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Many influential people in history are either Congregationalist or of Congregational backgrounds.

John Fairfax (1804-1877) David Jones (1793-1873) George Fife Angus (1789-1897)

John Fairfax arrived in New South Wales from Warwick, England, in 1838. He became a partner in the Sydney Herald in 1838 and sole proprietor in 1851, by which time it had assumed the name by which it is still known - Sydney Morning Herald. His descendants are still prominent in the media to this day.

What is not generally known is that John Fairfax was a lifelong Congregationalist. He was a deacon at Pitt Street Congregational Church in Sydney. In 1851 he returned to England to attend to business and while there addressed the Colonial Missionary Society to promote the cause of Congregationalism in the booming gold town of Bathurst.

There’s no other store like David Jones
David Jones was born in Wales as his name suggests and emigrated to New South Wales in 1835. Recognising the demand for a “one stop shop” for all needs including in the rural and remote locations, he established a department store in Sydney in 1838. The store made its reputation - and fortune - on sending out catalogues and filling postal orders for the country.

David Jones was deacon of the foundational Pitt Street Congregational Church and was the prime mover in finding a pastor for the West Maitland church. He paid for a chapel which opened for worship in 1857.

A leading member of colonial society, David Jones became a member of the first municipal council and eventually the New South Wales Legislative Council.

A founder of South Australia
George Angus was born in Newcastle, England and became a visionary, Congregationalist and businessman, a blend of interests that was quite common during the industrial revolution.

It was a vision to create colonies in Western Australia that were not dependant on convict labour. The Swan river settlement (Western Australia) was not successful and to their embarrassment they had to ask the government to send convicts to rescue the colony from economic ruin. South Australia, with much better planning and a greater understanding of the challenges involved, was more successful

George Angus became chairman of the South Australia Company. He raised funds for the colony and arranged for pioneer settlers to emigrate. In 1838 he was able to secure the passage of 300 dissident Lutherans from Prussia to the Barossa Valley, commencing the tradition of German settlement and the wine industry in the Barossa.

Finally George Angus himself made the journey, arriving in 1851, and becoming a leading philanthropic figure in the colony until his death.

William Pascoe Crook (1775-1846) Isaac Watts (1674 –1748) Sir George Williams

William Pascoe Crook is known to historians for his writings on early colonial Australia, which are considered a valuable source. He was born in Portsmouth, England, and as a Congregational missionary with the London Missionary society, w sent to the South Seas.

He found his way to the convict colony of New South Wales where he established a school , making him the first school teacher in Australia. He also founded the Sydney Benevolent Society, which cared for the poor and chronically ill.

He also founded Australia’s first Congregational Church.

On returning for a period of time to Tahiti, he set up a mission station there. Today the city of Papeete stands on the site.

Hymn Writer (1821-1906)

Isaac Watts was brought up in the nonconformist tradition in Southampton, but despite his promise as a scholar he was unable to attend university as only Anglican were allowed to go at that time. He was therefore educated at a Dissenting Academy .
Even as a child, he had a talent for rhyme. On one occasion, being beaten for his versifying, he called out:
"O father, do some pity take
And I will no more verses make."
He became pastor of a large Independent Chapel in London, and he also found himself in the position of helping trainee preachers, despite poor health. Despite his early bachground he held religious opinions that were more nondenominational or ecumenical than was at that time common for a nonconformist; having a greater interest in promoting education and scholarship, than preaching for any particular ministry.
Besides being a famous hymn-writer, Isaac Watts was also a renowned theologian and logician, writing many books and essays on these subjects. Watts was the author of a text book on logic which was particularly popular; its full title was, Logic, or The Right Use of Reason in the Enquiry After Truth With a Variety of Rules to Guard Against Error in the Affairs of Religion and Human Life, as well as in the Sciences. This was first published in 1724, and its popularity ensured that it went through twenty editions. It became the standard text on logic at Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Yale; being used at Oxford University for well over 100 years.

Anyone who had read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland knows the poem "How Doth the Little Crocodile," but few are aware that it is a parody of Watts’ poem "Against Idleness And Mischief" in Divine Songs for Children, which Lewis Carroll’s original readers were more than familiar with – in fact they would have learnt it to the point of tedium.

Father of the YMCA
George Williams came to London from a farming family in Somerset, to work in the drapery firm of Hitchcock and Rogers. There he experienced the dark side of the industrial revolution as described by Charles Dickens - long working hours, lack of intellectual, social or spiritual stimulation and grinding poverty.

