03 September, 2020

Pious, Zealous and Obstinate
Father John Joseph Therry (1790 - 1864)

The forty-four years in which Father John Joseph Therry (pronounced "Terry") laboured as a missionary in colonial Australia may be summarised in several paragraphs, but how inadequate such a summary would be in encompassing the fundamental contribution he made in planting and nourishing the tree of the Catholic Church in Australia from the time of his arrival in 1820; two hundred years ago.  

We must start somewhere, however, and the following article, giving an outline of the course of his life and work, is a comprehensive and fair account.  It was written for the Australian Dictionary of Biography in 1967 by the historian Father John Eddy SJ.  Father Eddy's article has been substantially edited for inclusion here.  Over a period of time, further articles about Father Therry will be posted to this blog, which we hope will tell anew the remarkable story of this indefatigable Apostle of Australia during the bi-centenary year.

a photograph taken in the early 1860s.
Note the eye-glasses being held in his left hand.
Digital restoration by the Saint Bede Studio

John Joseph Therry was born in the city of Cork, Ireland in 1790, and was educated privately before he studies for the priesthood at St Patrick's College, Carlow.  Ordained a priest in 1815, he was assigned to parochial work in Dublin and then Cork, where he became secretary to the bishop, Dr Murphy. Father Therry’s interest in the colony of New South Wales, aroused by the transportation of Irish convicts and the publicity surrounding the deportation from Sydney of Father Jeremiah O'Flynn in 1818, came to the notice of Bishop Edward Bede Slater, the Vicar-Apostolic of the Cape of Good Hope, Madagascar, Mauritius, and New Holland with the adjacent islands. At the same time, the British Colonial Office had consented to send two official Roman Catholic chaplains to New South Wales. Recommended by his own bishop as a capable, zealous and “valuable young man”, Father Therry sailed from Cork with Father Philip Conolly, in the Janus, which carried more than a hundred prisoners. They arrived in Sydney, authorised by both Church and State, on 3rd May 1820.

Father Therry described his life in Australia for the next forty-four years as “one of incessant labour very often accompanied by painful anxiety.” Popular, energetic and restless, he appreciated from the beginning the delicacy of his role. He had to be at once a far-seeing pastor making up for years of neglect, a conscientious official of an autocratic British colonial system, and a pragmatic Irish supporter of democratic freedoms. Though respectful of authority and grateful for co-operation, he was impatient of any curtailment of what he considered his own legal or moral rights as a Catholic priest in a situation governed by extraordinary circumstances. The two priests immediately immersed them in their duties of instruction, visitation and administration of the sacraments.

The Colony’s Governor, Lachlan Macquarie, although not hostile, was initially abrupt in his regulation of the activities of the two priests. In 1821, Father Conolly, after a series of disagreements with Father Therry, left Sydney for Hobart, leaving Father Therry for five seminal years as the only priest in the Colony. 

A panorama of Sydney in 1821 looking north from Observatory Hill.
Fathers Therry and Conolly arrived in a well-established township.

Image : The State Library of NSW. 

Articulate and thorough, Father Therry set himself the task of attending to every aspect of the moral and religious life of the Catholics. He travelled unceasingly, living with his scattered people wherever they were to be found, sometimes using three or four horses in a day. His influence was impressive among the Protestant settlers and outstanding among the convicts. His correspondence shows the trust they placed in him. For the rest of his life he was banker, advisor and arbitrator to many of them as well as spiritual director and community leader. He also early formed a lasting interest in the Aboriginals, who became very attached to him. He also pleaded the cause of aboriginal education to a later Governor, Sir Ralph Darling.

The building of a church in Sydney, planned from the first days of the chaplaincy, was one of Father Therry's main preoccupations. The assistance or substantial tolerance of the leading colonists was assured, and on 29th October 1821 Governor Macquarie laid the foundation stone of St Mary's chapel on a site he had assigned at the edge of Hyde Park, near the convict barracks. The convict artist and architect Francis Greenway made himself available for consultation on the architecture and construction. Government help was promised, but Father Therry was criticised for the elaborate design and size of the building, and the project quickly got out of hand financially. His accounts - never very coherent though always scrupulously maintained - became progressively more chaotic as his charities multiplied and the financing of schools and churches in Sydney, Parramatta, and the outlying townships involved him in attempts to raise funds by farming and stock-breeding. The scattered and casual nature of his dealings, the absence of a reliable and able book-keeper and his own sanguine character made financial crisis inevitable. His failure to separate private and public matters hampered and indeed later crippled his apostolate. But demands for his service came from the hospital, gaols, farms, the government establishments, his own day and Sunday schools, and from road-gangs and assigned convicts. He went, whenever summoned, to Wollongong, Goulburn, Maitland, Bathurst, Newcastle with their neighbouring districts.

The Hyde Park Barracks  : a watercolour from 1820.
This place of confinement for the settlement's convicts was built in 1817.  All the pioneers priests
(including Bishop Polding) regularly visited this Barracks to bring Christ to those imprisoned.

