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All Saints' Church, Brisbane 1862-1937

By D. L. Kissick, B.A.

No place: no publisher, 1937.

The Rev. John Tomlinson, B.A.

The first incumbent, John Tomlinson, was a Wadham man, of which college Bishop Tufnell was a fellow by virtue of "founder's kin." He was one of the six clergy-men who accompanied Bishop Tufnell from England upon the creation of the Diocese in 1859. They arrived in Brisbane in 1860 and, as has been said, John Tomlinson was appointed Bishop's chaplain and curate of St. John's, working one half of the parish while the Rev. T. Jones worked the other. He was ordained priest at St. John's Pro-cathedral by Bishop Tufnell on September 22nd, 1861. A man of great simplicity of character and thorough kindliness of disposition. he won his way to all hearts and the universal verdict of his friends was that he was a man of God, one 'who left no taint of suspicion nor of mistrust in the breast of a single soul who knew him. He was immensely popular with the school children, both those at the Collegiate School for boys which had been opened by the Rev. B. E. Shaw on Wickham Terrace close to the church, and those at the Church day schools. The Rev. J. Tomlinson was one of the examiners at the former school, but out of school hours it was no uncommon thing to see "Tommy" playing marbles: with the boys.

An entry in St. John's register reads: "On 20th January, 1864, at St. John's Pro-cathedral, John Tomlinson of Liverpool, clerk in Holy Orders, married to Sarah Lucy Delpratt of Eltham, Kent, by E. W. Brisbane." He had wished the ceremony to be performed in his own church but this could not be as the Bishop refused to license the building.

At the end of 1864 he resigned and went to England much to the sorrow of the parish and his many friends. The testimonial given him by the Wickham Terrace Church Choir speaks of his good judgement, philanthropy and Christian conduct, his faith and perseverance, his urbanity of disposition. The prayer of the congregation was that "the bounteous Giver of all good would continue to endue him and his estimable lady with the same wisdom, firmness and Christian charity which he had so uniformly manifested while in Brisbane." The address together with the wish that he and his good lady would have a safe and prosperous voyage to England, was engrossed upon parchment. The choir's gift to him was an inscribed gold watch.

After Evensong on January 1st, 1865, the congregation, presented him with an address which was read by the Rev. T. Jones whom the Bishop had recalled from Rockhampton to replace the Rev. J. Tomlinson and who on that day entered upon his incumbency of All Saints'. It read: "Dear. Mr. Tomlinson,--We wish before you leave for England to bid you an affectionate farewell. You have now for years lived among us the life of a Christian minister, mindful of' the Great Example you have to follow, mindful of others, and earnest in your endeavours to show forth to us the common bond of brotherhood, by which we are bound to one another and to Our Father in Heaven. You came to this parish and Diocese of Brisbane with our Bishop when both parish and Diocese were numerically small and unimportant. With him you have seen both grow with the growth of the colony and its capital. As part of your snare in our great work of colonisation, you have the satisfaction of knowing that, very much by your own exertions, this; building in which we are now assembled, has been set aside for the services of our Church. The debt incurred is now fully paid. The sittings are free and open to all who wish to come and worship here and the contributions to the offertory are most encouraging. For these good deeds, for these beneficial results of your ministry, you will be remembered among us, but not for these alone. Your daily life and conversation among us; your attendance on the sick, your comfort to the needy and your instructions to the young have won for you our affectionate regard. May you come back to us and make your home among us, so that you may work on, as already you have worked to the edification of your Church and people."

The Rev. J. Tomlinson replied: "It is with unfeigned regret that I now have to bid farewell to those who have rendered themselves so dear to me as my parishioners here have done. Through your exertions and the blessing of God we have been enabled, I hope, to commence a Church work here, and although a great deal more will have to be done, we can look back to the past with a degree of thankfulness. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to know that the debt on the Church has been wholly paid and that accommodation is provided for all who wish to come and worship here. I trust that the Sunday offerings will increase, and that each will endeavour on these occasions to give as God has prospered him, as I believe that this is the great source to which we must look for the supply of Church funds. A parish in which, as in this, more than £1300 has been collected during the past year, will surely find no difficulty in supplying its existing requirements. I hope shortly to hear that efforts have been made to provide still further Church accommodation."

