Project Canterbury

All Saints' Church, Brisbane 1862-1937

By D. L. Kissick, B.A.

Brisbane: Published by All Saints' Parish, 1937.


Very early in 1870, the Rev. T. Jones resigned as he wished to return to England and a meeting was called to consider the appointment of a new incumbent. Bishop Tufnell told the parishioners that they could have the choice of the Rev. J. Sutton, the Rev. J. T. Botting or the Rev. H. Claughton. They chose the Rev. J. Sutton and then proceeded to consider ways and means of paying the arrears in the Rev. T. Jones' stipend. Soon after this the Rev. J. T. Botting died and word was received that the Rev. J. Bliss (who had gone to England for a trip and had hoped to have brought vestments with him on his return) had accepted a living in England and would not be returning to St. John's. The Rev. J. Sutton had accepted the incumbency of All Saints' but the Rev. T. Jones decided it would be better for him to remain there for a year or so until another clergyman could be obtained in order not to further deplete the already short-staffed diocese. The census of the previous year had shown that there were 37,234 Anglicans in the colony (about one-third of them in Brisbane) and only 17 clergy, neither fully nor regularly paid, so certainly the position was a serious one. At the Easter meeting the congregation agreed to loose the Rev. J. Sutton if he wished to accept the incumbency of St. John's, which he finally did.

Brisbane was already beginning to expand and, from being a fashionable suburb, Spring Hill was rapidly becoming a working class quarter and the congregation of All Saints' was now "far from being the wealthiest in Brisbane." The offertories for the year ending Easter, 1870, had been £578, £72 had been subscribed to the building fund and £149 to the stipend fund. About £450 was paid to the Rev. T. Jones for stipend and arrears during the twelve months, the building debt had been reduced to £800 (according to the Synod report but later in the year it was stated to be £1500, the solution seeming to be that the mortgage was for £800, but that the trustees were owed the amount for which they had become personally responsible), £47 had been paid off the organ case and the books showed a balance of £11. Once again it was agreed to request the Rev. B. E. Shaw and Mr. R. Phelan to resign from the trusteeship as with the Hon. J. Douglas in England, the church was virtually without a trustee.

At Synod this year the Rev. T. Jones moved that Sir. Richard Bourke's acts should be repealed. The church had long been deprived of any advantages accruing under these acts by the cessation of State Aid to religion, yet it was still bound in policy and management by them. It was many years before the Rev. T. Jones was able to bring this reform about but meanwhile, Synod decided to replace the Articles of the Synod of London, 1603, by those formed by the same body in 1562.

The first anniversary of the dedication of the new church was kept on September 18th, the Bishop and the Rev. T. Jones being the preachers and the offertories being devoted to the building fund. At about this time the beautiful east windows were put in place, for they were described in the "Courier" of October 3rd, 1870. They 'were the gift of Sir Robert R Mackenzie, the Rev. T. Jones and other members of the family of Mr. Richard Jones (father-in-law of the Rev. T. Jones), in memory of him, his daughter, Mrs. Mary O'Connell and Mr. John Stephen Ferriter. In. that famous Queensland poem by W. Wilks, "The Raid of the Aborigines," Mr. John Stephen Ferriter is described under the name of "Justice Fairit of Tenthill," a station originally owned by Mr. Richard Jones ("Merchant" Jones).

The work was executed by Messrs. Ferguson, Uril and Lyons of Melbourne, the design and the richness of the colouring being excellent. The windows represents the Crucifixion with Mary Magdalene at the foot of the Cross, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. John, the Ascension and the Holy Spirit. On October 11th the congregation passed a vote of thanks to the Rev. T. Jones and his family for this munificent gift and each generation of worshippers has had cause to bless the generosity of the donors as it has drawn inspiration from this work of art. These windows are probably the oldest stained glass in Queensland.

It was still the desire of the Rev. T. Jones to return to England, but he now felt he could not leave the parish until the building debt was paid. This, alas, he was not to see for, when he resigned in 1878, it still stood at £900 and it was not until 1885 that the debt was finally discharged.