Image : State of Library NSW

Oppressive behaviour by officials or settlers towards the soldiers or convicts angered him, particularly where religious issues were involved. He was bitterly resentful of his exclusion from certain government institutions, especially the Orphan School, where he was unhappy about children whose parents were Catholic being baptised and instructed by the Anglican chaplains. By 1824, however, the patronage of Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane and his own growing experience encouraged him to hope for impartiality and support. He was confident that, with the arrival of new priests to share his work, a remarkable expansion of Catholic practice and activity was possible. With the aid of his committees, trustees and friends, and the advent of what he termed “a free, liberal and talented press”, he began to feel secure. Father Therry had even been held up by the Governor as a model of discrimination and good judgment to the zealous (and horrified) Presbyterian minister, John Dunmore Lang.

The formal withdrawal of Government support for his ministry in 1825 – the result of his being misquoted in the press in his opinion of Anglican ministers - caused Father Therry continual prohibitions and hindrances in the exercise of his priestly work, especially in the visitation of the sick and dying in gaols and hospitals, and in the celebration of marriages. Nevertheless, Father Therry remained 
their pastor in the eyes of the colony’s Catholics.

In December 1826, another Catholic Chaplain arrived from Ireland, Father Daniel Power. The two priests had more work than they could deal with, but Father Therry's impetuosity and Father Power's inadequate health led them into a series of collisions, particularly when the building of St Mary's Chapel came to a standstill and Father Therry demanded more vigorous action. Father Power died in March 1830 and Father Therry was again left alone with his mounting debts and worries. His genius for publicity and organisation is illustrated in the repeated representations made on his behalf by the principal officials and magistrates, and supported in March 1830 by over 1400 householders. The Colonial government permitted him to continue to act as chaplain – but without status or salary. A further Chaplain, Father Christopher Dowling OP, arrived from Ireland in September 1831.

Old Saint Mary's Cathedral (at right) founded by Father Therry and Governor Macquarie in 1821.
The adjacent buildings of the Hospital & Hyde Park Barracks are also shewn in this 1840 aquatint.

Image : The Sydney Museum.

The arrival of Sir Richard Bourke as the new Governor of the Colony (1831), the news of the British Government’s Catholic Emancipation Act (1829), and the appointment of the Irish Catholics Roger Therry as Commissioner of the Court of Requests (1829) and of John Hubert Plunkett as Solicitor-General (1832), both loyal friends of Father Therry, offered new opportunities for Catholic progress. Yet Father Therry was still frustrated and unrecognised when a further Chaplain, Father John McEncroe arrived in June 1832. Father McEncroe was quite capable of managing the indomitable but stubborn veteran and the two became lifelong colleagues and confidants. A dispute about the land on which St Mary's Chapel was being built had become deadlocked through Father Therry's obstinacy. Disastrous litigation was in prospect when Bishop Morris, the Vicar-Apostolic of the Cape of Good Hope, Madagascar, Mauritius, and New Holland, appointed the English Benedictine, Father William Ullathorne, as his Vicar-General in the Colony. Despite his youth, Father Ullathorne's confidence and ecclesiastical authority enabled him to take over the reins from Father Therry when he arrived in February 1833. The first bishop, John Bede Polding, came in 1835 and Father Therry went willingly as pastor of Campbelltown, with an area extending beyond Yass in his immediate care. By Governor Bourke's Church Act of 1836, the principle of religious equality had been accepted in the Colony, and in April 1837 Father Therry was restored to a government salary.

Since by 1838 several others priests had arrived to minister to the Colony’s Catholics, Bishop Polding was able to send Father Therry to Van Diemen's Land as Vicar-General. In Hobart, Father Conolly had become estranged from his people, and the all-too-common difficulties about jurisdiction, salaries and the deeds of church land 
had arisen. Father Therry reconciled Father Conolly before the latter's death in August 1839. He visited the interior of Tasmania and attended to the convicts. His church building at Hobart and Launceston was assisted by the Governor of Van Diemen's Land, Sir John Franklin's spasmodic patronage, but on St Joseph's Hobart, and on the schools demanded by the free settlers, he overreached himself. Loneliness, responsibility, illness and debt pressed heavily on him and he found himself again struggling for justice and religious equality in the government institutions. In July 1841 he visited Sydney briefly to get help and to try to clear up some of his business entanglements. There he was consulted by Caroline Chisholm, whom he was able to help and advise about her first plans to work among the emigrants. Though sick, he was thinking of a mission to New Zealand and perhaps the Pacific Islands, and formed an interest which in 1860 prompted him to implore Governor Sir William Denison to put an end to the Maori wars and to offer his own services as mediator.

Robert Willson arrived as first Bishop of Hobart Town in May 1844. He had not expected the church debts to be so great or so complicated, and he and Father Therry fell out. A long and dreary dispute arose, defying resolution and the efforts of a number of intermediaries. In September 1846, Father Therry went to Melbourne as pastor and remained there until April 1847.

