John Ramsden Wollaston
(Local Saint and Hero for the Province of WA)


We Peter by Divine Providence, Archbishop of Perth and Metropolitan of the Province of Western Australian together with our well beloved brothers in Christ, Gerald, Bishop of North West Australia, Hamish, Bishop of Bunbury and Michael and Brian, Assistant Bishops of Perth and representatives of our Provincial Synod assembled and present, do here Proclaim and Recommend to the people of God of our Province, a Solemn Remembrance of JOHN RAMSDEN WOLLASTON, Archdeacon of Western Australia and pioneer of faith and worship.

We give thanks to Almighty God for his signal virtues and heroic labours as a faithful pastor of souls, his resolute commitment to the building of the first place of worship at Picton as a sign of his constant devotion to the building up of the flock of Christ, his leadership in all things of the Spirit, his unflagging endeavours on behalf of new settlers and his earnest concern for the welfare of the Aboriginal people of this land.

To this end we have appointed for open observance on September 18th each year at the altar of this metro-political Cathedral Church of St George and at all other altars in this Province an appropriate Collect, Epistle, Gospel and other Propers and affirm if it be so desired that a church or other institution in this Province may be dedicated to God under the name of His faithful servant.

And no less do we recommend to our people the example of his selfless devotion and holy living and within the fellowship of the Communion of Saints we ask that God will bless this Province and make us not only inheritors of His servant’s work, but also lively followers and instruments of it:

Through the same Lord Jesus Christ to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, be all mighty, majesty, dominion and glory now and for ever.
+ Peter Perth Archbishop
 + Gerald N W Australia Bishop of North West Australia  
+ Hamish Bunbury Bishop of Bunbury
 + Michael Challen Assistant Bishop of Perth
 + Brian Kyme Assistant Bishop of Perth

 Saint and Hero of the Province of Western Australia

Sentence: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, and publishes peace, joy and salvation”.

Collect: “Almighty God, who called John Ramsden Wollaston to preach the Gospel amongst the early settlers of Western Australia; grant that we may so follow his example and obey Your will for us, that, with confidence in Your grace, we may effectively proclaim the Gospel in our own day; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. AMEN.

Old Testament  1 Kings 8:27-30
Psalm 84
New Testament  Hebrews 10:19-25
The Gospel According to Matthew, Chapter 10, vv 32-38
    Or John, Chapter 15, vv 9-17

Post-Communion Sentence: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon the house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded upon the rock”.

Post-Communion Prayer: “Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant John Ramsden Wollaston, whom you called to bring the gospel to the people of Western Australia: raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your loving reign, so that the whole world may know the unsearchable riches of our Saviour Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. AMEN.

Tune: Ode to Joy (AHB 92)
Copyright Words – vv 1-3
The late Mrs Glad Steer
v 4 Fr Joe Hopkins
Used with Permission

Drawn by spirit of adventure
To this West Australian shore,
Settlers toiled to make a homeland,
Griefs and hardships bravely bore.
Built their homes and raised their children
Comrades working side by side
They were founders of our State and
We remember them with pride. 

Wollaston’s first congregation
Few in number – strong in praise
Worshipped God in lonely places In those pioneering days.
Now we meet in many places
Faith still present and as strong
As was theirs who first did worship
With their pioneering song. 

Through the years and time of growing
Men with vision built and planned,
Built a town and then a city
In this golden South West land.
Rich green farmland, crops and cattle,
Trade and commerce, side by side
Made a growing, thriving city
With a strong and civic pride.

On this day of celebration
Each of us a Christian here,
Seeking, trusting, loving, growing,
Praying for God’s peace to reign.
As we do we give Him thanks too,
From our hearts that He did call
Wollaston to plant the faith
And witness to God’s love for all.


A local Saint and Hero of the Province of Western Australia, was born on 28th March 1791 London. He was educated at Charterhouse, where his father, Edward Wollaston, was a Master and his maternal grandfather Headmaster: then later at Christ’s College, Cambridge. He took holy orders: and in May 1819 married Mary Amelia, youngest daughter of Colonel George Gledstones; they had five sons and two daughters. Finding the income from his cure of West Wickham, Cambridgeshire, insufficient for his growing family, he applied in 1840 for the position of chaplain to the Western Australian Land Co.’s proposed settlement at Australind on Port Leschenault. The company let it be known in its advance publicity that Wollaston’s services would be available to the settlement, but gave him no appointment, and it was eventually the British government that assured him of an official stipend if he went to Western Australia.

