Samuel Marsden: A Contested Life

By Matthew Allen


Reverend Samuel Marsden, Missionary, St. John's Cemetery Project, Old Parramattans, St. John's Cemetery, Parramatta, Principal Chaplain Colony of New South Wales
Portrait of Reverend Samuel Marsden, 1833. Watercolour, possibly by Richard Read Junior. ML 29 / FL1119855. Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

Samuel Marsden, Principal Chaplain of New South Wales, and as his gravestone reminds us, ‘Minister of St. Johns [sic] Church Parramatta for nearly half a century,’ was a leading figure in the life and politics of the colony from his arrival in 1793 to his death in 1838.[1] But his reputation during and since that time has been violently contested. Celebrating his centenary in 1938, the Windsor and Richmond Gazette eulogised him as:

Samuel Marsden Debunked, 1938, St. John's Cemetery Project, Old Parramattans, St. John's Cemetery, Parramatta
Extract from “Samuel Marsden Debunked,” Smith’s Weekly (Sydney, NSW : 1919 – 1950), Saturday 23 April 1938, p. 12. Courtesy of National Library of Australia.

a man whose memory has since come to be revered and honored [sic] by all members of the Anglican faith in Australia and New Zealand, a man whose work exercised a great influence on the spiritual and social development of these two countries, and whose private life was characterised by simplicity, kindness and liberality.[2]

In stark contrast that same year Smith’s Weekly sought to remind its readers that ‘in the opinion of many authorities even of his own time, Marsden was as cruel and venal as he was “great and good,”’ stressing that ‘he was a confirmed flogger.’[3] The essential features of this divergence were developed during the 1810s when Marsden became both the leading opponent of Governor Lachlan Macquarie and a Christian celebrity as founder of the mission to the Māori. For his supporters, then and since, he was a moral and saintly evangelical pioneer; for his enemies, a greedy and hypocritical flogging-parson. Between these two conflicting visions the real Samuel Marsden has almost disappeared.[4]

This essay seeks to explain how Marsden’s contested reputation developed over time by exploring the key controversies and judgements which contributed to it, both during his life and since his death. Marsden lived an extraordinarily full life and, given his familiarity to colonial historians, professional and amateur, and the accessibility of an excellent online biography, I will not pretend to offer a comprehensive narrative.[5] I am less concerned with the events of Marsden’s life than I am with the way he has been perceived, talked about, written-up and remembered. This approach allows us to see how extensively Marsden’s reputation is shaped by anachronism—judging his actions by standards that did not exist when he acted—and will demonstrate that Marsden is a more complex and interesting figure than either of the dominant visions will allow.[6]

Formative Years in England (1765–1793)

Marsden was born on 24 June 1765 at Farsley, Yorkshire, into an artisan family.[7] His parents died before he came of age, but Marsden had the talent and good fortune to attract the attention of the Elland Society—an evangelical charity which sponsored the religious education of poorer boys. He was sponsored to attend Hull Grammar in 1788 and subsequently sent to Magdalene College, Cambridge, as a sizar (a student servant), in 1790.

Reverend Samuel Marsden, Magdalene College, Cambridge University, Magdalen College, Old Parramattans, Parramatta, Colony of New South Wales, Principal Chaplain of New South Wales, St John's Cemetery Project
A portrait of Samuel Marsden during his time at Magdalene College, Cambridge University (1790–1792). Government Printing Office 1 – 14015 / FL1792064, State Library of New South Wales.

Before he could graduate he was persuaded to accept a position as the second chaplain of New South Wales, ordained without a degree, and with his new wife, Elizabeth, departed England, arriving in Sydney in March 1794.[8] As Andrew Sharp argues, Marsden’s connections to this evangelical network were crucial to his career and explain both his theology and his broader political thought which combined a ‘commitment to order and authority’ with concern to combat vice and spread the faith.[9] Just as importantly, it framed the way he was judged by others, because the evangelical movement inspired considerable resentment from more traditional clergy, and an increasingly secular society. Those who seek to chastise the conduct of others will often find their own conduct subject to heightened scrutiny, as Marsden would soon experience.

Before Macquarie: The Trusted Advisor (1793–1810)

On his arrival in New South Wales Marsden found himself with unprecedented privileges within a radically different society from any he had experienced. As one of two clergymen in the colony he was not merely responsible for promoting religion and morality but a significant figure in the colonial administration. The official neglect of religion in this period, manifested in the failure to build churches, should not disguise Marsden’s active efforts to promote the faith, or the importance of the Church to the system of government.[10] Marsden preached regularly and powerfully, lobbied effectively for greater support for the Church, and constantly stressed ‘the many solid advantages that must be necessarily derived to this Colony, from a proper observance of the duties of Christianity, and a religious worship.’[11]

St. John's Parsonage, Parramatta, St. John's Rectory, The Cedars, Reverend Samuel Marsden, St. John's Cemetery Project, Old Parramattans, Francis Greenway
Isabel Mary Flockton, “Rev. Samuel Marsden’s Parsonage at St. John’s Parramatta, c. 1860,” from a drawing by Edmund Thomas, (1909), V1B / Parr / 13 / FL3272845, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales. St. John’s parsonage, also known as St. John’s Rectory and “The Cedars,” was the first major work of ex-convict and Colonial Architect Francis Greenway, who went on to design the Parramatta Female Factory and Hyde Park Barracks among other well known public works. The foundation stone of the parsonage was laid in 1816 by Miss Martha Marsden, daughter of Rev. Marsden and his wife Elizabeth. The parsonage, unfortunately, is no longer extant, as it was demolished in 1908, much to the chagrin of community members.

Marsden was also active outside of his official religious responsibilities in promoting the nascent colonial mission in New South Wales and beyond. He rapidly came to assume authority over the various South Sea missionaries, both formally as agent for the London Missionary Society and informally as the social hub of a growing network of evangelicals, centred on the parsonage at Parramatta.[12] In New South Wales itself, Marsden helped organise unofficial preaching and the first local schools, and was initially interested in efforts to assist and convert Aboriginal People.[13] However, as Meredith Lake has persuasively argued, Marsden’s experience with Tristan—a kidnapped indigenous (probably Dharug) boy who was raised as a servant by the Marsdens, but rejected his training as an adult and returned to the bush—may explain his growing disinterest in the Aboriginal mission.[14] Marsden consistently supported the expansion of the pastoral frontier and the use of military force to suppress Aboriginal resistance, and he came to regard Aboriginal People as irredeemable because they ‘put no value upon the comforts of Civil Life … cannot be induced to form any industrious habits … have no regular government, no Chiefs [and] no subordination.’[15] Even during his lifetime these views were criticised by local missionaries, notably Lancelot Threlkeld, and in more recent times they have contributed to the critique of Marsden as a hypocrite and bigot.[16]

Beyond his religious duties, Marsden was constantly involved in public affairs. After the departure of Reverend Johnson in 1800 he became the de facto—and from 1810 de jure—principal clergyman, head of the Church ‘by law established,’ and as such the third highest ranking official in the colony.[17] He was responsible for most social services, including all public education and, notably, the recording and aggregation of births, deaths and marriages. He was also the State’s chief propagandist through his Sabbath sermons—the leading role at the largest regular social gathering in the colony.[18] Marsden was regularly tasked with inquiring into and reporting on colonial problems under Governors Hunter, King and Bligh, each of whom relied on him as one of the few trustworthy officials who were not explicitly tied to the rival power base of the New South Wales Corps.[19] He was also increasingly successful as a farmer and came to have strong views on the importance of agriculture and pastoralism to the progress of the colony. He played a significant role in the origins of the Australian wool industry, both as an innovative breeder and, from the 1820s, through the Royal Agricultural Society. Yet his growing landholdings and wealth attracted resentment and were increasingly seen as inappropriate for a clergyman and evidence of his corruption.[20]