He was given an illustrated New Testament as a token of appreciation, his wife was given a copy of Church Service. Two days later he and his wife left for England, never to return, despite the prayers of the congregation. But although far away, he ever remembered with affection this his first cure and did much to help it. Towards the erection of the new church in 1869, he donated £40 and several times he, at the request of the committee, spent time and care in the choice of suitable books for the Sunday School library. He kept closely in touch with the growth of the parish and Diocese through his constant correspondence with the Rev. T. Jones and, in 1872, was commissioned by the Bishop to find some "young, earnest and unmarried clergymen" for the Diocese. On his return to England, he became vicar of Whittington in Derbyshire, where he remained till his death. During his incumbency, that church, an ancient, magnificent and costly one, was one night burned to the ground. The Vicar in his anxiety to save such of its treasures as he could, twice fainted, and never really recovered from the shock. He laboured on until the Church was rebuilt, then resigned, but continued to take, occasional duty till the November before his death, which occurred on 4th of February, 1902.

The three years, 1862 to 1864, of the Rev. John Tomlinson's incumbency of the Wickham Terrace District. Church were not very peaceful ones despite the zeal of the congregation and the parishioners' devotion to their priest. The most important event of this period was the quarrel with the Bishop owing to the practical disfranchisement of the whole congregation. In 1862, they found they were not allowed an Easter meeting as the church was not licensed and no parish had been formed; neither were they allowed a voice at St. John's Easter meeting as they were not pew-holders of that church; nor could they control the finances of the Wickham Terrace Church. Such men as Dr. Hobbs, the Hon, John Douglas and Lewis Bernays, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, were not men to brook lightly what they termed the Bishop's high-handedness. Others who upheld these men were Mr. H. Buckley, a warden of St. John's, Major Stevens, W. G. Belbridge, Mr. B. Backhouse, Mr. E. McDonnell, Mr. E. H. Booth, Mr. H. Russell, Mr. T. V. Dudgeon, and Mr. A. P. Robinson. In 1863 the Wickham. Terrace District Church was still under the control of the Church Society hence the report on its progress was included in the matter brought up at the Society's annual meeting. From it we learn that the new church had been of great benefit to the city at large, was attended by numerous and devout worshippers which attested the necessity for its erection, but that the 400 sittings were inadequate. and still further enlargements were required to keep pace with the rapidly increasing population. The pew rents and collections had been devoted to the expense of Divine Worship, to the debt of the building and to the payment of the interest on the debt.

When in 1864, it transpired that the Bishop intended, so soon as the debt was wiped out, to use the building as a day school and force the congregation to undertake the expense of building a church proper, a meeting of indignation was called. This was convened by the wardens of St. John's since those of Wickham Terrace Church had no legal power to act, but it was generally understood that only members of the latter church should attend and the presence of the Bishop, it was stated, was not desired as it would be a restriction on free discussion.

This indignation meeting was held on January 30th, 1864, the Hon. J. Douglas, M.P., being in the chair. It was decided to ask the Bishop for a statement on the following matters:

(1) The original cost of the building.

(2) The sums that had been applied to the liquidation of the principal and interest.

(3) From what source or sources these sums were derived.

The object of the request was stated to be a desire to assist the congregation in devising means for the extinction of the debt. It was also proposed that since the land was set aside for Church of England purposes, it should be vested in trustees. The Lord Bishop, Mr. G. D. Webb, a warden of St. John's; and L. Bernays were suggested as suitable men for that office. This resolution was to be communicated to the Government.

A brief resume of the beginning of the church was then given:--The Bishop had wanted more church accommodation and had agreed to build the Wickham Terrace Church from the funds placed in his hands by friends for kindred purposes. He had not, as he should have done, consulted the congregation as to the style and accommodation of the building, yet so soon as it was completed, during the sermon at the opening, he had expressed the wish that the congregation should pay for it. They could take no exception to this but having begun to pay off the principal as well as the interest (which was at the high rate of 10 per cent.) they at once had some rights in connection with the building. It would be difficult to assess these rights accurately as they increased each week as the collections towards the debt extinction came to hand. There was no doubt that the debt would be rapidly wiped out and then how far would the congregation have power over the actual building? If it was not vested in trustees on behalf of the large body who paid for it, the Bishop might, if he so desired, close it for public worship and open it as a school. Since the Bishop's departure for England was imminent and the building might be paid for before his return, immediate action was necessary. The wardens considered that the nomination of trustees would give the people a feeling of confidence and loosen their purse-strings whereas at the time they felt they were "called to church, preached to and taught but given no rights as a congregation." It was moved that the Wickham Terrace District be separated territorially and financially from St. John's parish and that the parochial system be adopted in the new church district. The people knew that the church could not be consecrated while the debt was still unpaid, but it could at least be licensed so that baptisms and marriages could take place in it. They felt it very keenly that the incumbent could not be married in his own church and that it was necessary for members of the congregation to go to St. John's for baptisms and marriages.

