Tasmania with a portfolio of the company’s stained glass designs to garner commissions for secular and ecclesiastical windows. The tabloids published numerous articles of his “Sojourne” throughout the apple isle;

“STAINED WINDOWS – A few days since we stated that Mr.Urie of the firm of Ferguson, Urie, and Lyon, glass stainers, &c, Melbourne, was on a professional visit to Hobart Town. This gentleman is now in Launceston, and we were much gratified yesterday by inspecting a large portfolio of designs for church and other windows which his firm has executed or has in hand…”[1]

The article briefly mentioned a number of windows the company had recently made and I’ve posted many articles about the ones I have found from those clues. A couple of the windows have eluded me for some time as they merely mentioned names and the location as Melbourne and nothing else such as this obscure one:

…Judge Pohlman’s wife, and wife of Mr Stoddart [sic] both in Melbourne…[2]

Clues to other windows included church names and their locations which have helped to pin point exactly where some of the windows could be found, but the obscure mention of “Melbourne” in relation to the Polman and Stoddart windows was very little to go on.

In our Colonial times, the number of churches that were being erected throughout Melbourne and suburbs was phenomenal. The vast majority of these old churches are still standing but over the course of a century and a half many were burnt to the ground, demolished, moved and re-built, or in recent times, sold to developers. If these Pohlman and Stoddart windows still existed somewhere it was likely to take a long time to locate them whilst concurrently researching the locations of many other Ferguson & Urie stained glass windows. Since finding the historic newspaper article I have visited more than a hundred churches and nothing further has come to light in regards to these particular windows.

The names “Pohlman” and “Stoddart” were significant clues on their own, and in the case of Judge Pohlman it was easy to ascertain that he was Judge Robert Williams Pohlman (1811-1877). But even armed with the knowledge of his faith, being of the Church of England, nothing has been found of his stained glass window.

The name Stoddart presented further challenges, as the newspaper had spelt his name incorrectly on multiple occasions, and so I was looking for the wrong person. The tabloids mentioned that he had been buried in the Melbourne General Cemetery, which seemed like a decent clue, but the cemetery records had nothing for that name. It seems that when I get fixated on a particular direction or clue I miss the obvious things such as misspellings.

By sheer coincidence, a friend recently sent me some photos of the stained glass windows from the South Yarra Presbyterian Church, which, despite me having passed the church numerous times over the years, I had not yet managed to set foot in. Among the photos was a window to the memory of “James Dickson Stodart” (spelt with one letter‘d’).

This was undoubtedly the window that had eluded me for the past few years. Its design and the date of death mentioned for James Dickson Stodart leaves no doubt that it is the original Ferguson & Urie stained glass window from nearly a century and a half ago and not dedicated to Stodart’s wife as the tabloid incorrectly eluded.

[Photos kindly contributed by Paul Danaher, dated Sept 2015]

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James Dickson Stodart (c1825-1867)

In late 1867 the congregation of the South Yarra Presbyterian Church resolved to erect a stained glass window to the memory of their esteemed Church committee member and liberal supporter, James Dickson Stodart.

The window is of two lights with a small English red rose in the tracery above. The apexes of the cusp headed lancets feature the images of ‘Faith’, holding the cross, and ‘Hope’ with the anchor. Below these are the words “Post Nubes Lux,” meaning “After Darkness Light” or “Out of Darkness Light,” which is the motto of the Scottish Stodart/Stoddart family.

The memorial text across the central region of each window reads:

“ERECTED BY THE CONGREGATION IN AFFECTIONATE REMEMBRANCE OF”
“JAMES STODART ESQ, WHO DIED 12th JUNE 1867, AGED 42 YEARS”

At the base of each window are angels holding a scroll with the words:

“BLESSED ARE THE DEAD” “WHICH DIE IN THE LORD”

James Dixon Stodart was born in Edinburgh, Scotland c.1825 to merchant Alexander Stodart and Elizabeth Gray.

James married Maria Louisa Margaretha Meincke in Scotland c.1848. He departed Liverpool for Australia on the 17th March 1854 aboard the “Golden Era” which arrived in Hobson’s Bay three months later on the 13th June 1854 [3]. His family would arrive later.

He had been sent out from Scotland to wind up the business affairs of the “famous Mr. Boyd” (Benjamin Boyd) and on completion of the task he accepted the position as finance manager for the infrastructure and railway contracting firm of Cornish & Bruce in Melbourne.

He was active in local political affairs and was elected a Councillor of Prahran between 1858-1860 and 1863-1865 and served as Mayor of the municipality in 1864-65 [4].

His relationship with the principals of the Cornish & Bruce Company must have been very close. In 1861 he even named one of his daughters, “Margaret Vans Agnew Bruce Stodart”, after one of the principals of the firm, John Vans Agnew Bruce. Unfortunately Margaret died as an infant on the 3rd August 1863.

Stodart was a liberal supporter and member of the Scotch Presbyterian Church in Punt Road South Yarra. The foundation stone of this church was laid on a rainy day, 14th November 1865 [5] by Captain Tyler, Aide-De-Camp to the Governor, Sir Charles Darling. The Governor was unavoidably absent on the day and so J. D. Stodart presented Captain Tyler with the silver trowel to lay the foundation stone in the presence of Lady and Miss Darling,

After a long battle with tuberculosis, James Dixon Stodart died at his home “Yarra-Bank” at South Yarra on Wednesday 12th June 1867 [6]. His substantial funeral cortege crossed Melbourne’s iconic Princes Bridge at 2pm on Saturday the 15th to deliver him to his final resting place at the Melbourne General Cemetery [7].

There is no gravestone to be found for James Dickson Stodart and so the stained glass window in the South Yarra Presbyterian Church is the only lasting memorial bearing his name. The window represents a significant reminder of a colonist who contributed much to the history of Victoria and it is a remarkably intact example of Ferguson & Urie stained glass workmanship from our Colonial past.

Significant tabloid transcriptions:

The Age, Melbourne, Vic, Thursday 13th June 1867, page 5.

“We regret to have to announce the death of Mr James Stodart, which took place at ten o’clock last night, at his residence, South Yarra. Mr. Stodart was manager for the firm of Cornish and Bruce, and is understood to have contributed not a little to the success of its operations. His uprightness and amiability secured him many friends, and his somewhat sudden death will be a great grief to them.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Friday 14th June 1867, page 8.

“THE Friends of the late JAMES D. STODART, Esq., are invited to follow his remains to the place of interment, Melbourne Cemetery.
            Funeral to move from his residence, Yarra bank, South Yarra, on Saturday, 15th inst, at 1 p.m., passing Prince’s-bridge about 2 o’clock.
            JOHN ROMANIS, undertaker, Gardiner’s Creek road, South Yarra.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Friday 14th June 1867, page 4.

“It is a melancholy duty to record the very sudden death, on Wednesday evening last, at a late hour, of Mr. James Stoddart, who has been for many years past so well known and respected as the financial agent of the firm of Messrs. Cornish and Bruce, railway contractors. Up to a very few days ago Mr. Stoddart had been in the enjoyment of vigorous health. He was in charge, on the part of the firm he represented, of the arbitration now going on between the executors of Messrs. Cornish and Bruce and the Government, as to the balance due to the firm, and he was to have given his evidence before the arbitrators this day. Early in the week, however, he complained of symptoms indicative of internal disease. For a day or two he was confined to his room; but on Wednesday evening, feeling slightly better, he rose from his bed, made a step or two, and dropped down dead. Mr. Stoddart was a native of Edinburgh. Trained to business in a good school, and showing an uncommon capacity for finance, he was selected in 1853 to come out to this colony and wind up the multitudinous affairs of the then famous Mr. Boyd. He accomplished the arduous task successfully, and when Messrs. Cornish and Bruce entered on their gigantic enterprise, Mr. Stoddart was recommended to them by the contracting banks as the ablest man whose services they could retain as their financial agent. His labours in that capacity were most onerous; and he had all but completed successfully what may be called the task of a life, when death overtook him. He was one of the earliest promoters of building societies in the colony, and they owe much to his shrewdness, experience, and sagacity. He was for a season mayor of Prahran, and at the time of his death was a councillor of that borough. He took a very active interest in the affairs of the Scotch Church of the district in which he resided, and to his exertions the congregation are mainly indebted for the beautiful new Scotch Presbyterian Church in South Yarra, in which the Rev. George Mackie officiates as pastor. Many will lament in Mr. Stoddart the sudden and untimely death of an able, warm-hearted, and genial man.”

The Age, Melbourne, Vic, Wednesday 15th November 1865, page 6.

“SOUTH YARRA PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.

The foundation stone of the above new church was laid yesterday afternoon, on the ground adjacent to the present building. It had been expected that the Governor would be present to perform the ceremony, but his Excellency was prevented from attending by indisposition. Shortly after three o’clock, however, Lady Darling, accompanied by Miss Darling and Captain Tyler, arrived on the ground; but, as it was then raining hard, the company assembled had to adjourn to the church. The proceedings were then commenced by singing and prayer, after which,      
            The Rev. GEORGE MACKIE, pastor of the church remarked that he had much pleasure in stating that they had that day assembled for the purpose of laying the foundation stone of the new building. Rain, which was most propitious for the country, would compel them to perform most of the preliminary part of the proceedings in the old one. He regretted that the absence of his Excellency the Governor, and still more, that he was prevented by disposition from attending. He was, however, happy to be able to say that he was represented by Lady Darling, Miss Darling, and several other members of the family, as well as by Captain Tyler; so that, although he was not himself present, he was with them by deputy. He thought it needless to explain that the members of the church had had great difficulties to overcome. At one time a large debt rested thereon, but through the praiseworthy liberality of their friends, it had now been cleared off. He had no doubt that many, with himself, felt gratified in being spared to witness the laying of the foundation stone of the new building, which would long stand as a memorial of the Christianity and piety which existed amongst the present generation.
            The Rev. Mr McDONALD, of Emerald-hill, then came forward to address the meeting, and during his speech remarked that he had been associated with the congregation of this church since its formation. He then dwelt upon the difficulties that had been overcome, and the advances that had been made in the cause of religion. He was pleased to know that they had missions at home and missions abroad, and that steps were being taken to establish a theological hall. He trusted that all that could be done would be done to bring about a satisfactory state of things, and that they would hereafter see such a revival as would speedily fill the new building as soon as it was erected.
            The Rev. Mr. BROWN, moderator of the presbytery, then delivered a dedicatory prayer; after which the assembly adjourned to the spot where the stone was to be laid.