In addition, Marsden was swiftly appointed a magistrate (from 1795–1807, then again from 1812–1818 and 1822–1825), sitting in judgement over convicts at Parramatta. In hindsight it seems incongruous that a clergyman could order floggings, but during the period when Marsden served on the bench corporal punishment was widely viewed as necessary and clerical magistrates were relatively common.[21] One episode of his early magistracy—his role in torturing a suspected Irish rebel, Patrick Galvin, in 1800—has subsequently assumed particular importance for his reputation for brutality. To avoid anachronism we need to recall the context: Marsden’s use of investigatory torture was motivated by justified fears of an Irish convict uprising, in a period when Britain was at war and Ireland in rebellion. This is clarified by the fact that when Marsden reported on his inquiries to Governor Hunter and the Home Secretary, the torture passed without comment.[22] His conduct only became contentious in the 1820s in a very different context. However, it is also evidence of Marsden’s persistent sectarian hatred and distrust of Catholics, which would shape their own hostile recollection of him.[23]

These public responsibilities became a significant cause of controversy for Marsden and he initially expressed his own doubts about whether they were ‘compatible’ with his position as a clergyman. On first assuming the role of magistrate he justified his acceptance by stressing the lack of qualified alternatives, and argued that given the ‘distraction and confusion’ of the colony, his position offered an important opportunity to ‘bring … the inhabitants of this settlement under some proper government and subordination.’[24] He came to embrace his increased powers, seeing them as complementary to his spiritual responsibilities, a view that broadly aligned with at least one strand of evangelical theology which embraced the Church as an arm of government and was committed to order and authority. Marsden consistently preached that men ‘should be subject to principalities and powers and obey … magistrates,’ and that government and its representatives were ‘benefactors [from] God … [whose office was] to do all in their power for the suppression of iniquity.’[25] But his influence and active involvement in public affairs increasingly drew him into conflict with the officers and particularly the influential John Macarthur.

Marsden arrived in New South Wales during the brief period of military rule that followed the departure of Governor Phillip and was swiftly drawn into the ongoing rivalry between the military and civil authorities. At Governor Hunter’s request he subsequently recalled ‘the immorality of this colony prior to [Hunter’s] arrival,’ which he attributed to the officers’ ‘neglect of public worship’ and the ‘disrespect shown to the sacred office of a clergyman.’[26] Over time, he became increasingly, if somewhat reluctantly, involved in supporting the Governors and opposing the influence of the military.[27] By the time this rivalry culminated in the ‘Rum Rebellion’ of 1808, Marsden was in England where he was seen by Macarthur as a dangerous opponent who was:

propagating the most diabolical falsehoods for the purpose of creating favourable opinions of the virtues of his friend Bligh and his party; whilst, on the other hand, he has blackened the character of myself and the opponents of Bligh by the most scandalous reports.[28]

Leaving aside the merits of the rebellion, Marsden’s perceived partisanship was a significant factor in the emergence of a hostile vision of his character.[29] For the military and their allies, Marsden’s piety was a sham that concealed his venal pursuit of power and wealth and these claims would become a persistent feature of the hostile tradition.[30] Even beyond these overtly political enemies, though, Marsden’s public roles attracted criticism. Joseph Holt, no friend to the rebels, recalled him as a ‘busy meddling man, of shallow understanding,’ while the missionary Rev. William Crook feared that ‘his large concerns in the world limit [his] usefulness.’[31]

Reverend Samuel Marsden, Parramatta, Parsonage, St. John's Church, Old Parramattans, St. John's Cemetery, St. John's Cemetery Project
Edward Mason, “The Rev.d Mr. Marsden’s, Parramatta,” in Edward Mason, Views of Sydney and Surrounding District, (c.1821–1823; 1892), PXC 459 / FL1130954, State Library of New South Wales.

At the same time, Marsden was more commonly viewed as a leader among the growing evangelical community. The missionary preacher, Rowland Hassall, described him as ‘very kind’ and praised his ‘unweared [sic] zeal’ and ‘diligence’ in his public and religious activities.[32] This view of Marsden was popularised during his visit to England between 1807 and 1810 to promote the needs of the colonial Church. He lobbied the government for more clergy and better financial support, stressing that widespread ‘depravity and vice’ could only be solved by inculcating ‘virtue, industry, and loyalty’ through ‘[w]ise political arrangements, good example, and Christian knowledge.’[33] He was also active in promoting the cause of the South Sea mission and in doing so was held up in evangelical circles as an example of Christian virtues.[34] It was at this time that a famous story was first propagated, which claimed Marsden was in the midst of delivering a Sabbath sermon when the ship that was to take him to New South Wales departed from Hull. According to this account, Marsden was warned by the signal gun and rushed down to the beach with the congregation around him to set out on his evangelising mission to the penal colony and the ‘savages’ of the South Seas. The story thus captures what a fellow Evangelical described as:

a character that seems expressly formed by Providence to produce a most beneficial change throughout not only the limited tract of New South Wales, but the vast extent of Australasia; to Christianize and civilize the barbarians that constitute its original inhabitants; and to re-Christianize and re-civilize the hordes of wretched culprits that are vomited by our prison-ships upon its shores [sic].[35]

Unfortunately for Marden’s reputation, many of his contemporaries in New South Wales did not agree.

The Macquarie Era: Conflict and Slander (1810–1821)

On his return to the colony, now under the command of Governor Macquarie, Marsden was gradually sidelined from official power, but grew in importance as the symbolic leader of the colonial opposition. His feud with Macquarie was personal as much as ideological. As Sharp persuasively argues, both men had relatively similar visions of New South Wales as a moral, orderly and hierarchical society, controlled by an official Church and a strong police.[36] Yet their minor differences—largely concerned with the relative authority of the Governor and principal clergyman—were magnified out of all proportion by a colonial honour code under which public men stood on their dignity.[37]

Given their shared concern for improving morality and order through stricter controls over convict behaviour, Marsden was initially on relatively good terms with Macquarie. But one early conflict set the grounds for the subsequent feud when Marsden refused to serve on the board of the new Turnpike road because he would be required to publicly associate with two emancipists, Simeon Lord and Andrew Thompson, ‘[n]either [of whom] had reformed.’[38] Macquarie was infuriated by Marsden’s decision, as it aligned Marsden with the politics of social exclusivity practiced by non-emancipist members of the colonial elite, although his anger only simmered for the next few years.[39] Marsden was officially recognised as Principal Chaplain, and reappointed to the magistracy in 1812 on the understanding that he would ‘be at full Liberty to act upon my own Principle,’ and his authority over the policing of Parramatta and the religious governance of the Colony were acknowledged.[40] However, the turnpike controversy established a dangerous precedent as the first explicit example of what would become Marsden’s general practice: reporting his political grievances to influential British politicians—a habit which further embittered Macquarie.[41]

Major General Lachlan Macquarie, Fifth Governor of New South Wales, St. John's Cemetery Project, Old Parramattans, St. John's Cemetery, Parramatta
Portrait of Lachlan Macquarie, c.1819. “Gen. Macquarie,” in Set of Eight Miniatures of Governor Macquarie and his Family. c.1800–1820s, P*92 / FL1091946, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

The feud became more overt in 1814 in relation to a series of closely related disputes. One concerned a library of improving books Marsden had collected in England for the benefit of the colony but never made publicly available. He was anonymously criticised for this in the colony’s only newspaper and privately suspected that Macquarie’s secretary, J. T. Campbell was responsible.[42] Although the paper was published under official sanction, Macquarie refused to reveal the name of the author, leading Marsden to complain that: ‘The smallest act that tends to lessen the respect due to the sacred situation of the clergy and that of the magistrates tends in a tenfold degree to increase the idleness and insubordination of the lower class and to clog the wheels of Government.’[43] This was followed by a series of escalating struggles over the use of psalms and the reading of official orders during the Sabbath Church service.[44] Macquarie framed Marsden’s resistance as connected to a dangerous evangelical unorthodoxy, describing him as ‘originally of low Rank, and not qualified by liberal Educations in the Usual Way [sic] for the Sacred Functions entrusted to [him], and … also much tinctured with Methodistical and other Sectarian Principles.’[45] For Marsden, these were public insults to his religious authority.

