Daniel Draper

Daniel Draper (1810 – 1866) minister, church builder
Daniel Draper was superintendent of the Wesley Church in Melbourne, 1855 – 1866. Under his leadership, the present large gothic church in Londsdale St was build, in spite of much opposition. Draper died in January 1866, returning from Britain, the steamship “London”, was disabled in a storm in the Bay of Biscay. As the ship slowly sank over two days, he conducted a prayer meeting to enable people to prepare for death.

In August 1835 Daniel Draper was approached with a view to his going to Australia. He agreed, was married in September to the daughter of the Webb family, farmers of Fareham, who had introduced him to the Methodist Society, and was ordained in the Southwark Chapel on 7 October. He left England on 13 October and arrived in Hobart Town in February 1836.

Draper’s thirty years of ministry in Australia were divided almost equally between the colonies of New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria. A genuine Wesleyan minister, he distinguished himself by his sagacious leadership, his practical bent showing itself in the building of churches and schools and in the establishment and consolidation of Methodist societies not only in urban areas but on the goldfields and in rural communities.

Draper arrived in Sydney on 3 April 1836 to take up his first appointment at Parramatta. Here he built two new churches. Early in 1838 his wife fell ill, gave premature birth to a son who lived only a few days, and herself died on 16 February. In July 1839 Draper married Elizabeth, daughter of William Shelley, formerly a missionary in Tonga and Tahiti. In 1840 he was appointed to Bathurst and in 1842 to Sydney. During his term of service in Sydney he reported the opening of a new chapel at the Haymarket and the laying of the foundation stone of another at Balmain.

In 1846 Draper was appointed to South Australia, where he built the Pirie Street Church in Adelaide, as well as a number of country and suburban chapels and parsonages. He became the centre of a bitter dispute on state aid to religion, and a number of those opposed to his acceptance of the grants seceded from the Wesleyan Church. During the gold rush in Victoria, when many males left the colony, Draper wisely sent John Symons to the goldfields to care for South Australian diggers and obtain from them money for the impoverished South Australian churches. During Draper’s chairmanship of the South Australian district, thirty new chapels were built, church membership rose by 1300, Sunday school scholars increased by 2000, and attendants at public worship by 7000.

In 1855 the Australian Wesleyan Church, having been granted independence of the British Conference, held its first Australian conference, and appointed Draper to Melbourne as chairman of the Victoria district. There he paid regular visits to the goldfields and rural communities, encouraging the erection of chapels. In Melbourne he was largely responsible for the building of three large bluestone churches, in Lonsdale Street (Wesley Church), North Melbourne and St Kilda.

Complete article : http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A010305b.htm



During his time in Melbourne Daniel Draper oversaw the erection of three large bluestone churches — Wesley Church in Lonsdale Street and churches at North Melbourne and St Kilda. In the many churches for which he was responsible, Draper favoured the Gothic style and in Melbourne the use of expensive bluestone. Wesleyans had ‘no great architectural tradition’ when they arrived in Australia. The founder, John Wesley had decreed that ‘preaching houses’ should be ‘plain and decent’ and no more expensive than necessary. Wesleyans in Victoria, however, argued that ‘God is better pleased with a good and elegant church when it is within the means of the worshippers to build it, than with one plain, unsightly and uncomfortable’. Draper also argued that a better building ‘commands a better congregation’.


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