            On arriving there,
            The Rev. GEORGE MACKIE read the following copy of a memorial record, which had been engrossed on parchment and enclosed in the case which was laid in the cavity of the stone, together with a copy of each of the Melbourne daily papers and Prahran Telegraph, and the various coins of the realm:-
            “Memorial record deposited in the foundation stone of the Presbyterian Church, South Yarra, within the boundary of the corporation of the city of Melbourne, in the colony of Victoria, laid on the fourteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five, and the twenty-ninth year of the reign of her majesty Queen Victoria, by his Excellency Sir Charles Henry Darling, K.C.B., Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the colony. This congregation was organised on the third day of July, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-four, under the Ministry of the reverend George Divorty, A.M. The committee consisted of T. Dickson, J. Thompson Paterson, T. Finlayson, D. Walker, D. Ross, W. Adamson, J. Cameron, and J. Gair; T. Finlayson, secretary; T. Dickson, treasurer. For some time, as a provisional arrangement, the congregation worshipped in a large tent; afterwards, and until now, in a wooden church imported from Scotland, and erected on the present site at a cost of four thousand five hundred pounds, having accommodation for four hundred persons. On the seventh day of April, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-nine, the union of the different sections of the Presbyterian church in this colony took place. The Rev. James Clow was elected moderator of the first general assembly. In the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, the Reverend George Divorty was obliged to resign this charge through failing health, and returned to Scotland. In May, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, the Reverend George Mackie was inducted as successor to the Reverend George Divorty. The communion roll at present numbers two hundred and eighty-five, and the church being overcrowded, the congregation resolved to build a more commodious and substantial edifice, of which this is the foundation stone, intended to accommodate eight hundred seat holders. The office bearers of the congregation at this date are as follows:- Minister: The Reverend George Mackie. Trustees: The Rev. George Mackie, David Ross, John Thompson, John Spence Ogilvy. Elders: David Ross, John Spence Ogilvy, John Stevens Miller, George Bell, Charles Anderson. Managers: James Stodart, Robert Mackechney, David J. Moorehead, James Munro, William Stronach, John Reid, James Edwards, Joseph Harris, Francis Bell, Thomas Donaldson, George Espie, John Romanis. Treasurer: John Spence Ogilvy. Secretary: William Stronach. Building committee: The office bearers, J. Brown, junr., W. Coulter, J. McPherson, W. Robb, A. Murray, D. Connacher, J. Drew, W. K. Ross, James Scott, T. J. Connor, A. Anderson, M. Stewart, J. Ferguson. Architect: Lloyd Tayler. Contractor: William Ireland. Moderator of the General Assembly: rev. James Nish, Sandhurst. Moderator of the Presbytery of Melbourne: Rev. Peter Brown, Hawthorn. The motto of the builders is “Jehova Shammah,” and their prayer, that the Lord would make this house the birthplace of many souls. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the one God for ever and ever. Amen.”

            Captain Tyler then came forward and performed the ceremony of laying the foundation stone, a silver trowel having been presented to him by Mr. Stodart.

            The National Anthem was sung by the whole company, and three cheers were then given for Her Majesty the Queen; three for his Excellency the Governor and Lady Darling, and three for the Rev. Mr Mackie, which brought the proceedings to a close.”

Related biographical information:

Biography: James Stodart (1849-1922), Son of James Dickson Stodart.

Footnotes:

[1] The Mercury, Hobart Tasmania, Tuesday13th August 1867, page 5.

[2] Ibid

[3] Public Records Office Victoria, Inwards Unassisted passengers Fiche 68, page 001

[4] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Saturday 3 June 1865, page 5.

[5] The Age, Melbourne, Vic, Wednesday 15th November 1865, page 6.

[6] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Friday 14th June 1867, page 5.

[7] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Friday 14th June 1867, page 8.


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1867: Presbyterian Church, Melton, Victoria.

The Presbyterians of Melton had previously held their services in a wooden building known as the “Union Church.” which was used by all of Melton’s Christian denominations until they had erected their own.

The foundation stone of the Presbyterian church was laid on the 27th December 1865[1] but it would be nearly two years before it would open for services and the proposed tower and spire in the original designs never eventuated

The stone for the church was quarried free of charge from the nearby property of a “Mr. Corr”[2], who was the first headmaster of the Melton Common School, secretary and treasurer of the Melton Cemetery Trust, Treasurer of the Wesleyan Church and Deputy Registrar of births deaths and marriages[3].

 The Presbyterians held their annual Soiree in the old Union church on the 8th October 1867 and later proceeded to the new incomplete church. Of the windows it was reported;

“…The windows of the church are particularly elegant, especially the principal one at the back of the pulpit, which is fitted with stained glass of a very rich description…”[4]

A month later the Age newspaper published an article specifically mentioning the Ferguson & Urie company of North Melbourne as the makers of the stained glass window in the liturgical east end;

“THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH AT MELTON is nearly completed, the glaziers being engaged with the windows. The Bacchus Marsh Express praises the stained glass, the design and colors being beautiful. “Messrs Ferguson and Urie, of North Melbourne, are entitled to great commendation for their workmanship in this respect…[5]

Photos taken: 7th September 2014.

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The window is of four lights with smaller tracery windows above to complete the design and is a typical design by Ferguson & Urie from that period. The two centre lights have the ribbons/scrolls in the centre with the following two pieces of scripture:

“Christ is all and in all” – (Colossians 3:11)
“Worship God in the Spirit” – (Philippians 3:3)

The original bluestone nave of the church now sits sandwiched between two newer buildings with doorways to each at the ends. The single light windows in the nave are works of art by the Brooks, Robinson & Co stained glass company from the early 1900’s and later. These windows were originally likely to have been Ferguson & Urie’s simple stained glass bordered designs that have been replaced over more than a century and a half. The historic Ferguson & Urie stained glass window at the east end still lights the nave of the old church building the same as it has since 1867 and creates an amazing kaleidoscope of coloured patterns over the floor when the sunlight strikes it at the right time

Significant transcriptions:

The Age, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 14th October 1867, page 6.

“THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH AT MELTON is nearly completed, the glaziers being engaged with the windows. The Bacchus Marsh Express praises the stained glass, the design and colors being beautiful. “Messrs Ferguson and Urie, of North Melbourne, are entitled to great commendation for their workmanship in this respect. It is expected the church will be opened in a month for public worship. The cost is £1000, of which only £100 has to remain as a debt on the building. This speaks well for the Presbyterians of Melton.”

Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 14th September 1867, page 2.

“OPENING OF THE NEW PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, MELTON.

THE Presbyterians of Melton district have for some years back held divine service in a wooden building known as the Union Church, owing to it having been erected and afterwards used by all denominations. On Sunday last, however, the Presbyterian congregation took possession of their own Church, when the Rev. H. Darling, of Emerald Hill, and the Rev. James Lambie, pastor of the congregation, conducted the services. The former preached in the absence of the Rev. T. McKenzie Frazer, who had been announced to do so. The Wesleyans, who used to use the Union Church, have now a building of their own, and the Church of England congregation have also completed the erection of a handsome Church, with the exception of the windows and seats, so that in a short time the Union Church will be devoted to school purposes only.

THE SOIREE.

The annual soire of the congregation was celebrated in the building known as the Union Church, and after the eatables had been disposed of, the partakers proceeded to the new Church, a short distance away, where the Rev. James Lambie, pastor of the congregation, took the chair. Of the building itself we are not disposed to give elaborate particulars which are perhaps well known to those interested in the matter. Its dimensions are stated to be 50ft. [unreadable characters…] It is apparent to any observer, however that the new Melton Presbyterian Church, both externally and internally, would be a credit to any community; and although it is not yet finished, as a steeple is intended to be erected, yet the absence of this ornament is scarcely noticeable. The windows of the church are particularly elegant, especially the principal one at the back of the pulpit, which is fitted with stained glass of a very rich description. The building is entirely of bluestone, with a slate roof, and the ceiling is a groined one, thereby affording the greatest possible loftiness for ventilation, besides adding to the general ecclesiastical appearance of the interior. The pulpit and platform surrounding it is of a massive kind, having nothing paltry in its appearance, although the usual amount of French polish has not yet been applied. The seats, too, for the congregation are strong roomy ones, made upon a good pattern; and altogether the Church bears evidence that what has been attempted has been done in the best manner, and so far from there being any reason for surprise that the Church has been two years in course of construction, the wonder is that such thorough progress has been made in the time. These preliminary remarks may well be concluded by the addition of a word of praise to the efforts of the choir upon the occasion of the soire, as their performances were really enjoyable.

The CHAIRMAN remarked that while congratulating those assembled, he did not intend to specially address them; he would leave that to his brethren on the platform. It was two years last month since they commenced to built the Church. They had proceeded slowly, but surely. He submitted a statement of the Building Fund.

The subscriptions had amounted to £470. 7s. 4½d.; bazaars, £265.17s.7d.; grant from Assembly , £189.7s.9d.; foundation stone collection, £32. 10s.; loan from Bank, £100. He had little to say further than that the subscriptions had been raised almost entirely from members and adherents of the Church. He did not mention this boastingly. The ladies had purchased the lamps, and the children furnished the precentor’s desk. There had been expended £1049. 11s. 8d., leaving a balance of £11. 0s. 8½.

Mr. BLACKWOOD then read the treasurer’s report for the past year, from which it appeared that the receipts had been £126. 2s. 11d., and the expenditure £124. 0s.5½d., leaving a balance of £2. 2s. 5½d. The speaker referred to the lotting of the seats, and that accommodation would be made for those who did not rent seats. He wished some of the reverend gentlemen to take up the question of whether the congregation should stand or sit at singing. He wished to see uniformity.

The CHAIRMAN intimated that some of the reverend gentlemen who had been invited were absent. They were the Revs. J. Clarke, A McNicol, W. A. Lind, and J. C. Sabine. [Mr. Sabine had desired us to mention that he intended to be present, but the heat of the day prevented him, and he delayed sending an apology hoping that it would moderate].

The Rev. R. HENDERSON was the next speaker. He said that although several gentlemen were absent, he felt assured there would be no lack of speakers. They had Mr. Inglis, who was a host in himself. He would take his cue from Mr. Blackwood, and endeavour to comply with his desire that those learned in Church matters should enlighten them regarding the posture in worship. He believed it had been the practice of their Church for 300 years to sit during singing; but the General Assembly allowed congregations to make their own rules in regard to such matters. If they were unanimous in resolving to stand at singing, there was nothing to prevent them. So far as he was concerned, he preferred to see the congregation standing during singing, as it enabled them to execute their psalmody in a better manner than while sitting. The rev. gentleman then commented upon the necessity of improving the psalmody as much as possible, and was favourable to the use of a harmonium. Many congregations had introduced them, and others were merely putting off the consideration of the question. He agreed with all the encomiums upon their Church bestowed by the Rev. H. Darling, and suggested that all Presbyteries should adopt some definite system in regard to architectural style. He recommended the congregation to assume a reverential demeanour upon entering their Church, and exhorted them also to realise that, although Christians were divided into seats, yet they all had one heaven to receive them. Before sitting down, he must congratulate Mr. Lambie upon his success in raising money to build this Church. As a co-presbyter with him, he desired publicly to acknowledge his earnest and inudable endeavours in this matter. He rejoiced in being present this evening, and wished them God speed in their endeavours.

