Last updated: Thursday, 25 April 2013

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Richard Johnson

RICHARD JOHNSON (c. 1756-1827) was Australia's first Christian minister. He was sent to these shores from England as a chaplain to the 1,000 convicts, sailors and soldiers of the First Fleet in 1788. His close friendship with fellow evangelicals John Newton (reformed slave trader who wrote "Amazing Grace") and William Wilberforce (the anti-slavery campaigner) was instrumental in his being appointed to this important post. A Cambridge University graduate, Johnson had become an Anglican clergyman with strong Calvinist convictions and he laboured tirelessly to bring the unruly, depraved and unbelieving in the new colony to a state of salvation and a life of holiness and everlasting happiness through Jesus Christ. Although occupied with full-time pastoral duties, this indomitable man of God was compelled to work the land in order to feed his family, subsequently becoming known as the colony's best farmer. Caring for the spiritual and material needs of others was his life's work and his kindness did not stop with the white settlers. A strong advocate for the welfare of the native inhabitants of the continent, Richard Johnson and his wife even gave their daughter an Aboriginal name Ė Milbah. His Address to the Colonies (PDF) is said to be the first work ever printed for an Australian audience.

  

Richard Johnson's Address to the Colonies (PDF)