The Kings Candlesticks - Family Trees
Thomas MARSDEN [17581]
Bethsheba BROWN [17582]

Rev Samuel MARSDEN [16859]


Family Links

Elizabeth FRISTAN [16860]

Rev Samuel MARSDEN [16859]

  • Born: 28 Jun 1765, Farsley YKS
  • Christened: 21 Jul 1765, Calverley YKS
  • Marriage: Elizabeth FRISTAN [16860] on 21 Apr 1793 in Hull YKS
  • Died: 12 May 1838, Windsor N.S.W. aged 72
  • Buried: Marsden Vault St John Paramatta NSW

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Encyclopaedia of NZ
First promoter of missionary enterprise, explorer, and recorder of early nineteenth century Maori culture.
Samuel Marsden was born on 25 June 1765 at Farsley in the parish of Calverley, Yorkshire, where his father, Thomas Marsden, was a blacksmith and small farmer. Little is known of his family background. According to family tradition his family came under the influence of the Wesleyan movement. Marsden attended the Farsley village school, and then assisted his father for a number of years, acquiring a knowledge of farming and other practical arts which he put to good use in later life. The Elland Clerical Society, so called from a parish in Yorkshire at which it held meetings for a time, had as one of its objects financial assistance to suitable young men wishing to be educated for the ministry of the Church of England. In his early twenties Marsden was selected by the society as a recipient of its help. He spent over two years at the free grammar school at Hull, where Joseph Milner, member of the Elland Society and ecclesiastical historian, was headmaster. Milner and other influential reformers of the evangelical persuasion within the Church of England were among Marsden's mentors at this time. Marsden became a member of Magdalene Hall, Cambridge, in 1790, again under the auspices of the Elland Society.
The Rev. Richard Johnson, chaplain in the British colony of New South Wales, being in need of assistance, Marsden was appointed second chaplain on 1 January 1793. In consequence he left Cambridge without taking a degree. On 21 April 1793 he married Elizabeth Fristan. On 26 May 1793 he was ordained by the Bishop of Exeter. He and his bride took passage in a convict ship, the William, arriving at Port Jackson on 10 March 1794. Their first child, Anne, was born on the voyage. On 4 July 1794 they took up residence at Parramatta, some 15 miles from the main settlement at Sydney Cove in Port Jackson.
As background to a more detailed consideration of Marsden as a figure in the history of New Zealand, his life and activities in New South Wales may be briefly summarised. In accordance with Government policy he was given grants of land, the chaplaincies being official positions; and he acquired further land by purchase. These lands, situated near Parramatta, were worked by assigned convict labour, again according to custom. In due course Marsden became an outstanding and prosperous farmer, his holdings in 1807 being some 3,000 acres, a fact which met with some criticism locally because of the alleged preoccupation of Marsden with his temporal affairs. In 1800 he succeeded Johnson as principal chaplain, and was a senior officiating minister of the Church of England in New South Wales until his death, performing manifold good works. For many years he was a member of the Bench of Magistrates at Parramatta, his career in this capacity being a chequered one. In 1804 he was party to the administering of 300 lashes to a convict insurrectionist in an attempt to ascertain by confession where certain pikes were hidden. It should be remembered that punishments of as much as 1,000 lashes were not uncommon at that time. In 1822 Marsden and other magistrates at Parramatta, having refused to act with a fellow magistrate because of charges against him that were unproved, and having acted beyond their powers in trying a woman convict for perjury, were dismissed from the Magistracy. Marsden's relationships with many of the influential official and private personages of New South Wales were frequently stormy, and he suffered a number of calumnies which were proved to be untrue. His career in New South Wales marks him out as one of the colony's most formative early figures.
Marsden's interest in missionary activities had been quickened in 1798 by contacts at Port Jackson with missionaries from the London Missionary Society's station at Tahiti. He became active in helping the directors of the Society in their various endeavours in the Pacific Islands. Marsden, having met at Port Jackson some visiting New Zealand Maoris, among whom the Bay of Islands chiefs Te Pahi and Ruatara made a deep impression on him, proceeded to London and pressed the Church Missionary Society (a Church of England affiliate) to establish a mission in New Zealand. It was agreed that a nucleus of artisan missionaries should form a settlement, and that Marsden should supervise the mission on behalf of the Society. Marsden accordingly arrived back in Port Jackson early in 1810 accompanied by William Hall, a carpenter, and John King, a ropemaker, and their wives. By a coincidence Ruatara, whom Marsden had met in Sydney, was on the same ship. Marsden learned much about New Zealand from him, and secured Ruatara as a valuable ally at the Bay of Islands.
The inception of the mission was delayed for a time by news of the massacre of the company of the Boyd (q.v.) on the New Zealand coast in 1809. In the following years Marsden maintained his plans. Thomas Kendall, a schoolmaster, and his wife came out to Port Jackson in 1813 as further recruits to the proposed project.
In 1814 Marsden sent Kendall and Hall on an exploratory visit to the Bay of Islands in the Active, a vessel belonging to Marsden himself. Kendall and Hall returned with Ruatara, Hongi, Korokoro, and other influential Bay of Islands chiefs, and reported favourably on the prospects of the mission.
Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of New South Wales, supported Marsden in his desire to proceed with the establishment of the mission. On 28 November 1814 Marsden set out in the Active from Port Jackson with Kendall, Hall, King, their wives and children, and three artisans, accompanied by Ruatara, Hongi, Korokoro, and other Maoris. They arrived in the Bay of Islands on 23 December 1814, and anchored near Rangihoua, on the north side of the Bay. On Christmas Day Marsden held the first Christian service in New Zealand. On 24 February 1815 he purchased the plot of land at Rangihoua on which New Zealand's first missionary settlement was established. Two days later he departed for Port Jackson. On this first voyage Marsden paid visits to Maori chiefs at North Cape, Whangaroa, Waimate, Hauraki, and in the vicinity of the Bay of Islands. In his journal of the visit he recorded with telling power of narrative and description the story of these adventurous contacts, and of the Maori way of life at that time. In 1815 Marsden's plans for a seminary at Parramatta for the instruction of young Maoris came to fruition, and in succeeding years many New Zealand chiefs and sons of chiefs attended there.
In July 1819 Marsden departed from Port Jackson for the Bay of Islands on his second visit, accompanied by the Rev. John Gare Butler and family. Butler was installed at Kerikeri, in Hongi's territory, as superintendent of the mission. Marsden returned to Port Jackson in November 1819. Again Marsden's report of this visit contains invaluable details of his contacts with and observations of the old-time Maoris. He extended his sphere of contacts by visiting Hokianga, giving a detailed account of the district and the contemporary chiefs, and also the Taiamai district.
On 27 February 1820, Marsden was once more at the Bay of Islands, having come over with the naval ship Dromedary for the official purpose of using his influence for the securing of logs for naval purposes. On this third visit he remained in New Zealand for nine months. This was a particularly memorable visit from the point of view of exploration and ethnological observation.
When Marsden arrived at the Hauraki Gulf on the naval ship Coromandel, he made an overland journey in company with the Taiamai chief Te Morenga to Tauranga. Marsden returned overland to the Bay of Islands via Kaipara on the west coast and Whangarei on the east. Later he went with Butler in a whaleboat to the Auckland isthmus, and was the first European to cross it and describe Manukau Harbour, under the dates 9 and 10 November 1820. He proceeded thence along the west coast on foot to Hokianga, and finally rejoined the Dromedary, which arrived at Port Jackson on 21 December.
In July 1823 Marsden set out from Port Jackson for the Bay of Islands on his fourth visit, accompanied by the Rev. Henry Williams and his family. Butler and Marsden had fallen out, and Kendall was suspended from the mission for misconduct. Marsden determined to remove Butler from the mission and install Williams in his place as head of the mission. After Butler had reluctantly agreed to withdraw, Marsden levelled charges of drunkenness against him on the dubious testimony of two sea captains. Williams was installed at Paihia, which thus became the headquarters of the mission. This may be taken as marking the successful completion of Marsden's establishment of the mission. Marsden departed for Port Jackson from the Bay of Islands on 14 November 1823.
On 5 April 1827, Marsden paid his fifth visit to New Zealand, leaving again for Port Jackson five days later. The reason for this visit was to ensure the safety of the mission by using his influence in the pacification of the Maoris, following on news that the Wesleyan missionaries at Whangaroa had had to withdraw because of the conquest of the district by Hongi. Marsden, however, found that the feared threat to Paihia, Kerikeri, and Rangihoua had passed.
From 8 March 1830 to 27 May of the same year Marsden was again in New Zealand, being accompanied by his daughter Mary. The visit had been intended as a routine inspection of the Church Missionary Society's missions, but was enlivened by the "Girls' War" in the Bay of Islands district, in which Marsden and Williams acted as pacifiers. On this visit Marsden did not go farther afield than the Bay of Islands district.
Marsden was now 65 years of age, and the New Zealand mission, under the firm leadership of Henry Williams, no longer needed his frequent presence. In his later years an increasing mellowness developed in him, enforced in some degree by the infirmities of age. He made one more visit to New Zealand, his seventh, being in the country from 7 February to 4 July 1837, in company with his daughter Martha. He returned to Port Jackson with Hobson (later to be Governor of New Zealand) in the Rattlesnake, visiting en route, as a fitting climax to his travels, the Society's station in the Hauraki Gulf, and the Maoris of Cloudy Bay, Cook Strait.
On 12 May 1838 Marsden died at Windsor in New South Wales, and was buried in the cemetery attached to his church at Parramatta.
Marsden's wife had predeceased him in 1835. She had been an invalid from paralysis since 1811. Marsden was survived by a son, Charles Simeon, who dissipated the holdings he inherited from his father, and five daughters, Anne, Elizabeth, Mary, Jane, and Martha. Family papers show that Marsden was a devoted husband and father.
No stronger or more dynamic personality than Marsden's was ever in New Zealand. His untiring efforts to bring the New Zealand Maoris within the Christian fold, pursued to the limit of his great physical vigour and with unflinching personal bravery, had great direct and indirect effects on the history of New Zealand. Among the direct ones were the success of the mission itself, the interest in New Zealand as a sphere of British influence and settlement which this occasioned, the inland explorations which Marsden carried out, and his introduction of key personages in Henry Williams and other outstanding early missionaries. The indirect ones were the effect - not entirely happy - of these accelerations of European impact on the Maoris themselves, and the invaluable factual contributions to Maori ethnology with which Marsden's writings endowed New Zealand's early literature. Marsden himself was not sympathetic to much of the Maori culture, thinking, under the influence of his stern evangelical creed, that many elements in it were of the Devil. Nor was Marsden always tolerant of or merciful toward what he conceived to be human error, whether of thought or deed. On balance, however, Samuel Marsden must be set down as the outstanding European figure in the history of New Zealand in the decade from 1814 to 1823.
by Charles Andrew Sharp, B.A.(OXON.), M.A.(N.Z.), Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.
From the 1966 Encyclopaedia of NZ