The old church of Saint Augustine at Balmain circa 1870.
This was Father Therry's last Parish and he died in the adjacent presbytery in 1864.

Image : The State Library of NSW.

Father Therry was at Windsor NSW as pastor until June 1848 when he returned to live in Tasmania for a further six years. His efforts to settle affairs there were unsuccessful and he subsequently was appointed in May 1856 to Balmain where he spent the rest of his life. Mellowed and serene, he continued to be an energetic pastor, watching the growth of the church in whose establishment he had played such a definitive part, the coming of the Religious orders, and the enlargement both of the Pugin-designed church at Balmain and of the first St Mary's Cathedral, generously contributing whenever he could to every new development. He became spiritual director to the Sisters of Charity at St Vincent's Hospital, and in 1858 he was accorded the dignity by Pope Pius IX of Archpriest. In 1859 he was elected a founding fellow of the Council of St John's College within the University of Sydney. He had been given or had bought a number of properties which he tried to develop for the provision of more schools and churches for the growing Catholic community. Notable among these were his farms at Bong Bong and Albury, another property, which is now the suburb of Lidcombe, and 1500 acres (607 ha) at Pittwater, where he tried unsuccessfully to mine coal.

This Gothic Revival monument
was erected over the graves
of Archpriest Therry and 
Archdeacon McEncroe in
the former Devonshire Street
Both priests are now buried in 
the crypt
of Saint Mary's Cathedral.
Simple and unselfish, a firm democrat and a zealous priest, John Joseph Therry was a man of large notions and considerable achievement. He was an unsophisticated man with no clear ideas of social systems or political reform. Yet his energy and persistence proved a continual source of trouble to those who opposed his ideas of what was right or possible. “Pious, zealous, and obstinate”, despite his peculiarities and limitations he undertook many obligations and responsibilities which would in the circumstances have crushed greater men. His enthusiasm and sincerity assure him of a firm place among the founders of the Catholic Church and in the history of civil liberties in Australia. He firmly believed in a distant future for which he built, often regardless of existing conditions. Truly legendary in his own lifetime, Father Therry died peacefully on 25th May 1864, at the Balmain Presbytery and was buried from old Saint Mary’s Cathedral in the Devonshire Street Cemetery (now the area of Central Station). His was the largest funeral Sydney had seen to that date. His remains are now in the crypt of St Mary's Cathedral.



1. Amongst prominent historians who have written books or articles detailing the life of Father Therry are : Sir Roger Therry, Dean John Kenny, PF Cardinal Moran, Archbishop Eris O'Brien, "John O'Brien", Father James Murtagh, Timothy Suttor, Patrick O'Farrell, James Waldersee, James Hugh Donohoe, Father Ralph Wiltgen, Monsignor Con Duffy. This list is very far from complete.

2. Three photographs of Father Therry are known to have been taken.  The first was a daguerreotype from a sitting at the studio of Wheeler & Co in Sydney in 1853 or 1854. From this daguerreotype, an engraving was made and prints published; consequently, this 1853-54 image is frequently reproduced.  Two photographs were taken in one sitting in the studio of the Freeman Brothers in Sydney.  One of those photographs was in Father Therry's own collection, the other, having been in private hands, is now in the Archives of the Archdiocese of Sydney.  Of the Freeman's Studio sitting, there might have been more photographic prints produced which have since been lost. All these photographic images were used after the time of Father Therry's death to paint portraits of him.  Sad to say, none of the artists was up to the task and the various 19th century paintings of Father Therry are unremarkable.  A more recent effort by Sydney artist Paul Newton is also based on the Freeman Brothers photographs and adorns the walls of Domus Australia in Rome, along with those of other Catholic pioneers.

01 September, 2020

A Daily Prayer of Father Therry : Pioneer Priest

Father John Joseph Therry circa 1854.

The subject of two biographies, in addition to close study in many other historical monographs, articles, etc., it would be impossible to do justice, in a medium such as this, to the life of Father John Joseph Therry (1790-1864), Apostle to the Colony of New South Wales.  It is two hundred years (3rd May 1820) since he arrived by ship in Sydney Australia.

Although we will attempt to trace his life and work in future posts, here we include a prayer which he offered every morning, often before the Blessed Sacrament.  Perhaps the formal language of this prayer is slightly foreign to modern speakers of English, but its expression of a Christian's relationship to God is perennial.

In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti.  Blessed be the Holy and Undivided Trinity, now and always and for infinite ages of ages. Amen.

Prostrate before the throne of Thy Mercy, O Holy and Undivided Trinity,
I adore with all the powers of my soul Thy Divine Majesty,
and acknowledge that to Thee alone are due all Love, Praise and Thanksgiving,
on account of Thy infinite goodness.
I firmly believe and am ready to profess whatever Thou hast revealed to Thy Holy Church.
I hope in Thy mercies, and love Thy ineffable goodness.
I grieve from my soul for ever having offended Thee, and for love of Thee I detest all my sins,
and am resolved rather to die than again to offend Thee.