Wollaston arrived at Fremantle in April 1841, at a time of considerable financial stringency. He bought land at Picton, on the outskirts of Bunbury, and began to build a chapel on his land. He expected the annual subsidy that Governor John Hutt had introduced in an ordinance to encourage the building of churches: and the payment of stipends, but he was allowed no government aid until his church was opened for divine service. The small wooden church with a thatched roof which was later replaced by shingles: was designed by Wollaston and built by him and his sons. Consecrated in 1843 and dedicated to St Mark, his Church still stands as the oldest church but one, in Western Australia.

Such enterprise was remarkable in a newly arrived clergyman, no longer young and not by temperament readily adaptable to the change from English village life to a pioneering society. Moreover, Wollaston’s congregation was declining after the failure of the Australind scheme. But his continued labours as a parish priest earned him the name of a ‘worthy, laborious, energetic, excellent missionary’.

Wollaston’s opportunity came in 1848: a new and more sympathetic governor, Charles Fitzgerald, transferred him to the parish of St John’s Albany, and the colony was visited by Bishop Augustus Short and Archdeacon Matthew Hale of the new diocese of Adelaide. Impressed by Wollaston’s qualities, Bishop Short appointed him Archdeacon of Western Australia early in 1849, an office which he discharged ably and zealously until his death.

During these years Wollaston covered many hundreds of miles on horseback in the course of duties which included five Archidiaconal Visitations throughout the settled areas of the Colony. Growth in population: and after 1850, the transportation of convicts increased the church’s responsibilities, especially as the Anglican clergy had to serve many Nonconformists without ministers of the own. Through his own efficiency and the good relations he developed with the government: Wollaston successfully met this situation. During his time the number of Anglican clergy increased from five to ten, and the regularity of services in the Colony’s major Centres improved greatly. Although an earlier Aboriginal mission in 1835 had failed, Wollaston established another Anglican mission to Western Australian Aboriginals at Albany in 1851.

Wollaston was not personally ambitious and would willingly have resigned in favour of an Archdeacon based in Perth, but his ultimate aim was the establishment of a Bishopric in Western Australia. Soon after his arrival in the colony he encouraged a movement among settlers to set aside gifts of land for the endowment of a see. The scheme had little success until it came under his oversight as Archdeacon; 1300 acres (526 ha) had been subscribed by 1856. Meanwhile in 1854 arrangements were begun for founding a Diocese at Perth with Archdeacon Hale as first bishop. But before the necessary formalities were completed Wollaston died at Albany on 3 May 1856, soon after returning from his fifth Archidiaconal Tour of the South West.

In many ways Wollaston left his mark throughout the Colony: but mostly because he was a hard working and extremely faithful Priest. Ministering in very difficult and sometimes quite dangerous circumstances, he lovingly got alongside his people in times of crisis and need: and led them faithfully in prayer and worship: and so today we give thanks to God for this local Saint and Hero of the Anglican Communion.

March 1851 

29th. B. and H.S. to Fremantle, I to call on the Resident, Murray, and Mr Peel, and then to proceed to Pinjarrah. I found I could not have service the following Wednesday at the church, for Mr Peel had taken possession of it, as his private property, and had converted it into his dwelling house. I thought it odd last year he should have a chimney to the church; now it is explained. He hid himself somewhere and I saw him not, but I saw the church, full of his rubbish, with his bed, furniture, etc. I left my name on his table.

To Pinjarrah, hot, dusty, and heavy road. Lost the whip dear George gave me, in the Murray Estuary.