Australian Dictionary of Biography
Samuel Marsden (1765-1838), chaplain, missionary and farmer, was born on 24 June 1765 at Farsley, Yorkshire, England, the son of Thomas Marsden, a blacksmith. He attended the village school, was then apprenticed to his father and grew up in an area and amongst a class much influenced by the Methodist religious revival. Well known locally as a lay preacher, Samuel gained the interest of the Elland Society, an Evangelical group within the Church of England which sponsored the education for the ministry of promising but ill connected youths. Aged about 24, he went to Hull Grammar School, where he met the Milners, members of the Clapham sect, and through them William Wilberforce, doyen of humanitarian and missionary projects, who was to influence decisively the course of Marsden's life. In December 1790 the society sent him to Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he was admitted a discipulus. This career was cut short, for on 1 January 1793, after much persuasion, he accepted the appointment to which Wilberforce had recommended him as assistant to the chaplain of New South Wales. A proposal in March 1793 invited Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Fristan of Hull, to take up the cross and share life's travails and pleasures with him across the seas. The couple were wed on 21 April; Samuel was ordained deacon on 17 March at Bristol and priest in May; on 1 July they left for New South Wales in the William. After a journey made memorable by Samuel's clashes with the captain and by the accouchement of Elizabeth as the ship was buffeted by a storm off Van Diemen's Land, they arrived in Sydney Cove on 10 March 1794.
In some significant ways the pattern of Marsden's life was set during his first year in New South Wales. As assistant to Rev. Richard Johnson , after a brief visit to Norfolk Island in 1795, he was stationed at Parramatta. It was an important centre in the colony and Marsden remained there after Johnson's departure, although for some years he was the only Anglican clergyman on the mainland. He was promised the position of senior chaplain in 1802, but was much vexed at receiving only part of its stipend, and was not formally promoted until after his return from England in 1810. Governor Lachlan Macquarie allowed him to live at Parramatta 'as being more convenient and centrical for the execution of his general superintending duties', and in September directed that Marsden should be regarded 'as the resident chaplain in that district'.
Marsden had quickly and deeply committed himself to farming, although he was inexperienced in it. By 1802 he had received 201 acres (81 ha) in grants, and had purchased 239 (97 ha) from other settlers; he had 200 acres (81 ha) cleared and grazed 480 sheep. Three years later he had over 1000 sheep, 44 cattle and 100 pigs on his farm which by then had increased to 1730 acres (700 ha) seven miles (11 km) from Parramatta. In 1798, with Surgeon Thomas Arndell , he had made a valuable report on the colony's agriculture; in 1803-05 he made several reports to Governor Philip Gidley King and to Sir Joseph Banks on the prospects of sheep-breeding and wool-growing. King thought Marsden 'the best practical farmer in the colony', and when he visited England on leave in February 1807 he was recommended by Governor William Bligh as one who had made the 'nature and soil' of the colony 'his particular study'. He concentrated on the development of strong heavy-framed sheep such as the Suffolk breed, which had a more immediate value in the colony than the fine-fleeced Spanish merinos imported by John Macarthur . In 1808 he had his own wool made up into a suit by the Thompsons of Horsforth in Yorkshire, and so impressed George III that he was given a present of merinos from the Windsor stud. Four years later more than 4000 lbs (1814 kg) of his wool was sold in England at 45d. a lb. Marsden was an important promoter of the wool staple, even though his contribution to technology, breeding and marketing was far eclipsed by that of Macarthur.
Marsden satisfied his English correspondents that 'it was not from inclination' that he and Johnson first accepted Lieutenant-Governor Francis Grose 's offer of land, but from the duty to assist the colony to avert the threat of recurring famine. This explanation was wilfully misleading when published in An Answer to Certain Calumnies in the Late Governor Macquarie's Pamphlet, and the Third Edition of Mr. Wentworth's Account of Australasia (Lond, 1826), for in 1827, when his holdings totalled 3631 acres (1469 ha) by grant and 1600 (647 ha) by purchase, his inclinations took him to Governor (Sir) Ralph Darling with an unsuccessful request for permission to buy another 5000 acres (2024 ha) of crown land. Undoubtedly the offer of land and convict servants to work it appealed enormously to Marsden, with his ox-like strength and restlessly active disposition. It brought financial security for a large family, and social acceptability and power to which he could not have aspired in England. Contemporary pietists placed great emphasis on an individual's own efforts, and Marsden, an apostle of personal conversion, believed that material advance was a proof of the genuineness of his personal sense of salvation. At the same time he was spurred by the temper of the colony on his arrival. The officers had begun their single-minded pursuit of wealth. Grose and Johnson were completely estranged and Marsden was soon complaining that Macarthur, the senior officer at Parramatta, frustrated his attempts to secure Sabbath observance by the convicts. The eager materialism of this frontier society, the crude irreligion of his convict charges and their tendency to associate the chaplain with their other scourgers, helped to confirm Marsden's drift into worldly undertakings.
The advent of the more religiously inclined Governor John Hunter in 1795 recognized the chaplain's efforts to reclaim the convicts' souls or at least to achieve an outward observance of moral and religious injunctions; but this effect was counterbalanced by Marsden's appointment as a magistrate and superintendent of government affairs at Parramatta. Clerical justices were common in England at the time but his magisterial posts kept him occupied with heavy temporal duties, and they also further estranged him as a clergyman from the convicts to whom he dispensed justice. No aspects of Marsden's activities did more harm to his pastoral work or to his historical character in Australia than his reputation for extreme severity as a magistrate. This was firmly set by September 1800 when, in the course of an inquiry into a suspected Irish uprising, Judge Advocate Richard Atkins and Marsden had a suspect flogged mercilessly in the hope of securing information about hidden weapons. This particular action was scarcely defensible, but Marsden was not the only magistrate who ordered the infliction of illegal punishments. His general severity can be attributed to his high-mindedness, his passionate detestation of sin and his conviction that Parramatta was such a sink of iniquity that morality could be preserved only by the most rigorous disciplinary measures. For all that, the flogging parson, like the hanging judge, is commonly regarded as an unattractive character.