On 6 June 1844 he met with another eleven young men in his bedroom. His “society for the spiritual improvement of young men engaged in drapery and other trades” – soon to be titled the Young Men’s Christian Association - grew like wildfire and attracted other like-minded groups. In 1851 “The Adelaide Branch of the London YMCA” brought the movement to Australia. In 1855, the Paris World Conference established the YMCA as a world movement. Instrumental in the Paris Conference was Henri Dunant, founder of the Red Cross.

George Williams married Helen Hitchcock and eventually took over the firm of Hitchcock and Rogers. He was engaged in a range of social action groups, including the Early Closing movement and was knighted for his contributions.
He died only months after the jubilee conference celebrating 50 years as a world movement.

The YMCA led early ecumenical co-operation and lists the invention of basketball and volleyball, refugee work, services to military personnel, and the development of youth camping programs among its achievements.

The Australian YMCA movement is a major provider of child care, camping health and fitness, educational and social justice services in Australia. They still follow the principle of local autonomy, a legacy of their Congregational father.

Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) John Milton (1608 –1674) DH Lawrence (1885-1930)

English soldier and statesman
Oliver Cromwell, a member of the middle gentry commenced as a Member of Parliament for Cambridge from 1640. As a Puritan, he entered the English Civil War in the Parliamentary army where he distinguished himself as an innovative cavalry officer, formed the new Model Army which for the first time put a permenent army into the field rather than recruiting soldiers for limited periods, and finally commanded the whole army.

The wars ended with the death of King Charles I, with Cromwell‘s the third signiture on the execution warrant. England becamea commonwealth and republic. After watching the growing political instability and following a short period when England was ruled by the Barebones Parliament (named after the preacher Praisegod Barebones) Cromwell took over England as Lord Protector.

Cromwell’s incursions against the Roman Catholics of Ireland have been a cause of much bitterness, but his rule was generally noted for its compatative moderation in relious matters. While puritan rule was not to the liking of most people, Cromwell was able to give stability and a degree of prosperity. He himself was often uncertain that his actions were correct and he would spend long periods of inactivity waiting for signs of God’s approval
(usually the news of success). His plea to parliament “I beceech you in the bowels of Christ, think that you might be wrong” contrasts with his reputation for rigid inflexibility.

His instructions to paint his portrait “warts and all” is typical of his down-to-earth attitude and has become a popular saying.

The commonwelth experiment did not effectively survive Cromwell’s death. For some months his son Richard (“Tumbledown Dick”) ruled but was ousted. Charles II then came to the throne. One of his first acts was to execute the people who had prosecuted his father. Cromwell’s body was dug up and displayed.

English Poet
Milton came from a nonconformist scholarly background: his father, a scrivener, was disinherited for turning protestant and John himself studied at Cambridge.
Milton is considered to be among the most learned of all English poets. Milton had command of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Spanish, and Italian Old English and Dutch. He read ancient and modern works of theology, philosophy, history, politics, literature and science. Milton toured France and Italy where he discovered the intellectual community he had missed at Cambridge--he even altered his handwriting and pronunciation of Latin to make them more Italian.
Starting as a private school master, Milton entered the civil service in 1649.as Secretary for Foreign Tongues, compose foreign correspondence in Latin, producing propaganda for the regime and serving as a censor.

Milton’s star was at its zenith during the commonwealth, and he never changed his views when the Restoration came in May 1660. Thereafter his fortunes declined. Milton went into hiding for his life as a warrant was issued for his arrest and his writings burnt. Reemerging after a general pardon was issued, he was nevertheless arrested and briefly imprisoned before influential friends intervened.

Milton married three times, his first two wives dying probably of complications relating to childbirth. In later year he went blind. It was during this period, when he no longer had a career, was widowed, poor and blind, that he composed his most famous work Paradise Lost. It reflects his personal despair at the failure of the Revolution, yet affirms an ultimate optimism in human potential. Milton encoded many references to his unyielding support for the “Good Old Cause.” Though Milton notoriously sold the copyright of this monumental work to his publisher for a seemingly trifling £10, this was not a particularly outlandish deal at the time. Milton followed up Paradise Lost with its sequel, Paradise Regained, published alongside the tragedy Samson Agonistes, in 1671

At his death in 1674, blind, impoverished, and yet unrepentant for his political choices, Milton had attained Europe-wide notoriety for his radical political and religious beliefs. Especially after the Glorious Revolution, Paradise Lost and his political writings would bring him lasting fame as the greatest poet of the sublime and an unalloyed champion of liberty.