In Macquarie’s view Marsden reciprocated by publicly challenging his authority as Governor, perhaps especially in a public letter of July 1815 on the dreadful state of ‘public morals and police’ in Parramatta. Marsden argued this was largely due to inadequate provision of convict accommodation, which forced convicts to resort to crime to support themselves—the men to theft and the women to prostitution:

As their minister, I must account, ere long, at the bar of Divine Justice, for my duty to these objects of vice and woe … [and] I am fully persuaded, that no relief will ever be found for either, so long as the male and female convicts are necessitated to provide lodgings for themselves, and at liberty to spend their nights in scenes of prostitution, robberies, and other vices, such as their corrupt inclinations or necessities may suggest. […][46]

Macquarie rightly perceived this as a direct challenge to the priorities of his government; especially since Marsden immediately sent the letter to his British patrons who used it in parliament to attack Macquarie’s apparent mismanagement of the colony.[47]

Macquarie and Marsden also differed in their philanthropic priorities with Marsden largely uninvolved in the Governors’ Native Institution, and advocating a focus on missionary outreach in the South Seas and especially Aotearoa (New Zealand). As agent to the London Missionary Society, Marsden was drawn into the controversy over the trading of both spirits and guns by missionaries in Tahiti. A provocative letter by ‘Philo Free’—again published in the Gazette, and in this case definitively authored by Campbell—described Marsden as ‘the Christian Mahomet,’ implied that he was implicated in these corrupt practices, and claimed that this explained his relative disinterest in the mission to the Aboriginal People.[48] Marsden demanded that the government prosecute the letter-writer for libelling a senior official, and when Macquarie merely issued a public statement denying that the letter had his sanction, Marsden initiated and won the first private libel case in the colony.[49]

Philo Free Trial, Sydney 1817, Edward Charles Close, Rev. Samuel Marsden, Colonial Secretary John Campbell, Judge-Advocate John Wylde, Frederick Garling, William Moore, George Allen, George Crossley, Old Parramattans, St. John's Cemetery Project, St. John's Cemetery, Parramatta
The ‘Philo Free’ trial took place in Sydney in 1817 and was the first libel case heard in the colony. In this matter, Rev. Samuel Marsden accused Colonial Secretary John Campbell of libeling him through a letter published in the Sydney Gazette which suggested that, under the aegis of the Missionary Society, the ‘Christian Mahomet’ had operated as a gun-runner and moonshiner in the Pacific islands; includes caricatures of several notable figures including Marsden at the right, the defendant Campbell on the left and possibly Judge-Advocate John Wylde behind him, as well as the lawyers Frederick Garling, William Moore, George Allen and George Crossley. Edward Charles Close, Sketchbook of New South Wales Views, (c. 1817), SAFE / PXA 1187 / FL3271535, State Library of New South Wales.

Marsden was more actively involved in the mission to Aotearoa (New Zealand); indeed he has long been regarded as the founder of the faith there. Following the Boyd Massacre of 1809 in which up to 70 European sailors were killed and eaten at Whangaroa as a form of customary revenge or utu, Marsden was a key advocate of a revisionist view of the Māori, alleging that they were driven to seek revenge by the ‘wanton violence and cruelty’ of unregulated European whaling crews.[50] Marsden founded the Philanthropic Society and, largely using his own funds, purchased the brig Active to service the South Sea mission, sailing to Aotearoa (New Zealand) with the first missionaries in 1814, the first of seven voyages he would take there.

Reverend Samuel Marsden Landing, Bay of Islands, 1814. Ipipiri, Landing, Whangaroa, Aotearoa, New Zealand, missionary, Christianity, St. John's Cemetery Project, Old Parramattans
Though this supposedly depicts Marsden’s landing at Ipipiri (Pēwhairangi / the Bay of Islands) on 19 December 1814, that did not occur until 22 December, so this more likely depicts the arrival at Whangaroa. The men in hats probably depict Thomas Kendall and William Hall. Artist unknown, Landing of Samuel Marsden at Bay of Islands, Dec. 19th, 1814. (Engraving, 1913). Ref: PUBL-0158-76. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

While the missionaries struggled to win converts to Christ, Marsden was remarkably successful at establishing diplomatic relations with Māori leaders like Ruatara, Te Morenga and Hongi Hika.[51] Importantly for his reputation, Marsden kept a public journal on each of his voyages which he sent to England for the Church Missionary Society to publish, helping to secure his reputation as a Christian celebrity. Describing the flying of the British flag and his delivery of the first sermon on Aotearoa (New Zealand) soil, at Rangihoua on Christmas Day 1814, Marsden reported that he ‘considered it the signal for the dawn of civilisation, liberty, and religion in that dark and benighted land.’[52]

From the outset of the Philo Free affair, the feud between principal clergyman and Governor was public and increasingly rancorous. Marsden’s public letter of 1815 had become a key piece of evidence in a series of British inquiries into the colony that would culminate in the appointment of Commissioner Bigge in 1819, and he was intimately involved in a series of colonial scandals, each reported to Britain and increasing the pressure on the Governor.[53] Macquarie responded by writing to his superiors, describing Marsden as ‘the Head of [a] List of Malcontents’ and accusing him of excessive severity in his sentencing as a magistrate, the first appearance of a charge that would haunt Marsden’s legacy.[54] He followed this by ordering Marsden into his presence where, in front of official witnesses, he called him ‘the Head of a Seditious low Cabal’ who was ‘consequently unworthy of mixing in Private Society or intercourse with me’ and subsequently dismissed him from the magistracy.[55]

In this fraught context, Bigge’s inquiries focused intensively on the feud and he heard from numerous witnesses, recording their hostile views of Marsden in detail.[56] Just as importantly, Marsden’s prominence as a critic of the Governor inexorably politicised his reputation and became a talking point for subsequent writers.[57] Supporters and eulogists of Macquarie (and there have been many) have almost inevitably been forced to take a hostile view of Marsden and have found plenty of material in the wealth of evidence Bigge recorded. Thus, for example, the emancipist merchant Edward Eagar responded to Bigge’s report in a public letter of 1822 with what might be the definitive statement of the case against Marsden:

[A] man descended from the lowest ranks of life … of a narrow Inferior education, of coarse vulgar habits and manners … [I]n New South Wales, where his Character and conduct is under continual observation and best known, he has not been considered either as a pious Laborious Clergyman, an honest impartial Magistrate, a kind Master or as a good Humane man, on the contrary, it is well known, that there is no Man in the Colony more engaged in, or more active in the pursuit of secular concerns, from the occupations of agriculture to the smuggling and Sale of Spiritious [sic] Liquors …[58]

After Macquarie: Marsden’s Reputation (1821–38 and after)

Even after Macquarie’s departure from the colony, Marsden continued to be haunted by the controversies of that tumultuous decade, at least in part because he could not bear to let them go. Building on Eagar’s character assassination, William Wentworth’s history of the colony described Marsden as a hypocrite and self-publicist who, despite the praise he had won in British evangelical circles, was widely despised in New South Wales.[59] Macquarie also resumed his attack on Marsden in a published response to his British critics, and Marsden could not resist responding in kind.[60] However justified he may have been, this insistence on clearing his name largely backfired, drawing further attention to the views of his critics.