Meanwhile he continued to carry out his professional duties. He wrote to friends in England in 1799 of his exertions in opening a Sunday school and forwarding the building of a new church, St John's, Parramatta, which was opened in April 1803. He took an active and well-publicized interest in the establishment and administration of an orphan home and school, and declined to accept the fees due to him as treasurer. When in England in 1807-09 he was busy in drawing the attention of the authorities in church and state to the shortcomings of the colony's religious establishment, and was able to recruit additional assistant chaplains. Later he attracted the attention of Mrs Elizabeth Fry by his zeal for improving the lot of female convicts on the transport ships and in the colony, and he startled respectable people in England with his account of the immorality and crime that prevailed in Parramatta, which he thought largely due to the dilapidated condition of the female 'factory', though he did not mention his own prolonged lack of interest in its inmates. But it seems probable that his years as chaplain and magistrate confirmed his early doubts of the possibility of reclaiming the souls of the convicts, so steeped were they in vice and idleness, defeating the best of regulations with their 'invincible depravity'.
Feeling thus frustrated in evangelizing the convicts, Marsden looked elsewhere for professional fulfilment. He tried to civilize and convert the Aboriginals but his efforts were unsuccessful and, by the time Governor Macquarie founded the Native Institution, Marsden had abandoned all hopes of success with these people; by rejecting the material civilization of the European they baulked at what Marsden saw as the necessary first step towards conversion. 'The natives have no Reflection - they have no attachments, and they have no wants', he wrote. He had far more confidence in missions aimed at the people of the Pacific Islands, in whom he had become interested even before he was stimulated by the arrival in Sydney in 1798 of Rowland Hassall and a party of fugitives from Tahiti. He was able to combine evangelization with the promotion of trade with the islands, which he saw as a civilizing if also profitable activity. He had a chief's sons brought to live with him at Parramatta. After 1801 he had the local superintendence and financial management of the London Missionary Society, and was constantly concerned with the affairs of the Church Missionary Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society.
Marsden's absorbing interest as a missioner was in the Maoris of New Zealand, whom he described to Rev. Josiah Pratt during his visit to London in 1808 as 'a very superior people in point of mental capacity, requiring but the introduction of Commerce and the Arts, [which] having a natural tendency to inculcate industrious and moral habits, open a way for the introduction of the Gospel'. This English sojourn from early 1807 to May 1809 prepared the way for establishing the mission to the Maoris, in which enterprise Marsden displayed the qualities of courage, tenacity and resourcefulness that have made his name revered in New Zealand. Convinced from the first of the need to introduce industrious habits, Marsden engaged at his own initial expense craftsmen who were to return with him and teach the Maoris carpentry, shoemaking and ropemaking. His plans were interrupted by news of the massacre of the crew of the whaler Boyd at the Bay of Islands in 1809, but in 1813 he formed the New South Wales Society for Affording Protection to the Natives of the South Sea Islands and Promoting their Civilisation, and on 28 November 1814 set out with a party in the brig Active, which he had bought for £1400, to maintain the Maoris' contact with civilization.
This was the first of Marsden's seven voyages to New Zealand between 1814 and 1837. They yielded much in terms of self-realization but brought weighty problems of management, finance and discipline. Marsden found that the subordinates he left in New Zealand, no less than the missionaries he superintended in the South Seas, were very human men and women, peculiarly exposed in their tiny groups to rivalries, quarrels, pecuniary temptations and carnal desires that hindered their higher objectives. In April 1820 he reported that the missionaries at the Bay of Islands, heedless of warnings, had bartered muskets and powder for hogs and potatoes. Even the newly appointed superintendent, John Butler, and John Kendall had taken part in this traffic, so disturbing to the equilibrium of Maori society. Yet for all the abuses and the slow pace of conversion the missionaries 'stood between the Maori and the dregs of the oceans that congregated in the Bay of Islands'. Though Marsden regarded the establishment of an official settlement as most improbable, and even undesirable, 'as the Soldiers would be too much exposed to temptation from the Native Women', he suggested in 1830 that the posting of a naval vessel in New Zealand waters would 'prevent much mischief'. Certainly the missionary activities which he promoted paved the way for established government and organized European settlement soon after his death.
In the ten years before Marsden went to England in 1807 he enjoyed fairly cordial relations with the governors, his tranquillity being broken only by enmity towards John Macarthur and by such petty quarrels as that with George Caley , whose dog worried the chaplain's pet rabbits. He was absent at the time of the Rum Rebellion, though in England he clearly showed his antipathy to the rebels and according to Macarthur did great mischief to their cause. But soon after his return to Sydney on 27 February 1810, signs of trouble appeared. The Sydney Gazette, 31 March 1810, informed Marsden of his appointment to the board of trustees of the Parramatta turnpike road, in company with two well-to-do ex-convicts. Considering this association derogatory to his sacred functions, Marsden declined, arousing Governor Macquarie to a fury which indicated that the latter's military training caused him to view an opposing opinion as insubordination. This was intensified when Marsden refused to read from the pulpit, as was customary, a proclamation directed against food speculators in the drought of 1814, a refusal which earned the chaplain a reprimand from the Colonial Office and the archbishop of Canterbury. Marsden, like Commissioner John Thomas Bigge later and many other influential colonists, strongly opposed Macquarie's sympathy with emancipists, despite the attempts of his patron Wilberforce to mediate between the two and to modify the chaplain's apparent intolerance. In turn Macquarie developed an inveterate suspicion of Marsden that betrayed him into judgments which were sometimes illiberal and unfair. He suppressed Marsden's tentative use of an unauthorized version of the Psalms. He interpreted Marsden's well-justified demand for convict barracks at Parramatta as a criticism designed to discredit his administration. In November 1815 Marsden preached a funeral panegyric of Ellis Bent which seemed to many to be a criticism of the governor, who in turn blamed the chaplain for a further criticism sent to the Colonial Office early next year, though in fact its author was Nicholas Bayly . Soon after Macquarie received the dispatch asking for his comments on these allegations, he learned that Marsden had taken a deposition concerning his action more than a year before in ordering three men to be flogged for trespassing in the Domain. He summoned the parson to Government House and there in front of witnesses described him as 'the Head of a seditious low Cabal and consequently unworthy of mixing in Private society' and commanded him to avoid his presence