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Welcome to the fifth Hay Historical Society web-site newsletter.
NEW PUBLICATION. – The Hay Historical Society's latest publication, Haywire: the War-time Camps at Hay, tells the story of the three internment and prisoner-of-war camps established at Hay during World War II. The book comprises a large collection of documents, memoirs, original articles and newspaper reports, illustrated with an extensive and varied selection of photographs and artworks. The construction of the camps, the arrival of internees and POWs, the garrison battalion, the military hospital, the farming enterprises, the murders in the Italian camp, the deaths of Japanese civilians and much more is included. The story of the first internees is re-told, mostly German and Austrian Jewish refugees sent out on the Dunera, with much new material including a diary of the voyage, and many interviews. The artists amongst the Dunera internees have a special section detailing their creative contribution to life behind barbed-wire in Australia. The cost of Haywire is $50 (which includes postage and handling within Australia). More information can be found at http://users.tpg.com.au/hayhist/Haywire.htm.
NEW WEB-PAGE. – . A new web-page has recently been added to the Hay Historical Society web-site, entitled ‘Historical Sketches of Presbyterian Parishes within the Presbytery of the Murrumbidgee’. The web-page reproduces historical accounts of Riverina parishes, published in 1905 as part of the publication Centenary History of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales. The new web-page can be found at http://users.tpg.com.au/hayhist/RivPres.html. The featured article in this newsletter looks at the early efforts of Presbyterians at Hay to acquire a resident minister. The article focusses on the visit in 1866 of Rev. Henderson from Victoria, sent by the Presbytery of Castlemaine to report on the practicality of appointing a Presbyterian minister to Hay township.
WILLIAM FEARNE, TRAVELLING PHOTOGRAPHER.
I have lately been in contact with Donna Fearne, a descendent of William Fearne who was the photographer who visited Hay from Wagga Wagga in July 1867 (as described in Newletter No. II in an article about early photographers at Hay). Donna has provided some fascinating additional information about William Fearne and his working methods. The information and quotes below are from Donna. She explained that William Fearne was a travelling photographer, and that he had visited Hay on at least one other occasion "and probably more often than that".
During the early 1860s William Fearne worked as a travelling photographer in circuits which radiated from Albury, visiting stations as well as townships. From Albury he would travel south to Beechworth, across to Chiltern, then back into New South Wales to Wagga Wagga, before returning to Albury. At that stage William James Fearne was aged about 40 years, and it is believed he had only recently arrived in Australia. He was probably born in London in about 1822. In about 1862 William Fearne married Emmeline Frances Delaine (aged about 21 years) in Victoria.
In about the mid-1860s William Fearne changed his base of operations to Wagga Wagga, where he established a studio and home in Baylis Street. From Wagga Wagga Fearne undertook tours that encompassed Adelong, Tumut, Yass, Gundagai and Boorowa and back to Wagga. He also undertook a Lower Murrumbidgee tour following the river to Narrandera and Hay, then across to Jerilderie and back to Wagga. Fearne probably followed this route when he visited Hay in 1867. It was common for William Fearne to 'take off' on a tour.
He kept all his equipment in caravans which were travelling studio and home, in the early days he did everything from glass case to enamel cloth to cartes de visites, he also did landscapes, farms and all sorts of other things. He was in Beechworth and Chiltern in 1862 and Albury in 1861 and 1863 and very probably had visited Hay before 1867 as part of those circuits. It is always possible he had received a mail order request from Mr. Simpson for whom he took the photo of his property, but in 1867 he hadn't yet settled in Wagga and really had no permanent address to be contacted by (that we know of) so it might have been more of an 'opportunity' rather than a request. What he used to do was to advertise that he was coming in advance in the biggest paper in the area, usually he advertised in the Wagga Wagga Advertiser, the Border Post or the Yass Courier. He rarely advertised in the local journals so the most likely spot to find ads for him coming to Hay would be whichever of the 'big' papers was common there at that time. He often managed to secure a reference in an editorial for which he no doubt provided a complimentary 'sample' portrait one imagines.
William Fearne would advertise his route a couple of weeks prior to his arrival. He would normally announce that he would be camped next to a particular hotel in the locality he was to visit:
… he usually already knew the town and place and it was easier for people on surrounding stations to get into the town and find him to part with their cash if he was established near a regular place to sleep and drink! It must have been quite lucrative, he seemed to do very well out of it.
