University of Tasmania
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Launceston Wesleyan Methodists 1832 - 1849: contributions, commerce, conscience

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posted on 2023-05-26, 05:47 authored by Bailey, AV
This thesis argues that the Launceston Wesleyan Methodists 1832-49 were a highly unusual global group. With an elite component, they went far beyond the normal range of colonial Wesleyan Methodist establishments. They have slipped through the net as regards their rightful place in history. What is being rescued from obscurity is this Society, which passed through initial missionary and strategising moves to community involvement, consecration of wealth, status, commercial success, banking involvement and then finally political involvement. It is argued that, in the short time frame designated, it was unusual for a first generation Wesleyan Methodist group to have achieved so much. The thesis is presented in two parts. For an understanding of the Launceston Wesleyan Methodists, the first part lays out the background of the formation of the Wesleyan Methodist Society, showing the varied influences that came to bear on John Wesley's patchwork of developing theology, as well as Wesley's evangelical economic principles. These economic principles are shown to have altered in the early nineteenth century with the rise of the Wesleyan Methodist middle class man. With the rise of evangelical international missionary enterprise, Wesleyan men of commerce understood that they had to consecrate their wealth to fund missionary endeavours of the Society. The Wesleyan Methodist mission trajectory to the South Seas is discussed with the failed early colonial missions of Sydney and Hobart. The second part details successful missionary endeavours towards the developing merchant town of Launceston. These endeavours began with the coming of Philip Oakden in 1833, and the forming of an elite within the Society who were prepared to shoulder financial responsibility. The Wesleyan Methodist spirit of egalitarianism in a penal situation is discussed, with a demographic study as well as a discussion of the global shift in liturgy. The Wesleyan Methodist conscience is explained through an examination of a particular spiritual diary. The acquisition of status is explained through land and property ownership, jury list membership and involvement in philanthropic and civic activities. With the establishment of status, the thesis makes a strong case for the Launceston Wesleyan Methodist contribution to banking, and this is verified with a banking table. Emphasis is given to the extraordinary involvement of Philip Oakden in the establishment of the second tier imperial bank, The Union Bank of Australia (the predecessor to the ANZ Bank). Political involvement for the Wesleyan Methodists in the 1840s is charted giving regard to the Teetotal Society and some growing resentments which led to the formation of the London Agency and Anti-Transportation Leagues, both of which had considerable Wesleyan Methodist input. The thesis contributes to the body of knowledge regarding worldwide Wesleyan Methodist establishments before 1850. It is the first time that a group of Australian colonial Wesleyan Methodists has been examined in such detail for their contributions and achievements. The thesis concludes that the Launceston Wesleyan Methodists, 1832-49 were an outstanding group who far surpassed normal Wesleyan Methodist establishments.


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Copyright 2008 the Author

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