Church ministers, MPs, newspapers, business linked in 19th Century South Australia

South Australia and the world's first Labor premier Tom Price was a Methodist lay preacher.
Image courtesy the State Library of South Australia

The nexus of church ministers, newspapers editors, members of parliament and businessmen kept religion at the forefront of 19th Century South Australia.

Many active church members were MPs, led by  premiers John Colton, Frederick Holder, Thomas Price and John Verran – all Methodist lay preachers. Holder was also first managing editor, later owner, of the Burra Record newspaper.

The Advertiser newspaper was founded by the Rev John Henry Barrow, a former Register journalist and Congregational minister.

James (“Dismal Jimmy”) Allen, a Baptist minister, owned the Register and other Adelaide newspapers in the 1840s and 1850s.

Congregational James Jefferis, among the church ministers to write newspaper articles on social and political subjects,  was offered the job as editor and a partnership in The Advertiser in 1876.

Thomas Magarey, who advocated Bible reading in public schools but strenuously opposed government grants to churches, was an MP, an early joint proprietor of the Register and Observer and an original director of the Bank of Adelaide. Magarey, with a breakaway group from the Scotch Baptist Church, helped to found the first Church of Christ in Australia by 1849. In 1872, he joined the Plymouth Brethren, basing his “conversion” on a reappraisal of the doctrine of baptism.

Other newspaper proprietors who become members of parliament Anthony Forster, John Barrow, Ebenezer Ward, F.S. Carroll, E.H. Derrington, J.L. Bonython, M.P. Basedow, David Bews, Paddy Glynn, E.A. Roberts and Douglas Bardolph.

The many prominent businessmen, with strong church links, who became members of parliament included Edwin Smith, William Peacock and William Burford.

Other related ADELAIDEAZ articles

Big influence on South Australia wielded by John Langdon Bonython as The Advertiser owner

London-born son of a carpenter and builder, John Langdon Bonython rose to one of South Australia’s most influential business figures in the 19th Century and into the 20th. In 1854, Bonython sailed with his family to Adelaide and attended Brougham School, North Adelaide, but his parents couldn’t afford his further education. Determined to succeed, he joined The Advertiser newspaper as a junior reporter at 16. With hard work and successful shares in mining, in 1879, he could buy a junior partnership in the newspaper. This became joint ownership with F.B. Burden in 1884, when he also became editor – ­for the next 45 years. By 1893, he was The Advertiser’s sole proprietor. The Advertiser pursued a liberal progressive policy and was a leading advocate of federation. It aligned with the growing middle class and identified closely with South Australia’s progress. The newspaper had a big revenue stream from small advertisements but Bonython also believed in extensive news coverage, though often clashing with the Australian Journalists’ Association. Bonython was elected to the first federal parliament in 1901. Education was one of strong interests. He was among founders of South Australian School of Mines and Industries in 1886 and its president for 50 years. Bonython was a generous benefactor, including £100,000 to complete parliament house and helping many destitute people who waited outside his office during the 1930s Depression.

Pastors Julius Rechner, Christian Austricht lead a rebellion against Lutheran institutions

Rebel pastors in the August Kavel mould, Gustav Julius Rechner and Christian Auricht became central pillars of South Australia’s Immanuel Lutheran synod for 40 years without a shred of institutional theological training between them. Georg Friedrich Leidig, founder of what is now Adelaide’s Immanuel College at Point Pass in 1890, succeeded Rechner and Auricht as president of the Immanuel Synod. In 1861, Auricht had ordained Rechner – an unorthodox move condemned by Lutheran pastors all over Australia and in Germany. Rechner had come to South Australia at age 19 to enable the migration of his whole Silesian family of pious Old Lutherans, originally from Leignitz (near Klemzig), He joined Pastor August Kavel’s Old Lutheran congregation at Langmeil in the Barossa Valley. In 1850, Rechner became the teacher and cantor at Light Pass school. After Kavel died in 1860, new Light Pass pastor Wilhelm Staudenmayer criticised Kavel’s requirements on sin and grace. Twenty-five families left the Light Pass congregation, selecting Rechner as their pastor. They built a church almost identical to Immanuel Lutheran church, across the road, and called it Zur engen Pforte (Strait Gate). Christian Auricht, who studied under pastors Fritsche and Kavel, was ordained by Kavel in 1858 and approved by the Reschner’s congregation as his successor. Auricht ordained Rechner in approval of the Light Pass Old Lutherans’ choice. In 1862, Rechner and Auricht ironed out differences on chiliasm to reunite with Bethany-Lobethal synod and combine for mission work in the remote north.

Rupert Murdoch's fight for Rupert Max Stuart launches his rise to international fame

The Rupert Max Stuart case is regarded as launching Rupert Murdoch's rise to international prominence. It was significant in having Murdoch as an anti-establishment campaigner against the death sentence and helping make Aboriginal rights an issue. Murdoch’s struggling Adelaide afternoon newspaper, The News, edited by Rohan Rivett, campaigned heavily against the 1959 death sentence for Stuart over the murder of a nine-year-old girl in the remote South Australian town of Ceduna. With Stuart's execution set for July 7, 1959, rising public opinion in favour of commuting the sentence forced South Australian premier Tom Playford set up a royal commission into the Stuart case. The government and the commission were immediately criticised for impartiality of commissioners Justice Geoffrey Reed, the judge for the Stuart trial, and Chief Justice Mellis Napier, presiding on the full court that rejected Stuart’s appeal. With circulation soaring,The News went to war with headlines like “These commissioners cannot do the job” over an editorial written by Murdoch. After Stuart lost a second appeal,The News featured stories with new details of the case, often contradicting the Adelaide judiciary. Murdoch bankrolled the search for alibi evidence from Stuart’s travelling carnival fellow workers in Queensland. He sent Catholic priest Tom Dixon, the first to ask questions about the confession made to the police, on the search with defence lawyers. The Stuart affair was Murdoch’s brief period of radicalism. A few weeks after the libel trial, Murdoch dismissed Rivett as editor of The News. 

Anglican Holy Trinity on North Terrace first church for Adelaide's social establishment

The Anglican Holy Trinity in North Terrace is the oldest surviving church in South Australia. This was Adelaide’s establishment church. It was built with funds from the South Australian Church Society, formed by members of the established church in England in 1834 to raise money for church buildings and clergymen in the new province. The first Anglican clergyman, Irish evangelical Charles Beaumont Howard, was, controversally for Dissenters, the government colonial chaplain.

 

Victoria Square site for cathedral blocked by supreme court in symbolic rebuff

The present site of St Peter’s Cathedral represents a rebuff to the  Anglican Church 's authority in South Australia. In 1848, governor Frederick Robe granted land in Victoria Square, marked in Light’s plan for public use, to the Anglican church to build a cathedral. When the grant was questioned, Bishop Augustus Short went to the Supreme Court. who confirmed the grant was invalid. In response, Bishop Short bought land for the cathedral on Pennington Terrace. North Adelaide.. 

 

Contact Us

We welcome positive constructive feedback