But if financially the parish was not all that could be desired, the attendances were large and regular. The numbers present at 11 a.m. and 7.30 p.m. varied from 400 to 600, the number of communicants averaging from 12 to 50 at both the early and late celebrations. One of the Rev. T. Jones' converts was the Rev. James Love, the minister of the Wickham Terrace Presbyterian Church. He was confirmed at All Saints' on May 21st, 1871, ordained as deacon on June 14th, and sent to Toowoomba as curate. He later became the much-loved incumbent of the Valley. In his "Rejected Addresses," the Rev. J. Love stated that he was led to consider the faith of the Anglican Church correct and the system of the Presbyterian Church incorrect largely through his readings of the Early Fathers. In his opinion the greatest error of the Presbyterian Church was its lack of an episcopalian ordination of ministers and its practice of choosing "ruling elders" from the laity.

During 1871 a screen was made for the chancel so that the body of the church could be used for meetings and the grounds were fenced. In the middle of the year, the eldest son of the Rev. T. Jones died and his parents gave a new altar in his memory. It was the beautifully carved wooden one which was used as a High Altar from 1871 to 1918, when it was removed to the Lady Chapel.

The parish at that time extended from Petrie's Bight to Bishopsbourne and there was a large, poor population behind Petrie Terrace and on the Paddington Heights. These people found it too far to come to All Saints'; the Rev. T. Jones wished them to have the benefit of Church ministrations so, in 1872, the Hon. J. Douglas and Mr. R. Suter now members of the newly-formed parochial council, which had been elected by a committee appointed for that purpose at the Easter meeting of that year, offered to assist in experimental services at Petrie Terrace. These services were so successful that, in 1873, land adjoining the old Burial Ground was bought and the foundation stone of the new church (Milton) was laid by Mrs. Tuffnell on February 21st, 1874. Towards this new church the Rev. T. Jones gave £100.

During 1873, the district embracing Grovely, Samford, North Pine, Sandgate, and German Station (Nundah) was, attached to All Saints' parish. This district was known as the Northern Mission and towards the missioner's salary £75 came from the S.P.G., £50 from All Saints', and £50 from the district. The first missioner was the Rev. J. S. Hassall, author of "In Old Australia, " son of the Rev. T. Hassall of New South Wales, and grandson of the famous. Rev. Samuel Marsden, one of the earliest chaplains in. N.S.W., and "the apostle of New Zealand."

Meanwhile parish matters at All Saints' were not running quite smoothly owing to the Parochial Council, formed for the first time in 1872, thinking it was rather the controlling than the advisory body. Several times All Saints' Council was at loggerheads with the Rev. T. Jones, the result being that he sometimes failed to call meetings for many months at a time and, from 1874 to 1879, the parish was worked without a council. The Rev. C. G. Robinson occasionally used the same expedient. Among the things to which the council objected in the Rev. T. Jones' time was the introduction of a surpliced choir (it wore surplices but not cassocks!) on the grounds that it would usurp the congregation's part in the responses and the singing; the intonation of the Lesser Litany at Evensong; the removal of the organ from the back of the church to the south-east corner, thinking it could better be placed in a gallery at the back; to the Northern Mission being attached to the parish without its consent; to texts which the incumbent had had painted and intended to place above the windows. This fiery parochial council in 1873 drew up a resolution stating that it "views with alarm the conditions and prospects of the Church of England in this locality and considers it the duty of all churchmen to honestly enquire into and plainly state the cause of the Church's unhappy position."

(1) (a)It notices first that, whilst in the total population of 120,104 the Church of England, numbers 43,764, the number of clergy employed is only 19 or 1 to 2303 souls.

(b) That this number is decreasing.

(c) That there is little prospect of vacant cures being supplied, much less of new parishes being formed, or of the ministrations of the church being extended.

(2) That this council while holding the Bishop in high personal respect deplores the necessity of .... expressing its opinion that to His Lordship's administration of the affairs of the Church is mainly due the comparative failure of her mission.

(3) This council believes that His Lordship is too far advanced in years to perform the arduous duties. of a missionary Bishop in an extensive and sparsely populated diocese such as this and would most respectfully suggest that His Lordship make arrangements for the transference of the see to another occupant.

(4) The foregoing resolution shall be transmitted to parochial councils and church wardens throughout the diocese with the view to obtaining a united expression of churchmen's views and of placing the same before the Diocesan Council and Synod."

The following year Bishop Tufnell returned to England for a holiday and, while there, resigned. The Diocesan Council asked Bishop Barker to appoint the new Bishop from among the colonial clergy and he chose the Bishop of Perth, M. B. Hale, a man who, although consecrated the same year as Bishop Tufnell, was three years older. Bishop Hale found the diocese somewhat turbulent and Arch-deacon David remarks that he was suited for it by neither age, temperament nor previous experience. Verbose, autocratic and low church, he did little towards the expansion of church work in the diocese.