Dr. Henry Grattan Douglass, Assistant Surgeon 18th Regiment of Foot, 1810, St. John's Cemetery Project, Old Parramattans
Portrait of Dr Henry Grattan Douglass, M.D., M.L.C., 1790–1865, Assistant Surgeon, 18th Regt. of Foot [miniature portrait, ca. 1810], MIN 384 / FL3141031, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.
Exacerbating this problem, Marsden became embroiled in a further colonial controversy when he clashed with the newly arrived doctor and magistrate Henry Grattan Douglass. Douglass was accused of impropriety with a young female convict servant, Ann Rumsby, and Marsden became involved in a highly politicised investigation of these claims which, following a familiar colonial pattern, soon spiralled into a series of suits and countersuits, public letters and eventually an official inquiry into the practices of the Parramatta bench, which was found to have occasionally ordered floggings in order to extract a confession.[61] Marsden again felt the need to defend his reputation both in New South Wales and Britain, but his attempt to exonerate himself also publicised his longstanding involvement in the brutal disciplinary system of the colony, including his role in the long-forgotten torture of Galvin in 1800.[62] As I have argued, the timing of this scandal, during a decade when humanitarian and utilitarian criticisms of corporal punishment were increasingly influential, made Marsden’s conduct controversial in ways that it never had been, and largely sealed his reputation as the ‘flogging parson.’[63]

As part of this scandal Marsden was relieved of his role as a magistrate and his public influence was also reduced by the appointment of the first colonial Archdeacon, Thomas Hobbes Scott, in 1824, relegating him in the hierarchy of the colonial Church. However, he retained his social role as the patriarch of colonial evangelicals. By influence, patronage and marriage, he and his family were intimately connected to the rise of what Michael Roe has referred to as moral enlightenment—the growing social significance of the respectable, humanitarian middle class.[64] Marsden also remained actively involved in philanthropic and missionary work, with regular visits to Aotearoa (New Zealand), his appointment as head of the Female Factory and responsibilities for the expanded Orphan Schools. Even as his health declined from 1835, he remained a well-known figure in Parramatta, celebrated by evangelicals, and his funeral in 1838 was widely attended. But he retained a controversial reputation as his only published obituary illustrates, praising ‘a man of great benevolence of heart, and of unfeigned and open-handed liberality’ whilst nevertheless stressing his ‘many [and] bitter enemies.’[65]

Such ambivalence has characterised much of the historical memory of Marsden, even among those inclined to praise him. Writing in the 1850s, John West noted:

Nothing can be more opposite than the estimates of his character, given by the partisans of the emancipists, and those furnished by his ecclesiastical associates. Soured by the vices rampant around him, and perhaps deteriorated by the administration of justice, when it was hard to distinguish the magistrate from the executioner, he does not always appear to have merited the unmeasured eulogies of his friends … The servant, charged with a misdemeanour, he flogged; who then took to the bush, and re-appearing, charged with a capital crime, was hanged; and the magisterial divine attended him on the scaffold.[66]

William Woolls, A Short Account of the Character and Labours of the Rev Samuel Marsden, Old Parramattans, St. John's Cemetery Project, St. John's Cemetery, Parramatta
Title page of Reverend William Woolls, A Short Account of the Character and Labours of The Rev Samuel Marsden, (Parramatta: B. Isaacs, 1884), CC BY-SA 4.0, © National Museum of Australia.

A more overtly critical view seems to have existed as an oral tradition among Irish convicts and their descendants, who remembered Marsden as the embodiment of sectarian bigotry and brutal punishments.[67] By the turn of the twentieth century, this tradition had made its way into print with Marsden as flogging parson widely cited as a symbol of an outdated convict past that modern democratic Australia recalled only to reject. In a typical example, the popular tabloid Truth celebrated the centenary of his arrival in New South Wales by recalling how ‘[w]ith surprising interchanges of rapidity he preached humanity from the pulpit, and bestowed floggings and imprisonments with a yawn from the Bench.’[68] This view of Marsden retains a strong hold on the popular imagination and consistently finds its way into popular accounts of convict New South Wales.[69] Equally a rival tradition among evangelical Protestants has consistently praised Marsden as a Christian pioneer and defended his reputation against his critics. Writing shortly after his death, William Woolls claimed that he ‘appears to have been raised up by Divine Providence for the Purpose of accomplishing a great moral revolution in the Southern Hemisphere,’ and argued that the more controversial aspects of his ministry are explained by the ‘peculiar circumstances’ of the early colony.[70] This tradition also persists into the present day and is undergoing a revival by contemporary evangelicals.[71]

Both of these traditions are inadequate understandings of a man as complex as Marsden. Rather than weigh them against each other, let us give the final word to Marsden himself. In June 1815, in the midst of his most turbulent decade in New South Wales, Marsden delivered a typical sermon on the text of Revelations 3:2.[72] He warned Christians to ‘be watchful against excessive worldly care … lest we ruin our souls by it [or] decline in religion thro mixing too much with worldly company [sic].’[73] This caution echoes with the controversies in which Marsden was then embroiled and which have haunted his reputation ever since. Marsden’s enemies and critics accused him of hypocrisy and venality, arguing that his success as a farmer and responsibilities as a magistrate—his own worldly cares—came at the expense of his pastoral duties. At the same time, Marsden’s own political campaign against Macquarie, centred on Macquarie’s policy of acknowledging emancipated convicts and allowing them to participate in society, a kind of mixing with worldly company that Marsden believed threatened social order and morals.

Even beyond this political resonance, Marsden’s sermon also warned of a sin that beset the colony and lay at the core of Marsden’s own contested reputation. He noted that men:

do not like to think how they are fallen nor can they bear to be told of their faults without being greatly offended and when they are reproved for any thing in their lives and conduct that is not according to godliness they are ready to palliate and excuse their faults and sins.[74]

This psychologically astute observation captures Marsden’s understanding of his critics as recalcitrant sinners whose misconduct stemmed from a failure to acknowledge his moral authority as the head of the colonial Church. But ironically, it may also apply to his own conduct, for much of the controversy that surrounds his life was a consequence of his own stubborn refusal to admit fault.

Reverend Samuel Marsden, grave, St. John's Cemetery, Parramatta, The Flogging Parson, Matthew Allen, Myth of the Flogging Parson, St. John's Cemetery Project, Old Parramattans
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. Samuel Marsden is buried in this vault, along with a number of others, in Section 1, Row U, No. 3, St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta. E. W. Searle, “Tomb of the Reverend Samuel Marsden, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, ca. 1935,” in E. W. Searle Collection of Photographs, PIC P838/903a LOC Cold store SEA Box 7, nla.obj-141920006, National Library of Australia.

CITE THIS

Matthew Allen, “Samuel Marsden: A Contested Life,” St. John’s Cemetery Project, (2020), https://stjohnscemeteryproject.org/bio/samuel-marsden, accessed [insert current date]


References

Primary Sources

  • Samuel Marsden, John Rawson Elder (ed.), The Letters and Journals of Samuel Marsden 1765–1838, (Dunedin: Coulls Somerville Wilkie, 1932).
  • Samuel Marsden, George Mackaness (ed.), Some Private Correspondence of the Rev. Samuel Marsden and Family, 1794–1824, (Dubbo, N.S.W: Review Publications, 1976).
  • Samuel Marsden, David Pettett (ed.), “Transcription of Samuel Marsden’s Sermons,” (Newtown, Sydney: Moore College, 2014), https://myrrh.library.moore.edu.au/handle/10248/5508, accessed 13 February 2020.

Secondary Sources


NOTES

[1] Marsden is buried in Section 1, Row U, No. 3. For the full transcription of the memorials in the Marsden family plot, which extends across Rows U, V, W, see: Judith Dunn, The Parramatta Cemeteries: St. John’s, (Parramatta, NSW: Parramatta and District Historical Society, 1991), p. 92.