except upon public duty. Five months later, in May 1818, Marsden applied for leave to visit England for personal reasons and to recruit clergy for the colony. He had had considerable success in this on his previous visit in 1807-09, but Macquarie refused to allow him to go on the grounds that his services could not be spared. The governor probably feared, with some justification, that Marsden, through his many influential friends and patrons in London, would increase the growing opposition to Macquarie's policies; but it was quite untrue for him to add that Marsden 'had repeatedly visited his Native Country', when he had gone only once in twenty-four years. The antipathy between the two men sprang in part from different policies on various matters of public concern, especially the place of the emancipists in the community; it was intensified by the chaplain's wish that the separate character of the church in the official establishment should be recognized, as the colony was ceasing to be purely a penal settlement. This inevitably drove him to oppose the authoritarian governor, just as the law officers had shown a similar desire to assert the independence of the judiciary.
Equally disturbing to Marsden's peace were the attacks he suffered from the Sydney Gazette, which showed how much less saintly a figure he was in colonial than in English eyes. In March 1814 in a series of sarcastic letters he was taken to task for his failure to carry out what was said to be a promise he had made to donors in England that he was collecting books to establish a circulating library for adult education in the colony. Again, on 4 January 1817, an attacker, sheltering behind the nom de plume Philo Free, suggested inter alia that the chaplain's interest in the Pacific missions was aroused by hopes of material profits. In this case Marsden instituted libel actions which resulted in the conviction of the governor's secretary and official censor of the Gazette, John Thomas Campbell , who could only attempt to excuse his conduct as a natural reaction to the chaplain's snub to Macquarie's efforts to civilize the Aboriginals.
Public dispute and official disapproval continued to be Marsden's lot under Macquarie's successor. In 1822 Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane suspended him, with other magistrates of the Parramatta bench, for refusing to sit with a colleague, Dr Henry Grattan Douglass , against whom they had brought a variety of charges, and in the next four years Marsden tasted humiliation many times. He was passed over when Thomas Scott was appointed archdeacon. His allegations against Douglass were unanimously rejected by a committee of inquiry, comprising the governor, Archdeacon Scott and Chief Justice (Sir) Francis Forbes . He was rebuked for his part in convicting a female convict, Ann Rumsby, against all the evidence brought forward and sentencing her to be transported to Port Macquarie. His name was publicly linked with the colonial practice of judicial torture of convicted prisoners; and Bathurst told him that he was unconvinced by his apologia on the matter. He was convicted of improperly allowing one of his assigned servants, James Ring, who sang in his choir, to 'be on his own hands', and was accused of intentionally not recapturing Ring when he later absconded to New Zealand and ran into Marsden there. In August 1826 Bathurst told Governor Darling that in the Douglass affair Marsden's behaviour was 'little becoming the character which he ought to maintain in the colony', and that in future Marsden was to 'repress that vehemence of temper which has too frequently marked his conduct of late, and which is as little suited to his Age, as it is to the profession to which he belongs'. Nothing daunted, Marsden published a Statement, Including a Correspondence Between the Commissioners of the Court of Enquiry, and the Rev. Samuel Marsden … (Sydney, 1828). This, wrote Forbes, was 'a very incorrect account of the proceedings … Mr. Marsden seems to think that all who may happen to differ in opinion with him, must be influenced by impure motives'.
In 1826 Darling appointed him to the board of management of the Female Factory and made him one of the trustees of the Clergy and School Lands. He was one of the small superintending committee of the Church and School Corporation and of the committee which considered the plan of Archdeacon William Grant Broughton for the formation of an Anglican grammar school. He continued 'in the sole charge of a very extensive Parish' until 1831 when a regular assistant was first appointed. In 1834-36 he took charge of Church of England affairs during Broughton's visit to England, and in 1836 Broughton appointed him one of the three commissioners in the Consistorial Court he was then establishing. His early evangelicalism seems to have mellowed, and he did not oppose the anti-evangelical Broughton; but he did not shrink from controversy, publishing A Letter from the Rev. Samuel Marsden to Mr. William Crook … (Sydney, 1835) in answer to charges which John Dunmore Lang had made in his An historical and statistical Account of New South Wales … (London) the previous year, and in 1836, in keeping with the bitter anti-Roman Catholicism which had marked his whole career, taking a leading part in the opposition to Governor Sir Richard Bourke 's proposal to establish National schools in New South Wales.
Three years after the death of his wife Marsden died on 12 May 1838 at St Matthew's Parsonage, Windsor, where he had gone in ill health for a rest. He was buried at St John's, Parramatta. Posterity has tended to judge him adversely on three counts: illiberality towards the emancipists, cruelty as a magistrate and undue materialism. On the first count he may be shown to have been more in touch with contemporary feeling than Macquarie. On the second, his colonial reputation was confirmed by Commissioner Bigge, who wrote that his character as a magistrate was 'stamped with severity'. Third, as Bigge pointed out, the variety of Marsden's activities and his temporal interests resulted inevitably in his ministry in the colony being somewhat overshadowed by that of some of his subordinates, like William Cowper and Robert Cartwright . But other historians have laid greater stress on Marsden's Evangelical piety, though this caused some contemporaries to criticize him as 'methodistical'; his life, though often embittered by controversy, was relieved by substantial achievement and sustained by a confidence in the future of his adopted country. A son, Charles, and five daughters survived him.
Select Bibliography
Historical Records of New South Wales, vols 2-7
Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 1-18
O. Gregory, Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Character, Literary, Professional, and Religious, of the Late J. M. Good (Lond, 1828)
J. B. Marsden, Life and Work of Samuel Marsden, ed J. Drummond (Christchurch, 1913)
J. R. Elder (ed), The Letters and Journals of Samuel Marsden (Dunedin, 1932)
S. M. Johnstone, Samuel Marsden (Syd, 1932)
E. Ramsden, Marsden and the Missions: Prelude to Waitangi (Syd, 1936)
M. H. Ellis, Lachlan Macquarie (Syd, 1952)
M. H. Ellis, John Macarthur (Syd, 1955)
C. M. H. Clark, A History of Australia, vol 1 (Melb, 1962)
M. Saclier, 'Sam Marsden's Colony: Notes on a Manuscript in the Mitchell Library, Sydney', Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, vol 52, part 2, June 1966, pp 94-114
Manuscript catalogue under Samuel Marsden (State Library of New South Wales).