The meeting ended with a discussion of Diocesan affairs in general. While the members had nothing to say against the General Stipend Fund, those present felt they had no certainty that effect would be given to their intentions. At Wickham Terrace District Church the Easter offering for the incumbent and the offerings for charitable purposes equaled those at St. John's, yet at St. John's the Rev. J. Bliss received a stipend of £300, while the Rev. J. Tomlinson received only £200. What was the reason for the distinction, they asked. (This distrust and rivalry was the germ from which grew "the narrow parochial system" which was later to be deplored by Bishop Hale, and which led to his resignation soon after his acceptance of the see. Bishop Barker persuaded him to withdraw his resignation which he consented to do on the condition that the central fund was again established.) The people at the meeting in January, 1864, objected to the fact that the Bishop had interfered with the pew-letting and to his proposed visit to England as they thought that his absence would be detrimental to the Diocese, although "if he were going for a better class of clergy, no one would object to his leaving his diocese for a time. At present they had a lot of youths as clergymen whereas they wanted men of standing who would have an influence in the community." One of these "youths" was the Rev. T. Jones, later to be known as the grand old man of Queensland, a man whose name became revered in every household and who was honoured in almost every pulpit, and by the Roman Catholic Archbishop, at his death as being one of the great and good influences in the life of the State of Queensland and the Diocese of Brisbane.

The meeting also questioned the action of the Bishop in appointing the Rev. B. Glennie as Archdeacon since he was not a resident of Brisbane, and they had only learned of his appointment through the press. The meeting closed after a discussion on the internal management of the Wickham Terrace Church and of the congregation's power to elect wardens. Various members pledged themselves to contribute annually to the stipend fund on the condition of the church being licensed.

The Bishop's reply to this meeting was dated February 3rd, 1864, and was published in the "Courier" on February 23rd. He stated that he did not wish to form a parochial district nor to vest the building in trustees since the land had been set apart for an Episcopalian Cathedral and a Cathedral Church was the Mother Church of a Diocese, not the church of any particular district. Even if the Cathedral were not built on the site, a more commodious building would very soon be needed. There was now a doubt if the Cathedral would ever be built there as, contrary to their original promise, the Government had just granted the other portion of the land to the Presbyterians. He regarded the congregation's interest in the fee-simple of the land as perfectly safe and he was willing to allow the members to have two committees to collect the stipends of the two clergymen, but considered that the stipends should be paid quarterly.

On Friday, 19th February, the Bishop was present at Evensong at the Wickham Terrace Church, after having issued an invitation for a general attendance of the congregation. There was a large congregation present and, at the close of the service, a meeting at which the Bishop replied in full to the questions which had been put to him was held. Bishop Tufnell stated that he had called the meeting in order to make explanations although he did not altogether approve of the late meeting. The congregation would have been more likely to have got what they wanted had a deputation waited upon him.

The total cost of the church, including the architect's commission and the furnishings, had been £1238/2/6, of which £1000 had been borrowed, £200 given by the S.P.G., £22 from various people (including £5 from the Governor) and £19 collected at the opening. There was a balance of £3 which was placed towards the debt.

During 1862, pew rents and offertories brought in £250, of which £100 had been paid as interest and £100 off the principal, leaving a debt of £900 and a balance of £17.

During 1863, £396 was received and £90 paid for interest while £200 was paid off the principal, leaving a debt of £700 and a balance of £18. The pew rents were in arrears to the extent of £45. (There is no mention of any payment from the offertories towards the stipend, but it seems that all church members made special contributions to the central fund for that purpose.) The Bishop admitted that he had intended the building to be later used as a school and stated that he did not wish to form another district, giving as his reason the difficulty Bishop Broughton had encountered regarding St. Andrew's Pro-cathedral owing to it having been at first a parish church. As to the pew letting, he felt he had a right to interfere, St. John's was causing the labouring classes to be estranged and he thought the pew system should be abolished. The Wickham Terrace congregation could have no voice in St. John's elections for only pew-holders in that church were entitled to a vote at its meetings.