The Rev. J. W. INGLIS commenced by some humorous remarks, depreciatory of the laudatory manner in which the previous speaker had referred to him, and said that the expectation of the assemblage had been unduly raised. It was twelve years ago since he had attended his first tea meeting at Melton, and there were only five persons present. In fact, he had boiled his billy on the bank of the creek. His next meeting was with their present pastor, and now once again he had the pleasure of meeting them under prosperous circumstances, in their own Church. The Union Church had answered its purpose well, but now Melton possessed three substantial Churches, which they must all rejoice at. Their Church was certainly a handsome one, but no doubt no handsomer than they thought it to be; and he might say that Presbyteries were only beginning to pay proper attention to architectural effect; still they must never forget the higher object of their Church buildings. The speaker exhorted the congregation to take special interest in all that appertained to their Church, and to guard against the deadness which would fall upon a congregation which did not regularly attend at worship every Sabbath. He was more than pleased to hear that they had contributed to all the funds for which the Assembly sought their aid, and he trusted that they would always recollect the claims of such objects. Although a Presbyterian, he was no sectarian, and did not wish his sympathies to remain with that Church only; for there was but one Shepherd, one fold, one House of many mansions, and they should remember that this building was God’s house – not theirs – but dedicated to the God of Zion. Let them enter it as the gate of heaven, thinking of God’s words, “Come to me, all ye that are heavy laden;” and there was nothing which would cheer the adversities of this life but seeking the house of God every Sabbath, where they could have communion with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, and feel that there was a place prepared for them where the inhabitants know no tears, and which was the land of everlasting bliss. If they did this, truly this place would be a blessed place. He had but one word to say, in regard to their indebtedness to God for all they had. If they realised this, and were honest in their religious convictions, neither he nor any other minister would have occasion to ask them to give of their substance to the purposes of God’s worship. He hoped that for many years they would worship here, and may the faith they had imbibed enable them to enter into the joy of the kingdom of their Lord. A collection was then taken up, during which the choir sang “How Beautiful upon the Mountain.” They also sang at the conclusion of each speech.

The Rev. J. MEEK would simply make a few remarks in his own way. He had watched their progress as a congregation with considerable satisfaction, and he was here to confess that the career of this congregation had taught him one or two useful lessons. He had at one time serious misgivings as to the success of the effort to establish this congregation, but their prosperity had rebuked him, and taught him to remember that it was right to do one’s duty, and leave the results to God. We at Gisborne would not feel flattered by being compared to Melton; yet they worshipped in a temporary wooden building. He hoped their success in Melton would induce the Gisborne congregation to at least consider the matter of beginning to do likewise. He looked upon this Church as a testimony to the zeal and devotedness of their minister, and as a monument of their liberality; and he trusted most earnestly that on the great day of accounts, their minister might have many from among them as a crown of glory.

The Rev. J. SCOTT had been admonished by the departure of many that the patience of the audience was well-nigh exhausted. He had not come with any desire of speaking, but rather to hear others. However, he must join his congratulations with those of the speakers who had preceded him. Their minister had done what few of his brethren would have attempted. He felt that they had done great things in the past, and he believed it would be an incentive for them to buckle with a will to attend with zeal to all those observances which proved them a Christian people. The rev. gentleman urged the congregation to train their children to build up Christ’s cause in this young country, and concluded by hoping that they and their pastor would enjoy many such meetings as the present.

The CHAIRMAN announced the collection to be £5. 18s. 4d., making upwards of £20 with the collection of the previous day, for which the committee gave their hearty thanks.

Mr. BUCHANAN proposed a vote of thanks to the ladies, and made one of the best speeches of the evening. Carried by acclamation. Mr. BLACKWOOD proposed a vote of thanks to Mr. Corr, for having allowed the Committee to take the stone for building the Church from his property, free of charge. The vote was carried, and ordered to be conveyed to Mr. Corr. The vote of thanks to the visitors was also proposed by Mr. Blackwood.

The Rev. J. W. INGLIS, the Rev. R. HENDERSON, and the Rev. H. DARLING replied. The latter remarked that he was in favour of the congregation standing during singing and sitting during prayer, with the head upon the book board, as the attention was not then distracted as when standing. His congregation followed this practice.

Mr. MACINTOSH replied to a vote of thanks to the trustees. He was delighted to see what had been done, and he hoped that they would all recollect what had been said respecting regular attendance at Church. He was of opinion that the congregation should agree for the future to sit at prayer and stand at singing.

Mr. McPHERSON paid some deserved compliments to the choir in proposing a vote of thanks to them and their leader, Mr. Merchant.

The CHAIRMAN here presented Mr. Oldershaw, a member of the choir, a splendidly-bound edition of Cassell’s Illustrated Bible, as a testimony from the committee of their appreciation of his services.

Mr. OLDERSHAW expressed his thanks in a feeling manner, but was scarcely audible enough. The Rev. J. MEEK proposed a vote of thanks to the Chairman, which was briefly responded to, and the rev. gentleman remarked that henceforth he would be able to give more time to the spiritual wants of the congregation than hitherto.

The proceedings were closed by the choir singing a hymn. The proceeds of the sale of tickets amount to £16.”

Footnotes:

[1] The Australasian, Melbourne, Vic, Saturday 30th December 1865, page 12.

[2] Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 14th September 1867, page 2.

[3] Shire of Melton Heritage Study, Vol 5, page 3.

[4] Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 14th September 1867, page 2.

[5] The Age, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 14th October 1867, page 6.

 


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1864: St Enoch’s Presbyterian Church, Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria.

St Enoch’s United Presbyterian Church was built c.1850 to the design’s of architects James Blackburn (Jnr) and Arthur Newson at the east end of Collins Street in Melbourne. The church opened on the 30th March 1851 with the Rev Andrew Mitchell Ramsay as the first incumbent.

Extensive renovations and extensions were conducted in 1864 by William Ireland to the designs of architect Charles Webb and it was re-opened on the 31st of July 1864. Part of these renovations in 1864 included the installation of decorative stained glass windows by Ferguson & Urie of North Melbourne.

“…Over the entrance at the tower end is a large circular window, with plaster moulding finished with crisps, and containing a cinquefoil of Bath stone, which is filled in with a stained glass representation of the “Burning Bush,” and motto “Nec Tamen Consumebatur” – the crest and motto of the Church of Scotland. All the windows have been filled in with beautifully stained glass, and have a very fine appearance, as seen from the interior of the church during the day. This portion of the decorations is the work of Messrs Ferguson and Urie, North Melbourne, who have acquired considerable reputation for artistic productions of this description…”[1]

My reasonable assumption is that the Burning Bush window was probably the only figurative stained glass window in St Enoch’s and all the other decorative windows were most likely typical of Ferguson & Urie’s simple stained glass bordered windows of alternating red and blue glass divided by a yellow or white flower. The central diamond shaped glass quarries in these windows would have been either plain glass, or filled with the ‘Fleur De Lys’ or similar Gothic patterns.

Under increasing financial pressure and a dwindling congregation, St Enoch’s was sold in August 1870 to the Presbyterian Church of Victoria for £4,400 who intended to convert it into the Presbyterian Assembly Hall.  The modifications were completed in less than a month and on the 12th September 1870 it was officially opened by Sir James McCulloch. [2]

Unfortunately St Enoch’s no longer exists. The church was demolished in early 1911[3] and on its site was built the Auditorium Building (Kurrajong House, 175 Collins Street)[4].

In 1915 the new Presbyterian Assembly Hall was opened on the opposite side of Collins Street, next to Scots Church, but there is no evidence of any Ferguson & Urie windows that may have been transferred to it.

Nothing is known as to the fate of any of the original Ferguson & Urie stained glass windows from St Enoch’s.

The slideshow photos depict various historic images of St Enoch’s Church between 1864-1911 as well as indicative examples of other ‘Burning Bush’ windows by the Ferguson & Urie company that still exist in other Presbyterian Churches in Victoria.

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Significant tabloid transcriptions:

The Argus, Melbourne, Saturday 30th July 1864, page 5.

“The additions to the United Presbyterian Church in Collins-street east having been completed the edifice will be re-opened for public worship tomorrow…”

“… The tower, which forms a central feature, is fifteen feet and a half square. On either side of it is a two-light window with appropriate tracery, filled – as are other windows in the new portion of the building – with ornamental glass, executed by Messrs. Ferguson and Urie, of North Melbourne.”

The Age, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 1st August 1864, page 5.

“ST. ENOCH’S UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.

St. Enoch’s church, the name adopted by the Rev. Mr Ramsay’s congregation for their place of worship, in Collins street, was re-opened yesterday, having been closed for several weeks pending extensive alterations and improvements…”

“…The chief alteration that has been made on the building consists in the erection of a handsome stone front with a tower and spire in the decorative gothic style, and to this extent it is the second finest specimen of ecclesiastical architecture yet completed in this city. The total width of the front of the building, at the base, is 66 feet. The width of the church is 48 feet, and the remainder of the space is occupied by the manager’s office and gateway approach to the manse. The principal feature is, of course, the tower and spire, which together rise to the height of 110 feet, the spire being about 50[??] feet high. The base of the tower is about twenty feet in front by about seventeen feet in depth to the church. At the front, the sides and outer angles of the tower are supported by buttresses which stand at right angles to each other and are continued to the base of the spire, but are broken at intervals by gablets, water tables, &c. The tower consists of three divisions. The front of the lower division is occupied by an ornamental recessed doorway, enclosed between the front buttresses. The recesses of the doorway are filled in with deeply cut mouldings and pillars, with finely carved foliated capitals. The arch is similarly recessed and ornamented, and covered by a weather moulding with carved bosses. The doorway is crowned by a high gable filled up with quatrefoil and angular trefoil tracery, and surmounted by an encircled stone cross-crosslet standing about two feet in relief from the face of the tower. In a line with the base of the gable, the front and side buttresses on either side are ornamented with gablets, terminated with carved bosses and surmounted with foliated finials. The second division commences with a string-course, and contains in front a small window with a trefoil head, and at the sides quatrefoil windows with trefoil mouldings. The upper divisions, where the course is broken by weatherings, rises above the ridge of the church, and the four sides of the tower are here similarly ornamented, each with two one-light windows with trefoil heads. These windows are connected by moulded labels, and the moulding is also continued round the tower.

            The tower terminates with a cornixe [sic], enriched with ball flowers, and the buttresses are here surmounted by gablets, with foliated finials and carved bosses. The spire falls from the buttresses into an octagonal form. In the lower portion provision is made for a clock. A little above this, on four alternate sides, are one light windows, filled in with louvre slating. These windows are also ornamented with gables containing a trefoil, and the gables themselves are surmounted by foliated finials, and terminated with carved bosses. Above these, on alternate sides, are ornamental trefoil openings, with carved bosses and weatherings. The spire is then carried to a point without further embellishment, and terminates with a moulded apex, which is surmounted by a gilded encircled cross-crosslet, above which extends a lightning conductor.

            The angles of the church are supported by two buttresses, standing at right angles to each other. These are broken at the middle by water tables and are surmounted by gablets, from which spring octagonal pinnacles with foliated terminations. In the front of the church, on either side of the tower, is a two-light window with trefoil heads and a quatrefoil centering. These are further decorated by labels with carved bosses and surmounted by foliated finials.

            The manager’s office, which is built against the east side of the church, is, so far, a separate structure. It occupies part of a gable which is pierced by an arched gateway that leads to the office door in the side, the minister’s residence, class rooms, &c. The office is lighted by an ornamental on-light window, filled with stained glass, over which is a stone trefoil, while the gable is surmounted by a stone cross-crosslet similar to that over the church door.

            The front of the church and the tower are constructed of bluestone, but the ornamental portions, dressings and quoins are of Bath freestone. The spire is of Point Ventenet freestone, with Bath stone dressings. This Bath stone was imported by Messrs Miles, Kingston and Co. in the expectation that it might be chosen for the front of the Parliament Houses. That expectation, however, was not realised, and about twelve months ago a portion of the lot was purchased by Mr Adam Anderson, a member of Mr Ramsay’s congregation, and by him presented to the church for the purpose to which it has been applied.