I give Thee thanks, O Supreme Deity,
for all and each of Thy benefits, both general and particular,
for those which are known to me as well as those of which I am ignorant;
and more particularly, for my creation, redemption and my vocation to the Holy Catholic Church;
for N and N ... ; and for all the benefits which have been or may hereafter be conferred on me,
and on all Thy creatures for all eternity.

Accept my thanks for having preserved me during the past night
from many dangers of both soul and body,
and for having given me this day to continue my services to Thee.
My God ! in grateful acknowledgement I offer to Thee my body and soul,
my understanding and my will, all my affections,
my every step and motion of body and soul,
of my past, present and future life,
but in a special manner those of the present day,
and beseech Thee that they may be such as to be justly meritorious in Thy sight.
With these, I offer my lukewarm or indifferent actions;
I now offer to Thee the Body and Soul of Jesus Christ my Saviour;
all His merits, His labours, His words and works;
whatever He did and suffered in this life, from His conception to death.  Amen.

1.  This prayer is reproduced by Father Therry's biographer, the Revd Eris M. O'Brien in his study The Life of Archpriest JJ Therry, published in Sydney, 1922.

2.  The image of Father Therry is an engraving made from a daguerreotype photograph taken by the firm of Wheeler & Co., Sydney, in 1853 or 1854.  Because the technology of the daguerreotype did not permit any more than one "print" to be made, the original photographic image of Father Therry was engraved onto a steel plate by an artist so that it might be reproduced on a printing press and distributed widely.

21 August, 2020

Hyde Park 1871

Image : National Library of Australia.

This wonderful engraving appeared in the Sydney Illustrated News in December 1871.  It was based on a sketch made from the tower of Saint James' Anglican church, King Street.  The principal subject of the engraving is Hyde Park, but buildings along Elizabeth Street and College Street can be clearly seen.  Some of those buildings still exist.

In the left-hand corner can be seen the remnant of old Saint Mary's Cathedral, reduced to a facade after the disastrous fire of 1865.  A pyramidal roof was added to the half-constructed tower circa 1868 and the bells of the Cathedral were located there for about 30 years, before the new Cathedral was sufficiently completed to give the bells their present home.

This enlargement of the engraving shews the facade of 
old Saint Mary's Cathedral, facing west into Hyde Park.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.


10 August, 2020

Bi-centenary 1820 - 2020

In the midst of tribulations that have spanned several months here in Australia, in this year of 2020 we commemorate a most important bi-centenary : the arrival of the first Government-appointed Catholic Chaplains to the Colony of New South Wales.  These were Father John Joseph Therry and Father Philip Connolly, both Irishmen, who arrived in Sydney on 6th May 1820.

The name of Father Therry (pronounced Terry) is still known to Australian Catholics.  If any one person could be said to be the Church's first Apostle in Australia, it was Father Therry.  When the settlement of Australia was almost entirely confined to what is now New South Wales, Father Therry travelled to all areas of settlement, ministering to Catholics and others who sought the consolation of Religion.  Father Connolly's ministry, however, was confined to Tasmania.

Father John Joseph Therry, Apostle of Australia
circa 1815.

Engulfed as the world and the Church has been by the COVID-19 virus, the commemoration of this important occasion has been very minor.  We will try to add something to the story with posts on this blog.  Since a number of books and many learned studies have been published about Father Therry, we can only hope to give an outline of his ministry here in Australia.  The story of Father Connolly was more chequered.

It was Father Therry also, who founded the first Catholic church in Sydney, which came to be Bishop Polding's Cathedral in 1835.

Over the next several months, we will be continuing to outline on this blog the history of the Catholicism in Australia from the founding of the colony in 1788 to the arrival of Bishop Polding in 1835.  There are some interesting tales to be told.

We will describe the construction of our first churches, in particular old Saint Mary's Cathedral, which celebrates its own bi-centenary next year, 2021.



The miniature watercolour of Father Therry was painted in about the year 1815 and is in the possession of the Archdiocese of Sydney.  Before the clergyman's collar which is more familiar to us, ministers of Religion (and other gentlemen, for that matter) commonly wore an ordinary shirt with an unstarched standing collar.  Around this was wrapped a long white cravat, usually tied in a bow.  This ornament frequently concealed the entire neck of the wearer.  In this miniature, Father Therry is shewn wearing such an ornament.

04 August, 2020

Old Saint Mary's Cathedral Sydney circa 1842

Old Saint Mary's Cathedral Sydney from the east.
Image : Collections of the State Library of NSW

This unusual view of old Saint Mary's Cathedral is found in the sketch book of Henry Campbell, now part of the Collection of the State Library of NSW.

Mr. Campbell made this sketch probably in the year 1842 looking west from a vantage point in what is known as The Domain.  From there he was able to sketch the apse of the old Cathedral and its south transept.  Other parts of the building are obscured by trees.  On the extreme right of the drawing can be seen the spire of Saint James' Anglican Church, King Street.