Fearne carried a pair of corellas with him, which he probably had when he visited Hay in 1867.
Apparently this wasn't unusual – it was the origin of the 'watch the birdie' saying and kept the kids happy.
The birds went missing or were stolen in 1872; Fearne offered a five-pound reward in the Wagga Wagga Advertiser for their return.
At Wagga William and Emmeline Fearne had seven children (five sons and two daughters) born from 1868 to 1882. In 1874 William Fearne, then aged 52 years, undertook another tour of the Lower Murrumbidgee. He had announced that he was ill; there was a widespread belief that the 'dry' air of the western Riverina was beneficial to health, which may account for his choice at this time. As well as the towns of Narrandera, Hay and Jerilderie, Fearne listed a considerable number of stations to be visited on this tour, including: "Sandy Creek", "Boree Creek", "Cocketgedong", "Widgiewa", "Urana", "North Yathong" and "Buckingbong".
In 1875 Fearne undertook another tour to "Tubbo" and surrounding stations. By 1876 he had sold his studio and equipment and became a farmer. He owned land in Travers Street, Wagga Wagga, near the racecourse, on both sides of the road. He also had an entire block on Baylis street (one block from the Wollundry Lagoon) as an investment property.
In the late 1870s he began a produce store but eventually went bankrupt in 1887. The family story is that he went back on the road and was taking photos in Jerilderie in the 1890s.
William Fearne died in 1902, aged about 80 years. He was recorded as a labourer on his death certificate.
He left no will and owned no property; there are no photos surviving of any of his children when young and none were saved within the family except for one photo of William and Emmeline respectively that was passed down through his eldest daughter's family. All the examples of his work we have traced were in private collections or museum-holdings and at least one was later used by Kodak for a postcard! I think he is very interesting because his career spanned such a long time in the development of photography from it being relatively rare and exclusive to being relatively common and accessible. It is also fascinating to be able to follow the paths your ancestor traveled and a great example of how sometimes no matter how hard you work and how hard you try, business, competition, mortgages, droughts, bad luck and poor decisions can take it all away and leave you with what you started, namely yourself and your family.
Donna would be pleased to be contacted by anybody with photographs by William Fearne.
He usually just scribbled his name on the back of the card although there are some preprinted cards he used. His name can look like Tearne/Searne etc. I am very familiar with the limited range of chairs, props, stools and carpet that he used and can sometimes place his photos that way. I intend to publish an account of Fearne's life and travels and would appreciate any information or examples of his work to help flesh out his story further.
If anyone has any further information about William Fearne or knows of the existence of any of his photographs I would be pleased to forward any e-mails to Donna.
J. T. GENNINGS – PHOTOGRAPHIC STUDIO
As a further postscript to the article about early photographers at Hay (Newsletter No. 2), it has recently been discovered that another photographer to visit Hay was J. T. Gennings. The following advertisement appeared on page three of the Hay Standard newspaper, 22 November 1871.
Like William Fearne, J. T. Gennings was a travelling photographer. The following week, in addition to the advertisement, this local news item was printed:
PHOTOGRAPHY. – In addition to our resident photographer, Mr. Geyer, we have a travelling artist in Hay, whose advertisement will be found in another column. Parties having photographic work to be done, should visit the studios of both artists and judge for themselves. [Hay Standard, 29 November 1871, 2(5)]
PRESBYTERIANISM AT HAY: THE VISIT OF REV. R. HENDERSON.
Just before noon on 12 January 1866 the Presbyterian minister, Rev. R. Henderson, arrived at Hay on the Deniliquin coach. Rev. Henderson was from Kyneton in Victoria and had "been appointed by the Presbytery of Castlemaine" to visit Hay township and the surrounding district. During the next day (Saturday) the minister "occupied his time… in calling on the principal inhabitants". On Sunday Rev. Henderson conducted services, both morning and evening, in the school-house at Hay.
His subject in the morning led him to speak of the origin, the nature, and the value of the Christian's joy. He also pointed out how it might be greatly increased and became permanent. [Pastoral Times, 20 January 1866, 2(6)]
At the evening service it was reported that "the school-house was filled". Rev. Henderson's discourse on this occasion called for "the appointment of a season for Humiliation and Prayer on account of the long continued drought". His sermon utilised verses from the 76th Psalm: "At your rebuke, God of Jacob, both chariot and horse are cast into a deep sleep" (verse 6); and, "You pronounced judgment from heaven. The earth feared, and was silent" (verse 8).
