Thomas Hassall (1794 – 1868) Anglican clergyman
Besides his ministerial duties Thomas Hassall, like his brothers, was a keen woolgrower, and he also acted as magistrate. He won the lasting affection of squatters, stockmen and shepherds. Though known widely as the ‘squire of Denbigh’ and the ‘galloping parson’, his parishioners knew him familiarly as ‘Thomas’.
In June 1824 the Rev Samuel Marsden pressed Governor Brisbane to appoint Thomas Hassall chaplain to the penal settlement at Port Macquarie. Brisbane did so in August, and authorized him to build a church; the request that this be confirmed crossed with a royal warrant of 1 November appointing Hassall a colonial chaplain. In December the foundation stone of the church was laid, but Hassall’s attempts to ameliorate convict conditions at the settlement met with opposition.
Early in 1826 he was appointed to the Bathurst district, after having lost his library in the wreck of the Henriette. He lived on his property, Lampeter farm at O’Connell Plains, where he built Salem Chapel, and he preached regularly at a barn in Kelso which had been opened as a church in 1825.
In March 1827 he left Bathurst on being appointed to the Cowpastures, another new parish which he himself described as ‘Australia beyond Liverpool’. At the same time he purchased the large Denbigh estate at Cobbitty which became his headquarters. In 1828 he built Heber Chapel, which served until the construction of St Paul’s, Cobbitty, in 1842.
Besides his ministerial duties Hassall, like his brothers, was a keen woolgrower, and he also acted as magistrate. He won the lasting affection of squatters, stockmen and shepherds. Though known widely as the ‘squire of Denbigh’ and the ‘galloping parson’, his parishioners knew him familiarly as ‘Thomas’. He could well be described as the first of Australia’s ‘bush parsons’. It was said that ‘the wilds of Nattai and Burragorang were as familiar [to him] as the more pleasant valleys of Mulgoa and Illawarra’.
James Backhouse gave a glimpse of the ‘exemplary and diligent’ chaplain of Cobbitty providing ‘temporal relief, and spiritual instruction’ during an influenza epidemic in 1836. A strict Evangelical of the ‘Methodist’ type like William Cowper and Richard Hill he fully co-operated with Methodists and Dissenters, but it is clear that he stood in awe of his father-in-law, and never gainsaid him. Hassall was interested in practical religion rather than theology. He wrote tracts such as Jemmy Mullins, the Little Irish Sailor Boy, and had a remarkable record of conversions. In August 1843 he received the degree of M.A. from the archbishop of Canterbury through Bishop Broughton who held him in the highest regard.
Thomas Hassall’s father, Rev. Rowland Hassall : http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A010480b.htm
Thomas Hassall’s home, 109 George Street, Parramatta : http://caseyandlowe.com.au/pdf/leaflet7.pdf
The Thomas Hassall Anglican College : http://www.sasc.nsw.edu.au/school_detail.asp?SchoolID=26
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