Chaplain, magistrate, agriculturalist, missionary
By G. S. Parsonson
According to reliable sources Samuel Marsden was born on 25 June 1765, at Farsley, Yorkshire, England, the eldest of the seven children of Bathsheba Brown and her husband, Thomas Marsden. He was baptised at Calverley, near Leeds, on 21 July 1765. At the age of 14 or 15 he went to work in his uncle's smithy, and in 1786 was recruited by an Anglican evangelical group, who sent him to Magdalene College, Cambridge, in 1790. Two years later he accepted an appointment as assistant chaplain to the colony of New South Wales. In 1793 he was ordained, and at Hull on 21 April he married Elizabeth Fristan.
Marsden arrived at Sydney Cove on 10 March 1794 with his wife and new-born daughter, Ann, the first of their eight children. He took up residence at Parramatta in July, and concerned himself with the welfare of orphan children and female convicts. In October he took up a 100 acre block, where he quickly put to good use the gardening and farming implements he had brought with him. Late in 1795 he also consented to serve as a magistrate (gaining a reputation for severity) and as superintendent of government affairs.
In the next few years Marsden was very busy, not merely as chaplain and magistrate but as a rising landowner. However, he early felt the call to evangelise. He lent his warm support to the infant missions to the South Seas, and in 1804 took up the post of local agent for the London Missionary Society's Pacific operations. Marsden's attention gradually turned to the Maori of New Zealand as a promising people for evangelisation. He often accommodated visiting Maori, putting them up in his own house and teaching them, entirely at his own expense. As early as 1805 Te Pahi was a visitor.
The extension of the mission to New Zealand was another matter. In 1800 Marsden had been called on to act as sole chaplain for New South Wales, and it was not until 1807 that he was free to return to London to plead his cause before the Church Missionary Society. He then raised a band of lay settlers to prepare the way for ordained missionaries. They were William Hall, a joiner; Thomas Kendall, a schoolmaster; and John King, a ropemaker. It was not until August 1809 that Marsden left England aboard the Ann with Hall and King. Ruatara, of Nga Puhi, who was discovered in England in a sick and neglected state, travelled with them and was to spend eight months with Marsden, to whom he taught the rudiments of the Maori language.
The establishment of the New Zealand outpost was further delayed. The missionary societies rejected Marsden's proposal to link Sydney, Tahiti and New Zealand, and, probably in February 1814, he was obliged to buy his own ship, the Active, for £1,400, most of which came out of his own pocket. The temporary Colonial Office veto of any further settlement in New Zealand almost proved the last straw. Hall and Kendall (who had come out in 1813) did not reach the Bay of Islands until June 1814; Marsden himself did not arrive until December.
On the face of it the new venture began well enough. On 20 December, at Matauri Bay, Marsden persuaded Ngati Uru and Nga Puhi to make peace. On the 22nd he landed at Rangihoua, Ruatara's place. On Christmas Day Marsden led off with the Old Hundredth (Psalm 100) and then preached from Luke 2:10 - 'behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy' - to a large, well-drilled congregation. Ruatara translated for him. On the 26th Marsden set up a charcoal forge to replenish his stock of axes; and on the 27th he went to Kawakawa to lay in a supply of kahikatea. Early in the new year he perambulated the bounds of his extended parish with Hongi Hika and Ruatara. On 13 January 1815 he went aboard the Active with Te Morenga of Tai-a-mai, near Waimate North, another old friend, to prospect the coast as far as the Thames. On 15 February he completed his cargo of flax and timber, and on the 24th, after buying the mission site of some 200 acres at Rangihoua, he cleared for Sydney.
All the same, success was far from assured. In his walks abroad Marsden had seen much want and misery. He had also been made aware of the inveterate jealousy of the hapu, their tendency to violence and revenge, their attachment to tapu and to their own gods. The death of Ruatara soon after Marsden's departure was a serious blow. The evil conduct of the crews of passing ships, the matching of violence with violence, was further cause for concern. In addition, the ever-increasing cost of blankets, clothes and tools for visiting chiefs at Rangihoua and Parramatta, rice and potatoes for Kendall's school, provisions for the mission village at Rangihoua, and the salaries of the New Zealand settlers, was soon a major worry. The Active had to be sent whaling to pay her way. There were, before long, personal difficulties with his missionaries. They seemed unable to work amicably together, or to agree on what should be done.
A year or two later things were no better. Marsden's chief ground for complaint at this stage was the private trade in firearms, which he had banned as early as 1815. In February 1819 he was obliged to entreat his settlers once again to desist. They all except Hall agreed to do so, and then promptly yielded to temptation once more. Marsden's own connection with the venture was also in doubt. In New South Wales his material success, and his violent disagreements with the governor, Lachlan Macquarie, and others had caused his missionary ventures to be regarded with suspicion and even contempt. In response to Macquarie's repeated refusal to grant him leave to revisit the Bay of Islands, Marsden took in increasing numbers of Maori at Parramatta and taught them fish-curing, ropemaking, and brickmaking. He also added to his properties so that he could employ all who came in gardening and agriculture, mixed with moral and religious instruction. He plied the settlers at Rangihoua with advice, supplies, and extra hands at his own cost, and kept the Active going back and forth, to pick up pork and timber and more visitors.
In mid 1819, with the Church Missionary Society's blessing, Marsden moved to take an even firmer grip on the venture. In the course of his second visit to New Zealand, from 12 August to 9 November 1819, he dismissed two of the settlers and banned once more the traffic in powder and muskets. In February 1820, at the beginning of his third visit, he remonstrated in vain with Kendall about the latter's impending visit to England with Hongi. In June 1822 he suspended Kendall for adultery with a Maori woman. He also found himself obliged to report the disobedience of the Reverend J. G. Butler, the superintendent of the mission since July 1819.
In the same period he also set about strengthening the mission. In 1819 he established a new settlement at Kerikeri, and 'bought' from Hongi a 13,000 acre block of land there, which he thought might answer the needs of any poor colonising families the society might send out. In 1820 he stationed James Shepherd with Te Morenga at Tai-a-mai. In August 1823 he opened a further station at Paihia for the Reverend Henry Williams. He also gave what help he could to the infant Wesleyan Methodist mission established at Kaeo, near Whangaroa, in 1823.