In commencing his sermon he averted to the undoubted fact of the existence of much suffering and loss arising out of the lengthened drought – suffering and loss that would press on the land more heavily still in the event of their having no rain till autumn. He maintained that this time of trial should be looked on as the visitation of God, that there were enough for the divine displeasure, in the state of the national heart and life. He believed in the regular operation of the natural laws, but held that it was absurd to imagine that the Great Being, who had imposed these laws on nature, could not suspend them, or employ them so as to contribute to the ends of His moral administration… Without venturing to specify any particular cause for this "Judgement from Heaven," he thought that the nation would, if wise, stand in awe and humble itself before God, confessing its many sins and turning from them, and endeavoring after new obedience. He enumerated various evils that the people of this land must acknowledge clave to them, and with much earnestness besought his audience, personally, in so far as they felt themselves involved, to enter on a purer and higher life. The subject, he said, suggested important lessons – and these, unless they meant to frustrate the divine intention in withholding from them the rains of Heaven, they would reduce to practice in their lives. [Pastoral Times, 20 January 1866, 2(6)]
Rev. Henderson left Hay the next day "with the view of visiting and conducting service on the stations up the river". His intention was to travel up-river along the north bank of the Murrumbidgee, and return along the south bank. The stations he would visit included Illilawa, Wardry (Uardry), Groongal, Benerembah, Tubbo, Kerarbury, Toganmain, and Eli Elwah.
The purpose of Rev. Henderson's visit was to report on the capacity of Hay township and surrounding district to support a resident Presbyterian minister, and to provide an assessment of the "religious condition" of the region. Presbyterianism was a dynamic force in the Colony of Victoria at that time. In 1859 most of the Presbyterian Synods of that colony had united as the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, an event described as "the first comprehensive Presbyterian union in the world" [Burke & Hughes, 1996]. The number of Presbyterian ministers in Victoria increased from fifty-three in 1859 to over a hundred by the end of 1865. By then there were about 200 Presbyterian ministers in Australia, 55% of whom were in Victoria (compared to 25% in New South Wales).
The high proportion of Presbyterians in the Victorian population (circa 15%), the prosperity of the people, and the availability of State-aid until 1870, made Victoria the most attractive field for many ministers. However, there was no Central Sustentation Fund to cushion difficulties which an unpopular minister might face, hence there was an incentive to perform well. The result of these factors was that Victoria was able to secure the best qualified candidates and the less satisfactory drifted elsewhere. [Ward, 1989]
In addition to their own colony Victorian Presbyterians had turned their attention to adjoining regions of New South Wales, particularly those with strong social and commercial links to Melbourne such as the Riverina and Darling districts. Victorian Church leaders assumed the responsibility of extending spiritual care to these districts. In the mid-1860s a resolution of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria had led to the establishment of the Pastoral Visitation Committee, charged with the task of determining requirements and facilitating the provision of spiritual welfare of districts considered within the province of the Church. By January 1866 the Committee had identified those districts which "most urgently claim the visitations of the Assembly's deputies", as well as the districts to which ministers might be appointed.