            Internally the church has undergone a thorough renovation, and is fitted up with polished cedar pews. Over the entrance at the tower end is a large circular window, with plaster moulding finished with crisps, and containing a cinquefoil of Bath stone, which is filled in with a stained glass representation of the “Burning Bush,” and motto “Nec Tamen Consumebatur” – the crest and motto of the Church of Scotland. All the windows have been filled in with beautifully stained glass, and have a very fine appearance, as seen from the interior of the church during the day. This portion of the decorations is the work of Messrs Ferguson and Urie, North Melbourne, who have acquired considerable reputation for artistic productions of this description.

            The building stands considerably back from the street on an elevation about ten feet high, which slopes to within five or six feet of the front of the tower, and thus leaves a level platform which extends across the embankment. This platform is reached by a broad flight of stone steps opposite the main entrance, and from it a few steps within the doorway conduct to the vestibule, which at night is lighted with a beautifully stained glass lamp. The ground is enclosed in a line with the adjacent buildings by a low bluestone wall, with an elegant massive iron railing and gateway with open square pillars. These, which have a correspondence in style with that of the church, were cast at Laughton and Wilson’s (Vulcan) foundry, from designs specially furnished by Mr Webb, the architect of the building. The whole of the work has been completed in a way that affords the highest satisfaction, and reflects the utmost credit upon the builder, Mr William Ireland. The stone carving, which was executed by Mr William Allen, commands the highest admiration, as regards the capitals, bosses, and foliated ornaments, which in some cases are capable of being interlaced with a thread.

            An addition has been made to the building in the rear, which provides a commodious classroom on the ground floor, and a comfortable study in the second floor.”

The Australian News for Home Readers, Vic, Thursday 25th August 1864, page 12.

“ST ENOCHS UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH”

“St. Enoch’s church, the name adopted by the Rev. Mr Ramsay’s congregation for their place of worship, in Collins street, was re-opened on 31st ult, having been closed for several weeks pending extensive alterations and improvements…”

“… The office is lighted by an ornamental one-light window, filled with stained glass, over which is a stone trefoil, while the gable is surmounted by a stone crosslet similar to that over the church door…”

“…Over the entrance at the tower end is a large circular window, and containing a cinquefoil of bath stone, which is filled in with a stained glass representation of the “Burning Bush,” and the motto “Nec Tamen Consumebatur”[5] – the crest and motto of the Church of Scotland. All the windows have been filled in with beautifully stained glass, and have a very fine appearance, as seen from the interior of the church during the day. This portion of the decorations is the work of Messrs Ferguson and Urie, North Melbourne, who have acquired considerable reputation for artistic productions of this description…”

“…the vestibule, which at night is lighted with a beautifully stained glass lamp…”

Geelong Advertiser, Vic, Wednesday 10th August 1870, page 3.

“St. Enoch’s Church, in Collins-streets Melbourne, has now been handed over to the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, by which body it will be used as an Assembly Hall. The price was £4400, which is to be paid before the 1st of July of next year. The necessary alterations of the building are about to be proceeded with to adapt it to its new use.”

The Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 13th August 1870, page 4.

“THE Telegraph reports that the Church of St. Enoch, in Collins street east, has been purchased by the Presbyterian Church of Victoria as an assembly hall. The price given is £4,400. There is a mortgage of £1,700 on the property. The terms of the arrangement are that the balance of the price amounting to £2,700, and expenses should be paid on or before the 1st July, 1871. It is proposed to turn the building to several uses. Amongst these are primarily as assembly hall. Provision can also be made for committee-rooms, for the custody of the records of the church, for offices of the church, and for a theological library. Accommodation for ministers and elders visiting Melbourne for a day or two, it is suggested, should be provided; and the building can be used to hold meetings of young men’s societies, missionary meetings, &c., which may be expected to bring revenue to the church.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Tuesday 13th September 1870, page 5.

“Last night the Presbyterian Assembly Hall, Collins-street east, which was formerly St Enoch’s Church, was opened by a tea and public meeting, at which Sir James McCulloch presided. About 400 persons sat down to tea, and more than that number took part in the subsequent proceedings.”

Table Talk, Melbourne, Vic, Thursday 20th April 1911, page 4.

Brief article summary – In mid 1911 the Presbyterian Assembly Hall (formerly St Enoch’s United Presbyterian Church) is to be pulled down to make way for a public amusement hall.

The Age, Melbourne, Vic, Tuesday 18th May 1915, page 11.

“The Governor, attended by Mr. Victor Hood, was present last night at the opening of the New Assembly Hall of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, in Collins-street.”

(The new Hall was built on the opposite side of Collins Street to the left of Scot’s Church.)

Footnotes:

[1] The Age, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 1st August 1864, page 5.

[2] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Tuesday 13th September 1870, page 5.

[3] Table Talk, Melbourne, Vic, Thursday 20th April 1911, page 4.

[4] http://175collinsstreet.com.au/history.htm

[5] The motto of the Church of Scotland is ‘Nec Tamen Consumebatur’ (Latin) – ‘Yet it was not consumed’, an allusion to Exodus 3:2 and the Burning Bush.


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1888: James Urie lays the Foundation Stone of the Flemington and Kensington Presbyterian Church.

James Urie was not only a much respected public figure as a Councillor, Mayor of Flemington and a principal partner of the Ferguson & Urie stained glass firm; he is also credited with being one of the lead instigators for the erection of the Flemington and Kensington Presbyterian Church.

On the afternoon of Monday 25th June 1888 he was bestowed with the honour of laying the foundation stone of the new church in Norwood Street. The ceremony was reported as a grand affair and prior to him laying the foundation stone there was a procession by the Sunday school children after which he generously presented each one of them with a specially struck medallion as a memento of the historic occasion;

“…Prior to the commencement of the ceremony, about 450 Sabbath School children, nicely dressed, and with flags flying marched in procession from the new hall to the ground in Norwood street. Before leaving the mayor presented each child with a neat medal with a design of the church on one side commemorative of the event…”

– Images from private collections, the Melbourne Museum and the State Library of Victoria.

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The medal included a picture of the proposed church on one side with the words:

“FLEMINGTON AND KENSINGTON PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.”

On the reverse are the words:

“TO COMEMORATE THE LAYING OF THE FOUNDATION STONE. 25 JUNE 1888. BY JAS. URIE ESQ. J.P. MAYOR OF THE BOROUGH.”

An example of one these historical medallions can be seen at the Melbourne Museum in Carlton. [1] The Downies Numismatic Auction House also sold one of the medals at auction 308, item 945 for $200 circa 2012.

The Presbyterians originally intended to erect a smaller church costing only £1,400 but James Urie was adamant that it was worth the cost and effort to construct a more substantial building that would serve the congregation for many years;

“…Mr. Duguid, the architect for the building, stated in a brief speech that originally it was intended to erect a church costing only £1400 but Mr. Urie was so desirous of seeing a really good building worthy of the district put up, that at length it was agreed to adopt his advice, with the result that eventually the present design was accepted….”

“…Mr Thomson introduced the Mayor (Cr. Urie), who had been connected from the first with the church in the district, and had done all in his power for its advancement. He presented Mr. Urie amidst applause with a very handsome silver trowel, and invited him to lay the foundation stone of the church he had always advocated should be erected…”

“…He always believed in building a good church when they did build one, as it would serve all requirements for a long time to come, which a smaller one would not do. The design, he thought was most appropriate and suitable in every respect, and when completed they would have a church to be proud of. The height from the ground would be 10 feet to the spire, and with the seating the church would cost £2,500. He expressed his thanks for the silver trowel presented to him, and it would be a fitting souvenir of the important ceremony he was about to perform…”

James Urie exhibited the time capsule box, containing the newspapers of the day and undoubtedly many other artifacts. He then placed the box beneath the stone and declared the foundation stone “…to be well and truly laid amidst loud applause…”

His subsequent speech referred to their need to pay off the building as quickly as possible so they could be free of debt. He pointed out the collection plate and once again, as he done so liberally over the years, displayed his generosity;

“He set a most excellent example by placing what looked like two ten pound notes into the plate, and invited those present to follow suit…” [2]

It could be reasonable assumed that the windows for the church would be manufactured by the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company. It’s probably even reasonable to suggest that the designs for the windows would have been the suggestion of James Urie himself and that, as he’d so generously demonstrated in his contribution to the collection plate during the foundation stone ceremony, the windows were probably donated by the firm without cost.

The only obscure clues as to the stained glass windows were published in the North Melbourne Advertiser on the 7th July 1888 where it was stated;

“…The church will be lighted by ten double-light stained glass windows in the side walls, besides a large gable window…”[3]

On Monday the 10th of March 1889 the church was officially opened but very little detail was recorded in the tabloids about the occasion, except for the mention that they had purchased a – ‘”powerful’ bell, whose tones will no doubt remind the people of the borough of the ‘decent church that tops the neighbouring hill’.” .[4]

The Presbyterian Church in Norwood Street Flemington was only a short walk around the corner from James Urie’s house “Glencairn” in Wellington Street. Undoubtedly he would have been proud of the church they had constructed but he would not share long in its history.

James Urie died seventeen months later, on the 21st of July 1890 aged 62. His funeral was recorded as being one of the most imposing ever seen in the Borough of Flemington and Kensington;

“…The employės of Messrs Ferguson & Urie marched in front of the hearse, then came four mourning coaches and upward of fifty vehicles. Immediately following the mourning coaches came a hansom, in which the Hon Alfred Deakin was seated, then next in order a buggy containing the deceased gentleman’s council colleagues…”[5]

Alfred Deakin, later to be Prime Minister of Australia, also played a part as a pall bearer at the grave site.

The last known mention of additional stained glass windows occurred in 1924 when the congregation decided to erect a memorial to the fallen WW1 soldiers from the parish [6]. If the memorial window was actually created as intended then it would most likely have been created by the Brooks, Robinson & Co., stained glass company of Melbourne.

The church survived 81 years before unfortunately being destroyed by fire on the 24th April 1970. It’s not known if any significant historical artifacts survived the fire and there is nothing further known of the stained glass windows.

The whereabouts of the silver trowel presented to James Urie to lay the foundation stone remains a mystery. It was Willed to his daughter Maria as indicated in her mother Grace’s Will of 1899. Maria died a spinster in 1915 but the research trail has ended there and nothing further is known.

Significant tabloid transcriptions:

North Melbourne, Advertiser, Vic, Saturday 30th June 1888, page 4.