The objectives of Marsden's visits to New Zealand at this stage were, however, very different in kind. He wanted to see the country and its people, and his remaining journals describe in vivid detail his long journeys, often in rugged, heavily bushed country where no European had ventured. On his third visit, from 27 February to 5 December 1820, he went as far as Tauranga, then back to Kaipara, accompanied by Te Morenga. He also wished to examine at first hand Maori economy, institutions and religious beliefs. Above all, he had come to teach and to preach. Wherever he went he talked, often far into the night, on all manner of subjects - agriculture, commerce, navigation, the principles of government - but especially on the absurdity of tapu, the root cause of all their wars, 'upon the works of Creation, the being and attributes of God, and the institution of the Sabbath Day, and the resurrection of the dead.' He also hoped to press ahead with the translation of the Bible into Maori.
In his latter years Marsden was still to suffer much pain and sorrow in the pursuit of what he deemed to be the Lord's will. The setting aside of his claims as archdeacon in 1824 he looked on as of small moment, but he was deeply distressed by W. C. Wentworth's libels in the third edition of A statistical account of the British settlements in Australasia (London, 1824), and a reprimand in December by Earl Bathurst, the secretary of state for the colonies, in response to Marsden's charges against the government official H. G. Douglass. He felt he had served his country faithfully and to the best of his ability for 34 years, and at the last had been held up as a promoter of public discord.
The crisis passed, and Marsden's publication in London in 1826 of An answer to certain calumnies, and the removal of Douglass from office in 1827, silenced his enemies and produced an effect in his favour in the colony. Even more happily, the new governor, Ralph Darling, encouraged his missionary endeavours, although Marsden's advice to the New Zealand mission was not always accepted. The missionaries, under Henry Williams, often tended to go their own way.
Marsden's brief visits to the Bay of Islands were packed with action. On his fifth visit, in April 1827 aboard the Rainbow, he pointed out to various chiefs their crimes in robbing the Wesleyans at Whangaroa. On his sixth visit, with his daughter Mary, from March to May 1830, he played a vital part in restoring peace between the rival armies in the bloody Girls' War. A no less significant move was to set up a farm at Waimate North, to render the settlers less dependent on uncertain and expensive supplies from New South Wales and to set an example of peaceful, constructive industry. He threw himself into the work of teaching the small groups of anxious young inquirers who visited him in the evenings, and preaching in Maori to the crowds who gathered round him wherever he went.
Marsden never really retired, although in his latter years he began to show signs of wear and tear. In October 1835 Elizabeth Marsden died. She had been disabled since 1811. The following December Marsden himself was taken ill. He recovered, but still refused to rest. In February 1837, with his daughter Martha, he undertook yet another voyage to New Zealand, at his own expense. This visitation assumed the proportions of a triumphal procession. At Hokianga hundreds came to pay their respects to the grand old man. On his arrival at Waimate North, where he was borne on a litter through the bush, he was greeted with reverence. On 1 April he visited Kaitaia where Maori came in party after party. For all his physical weakness he nonetheless threw himself into the ordinary business of the mission. He not only spent endless hours at committee meetings on all manner of subjects, but ventured many times with Henry Williams into the rival grog-drenched, convict-infested pa, in a vain effort to negotiate an enduring peace between Pomare II and Titore. More happily, he visited most of the mission stations within 100 miles of Waimate North, to teach and preach to their scattered parishioners and to lend the weight of his name to the rapid spread of the arts of reading and writing, the diffusion of peace and order and of the Gospels.
His final departure was on 2 June 1837 aboard the Rattlesnake, via the Thames and Cloudy Bay. On his arrival at Sydney he spoke of returning to New Zealand perhaps once a year. He became progressively more feeble, however, and on 12 May 1838, on a visit to Windsor, he breathed his last. He was buried in the churchyard of St John's Church, Parramatta.
Inevitably, Marsden was much misunderstood in his generation and just as often misrepresented. In essence he was simple-minded and honest, even to a fault. He was also open-handed, almost prodigal with his time and his money. If he apparently neglected to evangelise the Aborigines it was not from want of trying. He also looked with pity on the fallen and the lost; he often befriended convicts. He was extraordinarily generous towards those who disappointed him, or even those who hated him. As he was always ready to admit, he could make mistakes, from human weakness, or from lack of counsellors in times of trouble. If he had a serious fault, it was his predisposition to take offence.
His role in the gradual emergence of New Zealand is difficult to assess. Without him the conversion of Maori to Christianity might have been long delayed. Marsden also transformed the Maori economy and laid the foundations of New Zealand agriculture. It can be said, too, that he made a notable contribution to the debate which ended in the British annexation of New Zealand. In 1831 he urged Darling to put a stop to the growing trade in tattooed heads, and protested with great energy the participation of a British captain and crew in the abduction and torture of Tama-i-hara-nui of Ngai Tahu by Ngati Toa. He urged the dispatch of a naval vessel with due power to restrain such scandalous misbehaviour, and recommended the appointment of a British Resident with proper authority, to whom Maori could appeal for redress.
In the last resort, however, as Marsden recognised, all this would hardly be enough. He was far from objecting to the occasional colonisation of thinly peopled or vacant districts, and opined that if 'a body of good men were to sit down as Colonists…it would prove a great blessing to the Island.' Whatever the case, it would be necessary for some power to take New Zealand under its protection if the anarchy that prevailed at Kororareka (Russell) were not to become universal. That that power was ultimately Great Britain was in large measure due to the apostolic labours of Samuel Marsden.
G. S. Parsonson, from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand.