After full consideration of the whole subject, it was agreed that to the following districts visiting ministers might be appointed, namely: – Upper Murray and Upper Billabong, Yanko, the Murrumbidgee, the Darling, Western Riverina and Lower Murray, North-West Wimmera and Tatiara, Guichen Bay, the Avoca, the Lodden, the Goulburn. In addition to these, it should be mentioned that the Rev. P. Mercer, of Deniliquin, and Rev. D. McCalman, of Mosquito Plains, during the sheep shearing, extended their visitations beyond their respective districts, and in so far did the proper work of your visiting deputies… [Christian Review, January 1866]
The Christian Review article included further details regarding some of these districts:
The visiting minister of Upper Murray reports that ample room for a new charge exists on the Upper Billabong, with Urana as a centre. The settlers are almost all Presbyterians; most of them were or are yet, connected with congregations in Victoria, and are quite ready to subscribe the necessary funds for a resident clergymen. This case has been reported to the Presbytery of Beechworth, who will at once take action in the matter. At Hay, on the Murrumbidgee, arrangements have progressed still further. A stipend list of above £400 per annum has been subscribed. A manse, also, is promised, and the district is anxiously looking for a suitable minister. [Christian Review, January 1866]
There seems little doubt that Rev. Henderson was sent by the Presbytery of Castlemaine primarily to investigate the viability of appointing a resident clergyman to Hay. Members of a local organisation, known as the 'Hay Church Movement', had been collecting the names of subscribers for some time, receiving promises of support apparently amounting to £400 a year. Prominent members of the 'Hay Church Movement' were William Threlkeld (treasurer) and John Fairbairn (secretary). William Threlkeld was a builder, living in a cottage in Simpson Street. He was born in 1811 at Perth in Scotland, and was ordained as a Church Elder in Scotland before emigrating to Victoria with his family in 1853. Threlkeld and family had arrived at Hay in 1861 from Melbourne. John Fairbairn was born in about 1833, the son of a Presbyterian minister from Edinburgh. Fairbairn was the Sheep Inspector for the Hay district from at least 1865, and well-placed to collect names of compliant land-holders to assist in providing a minister's stipend. In the same issue of the Pastoral Times which announced the arrival of Rev. Henderson the following notice was published:
When Rev. Henderson departed from Hay on the first occasion he visited stations along the Murrumbidgee River above Hay. On his return after two weeks absence Henderson conducted a Sunday service at Hay on 28 January 1866, before leaving again to continue following the Murrumbidgee downstream. He visited Maude before heading north to continue along the Lachlan up-river to Booligal. From Booligal Rev. Henderson probably travelled back to Hay via One Tree, as he was back in Hay again within the week. He left Hay to travel back to Castlemaine on Monday, February 5, so it is probable he performed another Sunday service at the township the day before his departure.
VISIT OF THE REV. MR. HENDERSON. – This gentleman left Hay on Monday [5 February 1866], en route for Castlemaine. He was appointed by the Presbytery of that town to visit Hay and the neighborhood. We are not aware of the nature of the report he will have to give of us spiritually; but are cognizant that he has gained considerable experience in bush life. He has experienced the inconvenience of horses knocking up, the vicissitudes of camping out, and getting bogged and so forth. All are alike, the pioneers of commerce or Christianity. [Pastoral Times, 10 February 1866, 5(4)]
Scottish Presbyterian settlers in Australia have been categorised as "generally hard working and over-represented in occupations such as farming, banking, commerce, politics and education" [Burke & Hughes, 1996]. Presbyterians were well-represented among the land-holders of the western Riverina pastoral runs. Support from squatters was an important factor in assessing whether a minister could be maintained within a pastoral district. The wealth and high social-standing of the squatters, and the fact that they employed large numbers of workers, were key elements in the equation. In an article entitled 'Riverina in a Christian World' the Riverine Advertiser of Deniliquin cites "men and money" as the raw materials for spiritual endeavour and makes the following comments about Hay's prospects for attracting a minister and the perceived need for "missionary zeal" in the region:
Here is soil that wants cultivating, and we should think that those who sow might expect to reap. We are glad to see that Hay, although settled several years later than many other places on the list has come handsomely forward, and that "£400 per annum has been subscribed." We may hope, therefore, that nothing will occur to prevent the Presbytery from taking the final steps for locating a minister here. We believe that the district now known as Riverina does not contain one Church! The Church at Deniliquin, some years since was blown down by a storm, and has never ever been re-built – Is it likely to be re-built? We need not call attention to the fact that this sad example should not influence the people of Hay – that because Deniliquin has no Church, therefore Hay should be contented without one. Setting aside the religious aspect of the question the existence of a well trained minister in a place gives it a tone and character which cannot be supplied by any other person or avocation. Every clergyman is equal to an ordinary police force, if by his example and precept he is faithful to his duties… If we can secure such men for these outlying districts we should do much to make life tolerable in the bush; without them we are strewing the seed of unchecked ungodliness, and we shall reap the crop in spiritual and physical death – in drunkenness and disease – in the increase of crime and the consequent increase of cost in suppressing it. We are bound then to do all in our power to secure the aid of clergymen. We trust soon to be able to welcome one at Hay, and that he may be the forerunner of other ministers to be despatched by the Presbytery to preach the glad tidings of salvation. [Pastoral Times, 3 February 1866]
On his return to Victoria Rev. R. Henderson delivered a lecture about his travels in Riverina. A printed version (probably truncated) was published in the Deniliquin Pastoral Times under the title 'The Bush and Bush Life on the Lower Murrumbidgee and the Lower Lachlan' (reproduced below). The content of Henderson's report to the Castlemaine Presbytery is not known, though indications are that it was favorable to the appointment of a minister to Hay. The difficulty seemed to be finding a suitable man willing to accept the appointment (see postscript).