April 1853
Friday, 8th

Weather still unsettled but got off and reached the Canning River before 11 – ten miles. Here I found no settlers assembled owing to bad weather so passed on, baptising an infant, accompanied by Mr R Hester, a Colonial-bred young man of excellent character who is to be stationed at the Sound as Superintendent of Police, and is to be my escort from Bunbury. Slept at a farm house belonging to his father-in-law, under the Hills, twenty miles from Canning. On all other journeys I have travelled to and fro between Fremantle and Mandurah by the coastline. This was quite a new road to me, and the good land next the range, after passing the wretched sandy scrub, a great relief. The farm is a fine one (as are several others in this direction) well watered with mountain brooks all the year, and a fine run for cattle in the hills. This description of land prevails for many miles along the Range, and I am surprised it has not been more sought out and located. Want of roads and bridges is a great drawback. Envied Mr Hall (the proprietor) his fine garden, wherein were 40 sorts of fruit trees, thriving most luxuriantly. He has quite a herd of pigs and told me in the season he fed them on peaches. I met with much kindness and frank hospitality.

Saturday, 9th
Mr Hester still accompanied me as far as the Serpentine River. The country, however, soon became sandy again, most dreary and wretched. Reached Pinjarrah on the Murray River just in time to save the light and took up my quarters at the inn farm.

The Bishop seems to have overlooked this district in a scheme of ministerial duty he sent me, nor did he visit Pinjarrah in his round last year, although he consecrated the church and yard on his primary visitation.

Monday, 11th
Not so tired as I expected, wrote letters in fulfilment of yesterday’s resolution.

D.S. Murray, Esq.,

Sir, - On the occasion of my visit to the church of Pinjarrah yesterday I could not but observe the serious inconvenience arising from the destruction of the bridge, the greater part of the congregation assembling there live, as you are aware, on the opposite side of the river, and the only means of transit to the church is by foot-stones and the trunk of a tree, which to females and children is positively dangerous, and even this will be cut of entirely when the waters begin to rise. As no minister or catechist is yet appointed to Pinjarrah and Mandurah Churches, it may possibly be thought that a bridge is unnecessary, but there is now a prospect at least of some such appointment, and without the bridge the church and graveyard will speedily become desecrated and fall into decay. Yesterday I had a congregation of fifty respectable and attentive people (of which you were one). Four children were baptised, for women churched, and there were six Communicants. The church and yard have been consecrated, and I have provided for such repairs as are necessary, having induced the congregation to elect a temporary Church Warden.

February 1856
Friday, 22nd

To Pinjarrah, calling on Resident (Murray) and at Ravenswood, where baptised Armstrong’s child and refreshed myself with fine grapes.

At the Inn (McClarty’s), better than Sutton’s. Unwell from vile cookings and want of sleep. The bridge is capitally rebuilt, and the church kept clean and decent. No services since my last visit, 2 years ago. A dissenting Minister had been there. Thus it is always where our Church is neglected. The church is consecrated and the district extends up to, and along the Hills, and beyond the Harvey. Here is work for the Bishop. Every year’s Almanack states that the Fremantle Chaplain visits the Murray once a month. False. Barry has never been there – and cannot leave his post, where he has already more than one man can get well thro’.

Sunday, 24th

This, and the next day, the hottest this summer. I never before felt anything like it. Whole body in a bath. Divine service once – at 11 – 50 people present, 5 baptisms, 3 churchings – but only 5 Communicants. People very attentive, but I fear, very ignorant of the truths of their religion, and of their personal concern for them. No school here. Returned with Murray in gig to Mandurah.
Tuesday, 26th

To Australind – dreadful road – tho’ cut out wide and straight. Warm and friendly reception.

February 1842

I arrived at the head of our estuary at about 10 o’clock a.m., there I bathed and made my toilet. I got some lunch at Australind, for which place I had letters and reached home in the afternoon: thank God, safe and well, but very tired. I had been absent 19 days, and had ridden as well as I could computate, 275 miles altogether.

The country through which I passed was characterised by a repetition of great sameness. The soil, except near rivers, very poor, sandy and worthless. Many of the plains abound in beautiful and elegant flowering shrubs, sometimes covered with unsightly grass-trees, sometimes of great extent, the soil barren sand, on which grew a few stunted trees and low scrub, but for the most part producing only coarse grass, very scanty, withered and nearly parched up.

The view on such occasions was cheerless, depressing and almost awful, not a living creature to be seen. The sky glowing with a misty fervent heat, and the deep silence unbroken by the slightest sounds.