[2]Archbishop Unveils Memorial at Old St. Matthew’s,” Windsor and Richmond Gazette (NSW : 1888 – 1961), Friday 22 July 1938, p. 1.

[3]Samuel Marsden Debunked,” Smith’s Weekly (Sydney, NSW : 1919 – 1950), Saturday 23 April 1938, p. 12.

[4] For an excellent summary of the way histories of Marsden are shaped by these visions see the historiographical appendix in: Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), pp. 768–77. For the ‘flogging parson’ tradition see my: Matthew Allen, “The Myth of the Flogging Parson: Samuel Marsden and Severity of Punishment in the Age of Reform,” Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 48, No. 4, (October 2017): 486–501, https://doi.org/10.1080/1031461X.2017.1377269. See also: David Pettett, “Marsden in the Hands of Australian Historians,” in Peter G. Bolt and Malcolm Falloon (eds.), Freedom to Libel? Samuel Marsden v Philo Free: Australia’s First Libel Case, (Epping, NSW: Bolt Publishing Services Pty. Ltd, 2017), pp. 36–46.

[5] Anyone interested in the basic facts should consult the Australian Dictionary of Biography or, for greater detail, the two most recent scholarly biographies, by A. T. Yarwood (originally 1977) and Andrew Sharp (2016): A. T. Yarwood, “Marsden, Samuel (1765–1838),” in Australian Dictionary of Biography, (Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 1967), http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/marsden-samuel-2433; A. T. Yarwood, Samuel Marsden: The Great Survivor, (Carlton, Vic: Melbourne University Press, 1996); Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016).

[6] This approach is broadly based on that taken by Sharp, whose biography seeks to avoid anachronistic judgement and understand Marsden “in his own terms.” Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), Intro., quotation on p. 7.

[7] Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), pp. 12–16; A. T. Yarwood, Samuel Marsden: The Great Survivor, (Carlton, Vic: Melbourne University Press, 1996), pp. 1–5. The ADB entry (also by Yarwood), “Marsden, Samuel (1765–1838),” in Australian Dictionary of Biography (Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 1967), http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/marsden-samuel-2433, wrongly claims that Thomas Marsden was a blacksmith; in fact Samuel may have worked in the smithy of his uncle, John.

[8] Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016),pp. 23–30; A. T. Yarwood, Samuel Marsden: The Great Survivor, (Carlton, Vic: Melbourne University Press, 1996), pp. 18–21.

[9] For evangelical belief in this period see Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), ch. 2–3, quotation p. 70; Stuart Piggin and Robert D. Linder, The Fountain of Public Prosperity: Evangelical Christians in Australian History 1740–1914, (Clayton, Victoria: Monash University Publishing, 2018), ch. 1.

[10] The first official Church (St. Phillip’s, later St. Philip’s in Sydney) was not completed until 1809. While St. John’s in Parramatta, where Marsden was based for most of his career, was completed in 1803, it was not finished internally until several years later. For an argument for the official neglect of religion see: Allan M. Grocott, Convicts, Clergymen and Churches: Attitudes of Convicts and Ex-Convicts Towards the Churches and Clergy in New South Wales from 1788 to 1851, (Sydney: Sydney University Press, 1980). For counter-arguments see: Hilary M. Carey, Believing in Australia: A Cultural History of Religions, (St. Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1997), ch. 1; Alison Vincent, “Clergymen and Convicts Revisited,” Journal of Australian Colonial History, Vol. 1, No. 1, (April 1999): 95–114; Brian Fletcher, “The Anglican Ascendancy, 1788–1835,” in Bruce Kaye (ed.), Anglicanism in Australia: A History, (Carlton South, Vic., Australia: Melbourne University Publishing, 2002), pp. 7–30.

[11]On Sunday last St. John’s Church, at Parramatta was opened…,” Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 – 1842), Sunday 17 April 1803, p. 3. This was the first service held in the then unfinished St. John’s, in Parramatta.

[12] Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), ch. 10; Joel Atwood, “‘So Important in Its Nature, so Difficult in Its Execution, and so doubtful in its result.’ The Mission to the South Seas from 1786 to 1830,” in Peter G. Bolt and Malcolm Falloon (eds.), Freedom to Libel? Samuel Marsden v Philo Free: Australia’s First Libel Case, (Epping, NSW: Bolt Publishing Services Pty. Ltd, 2017), pp. 36–46.

[13] See: Meredith Lake, (Ph.D. Thesis), “‘Such Spiritual Acres’: Protestantism, the Land and the Colonisation of Australia 1788– 1850” (Sydney: University of Sydney, 2008), http://hdl.handle.net/2123/3983, pp. 170–3; Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), pp. 274–5. Tristan’s rejection of his adoption reflects a common pattern in early New South Wales. See for example Daniel Mow-watty: “Court of Criminal Jurisdiction,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Saturday 28 September 1816, p. 1; Lisa Ford and Brent Salter, “From Pluralism to Territorial Sovereignty: The 1816 Trial of Mow-watty in the Superior Court of New South Wales,” Indigenous Law Journal, Vol. 7, Issue 1, (2008); Keith Vincent Smith, “Moowattin, Daniel (1791–1816),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/moowattin-daniel-13107/text23713, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed 15 March 2020.

[14] Meredith Lake, “Samuel Marsden, Work and the Limits of Evangelical Humanitarianism,” History Australia Vol. 7, No. 3 (2010): 57.1–57.23; A. T. Yarwood, Samuel Marsden: The Great Survivor, (Carlton, Vic: Melbourne University Press, 1996), pp. 112–3.

[15] Marsden to Scott, Dec. 1826, cited in Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), p. 634.

[16] On Threlkeld and Marsden see: Anna Johnston, The Paper War: Morality, Print Culture and Power in Colonial New South Wales, (Crawley, WA: UWA Publishing, 2011); Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), ch. 22.

[17] The relationship between Church and State in early New South Wales has been confused by the fact that there was never a formal establishment, and that, by the time establishment was seriously proposed (from the mid-1820s), it was politically contentious and eventually, explicitly rejected. However, through the vast majority of Marsden’s time in New South Wales, the Church of England “formed part of the apparatus of government” (Chavura et al. 2019). For more on this issue see: Joseph Border, Church and State in Australia, 1788–1872: A Constitutional Study of the Church of England in Australia, (London: S.P.C.K., 1962); John Gascoigne, The Enlightenment and the Origins of European Australia, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), ch. 2; Brian Fletcher, “The Anglican Ascendancy, 1788–1835,” in Bruce Kaye (ed.), Anglicanism in Australia: A History, (Carlton South, Vic., Australia: Melbourne University Publishing, 2002); Stephen A. Chavura, John Gascoigne, and Ian Tregenza, Reason, Religion, and the Australian Polity: A Secular State?, 1st edition, (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2019), ch. 2.

[18] For recordkeeping see for example: “Government and General Order,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Saturday 15 September 1810, p. 1; “Government and General Order, Government House, Sydney, Saturday, 15th September, 1810,” in F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales: Vol. VII.—Bligh and Macquarie, 1809, 1810, 1811, (Sydney: Government Printer, 1901), pp. 409–10. On education see for example: The Samuel Marsden, “The Rev. Samuel Marsden to Under-Secretary Cooke, Norfolk-street, Strand, 21 November 1807,” in F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales: Vol. VI.— King and Bligh, 1806, 1807, 1808, (Sydney: Government Printer, 1898), pp. 380–2. For sermons and their importance see: Matthew Allen, “The Politics of the Pew: Faith, Liberty, and Authority in a Sydney Church in 1828,” Journal of Religious History, Vol. 42, No. 1 (2016): 84–98 https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9809.12407; Joanna Cruickshank, “The Sermon in the British Colonies,” in Keith A. Francis et. al (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the British Sermon, 1689–1901, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 513–26; Meredith Lake, The Bible in Australia: A Cultural History, (Sydney, N.S.W: NewSouth, 2018), ch. 4; David Pettett, “The Sermons of Samuel Marsden: Evangelical Preaching in Early Colonial Australia,” St Mark’s Review, No. 230, (November 2014): 40–50.