Poet and Author
David Herbert Lawrence achieved notoriety for his bohemian lifestyle, his novels’ frank portrayal of sex and rejection of the inhumanity of the industrial culture. In 1912 he wrote: "What the blood feels, and believes, and says, is always true."
He was born in Nottinghamshire, in England to a struggling coal miner who was a heavy drinker and mother, a former schoolteacher, whose family had fallen in hard times. Her became a teacher but his first novel, The White Peacock (1911), launched him as a writer at the age of 25.
Lawrence was restless and unsettled, travelling from country to country with his wife met Frieda von Richthofen who had left her previous husband and children to marry him.

Lawrence’s stories and character were based on his own experiences: set in countries he visited (Kangaroo) or the difficult relationship between his own parents, events (Sons and Lovers) or the people he had various relationships with. His gardener in Italy found his way into the infamous Lady Chatterley's Lover, as the gamekeeper. The book was banned until 1960. In Women In Love Lawrence used the English composer and songwriter Philip Heseltine as the basis for Julius Halliday, who never forgave it. When the only manuscript of philosophical essays by Lawrence fell into Heseltine's hands - he used it as toilet tissue.
Lawrence remained a figure outside society, treated with suspicion or hostility and continually short of money. During his stay in Italy he could not even afford a newspaper. His work ws much more appreciated after his death. There seemed nothing he did which did not cause offence to one section of society or another. In The Man Who Died first published under the title The Escaped Cock, was the story of Christ's resurrection. Instead of having Christ go to heaven, Lawrence has him mate with the priestess of Isis.

Jake Zeitlin, a Los Angeles bookseller, who first took care of Lawrence's literary estate, summarized his feeling when he first saw the author's manuscripts: "That night when I first opened the trunk containing the manuscripts of Lawrence and as I looked through them, watched unfold the immense pattern of his vision and the tremendous product of his energy, there stirred in me an emotion similar to that I felt when first viewing the heavens with a telescope."

Robert Browning (1812-1889) John Bunyan (1628-1688) Henry Moore (1898 –1986)

Robert Browning’s father was man of fine intellect and character and his mother was a devout Nonconformist. The family was well of but not wealthy, with the capacity for a large library and a solid education for young Robert. He was keen on poetry and natural history, but did not cope with the private schools he was sent to, and was tutored.
By the age of fourteen was fluent in French, Greek, Italian, and Latin At age sixteen, he attended University College, London, but dropped out after his first year. His mother’s strong evangelical faith prevented him from attending Oxford or Cambridge
In 1835, Browning wrote the lengthy dramatic poem Paracelsus, essentially a series of monologues spoken by the Swiss doctor and alchemist Paracelsus and his friends. Published under Browning's own name, in an edition financed by his father, the poem was a small commercial and critical success and gained the notice of Carlyle, Wordsworth, and other men of letters, giving him a reputation as a poet of distinguished promise.
Robert Browning married Elizabeth Barrett in 1846 after a courtship that lasted two years and gave rise to one of the most celebrated correspondences in literary history. After their elopement and secret marriage, the pair left England for Florence. Doctors had recommended Elizabeth to live in Italy because the warmer climate would help her lung condition
Elizabeth was a talented poet in her own right and published several major works: most notably Casa Guidi Windows, a long poem, and Aurora Leigh, a verse novel.
Although the period of his marriage was not a prolific one compared with Browning's youth or later life, it saw a steady rise in his reputation and produced some of his most enduring works. When Elizabeth died in 1861, Browning moved back to London with his son. Within four years, two selected editions of his earlier work and the eighteen new poems in Dramatis Personae brought him fame and critical recognition. For the first time in his life, he could live on his earnings from writing and enjoyed celebrity status in London society in his own right, rather than being known primarily as Elizabeth Barrett’s husband.
In 1868, Browning finally completed and published the long blank-verse poem The Ring and the Book, which would finally make him rich, famous and successful, and which ensured his critical reputation among the first rank of English poets.
With his fame and fortune secure, Browning again became the prolific writer he had been at the start of his career. In the remaining twenty years of his life, as well as travelling extensively and frequenting London literary society again, he managed to publish no less than fifteen new volumes. None of these later works gained the popularity of The Ring and the Book, and they are largely unread today. However, Browning's later work has been undergoing a major critical re-evaluation in recent years, and much of it remains of interest for its poetic quality and psychological insight. After a series of long poems published in the early 1870s, of which Fifine at the Fair and Red Cotton Night-Cap Country were the best-received, Browning again turned to shorter poems. The volume Pacchiarotto, and How He Worked in Distemper included a spiteful attack against Browning's critics, especially the later Poet Laureate Alfred Austin.
The Browning Society was formed for the appreciation of his works in 1881.
He died at his son's home Ca' Rezzonico in Venice on 12 December 1889, the same day Asolando was published, and was buried in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey; his grave now lies immediately adjacent to that of Alfred Tennyson.
Robert Browning was the first person to ever have his voice heard after his death. On a recording made by Thomas Edison in 1889, Browning reads "How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix" (including apologizing when he forgets the words). It was first played in Venice in 1890.