THE BUSH AND BUSH LIFE ON THE LOWER MURRUMBIDGEE AND THE LOWER LACHLAN.
"We take the following from a lecture delivered by the Rev. R. Henderson on his return from the Murrumbidgee to Victoria: – " [Pastoral Times, 21 April 1866]
Some sixty miles upwards, from the junction of the Lachlan with the Murrumbidgee, stands Hay, the chief town of all that district; Maude, some forty miles further down, consists of a store, an hotel, and a few other houses; Booligal, on the Lachlan some fifty miles across the plains, is much larger, and promises, ere long, to increase considerably, owing to the rapid settlement of the country beyond; Cooba, some eighty miles higher up, consists only of two hotels, a store, and the puntman's house. But Hay is a considerable squatting town, with about 250 inhabitants. The ground surveyed by Government was found to be inconvenient, and has been, by common consent, abandoned for the present site. Some say that a publican having preferred the latter to the former, erected an humble hotel there, and that this, as in many other cases in the bush, more than anything else, determined the position of the town. It stands on the northern side of the river, and is reached from the south by a punt. The day that I arrived, the sun was 95 deg. in the shade. I had travelled all night across the Old Man Plain, having left Deniliquin the night before, at nine o'clock. I was glad next day, towards noon, amidst the heat of a blazing sun, to find a hearty welcome under the hospitable roof of a friend. The usual offer to wash was at once made and eagerly accepted. Its refreshing influences they only can know who have had a long journey in a hot climate, amidst dusty roads. Like other Australian towns, Hay is defective in compactness, and the regularity of its buildings. Left very much to themselves, the inhabitants in young townships follow the bent of their own fancies, both as to the style and position of their dwellings and shops. There is no local authority to control these matters, and it not frequently happens that everything but homage to the genius of order and beauty prevails. For its size there is a large amount of business transacted in it. This arises – first, from the many stations that are being formed in the new country beyond the Lachlan; and, second, from the great distance of the stations in all that neighbourhood from Melbourne. Throughout the year, as the necessities of the people arise, they are most conveniently supplied at Hay, and thither, therefore, they send for what they want. And as the stations are large, and their demands, especially in shearing time, considerable, it will be seen how the town, though comparatively small, does a really creditable trade. Owing to its central position in that region – but especially owing to its being on the northern side of the Old Man Plain, and in the direct line of road to Fort Bourke, on the Darling, and the rapidly advancing country intermediate, between the Lachlan and the Darling – its prospects of growing prosperity is thought to be most encouraging. The inhabitants are full of hope, and are confidently anticipating a steady improvement in their affairs. Till within ten months ago, they had no day school, and strange enough, the teacher was one of my old shipmates. He speedily claimed me on my arrival as a fellow-passenger, and reminded me of many a pleasant incident on the voyage we made together on our way to Melbourne; but up to this day there is neither church nor minister of any denomination within eighty miles of it. Away northwards there is no minister at all; so that having reached Hay, I had evidently got to the outside of the ecclesiastical world, so far as this west continent is concerned. Occasionally ministers have paid a flying visit to the town; but with the exception of Mr. Cooper of Rokewood, one of the Geelong Presbytery, no other minister, till I went, had ever systematically visited the stations up and down the Lower Murrumbidgee. "No one ever comes here," as an old black shepherd one day said to me, "to tell us whether we are doing right or wrong." On my way to Hay, a distance from Kyneton of about 240 miles, I found Mr. M----, a squatter from the far north of Queensland, from some 400 miles inland from Port Dennison, in the compartment of the train I entered. He used to keep a store in Castlemaine when I first knew him. He remarked that there is nothing like squatting, and that he would as soon think of returning to the old