Wednesday, March 4, 2009
My great-grandparents’ close association with the colonial Church of England is something of a mystery.
Certainly the first and pioneering William Pearson, who settled Kilmany Park near Sale in the 1840s, was a Scots Presbyterian, as was his wife, Eliza Travers. Granny, their granddaughter, was also Presbyterian, as were the rest of her husband’s Borthwick family.
It may have been a consequence of colonial expediency, or an accident of the public school system in Victoria, or, indeed, his marriage to Sophie Gooch that led William junior to become so closely involved with the new Church of England diocese of Gippsland that the bishop himself, the Right Reverend George Harvard Cranswick, D.D., personally conducted his burial service in 1919. According to our great-grandfather’s slightly po-faced obituarist in The Gippsland Times, “His Lordship referred in eloquent terms to the life of the deceased.”
No doubt the Scots Presbyterians of East Gippsland were not too distant in outlook from this outpost of the established church, which, though relatively late in separating itself by Act of Parliament from the parent diocese of Melbourne (1902), was by any measure pretty Evangelical in flavor.
William Pearson may have played a small part in guiding that legislation through the upper house, where he represented the province of Gippsland for twenty years from 1896 to 1916. Certainly he was a member of the Church of England Trusts Corporation for the Diocese of Gippsland since its inception in 1902, and for many years was also chairman of the committees of Synod.
It was apparently a high priority for the first bishop of Gippsland, the Right Reverend and superbly named Arthur Wellesley Pain, D.D., to build for himself and his successors a suitable, if modest, two-storey red-brick palace with generous grounds and a graceful avenue of melaleucas. An impeccable site was chosen off Raglan Street on the northern side of Sale, not too far from the corner of Pearson Street. Indeed, the William Pearsons were apparently regarded as sufficiently prominent among the Church of England laity of Sale that my great-grandmother was invited to lay the white marble foundation stone, where she is recorded in block capitals as “MRS. PEARSON OF KILMANY PARK.”
Here she is in the spring of 1903 (early October), doing the honors with a wooden mallet (and maybe a trowel). She wears a pair of very snappy white kid gloves with black piping on the back of the hand, and is shielded from the sun by an umbrella-wielding chaplain whose white surplice sorely needs ironing.
Though slightly ad hoc, the bunting is at least cheerful, and appears to be strung between ground-floor window-frames. Evidently a respectable crowd showed up.
Bishop Pain was the subject of a not exceedingly detailed 26-page biographical study, In The Master’s Service For 52 Years in Australia: Arthur Wellesley Pain...A Biographical Memoir, by Arthur Franklyn Pain (Belrose, N.S.W.: A. F. Pain, 1981), presumably a grandson.