“FOUNDATION STONE CEREMONY

The foundation stone of the new Presbyterian Church, at Flemington, of which the above drawing is an excellent representation, was laid on Monday afternoon, by the Mayor (Councillor James Urie), in the presence of a very large assemblage of residents and visitors amongst whom were the Rev. G. D. Buchanan. S. Robinson and James; Professors MacDonald and Rentoul, and other prominent divines. Prior to the commencement of the ceremony, about 450 Sabbath School children, nicely dressed, and with flags flying marched in procession from the new hall to the ground in Norwood street. Before leaving the mayor presented each child with a neat medal with a design of the church on one side commemorative of the event. The proceedings were commenced by the choir singing the hymn “Brightly gleams our Banner,” and afterwards the Rev. John Thomson offered up an earnest prayer for the success of the undertaking.
Professor Rentoul, who was briefly introduced by the Rev. John Thomson, said it gave him very great pleasure to be present at the laying of the foundation stone of such a magnificent church, but especially so because he had the deepest regard for their worthy pastor, the Rev John Thomson, whom he had known years ago as a most earnest worker in the ministry in England. It was a great blessing to a congregation to have such a good and able pastor who took so deep an interest in the welfare of his flock, and it was also a boon to have a good church. Referring to the past career of the Presbyterian Church, Professor Rentoul pointed out that it had never been afraid to stand up for God’s truth when necessity arose, as history proved. It was the church of the people, as it was free to all and fell in more with their ideas of Christianity. Dr. Martineau had even advised his Unitarian congregation in England to embrace the Presbyterian form of Church government, and, in fact, he (Professor Rentoul) considered the Presbyterian Church of Scotland came nearest the beau ideal of what a Christian church ought to be. The grand old German Emperor who so recently passed away was a Presbyterian, and from the rapid manner in which the church was everywhere progressing, it would be, he thought, the church of the future. The foundation stone they were about to lay, was he was glad to say, a proof of the advancement of the Presbyterian cause in the district of Flemington and Kensington. He eulogised the efforts and liberality of the congregation in subscribing toward the erection of such a beautiful church, and referred particularly to Mr. Urie, as being worthy of special thanks for the part he had taken in the movement. He urged all to continue their exertions, and no doubt they would soon succeed in clearing off the remaining portion of the cost. If it had been the proper place, he should have felt impelled to call for three cheers for Mr and Mrs Thomson, and also for Mr. Urie who had been mainly instrumental in having such a splendid edifice built, but as at the present time he could not do this, he would conclude by congratulating the congregation on the success already attained, and urge them all to work in harmony for the good of the church.
Mr Thomson introduced the Mayor (Cr. Urie), who had been connected from the first with the church in the district, and had done all in his power for its advancement. He presented Mr. Urie amidst applause with a very handsome silver trowel, and invited him to lay the foundation stone of the church he had always advocated should be erected. Cr. Urie, who was well received, said that about five years ago the Presbyterians agreed to hold their services in the Flemington and Kensington Hall. They had been exceedingly fortunate in securing the services of their respected pastor, the Rev. John Thomson, and through his excellent capabilities and energy n the cause, the congregation became so numerous that it was thought advisable to take steps for the erection of a suitable church. The congregation were not at all backward in coming forward with donations, and the present site was accordingly purchased at £6 per foot. He always believed in building a good church when they did build one, as it would serve all requirements for a long time to come, which a smaller one would not do. The design, he thought was most appropriate and suitable in every respect, and when completed they would have a church to be proud of. The height from the ground would be 10 feet to the spire, and with the seating the church would cost £2,500. He expressed his thanks for the silver trowel presented to him, and it would be a fitting souvenir of the important ceremony he was about to perform. He then proceeded to mix the mortar, and after exhibiting a box, in which he had stated the periodicals of the day were encased, placed it under the stone, which he then, with great care and in a most workmanlike manner, declared to be well and truly laid amidst loud applause. The Mayor next drew attention to the collection plate, pointing out that paper money, sovereigns or silver would be thankfully received in aid of the building fund, which it was most desirable to pay off as quickly as possible so as to be perfectly free and clear from any encumbrance. He set a most excellent example by placing what looked like two ten pound notes into the plate, and invited those present to follow suit, with the result that for the next few minutes there was a decided rush of well wishers of the church and the Sunday school scholars were very conspicuous with their offerings, in fact it was pleasing to see the eagerness of some of the children to part with their money. At length the funds of the onlookers ‘having been well and truly laid,’ the Rev. John Thomson announced that several gentlemen would like to make a few remarks.
Duguid, the architect for the building, stated in a brief speech that originally it was intended to erect a church costing only £1400 but Mr. Urie was so desirous of seeing a really good building worthy of the district put up, that at length it was agreed to adopt his advice, with the result that eventually the present design was accepted. The land on which the church was to be erected was 80 feet by 180, and had been purchased at £6 per foot. The building would cost £2500, of which sum £900 had been subscribed, and another £150 was promised, provided that an additional £50 was collected by six months.
The Rev. Samuel Robinson, of St. Kilda, said he was pleased to say he been present at the initiation of the movement for the erection of the church, and he could assure them that Mr. Urie deserved the greatest credit for the interest he had taken in the matter throughout, while the Misses Urie, by their exertions in aid of the funds, were entitled to equal praise. Both Mr. and Mrs. Thomson had also by their untiring efforts brought the church to its present state of prosperity, and were deserving of the most hearty thanks of the congregation. He earnestly hoped all would continue to work together without and heartburnings, not only for the erection of the church, but for its after prosperity.
Professor McDonald expressed his pleasure at being present on such an eventful occasion, as it proved that Mr. Thomson had not laboured in vain for the district. The congregation were most fortunate in having Mr. Thomson as their pastor, as there were few superior or more devoted and earnest men in the service of God and man. His thought and scholarly attainments were well-known and appreciated, in fact, he possessed qualifications that entitled him to seek higher places, but he had chosen instead to cast his lot with them. He was truly happy to see that Mr. Thomson’s labours had been so successful and borne such good fruit.

 TEA AND PUBLIC MEETING.

 In the evening a very successful tea meeting was held in the New Hall, and was followed by a public meting and concert, at which there was a very large attendance. The Mayor (Cr. Urie) presided, and on the platform were the Revs. Alex Marshall, Buchanan, Burchett, James and Smith. The meeting having opened with prayer.
The chairman gave an interesting address, in which he described the past history of the Presbyterian Church at Kensington, and the difficulties that at first had to be contended with. Five years ago the congregation commenced to hold services in the new hall, and after some time the Rev. John Thomson was persuaded to cast in his lot with them, and accept a call to the church. The congregation largely increased under his ministration and it was then decided to make an offer to purchase a block of land on which to erect a suitable church. Subscriptions came in the most liberal manner, and a very successful cake fair was also held which materially increased the funds, and with other donations, they were at length in a position to purchase a valuable site in Norwood street at a cost of £520. Designs were then invited for a church to cost about £1400, but the congregation ultimately decided to erect a more imposing building, and the present design by Mr. Duguid was accepted. He believed in erecting a good church while they were about it, as the extra cost, he thought, would be subscribed without very much difficulty, and it was far better to have a building with which they would all be quite satisfied instead of a smaller one, which would not so well answer requirements. He thought if they all did their best the balance of the building fund would soon be collected and then they would have a church free of debt of their own, which they could be proud of (Applause.) The choir then sang the anthem ‘Then wilt thou show’ with excellent affect and Mr. Boreham followed with ‘Nil Desperandum.’
G. D. Buchanan next gave a spirited address, and congratulated the congregation on being able to erect such a splendid church, which proved that they appreciated the efforts of their worthy pastor, who was entitled to their hearty thanks for the energetic manner he had worked to bring the church in the district to its present prosperous state. He urged them all to stick together and do their best to pay off the remaining debt on the church, and if they remained united there was no doubt they would succeed in surmounting all difficulties, and become a strong congregation.
The Rev. Alexander Marshall, of Scot’s Church, the Rev. Jas. Burchett and James also addressed the meeting, and wished the congregation success in their undertaking.
The singing of the choir under the able conductorship of Mr. Townsend was much appreciated, the anthems – ‘Arise and shine’ and ‘I will wash my hands’ being particularly well rendered. A trio – ‘Thou shalt love the Lord’ by Miss Clayton and Messrs. Clayton and Townshend was very nicely given, and a song ‘Calvery,’ by Miss Gray was most successfully rendered. The meeting, which was most enjoyable and successful, closed with the benediction.”

North Melbourne Advertiser, Vic, Saturday 7th July 1888, page 4.

“FLEMINGTON PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.

The following is a description of the above building. The church when finished will form a handsome and conspicuous addition to the architecture of the borough. In plan it is an amphitheatre in form; the pews radiating from the pulpit in five blocks, and providing accommodation for 360 worshipers. The extreme internal dimensions are 54 ft. wide, 48 ft. long. The width is arranged in a central nave 36 ft. wide, and side aisles 9 ft wide for three fourths of the length. The roof of the nave is supported on cast iron columns, and consist of four massive curved principals, giving a clear height of 28 ft. from floor to ceiling. Running along the top of the columns are heavily moulded beams, supported by curved gothic brackets springing from the caps of the columns, and similar beams and brackets run from the columns to the walls, to carry the roof of the side aisles. The whole of the ceiling will be finished in stained and varnished kauri pine, and the side walls will have a dado of same all round. The principal entrance are by the tower door on the right hand side, and a similar door in a porch on the left, these being connected by a commodious vestibule outside the main building. Besides these doors, there are four others intended more as a means of egress, and those arrangements have met with the fullest approval of Central Board of Health. The church will be lighted by ten double-light stained glass windows in the side walls, besides a large gable window. The main feature of the design externally is, of course, the spire, which rises in graceful proportions to the height of 100 ft. above the floor level, the upper part being slated and surmounted by a handsome cast iron finial. The main gable rises to a height of about 45 feet, and contains the large window before referred to. It is well balanced in effect by a flanking buttress carrying a small pinnacle, and the apex is filled in by coloured tiles. The back gable is filled in with wood and lath and plaster at present, to permit of future extensions, but the rest of the walls are all of brick, tuck-pointed, and having bands, arches, &c., of coloured bricks. It is no discredit to the other churches in the neighbourhood to say that when finished it will be beyond question the most handsome church in the borough, and reflects great credit on the skill and economical planning of the architect that a building of such proportions and style could have been undertaken for the very modest sum of £2150, which is the amount of the contract. The sum does not include fittings, but it includes an ornamental front fence, and a good deal of asphalting in the grounds.”

North Melbourne Advertiser, Vic, Saturday 8th September 1888, page 2.

“In connection with the Flemington and Kensington Presbyterian Church, it has been decided to substitute Victorian patent stone for timber and seating in the erection of the spire of the above building. This will add greatly to the appearance, and also to the durability of the structure. In spite of the scarcety of bricks the erection of the building is making good progress, and it is intended to open it about the middle of December.”

North Melbourne Advertiser, Vic, Saturday 2nd February 1889, page 3.

Summary – On the evening of Thursday the 31st January 1889, the wife of the minister, Mrs. J. Thompson was entertained on the eve of her intended journey to return temporarily to the old country for the benefit of her health. The going away party was organised by the Flemington congregation at which time she was presented with a small token of sovereigns. After some refreshments many songs were sung, including James Urie’s rendition of ‘Oh, steer my bark.’

North Melbourne, Advertiser, Vic, Saturday 23rd February 1889, page 2.

“It has been decided that the opening services in connection with the new Presbyterian Church at Flemington will take place on Monday 10th March. The denomination has purchased a ‘powerful’ bell, whose tones will no doubt remind the people of the borough of the ‘decent church that tops the neighbouring hill’.

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Wednesday 30th April 1924, page 9.

“It has been decided by the congregation of the Flemington and Kensington Presbyterian Church to have a memorial window placed in the church in memory of fallen soldiers of the parish.”

Related posts:

23-07-1890: James Urie (1828-1890)

18-09-1885: James Urie’s house “Glencairn”, Wellington Street, Flemington.

Footnotes:

[1] Museum Victoria, Carlton Gardens, Melbourne (accessed 14-08-2014).

[2] North Melbourne, Advertiser, Vic, Saturday 30th June 1888, page 4.

[3] North Melbourne Advertiser, Vic, Saturday 7th July 1888, page 4.

[4] North Melbourne, Advertiser, Vic, Saturday 23rd February 1889, page 2.

[5] The North Melbourne Advertiser, Friday 25th July 1890, page 2

[6] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Wednesday 30th April 1924, page 9.