country as to storekeeping. He and his partner have a run that is capable of carrying 20,000 sheep; though they have only a few thousand yet. They have three rainy months in the year – namely, December, January and February. They have beautiful weather the rest of the year, and abundance of grass. They knew nothing of ague, and live in a kind of terrestrial paradise. They know nothing moreover, of hot winds, though they have hot enough weather; the country is thinly timbered; the plains are of vast size; the stations are at the very least forty miles apart; they are often 100 to […] miles apart; they have no lawyers, no doctors, no teacher, and no ministers. They ride great distances, and are chiefly annoyed by the aborigines, who keep them in constant anxiety when sleeping out at nights on their journeys across the country. They scarcely ever [when] travelling remove the saddle from their horses; they keep them close at hand, ready for use in the event of danger, and […] he said they naturally enough exclaim on waking up of a morning "Thank God, we're safe once more." The appearance of Bendigo as we dashed through it was wretched in the extreme. Everything seemed burned up. It looked like a vast brick-kiln. The utter absence of trees and grass, the diggers' humble dwellings, and the ragged tenements of the Chinese, together with the rugged surface of the deserted flats and gullies, once alive with crowds in search of gold, presented a toute ensemble, anything but attractive. The plains beyond were grassless and barren and deserted by flocks and herds and every living thing. In vain we advanced further and further north did we look for life; save and except two wild emus on Moira Plains, tame enough in all truth, then from poverty and drought, and now and then a few parroquets on the wing. I saw nothing in the shape of animal life for 150 miles. Echuca is very much larger since I saw it, and will ere long become an important and thriving inland town. The crisis through which it has passed will by-and-bye give way to a healthier state of things, and rid it of the bad pre-eminence it has won for insolvencies and mysterious disappearances. The country near Deniliquin is highly interesting to the traveller, who can see beauty in the landscape, even where there are neither hills nor dells nor running streams. Amazingly level, it is often beautifully diversified with plains of limited extent, bounded with graceful clumps of trees, terminating in wavy points. But the famous Old Man Plain, between Deniliquin and Hay, must be to any but a bushman a wild and dreary solitude. For the first thirty miles there is bush; but the moment you leave Wanganella, a little township, consisting of two hotels and a store, till you reach the river timber, there is nothing but solitude. The grimness of the plain culminates at the Black Swamp, the supposed resort of "The Flying Cob," the ghost of a mysterious horse and his rider, who love, it is said, to haunt those parts of a night to the terror of travellers. Nothing relieves the monotony of that dreary journey save the changing of horses at Wanganella, Pine Ridge, and The Gums hotels. It is wisely made in the summer season during the night. Sleep of course is out of the question. In the bush coach you must at all times take things as they come. Comfort is never thought of. Without any back to the seat you occupy, unless you perch yourself beside the driver, and not unfrequently inconveniently crowded, you allow yourself to be whirled along, but it in the hope that in due time you will escape. From time to time during the night you feel that you must sleep; you yield for a little, and ere long, by some heavy lurch, you are roused again. Towards morning, as the keen air steals in on you, you give yourself up hopelessly to the demands of exhausted nature, and nod all round in the most ungraceful fashion. The punt is reached at last, the coach pulls up at the post-office, delivers its weary bundle, and you are dismissed to your ablutions and your couch. Hay, the centre of these brief missionary operations in which I was engaged in that part, stands, as we have already said, on the Murrumbidgee.
The matter of appointing a Presbyterian minister to the township was still not settled more than a year after Rev. Henderson's visit to Hay and district. In May 1867 it was reported that the Presbyterians at Hay were not able to "obtain a minister that would suit them, their standard being rather high".