[19] Hilary Golder, High and Responsible Office: A History of the NSW Magistracy, (Melbourne: Sydney University Press, 1991); Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), pp. 154–64. For examples of Marsden’s responsibilities see: his inquiry into the condition of the settlers: Samuel Marsden and Thomas Arndell, “Report of the Rev. Samuel Marsden and Assistant-Surgeon Arndell: General Remarks on the District of Parramatta, 2 March 1798,” in F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales: Vol. III.— Hunter, 1796–1799, (Sydney: Government Printer, 1895), pp. 367–375; his advice on sheep farming: Samuel Marsden, “Rev. Samuel Marsden to Governor King, Parramatta, 5 September 1805,” in Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia, Series I. Governors’ Despatches to and from England, Vol. V, July, 1804–August, 1806, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1915), pp. 563–5; his report on the Hawkesbury flood of 1806: Samuel Marsden, “Rev. Samuel Marsden to Governor King, Hawkesbury, 28 March 1806,” in F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales: Vol. VI.— King and Bligh, 1806, 1807, 1808, (Sydney: Government Printer, 1898), pp. 53–4; and the essays he wrote for Governor Bligh: Samuel Marsden, Essays Concerning New South Wales, 1807–18–, with List of Females in the Colony, (nd, c.1806), SAFE/MLMSS 18 (Safe 1/273), Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

[20] Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), pp. 154–6, 201–7; A. T. Yarwood, Samuel Marsden: The Great Survivor, (Carlton, Vic: Melbourne University Press, 1996), pp. 88–90, 236–8.

[21] Matthew Allen, “The Myth of the Flogging Parson: Samuel Marsden and Severity of Punishment in the Age of Reform,” Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 48, No. 4, (October 2017): 486–501, https://doi.org/10.1080/1031461X.2017.1377269.

[22] For the details see: “Memorandum of Suspected Persons, Parramatta, 30 September 1800,” in Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia, Series I. Governors’ Despatches to and from England, Vol. II. 1797–1800, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1914), pp. 638–9; Matthew Allen, “The Myth of the Flogging Parson: Samuel Marsden and Severity of Punishment in the Age of Reform,” Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 48, No. 4, (October 2017): 488–9, https://doi.org/10.1080/1031461X.2017.1377269; Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), pp. 239–56; A. T. Yarwood, Samuel Marsden: The Great Survivor, (Carlton, Vic: Melbourne University Press, 1996), pp. 79–80. For more on the context see: Anne-Maree Whitaker, Unfinished Revolution: United Irishmen in New South Wales, 1800–1810, (Darlinghurst, NSW: Crossing Press, 1994).

[23] For Marsden’s hostility to Catholics see for example: Samuel Marsden, “Samuel Marsden to Mrs. Stokes, 27 April 1803,” in Samuel Marsden, George Mackaness (ed.), Some Private Correspondence of the Rev. Samuel Marsden and Family, 1794–1824, (Dubbo, N.S.W: Review Publications, 1976); Samuel Marsden, “A few Observations on the Toleration of the Catholic Religion in N. South Wales,” 8–21, File Number: FL3181172–FL3181226, in Samuel Marsden, Essays Concerning New South Wales, 1807–18–, with List of Females in the Colony, (nd, c.1806), SAFE/MLMSS 18 (Safe 1/273), Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

[24] “Marsden to Rev. Atkinson, 16 September 1796”; “Marsden to Rev. Atkinson, 17 September 1796,” both in: Samuel Marsden, John Rawson Elder (ed.), The Letters and Journals of Samuel Marsden 1765–1838, (Dunedin: Coulls Somerville Wilkie, 1932).

[25] “Sermon 23” (no date) in Samuel Marsden, David Pettett (ed.), “Transcription of Samuel Marsden’s Sermons,” (Newtown, Sydney: Moore College, 2014), https://myrrh.library.moore.edu.au/handle/10248/5508, accessed 13 February 2020. This theme is repeated throughout his sermons which Pettett discusses more broadly in: David Pettett, (Ph.D Thesis), “Samuel Marsden, Blinkered Visionary: A Re-Examination of His Character and Circumstances through the Study of His Sermons,” (Macquarie Park, NSW: Macquarie University, 2016), http://hdl.handle.net/1959.14/1161751; David Pettett, Samuel Marsden: Preacher, Pastor, Magistrate & Missionary, (Sydney: Bolt Publishing, 2016). See also Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), chs. 2–3.

[26] Samuel Marsden, “Rev. S. Marsden to Governor Hunter, Parramatta, 11 August 1798,” in F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales: Vol. III.— Hunter, 1796–1799, (Sydney: Government Printer, 1895), pp. 439–42. Marsden consistently held this view as is clear from private letters written at the time. See for example: “Samuel Marsden to Mrs. Stokes, 26 October 1795,” in Samuel Marsden, George Mackaness (ed.), Some Private Correspondence of the Rev. Samuel Marsden and Family, 1794–1824, (Dubbo, N.S.W: Review Publications, 1976).

[27] Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), pp. 184–9; A. T. Yarwood, Samuel Marsden: The Great Survivor, (Carlton, Vic: Melbourne University Press, 1996), pp. 52–66. See for example: Samuel Marsden, “The Rev. S. Marsden to Governor King, Parramatta, 24 September 1801”; “The Rev. Samuel Marsden to Governor King, Sydney, 14 November 1801,” in F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. IV.—Hunter and King, 1800, 1801, 1802, (Sydney: Charles Potter, Government Printer, 1896), pp. 573–4, 617; Philip Gidley King, “Governor King’s Warrant Convening a Council, 9 May 1803,” in Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia, Series I. Governors’ Despatches to and from England. Vol. IV, 1803–June, 1804, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1915), p. 203ff.

[28] John Macarthur, “John to His Wife [Elizabeth Macarthur], London, 28 November 1809,” in F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. VII.—Bligh and Macquarie, 1809, 1810, 1811, (Sydney: William Applegate Gullick, Government Printer, 1901), p. 241.

[29] For more on the “Rum Rebellion”, see especially: Alan Atkinson, The Europeans in Australia: A
History, Vol. 1, Beginning,
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), ch. 13; Grace Karskens and Richard Waterhouse, “‘Too Sacred to Be Taken Away’: Property, Liberty, Tyranny and the ‘Rum Rebellion,’” Journal of Australian Colonial History, Vol. 12 (2010): 1–22; Lauren Benton and Lisa Ford, Rage for Order: The British Empire and the Origins of International Law, 1800–1850, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016), pp. 31–43.

[30] See for example his satirical depiction in the anonymous verses directed at Governor King: “Seditious Anonymous Papers with Remarks Thereon, 9 May 1803,” in Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia, Series I. Governors’ Despatches to and from England. Vol. IV, 1803–June, 1804, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1915), pp. 168–9.

[31] Joseph Holt, Thomas Crofton Croker (ed.), Memoirs of Joseph Holt…, Vol. II, (2 vols.), (London: H. Colburn, 1838), p. 88; W. Pascoe Crook, “Missionary Crook to [London Missionary Society], Parramatta, Port Jackson, 1 March 1804,” in F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. V.—King, 1803, 1804, 1805, (Sydney: William Applegate Gullick, Government Printer, 1897), pp. 313–5.

