No. 1049 - Jericho - St James' Anglican Church (1833 -1883)

Jericho is small settlement located on the western side of the Midlands Highway, approximately 15 kilometres south of Oatlands. It was an important way station during the coaching era. Jericho is among a number of locations in the southern Midlands, such as Bagdad, Jerusalem, the Jordan River and Lake Tiberias, which have Middle Eastern names. These were supposedly given by Private Hugh Germain, a member of the Royal Marines, who in the early 1800s travelled through the area on a hunting expedition. It is said that Germain carried a copy of the Bible and the Arabian Nights, the source of his inspiration for naming the localities he visited.

Two Anglican churches were built at Jericho; the first was constructed in the early 1830s and was replaced by the present church built in 1883. This article concerns the first Jericho church which was the 10th Anglican church to be built in the colony.

The first recorded religious service held at Jericho took place on 23 February 1823. It was conducted by the Reverend Samuel Marsden at Northumbria, the home of Mr. Thomas Gregson. A campaign for the construction of a church began as early as 1827. Up until this time the district was supplied by William Pike, a catechist, who lived at “Park Farm”.

In 1930 the Hobart Mercury published an article containing a detailed record of the first church’s construction which began over 100 years earlier. Most of the Mercury’s report is reproduced below:

“A hundred years ago there existed at Jericho a convict station, which was used by the road making gangs for some time….In those days, and in the years following, the district contained a greater population than it does to-day. Records show that many squatters occupied land thereabouts, and with the system of assigned servants in vogue at the time, the number of persons living at and around Jericho must have been large.

Mr. Thomas Burbury, a warden of the present church, is in possession of some interesting records which were found among the papers of the late Mr. Peter Harrisson, having evidently formerly belonged to Mr. Harrisson's father. One of the documents is a record of the minutes of a meeting of Jericho pioneers, just 100 years ago. At that time, it is evident the need for a church was badly felt. The minutes, however, tell their own story. It is stated:

Minutes of a meeting held at Jericho on November 1 [1827] : For the purpose of taking into consideration the expediency of erecting a place of worship in the populous part of the district. It was resolved unanimously:

(1) That it is expedient to erect a place of worship in the most populous part of the district.

(2) That a subscription forthwith be entered into for the purpose.

(3) That application be made to His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, soliciting the assistance of the Government in support of the undertaking.

It was resolved that Mr. P. Harrisson be appointed treasurer, and Mr. J. M. Hudspeth secretary, and that Messrs. E. Bryant, W. Pike, C.M. Cogie, James Weeding, P. Harrisson, and J. M. Hudspeth, form a committee for the purpose of carrying the design into effect, and that any three of them would form a quorum. It was resolved that the thanks of the meeting be given to Rev. Mr. Bedford for the attention given by him to the action, and for his handsome conduct In the chair. It was suggested by Mr. Bedford that the site of the proposed chapel be on the hill on the rising ground between Mr. Harrisson's house and Fourteen Tree Hill, being considered by him the spot most eligible to the population generally.

Evidently Colonel Arthur; or the Government, paid little attention to the request for financial assistance in connection with the erection of the Jericho church at that time, for further minutes state:

At a meeting held at Bowsden on April 11, at which Messrs; Bryant, Harrisson and Hudspeth were present, it was resolved that a general meeting of the committee be held at Mr. Harrisson's Inn…, on Monday, 14th Inst., for the purpose of considering the advisability of renewing the application to the Lieutenant-Governor, and also presenting an address to the venerable archdeacon on the same subject.

There is no record to show whether the second application was ever favourably or unfavourably received, but it may be that at least some measure of assistance was accorded the undertaking, especially when the archdeacon of the parish at the time was interested in the matter. A Rev. Mr. Drought, who must have had a charge somewhere near Jericho in those days, interested himself in the endeavour to secure Governmental assistance for the Jericho church, for in the specifications relating to the building, the contractor undertook to finish the work “six months from the date the answer was received from the Government to the application made by Mr. Drought.” It would not therefore be unreasonable to assume that some assistance was eventually granted.

At all events, the church was constructed, not on the spot near Fourteen Tree Hill, as suggested by Mr. Bedford, but on the site where the present church stands. The subscription list as decided upon was evidently opened at the first meeting, for the document on which the minutes were written also bears a list of liberal subscribers to the fund, on which the following names appear:-G.M., P. Harrisson, James Weeding, William Pike, James Mackerson, J. M. Hudspeth, F. Bradley, William Bedford, Mrs. Ransom (Green Ponds), Mr. Hooper (Cross Marsh), J. Presnell (Sorrell Springs), T.G.G., Thomas Anstey, Mrs. Anstey, G. Lindley, Mrs. Page, Charles Mills Cogie, James Jones, John Jones, John Hiddlestone (Hobart Town), John Franks, James Hooper, George Guest, Sr., James Drummond. James Gravett, Mrs. Guest, John Bowden, Matthew Bowden, Patrick Wood, Edward Bryant, Hugh Cassidy, J. Earle, Thomas Salmon and John Hays.

The specifications were prepared by George Aitcheson, builder and contractor, of Oatlands. From them it is evident that the building was not to be on a very elaborate scale, it was mostly of rough stone, and its dimensions were 35 feet by 25 feet. The contract was undertaken by Mr. Percy Harrisson, who was to do the work for £330. The contract is dated March 4, 1831”.

The building, which was based on a design by John Lee Archer, was completed in early 1833, although there is no record of its official opening. The first recorded marriage at the church took place in May 1833. The church was consecrated on 10 May 1838 by the Lord Bishop of Australia, William Grant Broughton.

St James’ Anglican church served the needs of Jericho until the early 1880s when it decided to demolish the building and replace it with a new structure, “built on a more comprehensive and elaborate scale”. The building had also developed a large crack which rendered it unsafe. Services were held in the Jericho school until the new church was completed. The new church, also dedicated to St James, was consecrated in 1888. This church is the subject of another article on ‘Churches of Tasmania’.

The first church dedicated to St James at Jericho. A detail of pencil drawing of the church by Elizabeth Hudspeth (1849). Image source: Deutscher and Hackett Auctioneers (April 2013) online catalogue

The first church dedicated to St James at Jericho. A pencil drawing of the church (1849). Image source: Deutscher and Hackett Auctioneers (April 2013) online catalogue (see sources below)

Public notice in the Hobart Town Gazette, 11 December 1830

A view of the Northumbria Estate (1956).  Northumbria was the home of Thomas Gregson and is where the first recorded religious service held in the Jericho district took place on 23 February 1823. It was conducted by Reverend Samuel Marsden. Photograph: Libraries Tasmania online collection NS3195/1/1483


The Hobart Town Courier, Saturday 10 November 1827, page 2
The Hobart Town Gazette, Saturday 11 December 1830, page 3
The Hobart Town Courier, Friday 24 May 1833, page 2
The Hobart Town Courier, Friday 4 May 1838, page 3
The Mercury, Saturday 17 February 1883, page 3
Mercury, Friday 16 March 1883, page 3
Mercury, Monday 7 April 1930, page 3
Mercury, Tuesday 13 April 1948, page 5

Henslowe, Dorothea I. and Hurburgh, Isa.  Our heritage of Anglican churches in Tasmania / by Dorothea I. Henslowe ; sketches by Isa Hurburgh  [S.l  1978

Catalogue text for pencil drawing by Elizabeth Hudspeth:


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