20 July, 2020

"Heathenism" : The Maitland Riot 1860

The startling notice, which appeared in the local newspaper for the town of Maitland NSW, was an admirable attempt by the pastor of the West Maitland Catholic parish, Father Lynch, to prevent an outbreak of sectarian violence between his flock and a nearby congregation of Presbyterians.  Saint John the Baptist's Catholic church and the Free Presbyterian church were (and are) only a few streets away from each other, adjoining the main street of Maitland, and each went about its own business as a Christian community.  Their respective pastors, Father John Thomas Lynch and the Reverend William McIntyre shared a certain vision for Christianity in Australia, namely that it be marked by restraint or abstinence from intoxicating liquor - then (as now) a serious social problem.

Father John Lynch
Resident priest West Maitland
Any common vision or mutual tolerance was brought to an abrupt end on 29th March 1860 in a notorious incident known as The Maitland Riots.  The immediate spark for this was an unprovoked and inflammatory public statement by Mr McIntyre. (1)

On 28th February, 1860, Mr McIntyre preached in the Presbyterian church hall in Hinton on his favourite theme, the wickedness of the Church of Rome.  Apart from his own bigotry, there was a particular reason for this public attack.  Each Christian denomination received - directly or indirectly - some sort of assistance from the Colonial Government of NSW, roughly in proportion to its numbers, and in general, Mr McIntyre thought that the Catholics received too much and should, indeed be cut off from State aid altogether.  The system of government aid was, in fact, quite fair and apportioned funding commensurate with the size of the congregation of a particular church community and their capacity to raise their own money.

As a matter of fact, the various groups of Australian Presbyterians, being quite small in number, received far less government assistance than did Catholic communities, and this was something which did not sit well with them.  It seems in particular that it rankled the Reverend William McIntyre.  In his address in Hinton, Mr McIntyre was reported by The Maitland Mercury :
The Presbyterian Church is not opposed to the idea of State aid, the question is whether Roman Catholics should be regarded as a Christian sect, worthy of being recognised at all.  The Church of Rome treats Protestants as heretics; I question whether we in turn should regard Popery as anything better than a form of baptised heathendom.
With the use of this archaic word heathendom, McIntyre was making a particular assessment of Catholicism, namely that not only was it NOT part of Christianity, but that it was also polytheistic, offering to the Blessed Virgin and the saints that reverence which is reserved only to God. Obviously, this was in contravention of the commandment : Thou shalt not have Strange Gods before me.  This misrepresentation of Catholic belief has been a recurring motif since the so-called Reformation in the 16th century, and was a regular theme of the preaching of Scottish Calvinists (but not limited to them).  Not content to worship God according to their own beliefs, time and again the beliefs of the Catholic Church (and, by extension, the Eastern Orthodox) were attacked by such Protestants as being a degenerate form of Christianity, or even Heathendom.

The Reverend William McIntyre
Presbyterian Minister West Maitland
The meaning of William McIntyre's accusation was not lost on the Catholic inhabitants of Maitland in 1860. There was considerable outrage at the statement and, when it was announced that Mr McIntyre would give a further lecture in Maitland itself one month later, there were many Catholics who declared that they would be present.  The second lecture was advertised to take place in the Free Presbyterian Church in Maitland, under the title The Heathenism of Popery. Proved and Illustrated. The date set for the address was 29th March 1860. The lecture had been advertised for some weeks and there was no secret about it. There was no secret, either, that many Catholics had said that the lecture would never take place. The Police Magistrate, Edward Denny Day, had been warned of possible trouble.  And the Reverend William McIntyre knew about the brewing storm; but he would not be deterred.