In 1872, the Rev. J. H. Zillman, the son of one of Queensland's oldest residents (a member of the German-Lutheran Mission at Nundah) preached at All Saints'. He had originally been a Methodist minister but, being converted to our Church, he attended Moore College and at the completion of his training he was ordained by Bishop Barker. All Saints' was packed for the first sermon which he preached in Queensland, about 200 having to be turned away, and on the following Sunday about 1000 persons were crowded into the church for each of the services. Shortly after this brilliant preacher resigned his cure of a country parish in N.S.W. to become rector of Ipswich. Disliked by Bishop Hale for his foreign name and by the more conservative residents as a "colonial" holding no degree, a scandal was engineered against him and he was deposed from office on unproven charges without a trial. Later his accusers sent Bishop Hale signed refutations of their slander, but the Bishop for some time suppressed this evidence and when it was finally made public the Rev. J. Zillman refused to return to the Church.

In 1873, the interior of All Saints' was still unfinished, the walls being of bare plaster and the seats showing a woeful lack of uniformity, being mostly the ones from the old building together with a few of the new design. They were crammed so closely together that kneeling was well nigh impossible despite the incumbent's frequent exhortations on the subject. The church was ever clean and neat, but the Rev. T. Jones protested vehemently against the conduct at weddings: "A building full of sightseers and chatterers is becoming a matter of grave reproach to us."

The services at All Saints' were still being attacked through the press, a particularly virulent article being headed, "Playing at being R.C.'s," and ending in extremely bad taste with extracts from the "Directorium Anglicanum." There was much opposition, too, to the persistent preaching against the abolition of State Aid to denominational schools and against the attempts to have merely undenominational services at the gaol.

In 1875 the Rev. T. Jones asked that he might be provided with a curate since the work was becoming far too heavy for one priest. He was willing to forego a part of his stipend provided the congregation would guarantee to raise £500 for the two stipends. The congregation replied by raising his salary to £400, but did nothing more towards making it possible for a curate to be obtained.

Early in this year Dr. Hobbs' son was killed and a costly stone prayer desk was given in his memory. Dr. Hobbs and Mr. R. Bourne (who gave the font) were converts from Congregationalism, having been the first deacons of the Wharf St. Congregational Church at its foundation in 1859. For many years the prayer desk given by Dr. Hobbs stood in the chancel but, after Father Nightingale's reference to it as "a tombstone," it was removed to the back of the church and has now become the stand for, the statue of Our Lady and the Holy Child.

At the close of the year, Bishop Hale was translated from Perth to Brisbane. The Sunday after his enthronement, he preached at All Saints' in the evening -a precedent which was followed by the next three Bishops of Brisbane and a practice which could well be revived since All Saints' is the oldest church in the diocese and the second to be founded in the city area. Bishop Hale was a low churchman and the two city churches were popularly considered to have been thorns in his side owing to their High church proclivities despite the fact that at the time, their ritual was no more than is used in the lowest of the present day services.

The two city incumbents early quarrelled with the new Bishop although the quarrel was not on the subject of' ritual, but on account of his decision to use within the suburban area the grant made by the S.P.G. for missionaries within the diocese.

In 1876, the Rev. F. Richmond, now living in the south, the author of "Queensland in the Seventies, " who had been ordained at All Saints' in 1873 and became Bishop's chaplain, was locum tenens for the Rev. T. Jones. During the year 1876, Mr. H. K. Shaw was drowned at Kurrawah near Dalby. He had been superintendent of the Sunday School for over six years and was an indefatigable worker both there and on the parochial council. A pair of silver flower vases (still in use on the Lady Chapel Altar) and a stained glass window at the west end of the church were given in his memory. Mr. R. O. Bourne promised a new font at about this time and Mrs. M. Peattie gave a standard gold communion set. Both this set and a silver set which the Rev. T. Jones had given in 1869 as a thank-offering for the building of the new church are still in use.

At the Easter meeting, 1877, the Rev. T. Jones said:

Contrary to my usual custom, I am going to read an address to the meeting, for the aspect and history of congregations, like all other institutions, change with the course of years, and I wish to try and set before you how far these changes have influenced our position. It is now twelve years since I first came to labour among you, with two objects before me.

(1) To keep the church free to all worshippers.

(2) To make the worship a little more worthy of the Divine characteristics--a holy worship and the "beauty of holiness."

