Richard Johnson’s Address to the Inhabitants of New South Wales

Posted on January 26, 2017 
Filed under History

This Australia Day, give thanks for the Rev. Richard Johnson, Chaplain to the First Fleet and first Chaplain to the Colony of New South Wales.

In 1792, Johnson wrote a tract designed to be distributed widely in the Colony. He gives his reasons for doing so: 

“My Beloved,

I do not think it necessary to make an apology for putting this Address into your hands; or to enter into a long detail of the reasons which induced me to write it.

One reason may suffice. I find I cannot express my regard for you, so often, or so fully, as I wish, in any other way.

On our first arrival in this distant part of the world, and for some time afterwards, our numbers were comparatively small; and while they resided nearly upon one spot, I could not only preach to them on the Lord’s day, but also converse with them, and admonish them, more privately.

But since that period, we have gradually increased in number every year (notwithstanding the great mortality we have sometimes known) by the multitudes that have been sent hither after us. The colony already begins to spread, and will probably spread more and more every year, both by new settlements formed in different places under the crown, and by a number of individuals continually becoming settlers. Thus the extent of what I call my parish, and consequently of my parochial duty, is enlarging daily. On the other hand, my health is not so good, nor my constitution so strong, as formerly. And therefore I feel it impracticable, and impossible for me, either to preach, or to converse with you so freely, as my inclination and affection would prompt me to do.

I have therefore thought it might be proper for me, and I hope it may prove useful to you, to write such an address as I now present you with…”

Johnson’s warm pastoral tone, and his urgent call to trust Christ and to turn from sin, are clearly evident in this Address.

Download An Address to The Inhabitants of The Colonies Established in New South Wales and Norfolk Island as a PDF file here.