Short link to this page: http://wp.me/p28nLD-2wL

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1869: Presbyterian Church, Coimadai, Victoria.

Tracing the locations of Ferguson & Urie stained glass windows has revealed many interesting stories and facts and taken me to places I’ve never even heard of before. Some quaint little churches exist in tiny townships that are within an hour from home and yet I’ve never been to some of these towns and if I had, I probably blinked and missed it on the way through.

The latest obscure clues on my search for Ferguson & Urie stained glass leads to the historic township of ‘Coimadai’, located about 10km north of Bacchus Marsh and 65km west of Melbourne.

Some of these tiny communities only existed as a result of the 19th century gold rush era, or as a result of fertile farming land, mining or production of a commodity that that would eventually dissipate.

The tiny township of Coimadai in western Victoria still exists on today’s maps but little of its ecclesiastical history or original historic buildings still exist. Its greatest claim to fame would have been the quarrying of lime deposits originally discovered by John Hopgood in the 1850’s and after many later owners was floated in the 1880’s as a public company by the Alkemade Bros as the “Alkemade Hydraulic Lime Company.”[1] There was also the historic Coimadai Brick Works which existed up until the 1960’s.

In early 1868, the Presbyterians of Coimadai began open air church services after having the doors to the Common School at Coimadai closed against them.

After nine months of braving all weather conditions a public meeting was held at Willow Bank on Tuesday the 18th August 1868 for the purpose of discussing the possibility of erecting their own church[2].

Although the word ‘public’ conjures up the idea of the entire township turning up for the discussion, there were actually only eight of the Presbyterians at the meeting. Those present were Malcolm Cameron, Alex Hardy, Hutchinson Allen, George Greive, William McKelvie, Peter W. Train, and David D. Bower. The Rev. James Scott was elected to the chair[3].

Less than three months after that meeting the Hon. Sec, David D. Bower, advertised for tenders for the erection of the Coimadai Presbyterian Church[4] and in February 1869 the Presbytery appointed David D. Bower, Peter Train, Malcolm Cameron, Alexander Hardie, and Hutcheson M. Allen as Trustees for the Church property[5].

The tender of Althorne and Taylor was accepted for the erection of a Brick Church at a cost of about £320, half of which would be covered by the state aid to religion. Additional volunteer labour came from other denominations, including the members of the Catholic and Church of England congregations.

On Sunday 20th June 1869 the Church was opened with the Rev. J. Meek of Gisborne conducting the first service and apart from the religious side of the formalities the committee gave some descriptions of the building and fittings which included the leadlight windows with stained glass borders[6].

“…The church is a neat edifice of brick, occupying a prominent position close to Mr. Bower’s residence. Its dimensions are 40ft. x 20ft., with plastered ceiling and walls. At the rear are two small rooms, with fireplaces, which will be found very convenient for the use of the minister and the committee of management. There are three windows on each side filled with the usual lead lights with a stained glass border. There is also a window on each side of the entrance door and a louvre ventilator above. The angles of the building, the door jambs, and the windows, are faced with pretty freestone of the district, and altogether the building has a very neat and finished appearance…”[7]

The committee’s first annual financial statement for the Coimadai Presbyterian Church for 1869-70 indicated that the Ferguson & Urie Stained Glass Company of Melbourne was paid £19 for windows[8]. Based on the description and the cost of the glass, this leads me to believe that the windows were the company’s simple stock windows containing the simple red and blue stained glass borders with yellow or white flower alternating between each colour. These were the exact same design found in many churches and were usually the first windows to be installed and later replaced when parishioners donated memorial windows. Many of these original stock windows still exist in a small number of suburban and country churches to this day.

COIMADAI Indicative examples

 

Unfortunately the Coimadai Presbyterian Church no longer exists. Less than thirty years after the first service was conducted in 1869 the building was sold to the Alkemade Brothers in 1898 and was subsequently demolished to make way for a house.

“Alkemade Bros. seem to be doing well in the lime trade. One of them recently purchased the old Presbyterian church, and is now busy taking it down and I believe it is with the intention of erecting a brick villa. We shall have no other place to hold divine service in excepting the school room, which has been kindly lent by Mr. Borlase, the teacher. Week evening services are now held there by the Rev. F. H. Gibbs, which are well attended by the young people of Coimadai. The next service is to be held on August 25th. No doubt when the warm weather comes the Rev. J. A. Stuart will also assist, as in former days…”[9]

Much of the original historic township area of Coidamai is now nearly completely submerged under the Lake Merrimu Reservoir.

Significant tabloid transcriptions:

Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 22nd August 1868, page 2.

“A public meeting of the residents of Coimadai was held at Willow Bank on the evening of Tuesday, the 18th inst., for the purpose of taking into consideration the desirability of erecting a Church in connection with the Presbyterian cause in Victoria. The Rev. J. Scott, on taking the chair, stated the object of the meeting, and requested those present to express their views in the matter…”

The Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 7th November 1868, page 2.

“TENDERS ARE Requested for the erection of the Presbyterian Church, Coimadai, labour only. Bricklayer’s and carpenters work jointly or separately. Plans and specifications may be seen at the office of Mr. James Young, Bacchus Marsh. Tenders, addressed to the undersigned, Post-office, Coimadai, will be received up to 6 p.m. on Thursday, 26th inst., from whom all necessary information may be obtained. The Committee do not bind themselves to accept the lowest of any tender. DAVID D. BOWER, Hon. Sec.”

Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 20th February 1869, page 3.

“The Presbytery appointed the following persons as Trustees for the Church property at Coimadai – Messrs. David D. Bower, Peter Train, Malcolm Cameron, Alexander Hardie, and Hutcheson M. Allen.”

Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 26th June 1869, page 2.

“PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH COIMADAI.

 This place of worship was opened by Divine service being conducted in it on Sunday last by the Rev. J. Meek, of Gisborne, who preached from the text – “And the children of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy” – Ezra vi. 16. The sermon was highly appreciated by those who had the privilege of hearing it, and these were not few in number as many persons attended from Melton and Bacchus Marsh…”

“…The church is a neat edifice of brick, occupying a prominent position close to Mr. Bower’s residence. Its dimension are 40ft. x 20ft., with plastered ceiling and walls. At the rear are two small rooms, with fireplaces, which will be found very convenient for the use of the minister and the committee of management. There are three windows on each side filled with the usual lead lights with a stained glass border. There is also a window on each side of the entrance door and a louvre ventilator above. The angles of the building, the door jambs, and the windows, are faced with pretty freestone of the district, and altogether the building has a very neat and finished appearance…”

“…The cost of it will be about £320, of which half is contributed by grant-in-aid…”

“…On the evening of the 11th August, 1868, seven adherents of the Presbyterian Church being in the neighbourhood met, and having called you, sir to the chair, a provisional committee was nominated, whose names I may here mention were – Malcolm Cameron, Alex Hardy, Hutchinson Allen, George Greive, William McKelvie, Peter W. Train, and David D. Bower. I should state that in consequence of having the doors of the Common School closed against us for holding public worship, we felt it our immediate duty to set about erecting a house wherein we (as Presbyterians) might worship the God of our fathers. Since that date, about nine months ago, ladies and gentlemen, our respected Chairman has been holding fortnightly Sabbath services in the open air, and, I think with one exception, in the face of all weathers…”

The Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 13th August 1870, page 3.

“THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, COIMADAI.”
“…First annual statement of the Coimadai Presbyterian Church for 1869-70…”
“…Ferguson, Urie, & Lyon, for windows, £19…”

The Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 6th August 1898, page 3.

“Alkemade Bros. seem to be doing well in the lime trade. One of them recently purchased the old Presbyterian church, and is now busy taking it down and I believe it is with the intention of erecting a brick villa. We shall have no other place to hold divine service in excepting the school room, which has been kindly lent by Mr. Borlase, the teacher. Week evening services are now held there by the Rev. F. H. Gibbs, which are well attended by the young people of Coimadai. The next service is to be held on August 25th. No doubt when the warm weather comes the Rev. J. A. Stuart will also assist, as in former days…”

Additional tabloid articles of interest:

The Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 15th April 1905, page 4.

“COIMADAI AND THE ALKEMADE HYDRAULIC GROUND LIME…”

 

Footnotes:

[1] The Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 18th November 1916, page 3.

[2] Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 22nd August 1868, page 2.

[3] Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 26th June 1869, page 2.

[4] The Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 7th November 1868, page 2.

[5] Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 20th February 1869, page 3.

[6] Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 26th June 1869, page 2.

[7] Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 26th June 1869, page 2.

[8] The Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 13th August 1870, page 3.

[9] The Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 6th August 1898, page 3.

 

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1877: St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Colac, Victoria.

St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (now Uniting) at Colac in western Victoria contains an entire cycle of historical stained glass windows created by the renowned colonial craftsmen Ferguson & Urie of North Melbourne.

The Colac church archives have the intricate detail surrounding the concept of the stained glass windows, but the one which would mesmerise the congregation for well over a century would be the west end rose shaped window which was erected in 1877. It is a magnificent piece of stained glass dedicated to the memory of the pioneer of the Colac district, William Robertson, who died in 1874.

Photos taken 10th August 2013.

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On the 13th October 1876, the Secretary of the Colac Presbyterian Church, P. C. Wilson [1] invited architects to submit designs for their new church to be erected at Colac [2]. A month later a dozen submissions had been received:

“Some twelve designs have been sent in for the New Presbyterian Church which is shortly to be erected at Colac. Some of the designs are of a very neat order.” [3]

The designs of Melbourne architect Peter Matthews were subsequently chosen and the foundation stone was laid on the 10th April 1877 on the corner of Manifold and Hesse streets in Colac. Mr. E. Bulling had been selected as the building contractor and the church was constructed of bluestone quarried from George Robertson’s estate at nearby Coragulac [4]. St Andrew’s was officially opened for services on the 16th of December 1877.

State aid to religion had officially ended at the start of 1876 leaving churches to fully fund themselves for new constructions but on the 19th of April 1877 a significant private donation came for the Colac church. Mr George Pringle Robertson of Coragulac wrote to the Presbyterian Church Committee with a generous offer of £150 towards the building fund on behalf of himself and his brothers James and William.[5]

The architects designs for the church included elaborate stone tracery to be fitted with a series of round windows at the liturgical west end facing Manifold street.

At 3 p.m on Friday the 5th of February 1877 the Church committee held a meeting, at which Peter Matthews and James Urie were present. The minutes record that;

“Mr Matthews Architect and Mr Urie of Ferguson & Urie were present by invitation.”

“Mr Urie submitted designs for stained glass windows”;

“Mr James Robertson announced that he and his brothers had decided to defray the cost of putting in the large central window in a highly ornamental design of stained glass estimated at 100 guineas.”

“Resolved; that the thanks of the committee be given to Messrs Robertson Brothers for their very handsome gift to the church”.

“Resolved; that ornamental leaded margins off stained glass be erected in all the windows in accordance with designs submitted.” [8]

On the 28th of June 1877 the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company provided the architect with a quotation for a stained glass “Rose” window at £100 in addition to the contract for work [6]. It was later resolved to also place windows with stained glass margins in all other windows of the church. The costs were tabled in the January 1878 minutes as £127./6/0 [7] with a further £30 owed to Ferguson & Urie by the architect Peter Matthews.