Following this meeting was one on March 5th, at which it was decided to hold a bazaar of which Lady Bowen, the wife of the Governor, and Mrs. Pring consented to be patronesses. Meanwhile a band of collectors had been busy, one lady alone collected £30 in two days and the choir organised a trip down the bay on the Queen's Birthday, and later a sacred concert, in aid of the organ fund. On May 31st, the bazaar was held at the armoury (formerly the soldiers' barracks in William St.), the stall holders being Mrs. Douglas, Mrs. Tomlinson, Miss Delpratt, Mrs. and Misses Stevens, Mrs. Barlee, Mrs. Lilley, Mrs. Bernays, Mrs. and Miss Webb, Mrs. Russell, Mrs. Harveston, Miss Orr, Miss Calton, Mrs. Abraham, Miss Carroll and Miss Campbell. The weather was very unfavourable but the receipts totalled £582, while the expenses were £55.

In August the new organ was used for the first time, and on this important occasion, Bishop Tufnell preached on "Congregational music." The organ is the one which is still in use. It cost £200 and was, at that time, the largest and most complete in Brisbane though later it was to be further enlarged by the addition of pipes and the mechanism of a swell organ. It was built by Thomas Jennings, London.

On October 11th, a public meeting of pew-holders was held to elect trustees for the church lands and Lewis Bernays was nominated "that the interests of the Wickham Terrace congregation should be represented." This was in consequence of a proposed Parliamentary bill of the previous August entitled "Public Lands Bill" which excluded the Church of England from the Trustees Act and gave the Bishop full power over all church lands. There had been a public meeting in protest at which it was mentioned that the Fortitude Valley Church was allowed to manage its own affairs, a pleasing contrast to the state of management of the Wickham Terrace Church.

In October word of the Rev. J. Tomlinson's resignation was received and the pewholders expressed a wish that they should be allowed to appoint his successor.

At the end of October, there was another public meeting in the Church at which it was announced that the whole of the debt had been paid and that the Bishop had appointed the Hon. J. Douglas as one warden but would allow the congregation to elect the other warden. The Bishop agreed to place the temporalities under the control of the congregation while the minister was to be licensed by the Bishop and to be in possession of the whole of the privileges attached to his office. The Bishop also defined the district in a temporary manner. The meeting closed with a vote of thanks to the ladies for their work in connection with the bazaar.

But, although the victory had seemingly been won and the right of the congregation to control its own affairs had been established, the troublous period was not quite at an lend. On the following Tuesday, Mr. R. Phelan was elected as the people's warden, but it was whispered that he was the Bishop's candidate and that the meeting had been 'packed' with persons not really entitled to vote in order to secure his election (which succeeded by a majority of two).

Another meeting held on December 15th, from which the names of the Rev. B. E. Shaw, the Hon. J. Douglas, Mr. R. Phelan. W. L. Drew and H. O'Reilly were forwarded for the Bishop's approval as trustees was regarded as a clever piece of legerdemain on the part of the Bishop's party for, actually, it virtually denied the power of the congregation to elect its own trustees and vested the authority in the Bishop to whom the congregation might merely recommend "any gentleman who perfectly coincided with his Lordship's peculiar views of Church government."

There had been a great deal of correspondence between the Wickham Terrace church wardens (who were also the trustees of St. John's) and the Secretary for Lands since the trustees of St. John's being the wardens of the Wickham Terrace Church were by virtue of that office debarred from electing its trustees. There was also some question as to whether the land was granted under Sir Richard Bourke's Acts or under the Crown Lands Alienation Act. The Bishop finally obtained the right of appointing the trustees and his choice fell upon the Rev. B. E. Shaw, the W Hon. J. Douglas and Mr. R. Phelan.

Yet another meeting was called on December 20th. As has been stated the Bishop had managed the finances of the church from February, 1862, until October, 1864. Now the wardens were confronted with a debt of £189 arrears of stipend due to the Rev. J. Tomlinson. Brisbane was still small and the congregation had worked hard to clear the debt on the building and to raise funds for or the organ (on which they still owed £140) hence, having collected £1300 in the past twelve months, this large and unexpected liability was a really serious matter. Morally they did not feel responsible for it since it had been contracted while the parish affairs were still in the hands of the Bishop and from the time they had been allowed control the stipend bad been fully and regularly paid. Finally it was agreed that the wardens of St. John's should be requested to pay the arrears due for the time during which the Wickham Terrace incumbent had been curate of that church and that the Bishop should be asked to advance the remainder, he to be reimbursed by himself collecting the arrears of pew-rents (which amounted to £175, but would be difficult to obtain since his Lordship, on the eve of handing over the district to the trustees, had declared all sittings free). If this scheme failed, certain members of the congregation promised to guarantee the debt. Which expedient was finally used is unknown but the Rev. J. Tomlinson departed the following January on very good terms with his flock.