The Maitland Mercury colourfully describes what occurred that evening :
The Rev. Mr. McIntyre, who lives at Pitnacree, near East Maitland, arrived at the church with his family in his carriage about dusk. The street and the church yard had long before this been filled by an expectant, angry, and excited crowd, and scarcely had Mr. McIntyre stepped to the ground from his carriage than he was attacked by the mob, but he succeeded in escaping to the High School adjoining. His brother, Mr. Donald McIntyre was not so fortunate, as he was struck several times and severely mauled before he could make his way into the school. Mrs. McIntyre, who had accompanied her husband, was rescued by some bystanders early in the proceedings and taken to a place of refuge unharmed. But a nephew of hers was struck down by a blow, and the coachman was attacked with walking sticks and other missiles, and was considerably knocked about. Then the crowd, which became every moment more excited, attempted to wreck the carriage, but the police assisted by Mr. E. D. Day, Police Magistrate, who were by this time concentrated on the spot where it was standing, managed to prevent this being done.  
The Presbyterian Church in Free Church Street, Maitland
Scene of the 1860 Maitland Riot.
Shortly after the crowd, which is said to have numbered about a thousand persons, although a portion of it only was active, made an attack on the church itself. The front palings were torn down to be used as weapons, the windows were smashed by stones, and an attempt was made to burst open the church doors. But fortunately the police were strong enough in numbers to frustrate this object. Stone throwing continued for some time, fighting was frequent, and the air filled with noise of shouting and threatening, but after a time there was a lull, when Mr. Day assured the crowd no lecture would take place. But still the crowd did not disperse until ten o'clock at night...
Mr. Donald McIntyre was the only one of the family seriously hurt, his head being a complete mass of bruises and wounds. It was midnight before the excitement cooled down, and order was eventually restored. No arrests were made, but the police took the names of the ring-leaders with the view to their subsequent prosecution. (2)
This ugly episode did not end on the night of 29th March, but continued in Maitland for most of the remainder of 1860; it would seem to indicate the depth of anti-Catholic sentiment prevalent in that community.  Rather than see the occasion as a reckless outburst in response to an arrogant provocation, the supporters of William McIntyre - and there were many - rallied around to denounce the episode as an infringement on freedom of speech.  Not everyone was taken in by such claims, as was further reported in The Maitland Mercury :
A public meeting of Catholics was held in St. John's School, "to take into consideration the proper means of obviating the threatened disruption from their fellow residents of the local Catholics, sought to be brought about by the delivery of a lecture at West Maitland, and to protest against the charge of Catholic hostility to freedom of speech and discussion." 
Fifty persons attended the meeting ... and the following resolutions were carried:— 
(1) That this meeting, seeing with the greatest alarm and regret the persistence by one individual member of the community in a line of conduct calculated both to disturb the peace and to propagate the worst of all social evils, namely, sectarian rancour and ill-will in this hitherto peaceful community, hereby protest against such conduct, and declare their anxiety to live in friendly union with their fellow-citizens.
(2). That this meeting indignantly repudiates the charge of Catholic hostility to liberty of speech and discussion, the Catholic portion of every British community having special reason to value and to protect for their fellow-citizens and themselves privileges which history shows British Catholics were for centuries deprived of, and which they only obtained after arduous and protracted struggles and penal disabilities. But at the same time this meeting protests against a disingenuous confounding in the matter of mere license with liberty; and declares that the attempt of any person or persons gratuitously to hold up to public scorn anything held sacred by any religious section of the community, and calculated by the very character of the attempt to provoke violence and disorder, is not comprehended within the nature of freedom of speech and discussion, as accepted by every peaceable, well-meaning, and well-intentioned citizen.
Amidst a sea of rancorous argument, one voice stood out from others, and that was none other than the Archbishop of Sydney, John Bede Polding OSB.  He wrote a Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Maitland, which also appeared in The Maitland Mercury.

Dearly Beloved,

We have heard with great pain of the recent disturbance at Maitland, caused by the outrageous insult offered to our Church by a speaker at a late [recent] public meeting. We do not wonder at your feelings of anger, for we know well - though perhaps the world does not know – that Catholics feel more acutely an insult to their faith and Church than an attack upon themselves personally. It is the natural result of a true, living faith. But, dearly beloved, we would fain have seen all of you choose the nobler part, and so shame your assailant by enduring your wrongs in silence. In truth, you little know to what extent ignorance of Catholic doctrine and practice prevails amongst even educated men who are not Catholics; and if you could see into the minds of our assailants, you would behold blunders and confusion, in their ideas of our Church, that would provoke your mirth rather than your anger.

Archbishop John Bede Polding OSB
The Collection of the State Library of Victoria.

However, we are not proposing to urge such considerations upon you; but at once to carry your thoughts back to the scenes which, during Holy Week last, have been occupying your thoughts, and to bid you overcome natural resentment by looking anew on the example of Him who bore with patience the extremity of wrong, and insult, and blasphemy, for our sakes, and that we might be imitators of Him. This imitation is what He would have from us – what He chooses as the proof of our love. Let no one say that Catholics have refused this proof. The very depths of worldly shame and degradation, the cross and its ignominy, resulted, you know, in the glories of Easter; and now every knee bows at the name of Him who was once the scorn and outcast of men. And the life of our blessed Lord is ever being lived over again in the Church. Only do not you mar God’s blessing by refusing to receive and to bear with patience this little Cross of insult. You may heaps coals of fire upon your assailant; by showing that you value, indeed, the external honour of your Lord’s Church, but that you embrace and value more highly, the mind of Christ, which he came to form in His true followers. “Jesus autem tacebat.” “Jesus held his peace,” this was written for your instruction, and to show what manner of men He would have you to be when misrepresentation, and wrong, and blasphemy are at their worst. Leave God to avenge His own cause. 

Let no one persuade you that any good, no, not even of worldly credit, can come of anger and violence. Peace, good order, Christian patience, these must be your watchword, so you are true Christians. Men are afraid, it is said, that there may be a breach of peace and good order in Maitland. We are not so afraid, for we feel assured that you will have nothing to do with such an outbreak, because you value too highly the honour of God and of His Church. We are followers of One who was called by names worse than heathen. Be you His true children; and the more anyone from ignorance, or malice, charges your faith and your Church with heathenism, do you so much the more compel all mean by your conduct, to acknowledge that you have the Christ-like tempers of peacefulness and love, and long-suffering patience in your hearts. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen.

