# 42792


An Account of the State of Religion, and of The Episcopal Church, in the Colony of New South Wales.

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[London] : [Church Missionary Society?], 1837. Folio (330 x 210 mm), 3 pp.; printed on letterpress; verso docketed ‘Mackenzie / State of Religion / New South Wales / April 6. 37’, and with small Webster Collection stamp and number 2617 in ms.; old horizontal folds, several short edge tears, else very good.

An extremely rare anonymous circular on religious affairs in New South Wales, written at a critical time soon after the implementation of the colonial government’s Church Act (1836). A contemporary inscription on the present example attributes its authorship to one ‘Mackenzie’. Worthy of note is the fact it was published in the same year as James Macarthur’s New South Wales : its present State and future prospects, which contained essays by John Dunmore Lang and the Right Rev. John Bede Polding on the prospects of the Presbyterian and Roman Catholic Church in Australia.

‘The following account of the lamentable state of Religion and Morals, and of the pressing wants of the Episcopalian Church in New South Wales, is respectfully submitted to the attentive consideration of the Christian Public in Great Britain and Ireland, by a Gentleman recently arrived from that Colony, where he has been a resident for more than six years, – he is at present a Student for Holy Orders, with the view of making his adopted country the scene of his future labours as a Clergyman of the Church of England … By a recent enactment of the Local Legislature of New South Wales [i.e. The Church Act, 1836] a field of extensive usefulness has been opened up for the labours of active and devoted servants of our Lord Jesus Christ, in that hitherto neglected portion of his Vineyard, and the Writer when leaving that Country in July last, was requested by the Right Reverend Bishop of Australia [i.e. William Grant Broughton], to make use of every means in his power, in order to promote the emigration of duly qualified Pastors, to his Diocese …

The population of New South Wales now amounts to Eighty Thousand (this is exclusive of the aboriginal Population which there is no means at present of ascertaining), one fourth of which number are Roman Catholics, consisting almost entirely of Convicts and Emancipated Convicts, leaving a residue of about Sixty Thousand Protestants scattered over the surface of Four Million Acres. In Sydney, the principal Town, there are Two Episcopalian and Two Presbyterian Churches, with Four or Five Dissenting Chapels … this miserable disproportion is not however merely to be considered numerically, but with reference to the scattered state of the population….’

Provenance: Kenneth Athol Webster (1906-1967) was a New Zealand-born dealer and collector in manuscripts, books, paintings and ethnographic artefacts relating to the Pacific. In the two decades after World War Two he built one of the largest and most important collections of this type of material ever assembled.

Not in Ferguson.

Trove locates no copies, although one held in the State Library of New South Wales (FM4 561) is cited in Stoneman, David, The Church Act: The expansion of Christianity or the imposition of moral enlightenment? A Thesis submitted as fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, University of New England, Australia, 2011, p.124, where it is erroneously attributed to William Grant Broughton.