No. 189 - St Andrew's at Fingal - 'Twenty Jolly Gentlemen'

St Andrew’s Uniting Church started its life as a Presbyterian church in 1881. The first Presbyterian service at Fingal was held in March 1878 when Reverend Wardrop of Campbell Town preached the first sermon in the town:

“At that time they only had one service a month, then they got to once a fortnight, but the congregation increas[ed], …averaging about 100 persons at each service… it was [then] decided to erect a church”.

Up until this time:

“The Rev. Mr. Wardrop... held his services in the Assembly rooms, but owing to the drafts and other annoyances the congregation have not always been able to enjoy the services with comfort”.

On the 24th March 1881 the foundation stone for a new church was laid. The Examiner reported that:

“[It] will be a day ever remembered with pleasure by all the good Scotch people of Fingal, as it marks a turning point in the history of their church in this district”.

Captain Samuel Tulloch of Launceston, a great benefactor to Presbyteriansim, was invited to perform the stone laying ceremony. Tulloch was a Shetland Islander who had made his fortune as a shipmaster, ship owner and merchant and was a one-time representative in the Tasmanian House of Assembly.

The ceremony was preceded by a ‘luncheon’ in the 'Assembly Rooms' where “about twenty gentlemen sat down”. Speeches were made and toasts were drunk to “Her gracious Majesty the Queen”; to Captain Tulloch, "with full honours"; to Reverend Wardrop and the Clergy and to Mr Grueber, the Warden of the Municipality; "this toast was drunk with three times three".

After much 'toasting' and lunch the twenty jolly gentlemen, in the words of the Examiner’s correspondent, “wended their way to the site of the new church, where a large number of people had gathered”.

Then, “punctually at 2.30”, the ceremony of laying the stone commenced:

“Capt. Tulloch then advanced and after spreading a trowel full of mortar the stone was placed in its position, and the Captain tapping the stone with a polished mallet, prepared for the occasion, declared the stone well and truly laid… the whole affair going off very pleasantly, and everyone seeming to enjoy it thoroughly”.

The church was completed by July 1881 and opened for service on Sunday the 10th of that month. The Examiner’s correspondent described the new building:

“It is a very pretty church, situated on rising ground just off the main road. The inside is neatly painted and varnished, and the seats are very comfortable…. Rev. Wardrop preached a most excellent sermon, which was thoroughly enjoyed by a large congregation”.

The sermon was to be one of Reverend James Wardrop’s last in Fingal before he moved to Geelong and then Sydney. The Examiner commented on his contribution to Presbyterianism in Fingal:

“It is a matter of universal regret in the district that we are about to lose the Rev. Mr Wardrop. During this time the rev. gentleman has been amongst us he has gained the esteem and goodwill of all classes and creeds… when [he] commenced his ministry in the Fingal district the Scotch people were distributed between the other congregations, now they have a fine church of their own…”

Fingal still has its "Scotch" church although it is now under the banner of the Uniting Church. It joined with the Methodist* church of Fingal in the 1970’s, almost 100 years after Reverend Wardrop's first sermon in Fingal.


*A history of the Methodist church can be found on the blog entry date June 17, 2018. 

Links:


Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Sources:

Launceston Examiner Tuesday 29 March 1881, page 1
The Tasmanian Saturday 2 April 1881
The Examiner Friday 15 July 1881, page 3
The Examiner Saturday 18 June 1881, page 3
Daily Telegraph Wednesday 20 July 1904  Page 5 


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