During the whole journey, backwards and forwards, the only wild animals seen were two kangaroos and a native dog. The latter was about the size of an English lurcher and very like one of a tawny colour. He crossed us at about 40 yards, on seeing us trotted slowly off and was soon lost in the bush.

At this time of the year all the swamps are dry, or nearly so and easily passed, as are also the mouths of rivers which disembogue into estuaries (the peculiar feature of the country) by taking the sand bar which for the most part is now above water, dry and firm.

The scenery of West Australia is very peculiar, such as can hardly be described so as to give a just idea of it. It is very bold, I am told, to the southward. Major Irwin assures me that in taking a new line from King George’s Sound across the country at the head of the Blackwood River, he and his companions met with grand and beautiful scenery, fresh and verdant, with no marks of fire upon the trees.

In that which I have seen, generally speaking, the absence of animal life, the want of verdure and the terrible effects of fire render it melancholy and distressing. It did not experience that effect upon the mind which is caused by the magnificence and sublimity of nature, yet, notwithstanding, I must own I felt the truth of the lines –
“Midst forest shades, and silent plains,
 Where man has never trod;
There in majestic power He reigns,
The ever-present God!”

Wednesday, 16th February, 1842

The people here have no idea whatever of observing Lent, or attending Service on Ash Wednesday. Is it not the same in the Mother Country, taking into account the population? How then can her migrating sons be expected to think about it? I had no service beyond introducing the Collect into our family prayers. As to fasting, our diet is too poor and scanty to render it necessary. Rice, a boiled onion and a bit of bread occasionally makes my dinner.

A colonial life is a very hard one to persons like ourselves.

Monday, 28th February 1842

At last I have received a letter from the Local Government promising, as soon as my Chapel is erected, I shall be allowed 100 pounds a year. Thank God for this. So now I must endeavour to raise the building as soon as possible. My neighbours are very liberal in assisting me all they can, but much labour and expense must fall to my share. It is however, to God’s Glory and the benefit of His Church and will secure me some income. The plan is considered a neat one, devised by myself, cruciform in shape and shall be accurately described when, please God, it is erected.
Monday, 13th June, 1842

My Church is going on slowly. I get no assistance in labour which was promised me. Must persevere alone. Church principles not understood in this country yet people are jealous of the name of Churchman.

Friday, 26th August, 1842

I have now, thank God, finished thatching my Church which is done in a very superior manner. I now hope to open it in a fortnight. My quondam parishioner has deservedly obtained great credit for his work. We must now get in our maize crop, for all our own work has been suspended for some time, except when we could do a little by snatches.

Thursday, 15th September, 1842

I have issued notice for the opening of my Church next Sunday. The plastering is done and white-washing nearly so. William and I are busy contriving the windows with calico. The natives are getting very troublesome again, by their quarrels among themselves.

Tuesday, 20th September, 1842
On Sunday last, the 18th instant, occurred the most important event of my life, the opening of my new Church; the first testimony for God and his Christ erected in this district. Blessed be His Holy Name that I and others have been made instruments in bringing this good work to a conclusion and to Him be all the glory! I have described the plan of the Church before. The elevation of it quite justifies my anticipations. It is a neat and ecclesiastical building and everyone is pleased with it. Excellent effect is produced by a contrivance in the temporary windows, which are made of calico, prepared with oil and turpentine and painted with cross stripes in imitation of Quarries. The extact dimensions of these windows I shall send home with direction, in the hope that some kind friend of the Church will send them out in glass and leaded.  Such work is not to be procured in the whole colony. I have received word from Perth that nothing of the kind could be made. And square wooden sashes would spoil the whole. When the desk, seats and altar table are finished and a cement floor laid down (which we are going to do ourselves) the effect will be striking, but I must postpone further description to relate the proceedings of the long-looked-for, important day of opening, the crowning reward for all our labour.

The meeting was fixed at 11 for 12 – this was to give time for the gathering of the settlers from a distance, as well as to have the shorter service. I omitted to have the numbers counted, but about 100 I am told assembled. Mr Clifton and his family (not Mrs Clifton) and others from Australind, the Vasse and Bunbury, I had erected a temporary desk on a platform with a table. I began, “Let us pray” and the Collect, “Prevent us, O Lord” etc. and then I spoke as follows:

“My dear brethren, before I proceed to the services of the day, allow me to say a few words explanatory of the circumstances connected with the erection of this Church.

