In Simple Trust

By David Baillieu


Young lovers George and Mary Knox are typical of many nineteenth-century migrants to Australia. In defiance of family and Church, they flee Scotland for Australia in 1849, seeking freedom and the chance to build a life together.

At the time, the Scots Church is fundamental to respectable society, and it is convulsing. Scotland is enduring mass protests and economic turmoil. The Battle of Waterloo and the Industrial Revolution are confirming Britain as the dominant world power. On the other side of the world, ancient Australia and its people are meeting the modern world. The great gold rush looms in Victoria.

George and Mary are sponsored to Australia by the extraordinary Reverend Dr John Dunmore Lang, who, having raised “missionary” money and held his creditors at bay, hires a whole ship in London, sails the Knoxes and a shipload of Presbyterian “missionaries” to Melbourne, then promptly goes broke, leaving them all high and dry.

On the long and difficult voyage, Mary is pregnant; soon after arrival she gives birth to a son, William, who will later be deemed the brains behind BHP in its early years.

George and Mary forge a new life, becoming Presbyterian educators, if not missionaries. George is briefly headmaster of Chalmers Free Church School in Spring Street, Melbourne – later to become Scotch College. George and Mary form a family, suffer tragedy and hardship, and help build the nation. Like many Scottish migrants of the time, they bring values and energy – Which perhaps had a disproportionately large and positive influence on the soon-to-be-separated colony of Victoria.

David Baillieu’s narrative goes on to provide new information on the foundation and early history of Scotch College, Melbourne and to tell fascinating stories about the lives of George and Mary’s children, and their children’s children.
And what a bunch they were!

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