+John Bede Polding OSB
Archbishop of Sydney
11th April 1860.

High Street Maitland, circa 1865.
The Collection of the State Library of Victoria.


1. William McIntyre (1805-1870) had been inducted as the the Presbyterian minister for West Maitland in 1841. Because of various quarrels over more than 20 years, there were in fact three distinct groups of Presbyterians in Australia and William McIntyre (who was a central figure in all the quarrels) led that group called the Free Presbyterians.

2. Even as recently as 2015, Presbyterian historian Rowland Ward perpetuated a myth that one of the McIntyre family was killed during the 1860 riot "by a Catholic mob"; cf The Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia 1846-2013. No one, in fact, was killed or was even in danger of death. Mr Donald McIntyre lived many years after the incident.


01 July, 2020

The Lapérouse Mysteries

Frenchman's Cove within Botany Bay.
From the Flickr Photostream of Alan Foster.

[On] the 24th, in the morning, two Strange Ships were discover’d to ye Southward of Cape Solander & we soon after discover’d that they were French, one of which wore a Chef d’Escardres pennant EN 1 from which we conclude them to be La Boussole & L’ Astrolabe under ye orders of Monsieur De La perouse on discoveries. But the Wind blowing strong from NNE prevented their getting in [to Botany Bay] or our going out. At four in ye Afternoon they were out of sight & at day light on ye 25th we weighed in the Supply having received a Company of Marines & 40 convicts on board. The wind blew so strong from ye SSE that we were obliged to anchor & wait for the Ebb tide & at Noon we weighed & turned out of the harbour. In running along shore we observed a number of steep Rocky clifts & after having run about 3 Leagues, we were abreast of some high sand Clifts [sic] at the Northerm extremity of which the Land of ye Entrance of Port Jackson commences & the entrance is soon discovered lying between two steep bluff heads. EN 2
Lieutenant Philip Gidley King, a naval officer of the First Fleet, described in these words the strange turn of events as two European maritime expeditions converge at the same time, on the same spot, on the far side of the world. The two expeditions were not unknown to each other (or their respective governments) but surely would not have expected such an encounter. It so happened that 1788 was one period when the two nations were not at war with each other.  EN 3

The First Fleet entering Botany Bay January 1788.
A drawing of c.1885 by Julian Rossi Ashton.

The eleven English ships which comprised the First Fleet had arrived in two groups at Botany Bay from 18th January, the place where Captain Cook had arrived in April 1770.  Cook landed on the south side of the Bay in the locality now called Kurnell. For the purposes, however, of establishing a viable prison colony of felons transported from England, the commander of the Fleet, Captain Arthur Philip, quickly judged the rocky, sandy land around Botany Bay to be unsuitable. But, not far north, he had found what was described as “without exception, the finest and most extensive harbour in the universe.” EN 4 We can well imagine these sentiments as a small party from the Fleet sailed into Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) on a beautiful January day and beheld the many and varied wonders of that natural harbour. They found a spot which suited their purposes for settlement and called it Sydney Cove. EN 5

The First Fleet sailed from Botany Bay into Sydney Cove and Captain Philip made his landing there on 26th January, but he left one of his officers on the ship Sirius to meet with the French, who anchored in Botany Bay on the morning of that same day, 26th January. We might suppose there was a concern among the English that the French were intending to establish their own colony on these shores; but the Lapérouse expedition was a journey of exploration, not of colonisation. 

As it happened, this was also an important moment in the beginnings of Catholicism in Australia.

Jean-François de Galaup
The Count de Lapérouse.
An oil-colour of him aged around 40.

Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Albi.
The man whose name has been given to the bayside Sydney suburb of La Perouse was a French nobleman and mariner. Under the patronage of the King of France, Louis XVI, and by the arrangement of the French Academy of Science and Medicine, Jean-Francois de Galaup, the Count de Lapérouse, began preparations for an extensive sea voyage. King Louis wished an expedition to demonstrate that France could also excel in ocean exploration; he had been inspired by the voyages of Captain Cook. The Pacific regions of North and South America, Asia and Australasia were to be explored.

The Lapérouse Expedition consisted of two frigates - La Boussole and L'Astrolabe. When they left France in August 1785, these two vessels carried a total of 225 men : sailors, officers, scientists and two chaplains. Commanding the second vessel L'Astrolabe was Paul-Antoine the Viscount Fleuriot de Langle. Having sailed south around the tip of South America, the Expedition entered the Pacific Ocean where it mapped coastlines and explored uncharted areas. The Expedition's scientists also spent time onshore at various ports, observing the habits and customs of local people and collecting natural history specimens. Lapérouse sent back regular reports to France. During a visit to the Russian Pacific port of Petropavlovsk on the Russian Kamchatka peninsula, Lapérouse received letters from Paris and was ordered to investigate the settlement the British were intending to establish in New South Wales. This was in September 1787. 