Author of Pilgrim’s Progress
John Bunyan, a tinker by trade, had very limited schooling but his strength lay in his visionary teaching and writing and his outstanding scriptural knowledge.

He was drawn to religion, and to the independents, through his experiences in the English Civil; War and the influence of his first wife who brought to the marriage two books, Arthur Dent's Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven and Lewis Bayly's Practice of Piety. Her claimed to have been saved from an abandoned life and unparonable sin, but as his transgressions were “profanity, dancing and bell-ringing”, the real extent of his wickedness is doubtful.
Bunyan became a popular preacher In theology he was a Puritan, but there was nothing gloomy about him. The portrait his friend Robert White drew, shows the attractiveness of his true character. He was tall, had reddish hair, prominent nose, a rather large mouth, and sparkling eyes.
In 1658 Bunyan was indicted for preaching without a licence. On continuing he was imprisoned in November 1660, when he was taken to the county gaol in Silver Street, Bedford. on his refusing to desist from preaching, his confinement was extended for a period of nearly 12 years (with the exception of a few weeks in 1666). It was during this time that he completed his allegorical novel: The Pilgrim's Progress. He was released in January 1672, when Charles II issued the Declaration of Religious Indulgence.
He became pastor of the Bedford church and was again imprisoned for preaching when Charles II withdrew the Declaration of Religious Indulgence. In six months he was free and he was not again arrested as a result of his popularity.
Bunyan wrote The Pilgrim's Progress in two parts, the first of which was published in London in 1678 and the second in 1684. He had begun the work in his first period of imprisonment, and probably finished it during the second. The earliest edition in which the two parts combined in one volume came in 1728. Its full title is The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come.
Bunyan has the distinction of having written, in The Pilgrim's Progress, probably the most widely read book in the English language, and one which has been translated into more tongues than any book except the Bible. Bunyan also wrote The Life and Death of Mr. Badman (1680), an imaginary biography, and The Holy War (1682), an allegory and Grace Abounding to the chief of sinners (1666).
A passage from Part Two of The Pilgrim's Progress beginning "Who would true Valour see" has been used in the hymn To be a Pilgrim.


Henry Moore was the most celebrated sculptor of his time, and his modernist style could easily be made a part of the buildings being designed by architects.

He was born in Yorkshire, became a school teacher and a a soldier in World War 1, despite being gassed, remembered his experiences as ‘a romantic haze of trying to be a hero.'

After the war he won a place at art school and travelled to Paris and Italy, and was offered a position at the Royal College of Art. But his obsession with pre-Columbian art and his growing interest in non representational sculpting led both to critical acclaim and him losing his job.

However, during the 1940’s Moore achieve success in every sense of the word. A retrospective exhibition of his work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, later Chicago and San Francisco, and then on to Australia, was a triumphant success. In 1948 Moore was asked to take part in the first post war Biennale in Venice, and carried off the main prize for sculpture. He was offered commissions for works on a massive scale. Some of these, like the screen for the Time Life building in London executed in 1952, could be carved, but others, like the massive Reclining Figure for the Lincoln Center in New York (1961-65), had to be cast. Others again, like another Reclining Figure made for the Unesco Headquarters in Paris (1957-58), though still made of stone, were largely shaped by assistants.
He finished his life loaded with official honours in which he had little interest . He was made a Companion of Honour in 1955, and a member of the Order of Merit in 1963. The sculptor who had been rejected was now firmly a part of the establishment.