There is no doubt but that some time will elapse before we shall be called to assist in erecting another building for divine service; the Presbyterians not being able to obtain a minister that would suit them, their standard being rather high, and those ministers whose services are most acceptable decline to leave their comfortable manses in Victoria, where they have the society of their brethren, and rear and educate their families, for a life of hardship and seclusion in the saltbush country. [Pastoral Times, 1 June 1867, 3(2)]
In the meantime the Presbyterian minister at Deniliquin, Rev. Peter Mercer, occasionally preached at Hay township. He certainly visited Hay as early as June 1866, and he was probably there once or twice prior to Rev. Henderson's visit (as the article from the Christian Review, previously quoted, seems to suggest). The following reference is from June 1867:
The Rev. Peter Mercer has been invited by his Presbyterian friends to come to Hay to preach next Sunday week; he always has a large congregation here, and his visits are looked forward to with great interest. [Pastoral Times, 1 June 1867]
A further year was to elapse before a minister was found. On Sunday, 24 May 1868, the Rev. Samuel Alexander Hamilton, a Presbyterian minister from the Presbytery of Castlemaine, preached (both morning and evening) in the Assembly Rooms of Ledwidge's Caledonian Hotel "to good congregations". The Hay correspondent to the Pastoral Times hopefully added: "From what I hear, it appears likely that eventually a Presbyterian minister will be settled here" [Pastoral Times, 30 May 1868, 2(6)]. Rev. Hamilton continued to receive "great encouragement" and support from the Hay community as he remained at the township to preach and minister. Eventually, by late August 1868, the Hay correspondent was able to report that Rev. Hamilton was to settle at Hay.
The Rev. Mr. Hamilton, Presbyterian minister, may be considered as settled here, although he is nominally the minister of a congregation at Rushworth in Victoria. He preached two excellent sermons last Sunday in the large room at the back of the Caledonian Hotel, to crowded congregations. This week he goes up the river to preach at the different stations, and will probably hold service here again in a fortnight. ['Hay Intelligence', dated 25 August 1868, Pastoral Times, 29 August 1868, 2(7)]
Rev. Samuel A. Hamilton was to remain at Hay for nearly twenty years. Samuel Alexander Hamilton was born in about 1820 at Prescott in Canada and ordained in Ireland in 1848. He emigrated with his family to Melbourne in 1860. He was Presbyterian minister at various Victorian townships before coming to Hay. Soon after his arrival Rev. Hamilton began to raise money and collect subscriptions to build a church at Hay. At the laying of the foundation stone of the new church on 7 November 1871, John Clark, J.P., of "Kerarbury" station, made the following remarks:
It was to the energy and indefatigability of their minister, the Rev. Mr. Hamilton, they owed the success of their efforts in building the church, and he trusted he would be long spared amongst them to enjoy the fruits of his labours, (cheers.) [Hay Standard, 8 November 1871, 2(3)]
The church, when it was opened on 2 June 1872, was "a brick church of picturesque appearance, with tower and steeple, and has accommodation for 150" [Cameron, 1905].
Rev. S.A. Hamilton was responsible for the pastoral care of a vast area surrounding Hay, including country to the north-west as far as Wilcannia and the district west of the Darling. At Hay Rev. Hamilton resided at the Murrumbidgee Punt Hotel until it was destroyed by fire in January 1873. His family did not join him at Hay until 1876, the minister visiting them in Melbourne for a month each year. The promised manse was finally built at South Hay in 1878, with Rev. Hamilton and his family occupying the building in April that year. In mid-1886 the New South Wales Presbyterian Church assumed control of the Murrumbidgee Presbytery, which nominally included Hay parish. However it was agreed that Hay would remain part of the Presbytery of Castlemaine while Rev. Hamilton was the minister there. Hamilton resigned in late 1887 and finally departed from Hay in May 1888. Rev. Samuel Alexander Hamilton died in October 1900 at Carlton, Victoria, aged 80 years.
Burke, David & Hughes, Philip J., The Presbyterians in Australia, Australian Government Publishing Service, 1996.
Cameron, James (Rev.), Centenary History of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales, Angus & Robertson, 1905.
'Laying the Foundation Stone of the Hay Presbyterian Church', Hay Standard, 8 November 1871, 2(3)
Pastoral Times, Deniliquin (various references).
'Pastoral Visitation Committee', Christian Review and Messenger of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, January 1866 (quoted in 'Riverina in a Christian World', Pastoral Times, 3 February 1866).
'Presbyterian Church of Victoria' web-site http://www.pcvic.org.au
'Presbyterian. Visit of Rev. R. Henderson', Pastoral Times, 20 January 1866, 2(6).
'Riverina in a Christian World' (reprinted from the Riverine Advertiser), Pastoral Times, 3 February 1866.
Riverine Grazier, Hay (various references).
Ward, Rowland S., The Bush Still Burns: The Presbyterian and Reformed Faith in Australia. 1788-1988, 1989 (self-published)
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