bullet  Research Notes:

The Missionary Marsden
. . . . . The second decisive event was his acceptance from Governor Hunter in 1795 of the office of magistrate at Parramatta, where the incidence of sexual immorality and crime was a direct result of the presence of turbulent female convicts who were housed in the factory by day, but left to fend for their own lodgings at night. Marsden had a passionate, almost pathological detestation of crime and sin, and he held a firm belief in the special value of the lash in disciplining evil doers. He failed to realize that in a convict colony his moral and spiritual influence was peculiarly undermined by his becoming identified with the establishment of judges, gaolers and floggers.
Marsden's alienation from a potential spiritual flock of convicts and emancipists was confirmed by his material success as a landowner and by his inflexible opposition to Governor Macquarie's emancipist policy. This involved the breaking down of the barriers between bond and free by offering ex-convicts every mark of material favour, social recognition and official status as an inducement to and reward for reformation. Marsden, by contrast, saw the penalties of crime as continuing to the grave: he laboured to preserve the social chasm between emancipists and free colonists, and he was supported by most of his Anglican colleagues and generally vindicated by the Report of Commissioner J. T. Bigge.
The immense damage thus suffered by the Church of England during its formative years in Australia was noticed by a visitor from India, Captain Frank Irvine. He wrote in 1821 of the social and religious gulf separating the clergy from the convict and emancipist. '. . . The parties may know themselves to be fellow Christians, members together of the same mystical body, but they feel that on earth they cannot approximate or mingle. The Wesleyan Ministers, by themselves associating with the more moral of the convicts, set an example calculated to lessen among their adherents . . . the repulsion just mentioned ... . It is no wonder that the convicts, as a body, are partial to the Wesleyans, who associate with them on terms of familiarity and equality.
. . . . .
A T Yarwood
University of New England

