STORIES OF EARLY ADELAIDE
Churches I Remember
Told By .. . Lucy Morice
Adelaide was already a city of many churches when I first began to take an interest, some time in the 'seventies, in preachers and congregations.
MY parents, who were
brought up in the Presbyterian faith, became members of the Unitarian Church in Adelaide, wel- coming its enlightened teaching after the harsh doctrines of Calvinism.
As children we knew nothing of the dreary Sun- day restrictions that darkened the end of the week for so many young creatures. My first glimpse of Sabatarianism
came when I was a very small child. A cousin had come out from Glasgow and was visiting 'the family. I was sitting by the fire with a saucerful of beads on my lap making a little necklace. My cousin Willie suddenly
stopped talking and looked at me with a most strange expression. 'Do you see what that child is doing?' he asked my mother. 'Why, she's only threading beads,' said my mother, puzzled. 'That a child should be thread- ing beads on the Sunday!' he said in a tone of sincere horror. Although careless in that re- spect, I attended church regularly when I was a little older.
The reason was that the Unitarian Church had a chil- dren's library. The books, which were not religious works, but excel- lent tales of travel, adventure, and ro- mance, were bound
in brown holland, and Miss Clark and my aunt. Catherine Helen Spence, looked after them, the children of the congregation were allowed to borrow them, which we did with great pleasure and profit.
THE Rev. John Crawford Woods was a very notable preacher, and the Unitarian Church was at- tended by people of progressive views and intellectual interests. Members of that early congrega- tion included the Ayers family, and that of Arthur John Baker, whose wife and Lady Ayers were sisters. Mr. Arthur John Baker was head of the Fire Brigade, and was on occasion resplendent in full uniform. He had two beautiful daughters, one of whom married Henry Ry- mill, and became the mother of Arthur, Henry, and other well- known Rymills. Old Mr. and Mrs. Simpson (of the metal working firm) attended with Miss Simpson, who afterwards married the Rev. Crawford Woods. The Clarks, also members of that congregation, had come out from England for Mr. Clark's health. He had kept a modern and very notable school at Hazelwood, in England. Mrs. Clark was a sister
of Sir Rowland Hill, who founded the penny post Mrs. Crompton and Mrs. Martin were daughters of the Clark family. Regular attendants were the Vaughans, and Crawford Vaughan was named after the Rev. Craw- ford Woods. The Kays, William and Robert, had their family pews opposite each other. William Kay had three sons, and Robert five daughters. When prayers began. William and his sons always rose and stood facing the wall, with their backs to the preacher. In the other pew, the Robert Kays and their five daughters just 'hunkered' in the ordinary way. Theirs was the usual attitude for prayers in the Unitarian church then, when kneeling in public was considered a Papist practice. Hun- kering meant stooping over the pew in front, and was very un- comfortable.
MISS Martha Turner, sister of Giles Turner, a man of letters in Melbourne, came over to Ade- laide in the '70's and preached in the Unitarian pulpit. It was a very interesting sermon, well deli- vered, and many people came to hear her. She wore a long, black silk dress with a train, and some kind of white cap. After Martha Turner had broken the ice. Auntie Kate (Catherine Helen Spence) often preached iu the Unitarian pulpit. My mother would never go to hear her. be cause she thought it was not very nice for women to speak in pub- lic. The Presbyterian churches had many notable early preachers. Among them was the Rev. Hain- ing, an Edinburgh graduate, who came out from Scotland in 1841. He always carried a silver snuff box which had been presented to him by some of my cousins of the Brodie clan, whom he had coached in Edinburgh. He was the only person I ever saw who took snuff, that is, regularly— my father and others, out of civility, would accept a pinch when it was offered to them. THE Church in those days did sometimes take the lead on social questions. I remember a Methodist minister who gave a striking lecture on social prob lems. The Women's League, which I had founded to study and take an interest in citizenship, decided that this address should be made the basis of one evening's discussion. A well-known young Adelaide woman, still one of my oldest friends, mentioned in her talk the need for properly run maternity homes. There was then no Queen's Home or McBride's. and the Lying
In Ward of the Destitute Asylum was not all that it might have been. She told how one young woman was kept waiting so long for per- mission to enter, that her baby was nearly born in the cab. Soon after this, the Women's League was disrupted, because of the opposition from fathers and brothers of members, most of whom belonged to the Adelaide Club. They said, 'What is going to happen if women start talking about things like that?' But women did go talking about them, and gradually they wrought some improvements in our social services^ — thanks to bold spirits like Auntie Kate, who thought they had a right to speak the truth, in the pulpit or out of it.