“In every point of view we ought to think it a privilege, for which we cannot be too thankful, that we have been permitted to raise the first House of God in this district and are assembled together this day for the first time, to offer up to Him therein our united prayers and praises.

“Amidst many disappointments and delays, it has been a great comfort and encouragement to me to have met with those who have readily lent their aid to this good work and I take this opportunity of publicly thanking them, in my own name and in the name of the Church at large, for their kind assistance. My thanks are due not only to the friends of the Church in this district, but also to those in the district of the Vasse, who have voluntarily come forward in the handsomest manner to assist in this undertaking. I beg therefore that they also will receive my grateful acknowledgements. Yet, for whatever we have jointly accomplished, or may hereafter accomplish in the cause of the Church of Christ, let us be mindful to give all the glory to God, to whom alone it is due. No merit can attach to ourselves, for after all we can do for Him, we are but unprofitable servants.”
Sunday, 3rd July, 1843
Thank God, had a good congregation this morning, but long sadly for my church and bell to summon the people. No one ever knows what’s o’clock except by looking at the sun. All watches are out of order and no watchmaker in the colony.

Friday, 7th July, 1843
Teddy has sent me a note saying the Water Witch is arriving from the Swan and that she brings word the Champion is in from Van Diemen’s Land. This latter has brought me a printed letter from the Bishop, one for John also telling him his goods will be forwarded from Melbourne the first opportunity. The Bishop’s is a circular to his clergy containing his protest against the encroachment of the Roman Catholic Bishop upon his Diocese of Australia and requesting the support and co-operation of all his clergy and desiring them to read this Protest in Church, i.e., during Diving Service, after the Nicene Creed.

I shall, of course, most heartedly comply with my Diocesan’s wishes, but things must be getting serious at Sydney to require this.  I admire Bishop Broughton’s spirit, emanating as it does from so much purity of motive and love of truth. “It is my desire”, he says, “that nothing be done by us of strife and vain glory: nothing with the design of wantonly provoking controversy, or for the mere purpose of magnifying our own pretentions.” … “While we express without disguise our views of Christian Truth”. As His Lordship has not answered my last private letter, I conclude he had not yet received it. The circular is dated “Sydney, The Festival of the Annunciation, 25th March, 1843.” There are several Roman Catholics here and a Popish Priest has been long talked of a likely to arrive at the Swan. So that this Protest will be very seasonable. I get rather impatient to meet my brother clergy for one or two of them are sadly behindhand in watching the signs of the times.

All this comes of our having lost sight of the Church’s primitive model and in proportion as we get back to I, or the contrary, so will be the stability and efficiency of our reformed branch in whatever part of the world she is planted. The whole system of the Evangelical party has a tendency to break up that model, to depreciate Episcopacy and the Sacraments. The Papists see this and are taking advantage of it. It is they and not the Puseyites who are helping the cause of Rome. Before the Evangelicals arose, the Church indeed, both outwardly and inwardly, was miserably denuded, but they have in one respect, run into the opposite extreme and in the contemplation of the invisible lost sight of the visible Church! I do not mean to say that the Party in question are aware of the tendency of their proceedings and of the weakening effect of the division they cause among those who ought to strive for the Church’s integrity as one man. I give them credit for the purest motives, but they entertain mistaken views of a militant Church. I foresee I shall have to encounter some contradiction, but I shall, God helping me, persevere quietly and steadily in that path which I believe to be right; as being the nearest to that pursued in the primitive Church and which the clerical experience of my whole life, cast as it has been during eventful and troublous times, in which “agitation” has been rife in our Zion, confirms.

Inscription on tablet in St John’s Church, Albany
to the memory of
Archdeacon Wollaston
who died May 3rd, 1856,
aged 65 years.

This tablet is erected by his congregation in grateful remembrance of his zeal in promoting the temporal interests of this church, and by his earnest solicitude for the spiritual welfare of his people.