Lachlan Macquarie to Samuel Marsden
8 January 1818
Sydney 8. Jany. 1818.,
Thursday Noon!
Mr. Marsden!
To prevent the possibility of any misrepresentation, I have thought it necessary to have those * three Gentlemen present at this interview, in order that they may hear and bear witness, eventually, of what I am now about to say to you.?

1st. I have long known, Mr Marsden, that you are a secret Enemy of mine - and as long as you continue only a secret one, I despised too much your malicious attempts to injure my character to take any notice of your treacherous conduct; - but now that you have thrown off the mask, and have openly and Publickly manifested your hostile and factious disposition towards me, I can no longer consistently with what I owe to my own high station, and the tranquility of the Country I have the honor to Govern, pass over unnoticed, a recent most daring act of insolence and insubordination, of which you have been guilty.

2d. I therefore demand of you to inform me by whose order, and by what authority, you have dared to investigate, and take Depositions, respecting my Public measures and administration, as Governor in Chief of this Colony. I allude, Sir, to your late examination of the Public Executioner, Thomas Hughes, at the House of Robert Campbell Esqr., relative to my ordering three men to be Punished some time ago for breaking into the Government Domain Contrary to repeated Government Orders.

"That he did not consider that he had done anything wrong." ?

3d. I consider, Sir, that act of yours, not only as most insolent and impertinent as it respects myself Personally; - but also, as highly insubordinate and seditious; in as much as such conduct, on your part, tends to inflame the mind of the Inhabitants, excite a Clamour against my Government, bring my administration into disrepute, and disturb the General Tranquility of the Colony. Such conduct, Sir, would be highly Criminal in any man; but still much more so in you - as being both a Magistrate and a Clergyman - who ought to be the first to set an example of loyalty, obedience, and proper subordination!

4th. As I was myself Personally the object of your seditious, malicious, and officious investigation, on the occasion adverted to, I did not wish - tho' I knew what was going forward at the time - to interrupt your treacherous and insidious endeavours to injure my Character - and thereby gratify your own spirit of revenge!

But now, that I conclude that you have fully completed your investigation on the Subject in question - and transmitted Home the result thereof; I must thus Publickly warn you, that if ever you dare or presume again to interfere with, or investigate any part of my conduct, as Governor of this Colony, I shall consider it my indispensible duty - as a measure of necessary precaution - alike due to my own high station, the support of my authority, and the tranquility of the Country - immediately to suspend you from the exercise of your Functions in your present offices, as a Clergyman and a Magistrate, until I report your conduct to H. R. Highness The Prince Regent.

5th. Viewing you now, Sir, as the Head of a Seditious low Cabal - and consequently unworthy of mixing in Private Society or intercourse with me, I beg to inform you that I never wish to see you excepting on Public Duty; and I cannot help deeply lamenting, that, any man of your Sacred Profession should be so much lost to every good feeling of Justice, generosity and gratitude, as to manifest such deep rooted malice, rancour, hostility and vindictive opposition towards one who has never injured you but has, on the contrary, conferred several acts of kindness on both yourself and Family!?


* Revd. Wm. Cowper - Chaplain
J.T. Campbell - Secry.
Lt. Jno. Watts 46th. A.D.C.
'Lachlan Macquarie to Samuel Marsden' 8 January 1818.
MACQUARIE, Lachlan. Letter Book 1809-1822.
Original held in Mitchell Library, Sydney.
ML Ref: A797 pp.141-144. [Microfilm copy: CY Reel 306].

The purpose of this document appears to be more as a quasi-legal document than as a letterbook entry. It is also a briefing note that summarises Macquarie's intended speech to Rev. Samuel Marsden, at a time when their personal relationship was becoming increasingy acrimonious and bitter. In addition to providing an insight into Macquarie's thoughts and feelings, the names of three witnesses are included in the margin, as well as initialled signatures for 'J.T.C.' and 'J.W.' in five places, coinciding with the five points that Macquarie raises with Marsden. [ie. John Thomas Campbell and John Watts]. The fact that their initials appear in Macquarie's personal Letterbook are an indication of how seriously he took this confrontation with Marsden. However the absence of any initials or signature for Reverend Cowper in the Letterbook creates to the impression that Macquarie used Campbell and Watts as his 'inner cabinet'.

It seems doubtful that Macquarie would have ever supplied Marsden with an original copy of this note (as a letter), in case it was used against him or forwarded to critics overseas. The function of the text was as a script for managing the confrontation with Marsden on 8 January 1818.

Further record of Marsden's more controversial activities in Paramatta are contained in the biography of Dr Henry Grattan Douglas who had charge of the hospital at Paramatta. <>


Samuel married Elizabeth FRISTAN [16860] [MRIN: 6037] on 21 Apr 1793 in Hull YKS. (Elizabeth FRISTAN [16860] was born on 12 Jul 1772 in Hull YKS, died on 12 Oct 1835 in Parramatta NSW and was buried on 15 Oct 1835 in Marsden Vault St John Paramatta NSW.)

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