No.1290 - Campbell Town - Kirklands Manse (1830)

This article is one of a series about buildings associated with Tasmania’s historical churches and religious orders. These buildings include Sunday schools, parish halls, convents, orphanages, schools and residences of the clergy. Ancillary buildings are often overlooked and rarely feature in published histories. My aim is to create a basic record of these buildings, including of those that no longer exist.

Kirklands is an old pastoral property situated on the banks of the Macquarie River about 10 kilometres northwest of Campbell Town. The church and Manse at Kirklands is closely associated with the establishment of the Presbyterian Church in Tasmania. The church opened in 1836 and was one of the earliest Presbyterian churches in Van Diemen's Land. Presbyterian worship at the settlement along the Macquarie River commenced in the late 1820s:

“Mr Murray was probably one of the most noted Scotch pioneers of early Tasmania…. [arriving] at Hobart on January 14, 1823, two days after the Rev. Archibald Macarthur, the first Presbyterian minister in Tasmania. After a short stay at Hobart, Murray and other members of his party proceeded to the Macquarie River, and there took up allotments…. It was in Murray’s home [at Baskerville]…that the early service were held, but as the congregation increased they had to be held in the open”.

The settlers decided that a church should be built but believed that a manse had to be constructed first in order to recruit a pastor.

“A petition was drawn up and forwarded to Earl Bathurst, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, asking for government assistance… negotiations were entered into for the appointment of a suitable clergyman, and the first to receive the charge was Rev. John Mackersey, formerly minister of the West Calder parish in Scotland”.

Mackersey arrived at Hobart in 1829. The lieutenant governor was satisfied that Mackersey was suited for the position, but was disappointed that the settlers were not adequately prepared for his arrival as neither the manse or church were yet constructed. Mackersey had brought £1220 of capital with him and decided to rent ‘Gaddesden’ at Campbell Town for the purpose of opening a school to supplement his clerical salary until the manse and church could be built. He used his own capital for this venture which reduced his assets and consequently limited the acreage of the land grant he received.

The construction of the manse and church faced considerable obstacles and Mackersey was further financially compromised by this.

“In November 1829 the convict labour on loan to the church building committee was withdrawn as funds were exhausted, with only the shell of the twelve-roomed manse completed and the church not even begun. All his attempts failed to enlarge his congregation, and so to increase funds; in the early 1830s seven families left the district, and depressed conditions made settlers reluctant to subscribe. Some were doubtful of the success of the venture; others disliked services being held temporarily in Mackersey's drawing room.... With his own future at stake, Mackersey lent the committee a large part of the money required to complete the buildings, and allowed the parish-paid [portion] of his salary to fall into arrears so that the manse and church could be completed….”.

This strategy met with some success and the manse was at last completed. In November 1830, The Hobart Town Courier reported:

“We have great pleasure in announcing that the Manse at Kirklands on the Macquarie river for the Presbyterian church there is completed, and the rev. Mr. Mackersey has taken up his abode in the midst of his flock, and regularly performs divine service in one of the large rooms of the house, which will be continued until a separate place of worship has been erected”.

Worship continued for at the manse for almost five years before the church was at last completed in 1836. Having succeeded in building the manse and church at some personal cost, Mackersey served as pastor at Kirklands until 1853 when he resigned following the death of his wife.

The Manse is now a private property while the church, which is located about 100 metres to the south is still in use.

Kirklands Manse - Libraries Tasmania - item NS2267-1-194

Kirklands Manse (1919) The Weekly Courier


The Hobart Town Courier, Saturday 27 November 1830, page 2
Examiner, Monday 8 June 1908, page 6
Weekly Courier, Thursday 13 March 1919, page 17
Mercury Friday 9 August 1929, page 10
Mercury Monday 12 August 1929, page 3
Mercury Monday 5 October 1936, page 3


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