No one who remembers the well meant opposition and the morbid swell of excitement which these efforts called forth, but will confess that with them has risen a more general and devotional feeling throughout the congregations. Openly professed misbehaviour never, as formerly, 'has to be openly reproved; and if there is any attempt, it so cautiously hides itself, and is so exceptional, that ample testimony is borne to the devoutness of the worshippers who go to All Saints' as members of the congregation. It was not always so, for a while the church was a rendezvous of persons drawn there by curiosity, coming to see and be seen. With all its blemishes and faults, it is now a house of prayer and praise, where all, without fear of disturbance, can worship heartily, and reverently. During these years too, outwardly the condition of the church generally has changed. New and larger churches have been built elsewhere, and services rendered more hearty and attractive. 'The parish itself, also, has materially changed to the detriment of the material interests of the congregation. Many of its wealthier members have gone to reside in the suburbs and, like Christ Church in Sydney, once generously supported by generous residents, it will be left to the hard earned sacrifices of men of a humble rank of life. As evidence of this migration, I think that all will confess that, although our morning attendance has rather increased than decreased, yet the offertory at those services is smaller than in past years, while in the evening its amount has slowly but steadily increased. While on this subject, I must complain of a grievance. Persons coming to us from other parishes, as frequently as they go to their parish churches, give us a minimum of pecuniary support which, under the contracting voluntary system, is an important consideration which they ought not to lose sight of. Against adverse circumstances, however, our attendance remains good. Hating as I do all excitements to "draw" in Church work and ever striving to develop in the church a body of faithful worshippers (not occasional spectators and listeners) I have striven to encourage only a hearty objective worship among ourselves for praying not preaching is the want of the church. No one who saw the goodly crowd of worshippers at the eight o'clock service on Easter Day morning, and that without any special effort at extraneous attraction, will say but that some success, for which I am thankful, has attended these efforts; for you must remember, and take to yourself some measure of reproach for it, that I have to do this work single handed. A house to house canvass of about three-fourths or three-fifths of the parish has revealed that among 384 families visited 155 are enrolled as members of the Church of England, and of this number about 100 are subscribers to the funds, by our new parochial organisation. To develop this, it seems to me, must be the efforts of the wardens during the ensuing years, for an ugly church with a debt of £1000 is not very creditable to the laymen of this congregation, and they must take up and wipe away the reproach, unless the parish priest is to do it and turn beggar for funds, and to become as such about as odious as the tax gatherers of old."

Soon after his return from General Synod in 1877, the Rev. T. Jones obtained leave from the diocese as he wished to visit England, being troubled with a cough. He was farewelled on October 29th, 1877, on which occasion he was presented with a purse containing 174 sovereigns and a testimonial in which was expressed the wish that the trip to England would recruit his health. It praised his unflagging zeal in the cause of religion and his self-denying devotion to the service of the Church. The congregation would ever remember, it said, the lessons which he had inculcated, both by precept and example, in the schools he loved so well and in his daily life. Representatives of the Toowong church expressed their gratitude for his service in that district in the early days. He left for England early in November and his resignation from the incumbency of All Saints' was received the following July.

Just previous to the Rev. T. Jones' departure, the Bishop had approved of the congregation's choice of the Rev. C. G. Robinson, M.A., as locum tenens and, after the incumbent's resignation, he was unanimously elected by the Diocesan Presentation Board, to the cure of All Saints' Church and Parish.

Three important events marked the final six months of the Rev. T. Jones' incumbency, the generous gift by Mrs. M. Peattie of an allotment of land, together with the shops and dwellings thereon to the trustees of All Saints' (the rental of this property was to be paid to the incumbent in lieu of a parsonage or the trustees were free to sell the property and apply the proceeds to the erection of a parsonage); the stained glass window in memory of Mr. H. K. Shaw was put in place and the marble font given by Mr. R. O. Bourne was placed in position at the west end of the church. This font was the beautiful one which is still in use.

The fourteen years during which the Rev. T. Jones had guided the church were now at an end. Practically from the beginning he had built and cared for it, Toowong and Milton parishes had been formed and separated from it, the Northern Mission had been fostered, he had fought valiantly against the "Free Church" and against the levellers" so that the teaching and tone of the parish had remained staunchly Anglican holding the faith in its entirety, and he left a devoted congregation, proud of their church and regular in their attendance, who deeply regretted the departure of their beloved pastor.

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