Several small incidents between 1862 and 1864 and some men of this period are worthy of note.

On August 17th, 1862, the Dean of Melbourne preached in the church, the object of the discourse being to raise funds for the Church of England Day Schools. In 1863, on January 1st, the children of these schools assembled in the Wickham Terrace Church for a service, then marched to Windmill Hill for their annual picnic. This proved so successful that it was repeated in following years. Would children of to-day be content with a picnic so short a distance from home as the Observatory?

In April, 1863, the Bishop through the press acknowledged an anonymous gift of £5 which he decided to use, if no wish to the contrary from the donor were expressed, as a nucleus of a fund to provide a church day school in an area where it would be of use to the poor. Thus was begun the fund which enabled the Leichhardt St. Church Schools to be built. The controversy regarding the withdrawal of State Aid to denominational schools was raging fiercely at this time and Bishop Tufnell had been travelling the country with Bishop Quinn lecturing against this withdrawal. The instigator of the withdrawal was the Rev. G. Wight, a Congregationalist. His successor was the Rev. E. Griffith, and it was during the term of office as Premier of the latter's son, Sir Samuel Griffith, that State aid was finally abolished.

Late in December, 1863, the Sacrament of Confirmation was administered for the first time in the Wickham Terrace Church. There were about forty confirmees. On Friday, April 8th, 1864, the heroic Bishop of Melanesia, Bishop Patteson, preached to a crowded church.

In July, Bishop Barker of Sydney visited Brisbane and he preached on July 17th in the Wickham Terrace Church, to a congregation so large that even the aisles and doorways were packed. His visitation address was later published and in it he advocated the postponement of the formation of a synod until after Bishop Tufnell's return from England. The Church Society had by this time practically ceased to function, and he advised the formation of a Church of England Mutual Improvement Society to take its place.

By 1862, the prejudice against the singing of hymns had so far died down that the firm of Buxton, Queen St., were able to advertise that they had obtained for sale a supply of copies of the Salisbury Hymnal, also known as Earl Nelson's Hymnal.

In August, 1864, Mr. Thomas Symes-Warry died. When the church was rebuilt the stone pulpit was given by his children in his memory. He was a chemist residing in Spring Hill, then a fashionable suburb, and M.L.A. for East Moreton in the first Parliament. He was well educated and a genial companion despite his bluff and eccentric manner. He was benevolent and philanthropic, giving largely to public and private charities.

Another well-known member of the congregation was Sir Robert Ramsay Mackenzie, Bart., the first Colonial 'Treasurer for Queensland. He was a man of high character, genial disposition and sound common sense though of mediocre ability. He later (1867-8) became the Premier of, Queensland although it was said that his good looks were his sole qualification for that post. He married a daughter of Mr. Richard Jones, the Rev. T. Jones marrying another Sir Robert R. Mackenzie was one of the donors of our beautiful east windows.

Lewis Bernays, C.M.G., F.L.S., F.R.G.S., is also deserving of mention. He was one of the best and rarest types of public servants, using his gifts unsparingly in his capacity as Clerk of the Legislative Assembly. He was author of works on economic botany and introduced many useful plants into Queensland, being the moving spirit in the Brisbane Acclimatisation Society, the Gardens of which have become the Bowen Park.

Another worshipper at All Saints' Church was the Hon. John Douglas, C.M.G. His special gifts and his power to influence others were at all times devoted to the service of 'his church. A Durham man of considerable learning, he was a capable and industrious administrator. He came of the family of the Marquis of Queensberry, was mild mannered but had an extreme degree of obstinacy. His full and sonorous voice was a delight to hear and at one time he gave the public the full benefit of it in a series of readings from ecclesiastical history. He was Premier of Queensland from 1877 to 1879, then Agent-General in London, next Administrator of New Guinea, and finally Government Resident of Thursday Island from 1885 till his death in 1904. He was trustee of All Saints' from 1865 until his death, for many years a synodsman and also one of the first wardens.

At the close of 1864 the parish registers were begun; previously no marriages or baptisms took place in the church since it was not licensed. The registers of this period are a Banns Book, a Baptismal Register and a Marriage Register. There are two entries by the Rev. J. Tomlinson in the Banns book, nine copies (in the Rev. T. Jones' writing) of baptisms by him in the Baptismal Register, the first being dated 13th November, 1864, and four marriages by him in the Marriage Register, the first being dated 3rd November, 1864, and performed "according to the rites of the Church of England and Ireland."

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