All the windows in the church were subsequently erected with Ferguson & Urie’s simple stained glass margins of the alternating primary colours of red, blue and yellow.

The primary window, the large series of round stained glass windows in the liturgical west end, is an eight lobed oculus, or more commonly described as a wheel or rose window, and measures approximately twelve feet in diameter. A brass plaque below the window reads:

“This window was erected by William, George, & James Robertson in memory of their late father WILLIAM ROBERTSON, who died 18th Jan 1874, aged 76 years”.

The eight round outer lobes of the window contain four floral designs between another four which contain representations of the four Evangelists depicted as their biblical symbols (as described in Revelations 4:7-8).

In relation to a clock face, at 12 o’clock the top window represents the winged St Matthew holding a ribbon with the text “St Matthew”, at 3 o’clock, St. John (as the Eagle), at 6 o’clock, St Mark (as the Winged Lion) and at 9 o’clock, St. Luke (as the Winged Ox). The larger central round window contains the shield of the Trinity.

So who was William Robertson?

William Robertson (1798-1874) was a member of the Port Phillip Association which led to the first European settlement of Victoria. He was a renowned sheep and cattle breeder and became the largest landholder ever known in the Western district of Victoria since Colonial times. He was born in Alvie, Inverness-shire, Scotland on the 7th October 1798 and in late December 1822 arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) with his brother John aboard the Regalia[9]. Initially selecting land near Campbelltown he partnered with his brother John and younger siblings James and Daniel (who arrived later) to form Robertson Brothers Mercantile Importers in Elizabeth Street Hobart in 1829[10], which was run by John & William, and in 1831[11] in Brisbane Street Launceston, run by James and Daniel. Their mercantile interests earned them a considerable fortune whilst John and William maintained their interests in sheep and cattle and a land holding of 7,500 acres at Elizabeth River (Campbelltown) which they offered for sale in 1835 [12].

On the 10th September 1834[13] William married Margaret White (1811-1866) of Berwick, Scotland, at Campbelltown in Van Diemen’s Land, and they had four sons and three daughters.

Having become disillusioned by the land grants system in Van Diemen’s Land he began to take an interest in the reports of explorers Hume & Hovel who had previously made expeditions to the Port Phillip district in 1824, then known as New Holland (and later Victoria). William was invited to become a member of the Port Phillip Association which led to the first European settlement of Victoria. He had also partially funded John Batman’s first two expeditions[14] to the Port Phillip district and later, in 1836, he explored the Western District of Victoria in the company of Joseph Tice Gellibrand and the infamous William Buckley.

In 1837 he returned to Port Phillip for the first of the Government land sales and made his first purchase of 5,000 acres at Colac. By late 1865 he had sold most of his business interests in Tasmania[15] and in early 1866 permanently moved his family to Colac where Margaret died only weeks later on the 19th of January 1866 [16]

He built his substantial residence, known as “The Hill” at Colac where in December 1867 he hosted the Duke of Edinburgh [17].

By 1874 William Robertson had amassed over 34,000 acres of land around Colac to become one of the largest landholders in Western district of Victoria [18].

William Robertson died at his Colac property on the 18th January 1874 [19], predeceased by his wife Margaret and eldest daughter Jessie[20]; his total land holdings at Colac and district were listed at probate as 219,656 acres[21] and were divided equally between his four sons, John (1837-1875), William (1839-1892), George Pringle (1842-1895), and James (1848-1890).

The sons of William Robertson, donors of the window:

William Robertson (1839-1892):

The second eldest, William, was born in Hobart on the 29th March 1839[22]. He studied law at Oxford and was admitted to the Victorian Bar in 1864. He married Martha Mary Murphy in England on the 24th April 1863 [23], and was active in the Victorian political scene between 1871 and 1886 and during that time was also Colac Shire Councillor from 1877 and president in 1881-82. He died on the 23rd June 1882 and his funeral, held in Colac on the 28th June 1882, was “one of the largest ever seen in the district”.[24]

George Pringle Robertson (1842-1895):

The third eldest, George, was born in Hobart on the 22nd August 1842 [25]. He was educated at Rugby, and later at Trinity College, Oxford. He married Annie Murray in Scots Church, Melbourne, on the 18th May 1871 [26]. He was well known in cricketing circles and captained the Victorian Cricket Eleven against the All England team in 1874. He built ‘Coragulac House’ on a portion of the family estate he inherited from his father. He joined the Colac Shire Council in 1878 and served for ten years and was twice elected president. He died 23rd June 1895 [27]

James Robertson (1848-1890):

The youngest was born in Hobart on the 7th July 1848 [28]. James was educated first in Hobart and later at Rugby in England.  He was predominantly the manager of the Robertson estates in Western Victoria and in later years universally known as the best judge of the Shorthorn cattle breed. He married Margaret Stuart Stodart (1849- 1903) at St George’s Presbyterian Church at Geelong on the 16th March 1870 [29] . James died of Typhoid aged 42, during a brief visit to England, on the 25th July 1890 [30].

John Robertson (1837- 1875):

The eldest son, John,  is not listed as a donor on the memorial plaque for the stained glass window in St Andrew’s. He had died eighteen months after his father at his Cororooke estate aged 38 on the 18th July 1875 after a long illness[31]. His wife Sarah left for London in January 1876[32] and later married Louis Anderson Corbet at Stoke Bishop, near Bristol, on the 12th June 1877[33]. The Cororooke part of the Robinson Estate was willed to John after his father’s death in 1874 and was sold at public auction as part of John’s estate in late 1885[34].

Significant historical tabloid transcriptions:

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Tuesday 20th January 1874, page 5.

DEATH OF MR. WILLIAM ROBERTSON OF COLAC.

We have with regret to record the death of Mr William Robertson, of Colac, who expired at his residence at Colac on Sunday morning last, at the ripe age of 75 years. In him the colony loses one of the founders of its fortunes, for not only was he among the earliest of its pioneers, but he took an important part in its early struggles for existence, and never ceased his exertions in it until by his acumen, energy, and perseverance, his lands became a vast possession, and himself a millionaire. He was born in 1799, at Alvey, Inverness-shire, Scotland, where his father was a respectable sheep-farmer, and there the son was brought up. After receiving a sound practical education from the dominie of the parish, who afterwards became placed minister at Balmoral, the lad began to assist on his father’s farm, and in that condition of life he arrived at man’s estate. About this time he was attracted by the offers of land on easy terms, and the assistance of convict labour, made by the Colonial Office to induce emigrants with capital to locate themselves in Van Diemen’s Land, and the result was, that he and his brother John accepted those offers, and, in 1822 arrived in the sister colony. His brothers, Daniel and James, subsequently followed his example. Our business is, however, with the first-named brothers, whose first step was to select 2,560 acres of land in the neighbourhood of Campbelltown, where they remained in partnership until 1831, when they decided to sell their property, which they had made valuable. They then entered into business in Hobart Town, by which they profited exceedingly, varying their occupation by farming a small estate they purchased near Melton Mowbray. In 1835 William became fascinated by the stories that were then told of the richness of Port Phillip, and with a view to enterprise in that direction, bore on his own account half the expense of Batman’s first expedition, the end of which was that the latter landed at Indented Heads and journeyed to Station Peak, from whence he took his first real survey of the glories of what was to him a promised land. On his return Mr. Robertson and others contributed the cost of Batman’s memorable second voyage, the object of which was to get a large slice of the newly-discovered territory. There is no need to repeat the well known story of the first settlement of Victoria. Suffice it that Colonel Arthur, in Tasmania, and Sir Richard Bourke, in New South Wales, declared Batman’s treaty with the natives invalid; that batman’s partners eventually abandoned their claim, under which Mr. W. Robertson and his associate asserted a right to the whole Geelong district an half the Indented Heads, and that they subsequently got a certain amount of compensation. It is worth mentioning that Batman’s idea was in the first instance to land at Western Port, and that he was wisely overruled by the subject of our memoir. After an unsuccessful attempt to obtain land by virtue of certain rights supposed to be possessed by Buckley, the convict who had lived 33 years among the blacks, Mr. Robertson for the first time crossed the Straits and visited the country of his adoption. On this occasion during his travels he saw the Warrion country, and the richly-grassed plains to the west of Colac. Here he settled, and brought 7,000 acres at auction. About this time he also became the owner of 7,000 acres near Bolinda, on the Deep Creek, now part of the famous Sunbury estate. In 1843 he purchased the run of Captain Foster Fyans, together with his stock, even then celebrated for its high quality. He also bought several other adjoining runs, and forthwith devoted his main attention to his Colac property. Subsequently he purchased 34,000 acres of splendid land on his runs, and by buying the best bulls and cows that could be got in the colonies, and importing purely bred Herefords and Durhams from home, he secured to himself the possession of stock unsurpassed in value in Victoria. It is to his lasting credit that, eager as he was to get land, he never unfairly availed himself of any of the facilities afforded by various land acts, but always bought at open auction. While carrying on this enormous business Mr. Robertson chiefly resided in Tasmania, but some 10 years ago, after a prolonged visit home, he decided to establish himself wholly here. This he did in good style by building a house on his estate, where, in 1867, he had the honour of entertaining H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh. Although he took no part in politics in Victoria, he had much to do with political life in Tasmania, and was among the leaders of the anti-transportation movement. He has left a family of four sons and two daughters – the latter both married. The eldest son, John, was educated in England, and underwent training in the Agricultural College of Cirencester. The second son, William, is a barrister, a B.A. of Oxford, and represents Polwarth and Grenville in the Legislative Assembly. While at college he enjoyed the honour of being the first Australian who pulled in an Oxford University eight. The third son, George, also graduated at Oxford, and distinguished himself in the cricket field as one of the Oxford eleven. The fourth son, James, was at Rugby. The deceased gentleman was always a man of great activity, and so great was his sympathy with manly sports that not a month since he sent away his son George from what proved to be his deathbed to play for the honour of the colony with the Eighteen of Victoria against the All-England Eleven”.

The Colac Herald, Vic, Friday 23rd January 1874, page (unknown)

“Yesterday afternoon (Jan, 22nd), Mr. Robertson’s remains were interred in the family vault in the Colac cemetery. At 12 o’clock the whole of the business places in Colac were closed, and the majority of the male residents might have been seen wending their way to pay their last tribute of respect to Mr Robertson. At about 2 p.m., the coffin was placed in the hearse, and followed by three mourning coaches. In the first carriage were Messrs John, William, George P., and James Roberson (sons of the deceased); in the second, Messrs C. C. Dowling, Charles Officer, Tertius Robertson, and Joseph Sutherland; in the third, Rev J. D. Dickie, Dr T. Rae, Messrs Mathieson and Blake; in the following ones, the Hon C. Sladen, the Hon J. F. Strachan, Dr D. E. Stodart, Messrs A. Murray, Leishman, R. Calvert, J. Gibson, Chas. Beal, Captain J. Haimes, A. Dennis, B. Hepburn, C. Buchannan, A. Wilson, Tilly, and Strickland, the latter four representing the Shire Council. The pall-bearers were the Hon J. F. Strachan, Dr Stodart, Messrs A. Murray, J. Sutherland, R. Calvert, and J. Mathieson. Six of the employees of the deceased walked by the side of the bier the whole distance, arrayed in deep black. When the procession filed into the main road, it was found to be about a mile in length. About 75 buggies and other vehicles followed the hearse, and nearly 200 horsemen in double file, brought up the rear. A large number of people had gathered in the cemetery to witness the ceremony. The Rev J. D. Dickie conducted the service at the family vault. Fully 500 people must have been present, and Mr. Robertson’s popularity sufficiently explains this fact”.