[32] Rowland Hassall, “The Rev. Rowland Hassall to London Missionary Society, Parramatta 22 April 1800,” “Missionary Hassall to The London Missionary Society, Parramatta, 29 September 1800,” and “The Rev. R. Hassall to Rev. G. Burder, Coventry, Parramatta, 8 August 1801,” in F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. IV.—Hunter and King, 1800, 1801, 1802, (Sydney: Charles Potter, Government Printer, 1896), pp. 74–5, 209–11, 446–7.

[33] Samuel Marsden, “The Rev. Samuel Marsden to Under-Secretary Cooke, Norfolk-street, Strand, 21 November 1807,” in F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales: Vol. VI.— King and Bligh, 1806, 1807, 1808, (Sydney: Government Printer, 1898), pp. 380–2.

[34] Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), ch. 13.

[35] “Peron’s Voyage of Discovery to Australasia,” The Eclectic Review, (London: 1805–1868), Vol. V, Part II, (1809), 983, cited in: Evangelical Magazine, (London: 1793–1904), Vol. XVII, (Nov. 1809), 498ff.

[36] Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), pp. 436–44. For more on Macquarie and Marsden’s political views see: John Ritchie, Lachlan Macquarie: A Biography, (Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 1986).

[37] Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), pp. 300–1; A. T. Yarwood, Samuel Marsden: The Great Survivor, (Carlton, Vic: Melbourne University Press, 1996), pp. 129–31.

[38] Samuel Marsden, “Marsden to Wilberforce, 27 July 1810,” cited in: Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), p. 303.

[39] Sharp argues that Macquarie conflated this elite snobbery with Marsden’s conscientious objection to men who were known to live in sin, since Lord lived with his convict mistress and Thompson was widely rumoured to be an illegal distiller. Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), pp. 300–4. On this latter point see my identification of Thompson at the centre of a network of distillers on the Hawkesbury in 1806: Matthew Allen, “Convict Police and the Enforcement of British Order: Policing the Rum Economy in Early New South Wales,” Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, online pre-publication, (8 January 2020), https://doi.org/10.1177/0004865819896398.

[40] Marsden interview with Bigge, undated, 1820, in John Ritchie, The Evidence to the Bigge Reports: New South Wales under Governor Macquarie, Vol. 2, (2 vols.), (Melbourne: Heinemann, 1971), p. 97. For his religious authority see: “Government and General Order, Government House, Sydney, Saturday, 15 September 1810,” in F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. VII.—Bligh and Macquarie, 1809, 1810, 1811, (Sydney: William Applegate Gullick, Government Printer, 1901), pp. 409–10.

[41] A. T. Yarwood, Samuel Marsden: The Great Survivor, (Carlton, Vic: Melbourne University Press, 1996), pp. 139–41.

[42] Samuel Marsden, “Marsden to Macquarie, 9 April 1814,” Bigge Evidence and Appendices, CO201/127, G11, Australian Joint Copying Project, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

[43] A Free Settler, “To the Editor of the Sydney Gazette,” Friday 4 March, p. 2; Another Free Settler, “To the Editor of the Sydney Gazette,” Saturday 12 March 1814, p. 2; A Free Settler, “To the Editor of the Sydney Gazette,” Saturday 19 March, p. 2; A Free Settler, “To the Printer of the Sydney Gazette,” Saturday 2 April 1814, p. 2 The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842); Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), pp. 310–12.

[44] For the psalms see: Lachlan Macquarie, “Governor Macquarie to Earl Bathurst, Government House, Sydney, New South Wales, 7 October 1814,” in Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia, Series I: Governors’ Despatches to and from England: Vol. VIII, July, 1813–December, 1815, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1916), pp. 336–8. For orders see: Lachlan Macquarie, “Governor Macquarie to Earl Bathurst, Government House, Sydney, New South Wales, 24 May 1814,” in Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia, Series I: Governors’ Despatches to and from England: Vol. VIII, July, 1813–December, 1815, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1916), pp. 255–6. Marsden complained to his religious superiors and was ordered by the Archbishop of Canterbury to comply since “the principle of reading civil orders is established at home”: “Goode to Marsden, 25 December 1814,” Volume 1: Samuel Marsdon [sic] papers, letters to Reverend and Mrs Marsden, 1794–1837, A1992, p. 172ff, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

[45] Lachlan Macquarie, “Governor Macquarie to Earl Bathurst, Government House, Sydney, New South Wales, 7 October 1814,” in Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia, Series I: Governors’ Despatches to and from England: Vol. VIII, July, 1813–December, 1815, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1916), pp. 336–8; A. T. Yarwood, Samuel Marsden: The Great Survivor, (Carlton, Vic: Melbourne University Press, 1996), pp. 152–4, 161.

[46] Samuel Marsden to Governor Macquarie, 19 July 1815, in “Report of the Select Committee on the State of the Gaols &c.,” in British Parliamentary Papers, Crime and Punishment, Prisons, 1, (London: House of Commons, 1819), p. 79ff.

[47] See for example Henry Grey Bennett’s speech to the House of Commons: Henry Grey Bennet, “Motion Respecting the System of Transportation, and the State of New South Wales,” 18 February 1819, in T. C. Hansard, The Parliamentary Debates from the Year 1803 to the Present Time, Vol. 39, (London: T. C. Hansard, Peterborough-Court, Fleet-street, 1819), cc. 464–509. Bennett subsequently relied upon and re-published the letter in his critical essay: Henry Grey Bennet, Letter to Viscount Sidmouth … on the Transportation Laws, the State of the Hulks, and of the Colonies in New South Wales, (London: J. Ridgeway, 1819).

[48] Philo Free, “To the Editor of the Sydney Gazette,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Saturday 4 January 1817, p. 3.

[49]Sydney: The Trial for a Libel,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Saturday 1 November 1817, p. 2; Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), pp. 444–58; A. T. Yarwood, Samuel Marsden: The Great Survivor, (Carlton, Vic: Melbourne University Press, 1996), pp. 194–200; Peter G. Bolt and Malcolm Falloon (eds.), Freedom to Libel? Samuel Marsden v Philo Free: Australia’s First Libel Case, (Epping, NSW: Bolt Publishing Services Pty. Ltd, 2017). For the primary sources relating to this scandal see: Bigge Evidence and Appendices, CO201/127, G24, Australian Joint Copying Project, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

[50] Samuel Marsden to Lachlan Macquarie, November 1813, cited in: Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), p. 375. On the massacre see: Kelly K. Chaves, “‘Great Violence Has Been Done’: The Collision of Maori Culture and British Seafaring Culture 1803–1817,” The Great Circle: Journal of the Australian Association for Maritime History, Vol. 29, No. 1, (2007): 22.

[51] For details of Marsden’s role in the New Zealand mission see: Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), chs. 20–25; Peter G. Bolt and David B. Pettett, (eds.), Launching Marsden’s Mission: The Beginnings of the Church Missionary Society in New Zealand, Viewed from New South Wales, (London, UK: The Latimer Trust, 2014).

[52] Cited in Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), p. 719.

[53] Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), ch. 19.

[54] Lachlan Macquarie, “Governor Macquarie to Earl Bathurst, Government House, Sydney, N. S. Wales, 1 December 1817,” and Lachlan Macquarie, “Governor Macquarie to Earl Bathurst, Government House, Sydney, New South Wales, 4 December 1817,” in Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia, Series I: Governors’ Despatches to and from England, Vol. IX, January, 1816–December, 1818, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1917), pp. 495ff, 502ff. I have analysed this allegation of severity and demonstrated that it is not borne out by the evidence. See: Matthew Allen, “The Myth of the Flogging Parson: Samuel Marsden and Severity of Punishment in the Age of Reform,” Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 48, No. 4, (October 2017): 486–501, https://doi.org/10.1080/1031461X.2017.1377269.

[55]Letter from Lachlan Macquarie to Samuel Marsden, 8 January 1818,” in Lachlan Macquarie, Lachlan Macquarie Papers: III. Correspondence of Lachlan Macquarie, 12 May 1809–16 June 1822: Vol. 39: Letters received and copies of letters sent, 1809–22, A797 (Safe 1 / 385) / FL578731, pp.141–144, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales; J. T. Campbell, “Government and General Orders,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Saturday 28 March 1818, p. 1. Marsden had previously tried to resign as a magistrate but Macquarie refused to accept his resignation: “Marsden to Pratt, 1 May 1818” in: Samuel Marsden, John Rawson Elder (ed.), The Letters and Journals of Samuel Marsden 1765–1838, (Dunedin: Coulls Somerville Wilkie, 1932).

[56] John Thomas Bigge, Report of the Commissioner of Inquiry into the State of the Colony of New South Wales,
(London: House of Commons, 1822). For more on the inquiry see: John Ritchie, Punishment and Profit: The Reports of Commissioner John Bigge on the Colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemans Land, 1822–1823: Their Origins, Nature and Significance, (Melbourne: Heinemann, 1970); Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), pp. 488–501; A. T. Yarwood, Samuel Marsden: The Great Survivor, (Carlton, Vic: Melbourne University Press, 1996), ch. 15.

[57] See for example: Sydney Smith, “Botany Bay” (first published 1823), in Sydney Smith, The Works of the Rev. Sydney Smith, Vol. II (3 vols), (London: Longman et al, 1839), p. 146ff.

[58] “Edward Eagar to Lord Bathurst, 6 November 1822,” in John Ritchie, The Evidence to the Bigge Reports: New South Wales under Governor Macquarie, Vol. 2, (2 vols.), (Melbourne: Heinemann, 1971), pp. 235–6.

[59] William Charles Wentworth, A Statistical Account of the British Settlements in Australasia …, Vol. I, (3rd edn, 2 vols), (London: George B. Whittaker, 1824), pp. 366–78.

[60] Lachlan Macquarie, A Letter to the Right Honourable Viscount Sidmouth: In Refutation of Statements Made by … Henry Grey Bennet …, (London: Richard Rees, 1821); Samuel Marsden, An Answer to Certain Calumnies in the Late Governor Macquarie’s Pamphlet, and the Third Edition of Mr. Wentworth’s Account of Australasia, (London: J. Hatchard & Son, 1826).

[61] Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), pp. 603–24; A. T. Yarwood, Samuel Marsden: The Great Survivor, (Carlton, Vic: Melbourne University Press, 1996), pp. 231–3. Compare the muckraking and anti-Marsden account of Bill Wannan: Early Colonial Scandals: The Turbulent Times of Samuel Marsden, (Melbourne: Lansdowne Press, 1972), ch. 4.

[62] Letters of Philo Umbrae, “No. I,” Thursday 4 August 1825, p. 4; “No. II,” Thursday 18 August 1825, p. 4; “No. III,” Thursday 25 August 1825, p. 4; “No. IV,” Thursday 1 September 1825, p. 4; “No. V,” Thursday 8 September 1825, p. 4 and “Further Documentary Intelligence,” Thursday 8 September 1825, p. 3; “No. VI,” Thursday 15 September 1825, p. 4; “No. VII,” Thursday 29 September 1825, p. 4; “No. VIII,” Monday 10 October 1825, p. 4; “No. IX,” Thursday 20 October 1825, all in The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842); Samuel Marsden to the Editor, The Times, 1 May 1826; [Editorial] The Times, 2 May 1826; Samuel Marsden, Statement … Relative to a Charge of Illegal Punishment, (Sydney: Robert Howe, 1828).

[63] Matthew Allen, “The Myth of the Flogging Parson: Samuel Marsden and Severity of Punishment in the Age of Reform,” Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 48, No. 4, (October 2017): 486–501, https://doi.org/10.1080/1031461X.2017.1377269.

[64] Stuart Piggin and Robert D. Linder, The Fountain of Public Prosperity: Evangelical Christians in Australian History 1740–1914, (Clayton, Victoria: Monash University Publishing, 2018), ch. 5. Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838, (Auckland University Press, 2016), pp. 648–55. For moral enlightenment see: Michael Roe, Quest for Authority in Eastern Australia, 1835–1851, (Parkville, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 1965).

[65]Domestic Intelligence: The Late Rev. Samuel Marsden,” The Colonist (Sydney, NSW : 1835 – 1840), Wednesday 16 May 1838, p. 2.

[66] John West, The History of Tasmania, Vol. 2 (2 vols), (Launceston, Tas.: H. Dowling, 1852), pp. 166–7. Similar judgements can be found in other nineteenth-century histories, for example: Samuel Bennett, The History of Australian Discovery and Colonisation, (Sydney: Hanson and Bennett, Pitt Street, 1867), pp. 474–8; James Bonwick, Curious Facts of Old Colonial Days, (London: Sampson Low, Son & Marston, 1870), pp. 16, 24–8.

[67] For an example see: Charles MacAlister, Old Pioneering Days in the Sunny South, (Goulburn: Chas. MacAlister, 1907), p. 105. For other examples and a wider discussion of this oral tradition see: Matthew Allen, “The Myth of the Flogging Parson: Samuel Marsden and Severity of Punishment in the Age of Reform,” Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 48, No. 4, (October 2017): 494–6, https://doi.org/10.1080/1031461X.2017.1377269.

[68]Convict Chaplain Marsden’s Centenary,” Truth (Sydney, NSW : 1894 – 1954)), Sunday 11 March 1894, p. 2.

[69] See for example: Kenneth Slessor, “Vesper-Song Of The Reverend Samuel Marsden,” (1933), http://allpoetry.com/Vesper-Song-Of-The-Reverend-Samuel-Marsden; Bill Wannan, Early Colonial Scandals: The Turbulent Times of Samuel Marsden, (Melbourne: Lansdowne Press, 1972), ch. 5; Robert Hughes, The Fatal Shore: A History of the Transportation of Convicts to Australia 1787–1868, (London: Pan Books, 1988), 187–91.

[70] William Woolls, A Short Account of the Character and Labours of the Rev. Samuel Marsden …, (Parramatta: B Isaacs, George Street, 1844), pp. iv, 5. For later examples see: E. M. Dunlop, A Great Missionary Pioneer: The Story of Samuel Marsden’s Work in New Zealand, (London : Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1914); Samuel Martin Johnstone, Samuel Marsden: A Pioneer of Civilization in the South Seas, (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1932).

[71] David B. Pettett, Samuel Marsden: Preacher, Pastor, Magistrate & Missionary, (Camperdown, N.S.W.: Bolt Publishing Services Pty. Ltd., 2016).

[72] Revelations 3:2: “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.” The sermon is dated in Marsden’s hand as “June 1815” and although the specific date cannot be determined we can be reasonably certain that it was a Sabbath sermon delivered at St. John’s, Parramatta. For the text see: “Sermon 24,” in Samuel Marsden, David Pettett (ed.), “Transcription of Samuel Marsden’s Sermons,” (Newtown, Sydney: Moore College, 2014), https://myrrh.library.moore.edu.au/handle/10248/5508, accessed 13 February 2020.

[73] “Sermon 24,” p. 14, Samuel Marsden, David Pettett (ed.), “Transcription of Samuel Marsden’s Sermons,” (Newtown, Sydney: Moore College, 2014), https://myrrh.library.moore.edu.au/handle/10248/5508, accessed 13 February 2020.

[74] “Sermon 24,” p. 9, Samuel Marsden, David Pettett (ed.), “Transcription of Samuel Marsden’s Sermons,” (Newtown, Sydney: Moore College, 2014), https://myrrh.library.moore.edu.au/handle/10248/5508, accessed 13 February 2020.

© Copyright 2020 Matthew Allen