The Colac Herald, Vic, Tuesday 17th October 1876, page 3.

“NOTICE TO ARCHITECTS.

DESIGNS are invited and will be received by the Committee of the Colac Presbyterian Church until FRIDAY, the 10th November next, for a NEW CHURCH at Colac. Copies of conditions upon which such designs are invited and will be received, may be obtained on application, from the undersigned.

P. C. WILSON, Secretary. Colac, October 13, 1876”.

The Colac Herald, Vic, Tuesday 14th November 1876, page 2.

“Some twelve designs have been sent in for the New Presbyterian Church which is shortly to be erected at Colac. Some of the designs are of a very neat order.”

Illustrated Australian News, Melbourne, Vic, Wednesday 31st October 1877, page 171

“NEW PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, COLAC.”

 “The foundation stone of a new church for the rapidly increasing body of the Presbyterians in the township of Colac was laid on the 11th [sic] of April, the site chosen for the purpose being situated at the junction of Hesse and Manifold streets. The church has been designed by Mr. Peter Matthews, architect, of Melbourne, and is an oblong edifice consisting of nave and two side aisles. It is 60 feet long by 35 feet wide, and will seat, when finished, 316 persons. The style of architecture is known as geometrical. There is a tower at the corner of Hesse and Manifold-streets, 80 feet in height from base of foundation to top of finial, the belfry is to be decorated in carved and open work, and the appearance of the tower will greatly add to the beauty of the building. The vestry is situated at the extreme end, measures 20 feet by twelve, and has a porch at each side; behind this are the book room and offices. The building is to be constructed of bluestone, from Mr. George Robertson’s estate, with Waurn Pond freestone dressings, and the floors and porches paved with encaustic tiles. The sides are pierced with windows, divided by stone pillars with carved capitals, and the southern front adjoining the tower decorated with a great rose window. The whole of the interior fittings will be of Huon pine, and the ventilation upon Tobin’s system. The entire cost is estimated at 3280, and this calculation will not, it is believed, be exceeded. Mr. E. Bulling is the contractor for erecting the church, and, when finished, divine service will be conducted in it by the Rev. J. D. Dickie, pastor of the Colac Presbyterian Church.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Thursday 30th August 1934, page 3.

“SALES AT “THE HILL”

293 HEAD REALISED £30,807 /4/

By R.V.B of the “Australasian: and A. S. Kenyon.

“A successful landowner and businessman of Van Diemen’s Land, William Robertson contributed half the cost of Batman’s first expedition to Port Phillip. He was one of the principals of the association which financed batman’s second expedition. Robertson arrived in 1836 with Gellibrand in the Norval. With Buckley as guide they set out on foot to examine the country west of Corio Bay. Buckley, who had lived more than 30 years with the blacks, claimed ownership of the Barrabool Hills, and these hills he “presented” to Mr. Robertson as a tribute to Robertson’s exceptional physical strength and endurance. It is not, however, as promoter of Batman’s expeditions or as “owner” of the Barrabool country, but as the proprietor of The Hill, Colac, and founder of the renowned Shorthorn and Hereford cattle herds that Mr. Robertson’s name is conspicuous in the records of Port Phillip. In 1843 he acquired the run of Captain Foster Fyans, with all the cattle on it. He retained Fyans’s FF brand. He effected wonderful improvements in the standard of his herds, and the stud cattle of The Hill came to be acknowledged as unsurpassed in the world. In 1875 Robertson Bros., sons of the pioneer, purchased the entire herd of Mount Derrimut Shorthorn stud cattle, which comprised 27 head, including imported Oxford Cherry Duke, from Robert Morton for £27,000. Annual sales of stud cattle were held at The Hill. The Robertson’s pledged themselves to offer no stud animal for sale except by auction without reserve, and every female carried a guarantee as a breeder. The most notable sale of FF cattle at The Hill was on January 7, 1876, when a 26 months old Shorthorn heifer, Roan Duchess, was knocked down to the bid of Samuel Gardiner at 3,20 guineas, the highest price to that time for a heifer of her age. At this sale 293 head were cataloged in 118 lots. The sale occupied four and a half hours, and prices aggregated £30,807/4/, or more than £100 a head. The Shorthorns averaged £155/2/ and Herefords £45/7/9. In 1887 the last sale of cattle was made at The Hill. The whole herd was offered “without reserve” as usual, and the Robertson’s relinquished cattle-breeding in Victoria. William Robertson was born in 1799. He died at Colac, aged 75 years. He left four sons and two daughters. He sent his sons to be educated in England. John was trained at the Agricultural College of Cirencester. William, who became a barrister and member of the Legislative Assembly, was the first Australian to row in an Oxford University eight. George, who graduated also at Oxford, was a member of the University cricket eleven, and he played for Victoria against an All-England Eleven. James Robertson was at Rugby.”

Interesting coincidental points of note:

Joseph Tice Gellibrand (1786–1837) has a memorial stained glass window dedicated to him at All saints Anglican Church at south Hobart. The window was created by the stained glass artist Charles Clutterbuck, England, and was erected in All Saints in 1864.  This window underwent heritage conservation work by Gavin Merrington of ‘Original Stained Glass” in Hobart in 2012. The same church contains stained glass work by the North Melbourne stained glass firm Ferguson & Urie which Gavin is also restoring in 2012-2013.

The brother, James Robertson  (1800-1874), mentioned in the above article built “Struan House” in Launceston in 1870-71which is now part of the Launceston Supreme Court. It also has remnants of original Ferguson & Urie stained glass. See 21-03-1871: Struan House, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.

Points of note:

The Robertson family grave at Colac holds some interesting information and can bee seen here.

Acknowledgements:

My grateful thanks to the following for their assistance:

Arthur & Joyce Grant, Archivists, St Andrew’s Colac, for the fantastic original church correspondence containing references to the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company from 1877-78.

Jan Thwaites, Secretary of St Andrew’s, Colac

Historical Society, Gellibrand Street, Colac.

Footnotes:

[1] Patrick Clason Wilson (1831-1915), also Colac Shire Secretary and Insurance agent. Died 29th May 1915 aged 84.

[5] Letter from G. P. Robertson to Church Committee dated 19 Apr 1877.

[6] Ferguson & Urie quote to architect Peter Matthews dated 28th June 1877.

[7] Church committee minutes, 11th Jan 1878.

[8] Church committee minutes 5th Feb 1877.

[13] TAS BDM: 2678/1834

[18] Royal Historical Society Journal, Vol 56, No.4, December 1985.

[20] Jesse died in Hobart 3rd December 1849 aged 14 years & six months. Her remains were removed from St Andrew’s Cemetery at Hobart and re-interred in the family vault at the Colac cemetery on the 10th April 1868 (as mentioned on the memorial).

[21] Public Records Office Victoria file 11/547, grant dated 19 Feb 1874.

[22] TAS BDM: 99/1839

[25] TAS BDM:1101/1842

[28] TAS BDM: 171/1848

24-03-1893: Christian Chapel, St Leonard’s Rd, Ascot Vale, Melbourne, Victoria.

The North Melbourne Advertiser, Friday 24th March 1893, page 2.

“[…] The whole of e building is lighted by ten windows, all filled with tinted cathedral glass, giving subdued effect to the interior[…].”“[…] Stained glass by Ferguson and Urie […]”

The new Christian Chapel is St Leonard’s road Ascot Vale was opened on Sunday the 19th of March 1893.

The church was described in the full article as wooden but there is no such building on the current site anymore.

05-03-1882: Presbyterian (Uniting) Church, 603 Toorak Rd. Toorak, Victoria.

Mary Ormond (nee Greeves), the wife of the Hon Francis Ormond, died at “Ognez”, Toorak, on the 6th of July 1881 and she was buried at the Geelong Eastern cemetery. In early 1882 Francis commissioned the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company of North Melbourne to create her memorial stained glass window to be erected in the liturgical west wall of the Toorak Presbyterian Church.

The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil, Melbourne. Saturday 25th March 1882, page 91.

“A VERY handsome memorial window has just been placed in the Toorak Presbyterian Church. The donor is the Hon. Francis Ormond, and it has been erected in memory of his late wife. Occupying as it does the gable of the church, it enhances the appearance of the whole interior. The whole work has been carried out with great taste by Messrs. Ferguson and Urie, of Collins-street.”

Photos taken 1st November 2010.

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The window depicts the following biblical representations and text:

First light:
Pictorial representation: “HE HAD COMPASSION ON HIM” (Luke 10:33)
Quatrefoil with text: “I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD” (John 8:12)
Pictoral representation of Jairu’s daughter being raised from the dead with text: “DAMSEL I SAY UNTO THEE RISE” (Mark 5: 41)

Centre Light:
Depiction of the Good Shepherd with text: “I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD” (John 10:11)
Quatrefoil with Text: “THE GOOD SHEPHERD GIVETH HIS LIFE FOR THE SHEEP” (John 10:11)

Third Light:
Pictorial representation with text “I WAS SICK & YE VISITED ME” (Matthew 25:36)
Quatrefoil with text: “I AM THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE” (John 14:6)
Pictorial representation: “MARY HATH CHOSEN THAT GOOD PART” (Luke 10:42)

The memorial text across the bottom of all three lights reads:
“IN LOVING MEMORY OF | MARY WIFE OF FRANCIS ORMOND | OF BORRINALLOAK DIED 6th JULY 1881”

External Links:

Biography: Francis Ormond (1829-1889) ( Includes some detail about his first wife Mary).

This window was restored by Geoffrey Wallace Stained Glass Studio of Caulfield North in 2000.

© Copyright

18-02-1882: Port Adelaide Presbyterian Church, South Australia.

The South Australian Register, Saturday 18th February 1882, page 1S.

 “[…] A departure from the contract has been made by adopting stained glass to the windows[…]”

“[…] Messrs. Ferguson & Urie, of Melbourne, who supplied the stained glass for the windows […]”

No photos available yet. See related post 02-02-1882 below for further detail.

Related posts: 02-02-1882

02-02-1882: Port Adelaide Presbyterian Church, South Australia.

South Australian Register, Adelaide, Thursday 2nd February 1882, page 5.

“PORT ADELAIDE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.- This church is now completed, and the opening services advertised for Sunday, the 5th instant …”

“… A departure from the contract has been made by adopting stained glass to the windows in the church, the one facing St. Vincent-street being undoubtedly one of the best in the colony, and erected in memory of the late pastor, the Rev. Peter McLaren.…”

“… Messrs. Ferguson & Urie, of Melbourne, supplied the stained glass for the windows…”

The first service in the new Presbyterian Church was held on Sunday the 5th of February 1882[1] by the Rev, James Lyall. The Rev Peter McLaren was the fourth minister of the old church between 1871 and 1878, having been inducted on the 10th October 1871[2]. The new church includes the historic stained glass windows from the old church being prominently placed on the front wall[3].

No photos of the stained glass has been found to date.

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Related posts: 02-02-1882 > 18-02-1882

External links:

Biography: Rev James Lyall (1827-1905)

(no significant detail has yet been found for the Rev Peter McLaren)

 

Footnotes:

[1] South Australian Register, Thursday 2nd February 1882, page 5.

[2] South Australian Register, Thursday 2nd February 1882, page 5.