The two French vessels La Boussole and L'Astrolabe of the Lapérouse Expedition
depicted off Maui in the Hawaiian Islands.

The National Library of Australia.

With the Expedition were two Catholic priests, Father Jean André Mongez and Father Laurent Réceveur, of the Conventual Franciscan Friars.  E
N 6 The circumstances of their being appointed as chaplains to the Lapérouse Expedition are quite interesting and deserve to be told here. In essence, they were appointed chaplains because they were also respected scientists and could serve two purposes during the Expedition.  No likenesses of the two chaplains are known to exist.

The senior chaplain of the Expedition was Father Jean-André Mongez (born 1751), a Canon of the Abbey of Saint Genevieve in Paris, man of letters and published scientist. Only a few years later in 1790, the Abbey of Saint Genevieve was suppressed by the French Revolution and its community of priest-scholars evicted. Subsequently the abbey and its church were demolished.

The Abbey and Church of Saint Genevieve in Paris
as it appeared in the eighteenth century.
Claude François Joseph Réceveur, born in 1757, lived his early life in a village in the east of France named Noël-Cerneux. Although pious, he was also adventurous and impulsive and drawn to military exploits. After a period with the French navy, Claude Réceveur left service and returned home. He chose to enter the Convent of the Conventual Franciscans and took the name in Religion of Laurent.  The Conventual Franciscans are often referred to as Greyfriars.

Friar Laurent Réceveur was subsequently sent to University in Paris, to the Franciscan Grand Convent, to continue his studies and was ordained in 1783. Beside his normal coursework in theology and philosophy, Friar Laurent studied astronomy, botany, geology, chemistry, meteorology, entomology and philology. By 1785, the remarkable background of this young Franciscan priest was noticed by the French Academy of Science and Medicine, who were urging King Louis XVI to prepare an expedition to explore the vast and still-uncharted areas of the southern Pacific Ocean and to circumnavigate the globe. The Academy recommended Father Réceveur’s participation in the Expedition, because of his credentials as a scientist and his experience in maritime voyages.  EN 7

Very little has been recorded about Father Mongez, but several remembrances of Father Réceveur have survived, such as this by Captain L’Angle in a letter sent back to France during the Expedition :
Father Réceveur carries out his duties as chaplain with decorum; he is friendly and intelligent; while at sea he deals with meteorological and astronomical observations and when we are at anchor, with matters related to natural history.
Lieutenant King, meeting him at Botany Bay described him as a "Collector of Natural Curiosities [who] appears a Man of Letters and Geniality.”  EN 8

The First Fleet at anchor in Botany Bay.

During the period of six weeks in which the Lapérouse Expedition remained in Botany Bay, there can be no doubt that Holy Mass was celebrated. The Chaplains were required by French naval law to offer public prayers daily and to celebrate Mass on Sundays and Feastdays. EN 7 What is unclear, however, is whether Mass was celebrated on land, or on the ships themselves, as was the usual practice during a sea voyage. Both ships would have had established arrangements for the chaplains to offer Mass. One consideration which militates against the suggestion that the Chaplains offered Mass on land, would be their caution to safeguard the Sacrament against unpredictable circumstances, such as inclement weather or attack by the indigenous. EN 9

The theory that Masses were celebrated by Fathers Réceveur and Mongez on the very land of New South Wales, is one which can never be proven. The offering of PUBLIC PRAYER on the shore by the two priests is, however, a quite different matter and it would be very hard to argue that this did not take place. Indeed it is more than probable that Public Prayer was 
regularly offered by the Chaplains at the Encampment during the six weeks of the French visit.  EN 10

The French – within several days of entering Botany Bay - built a small encampment of tents at the area known as Frenchman’s Cove (or Frenchman's Bay) on the northern shores of the Bay and they established a garden and even an Observatory for purposes astronomical. There was a stockade built to protect this encampment, in which were placed two cannon from the ships. EN 11 There is no evidence, however, which suggests that there was any form of chapel at this temporary encampment. During the period of their sojourn, the French had eleven distinct engagements with officers and other personnel of the English colony. There appears to be no mention amongst the First Fleet diarists from that period (who mention the visit of Lapérouse) of any chapel at the French encampment. Surely, nevertheless, a Cross or Crucifix must have been erected there. 

There is another important part to this story of the French at Botany Bay, but a sad one. Three weeks after their arrival, one of the chaplains, the Franciscan friar Laurent Réceveur died aged 30; this was 17th February, 1788. He was buried at Frenchman’s Cove, probably within a day of his death. Father Réceveur’s was the first burial of a Catholic priest on the Australian continent and only the second known European burial in New South Wales. The circumstances of Father Réceveur’s death remain obscure (for reasons which will be described further). He was injured in the massacre at Tutuila in the Samoan islands just two months earlier; written accounts suggests that this was a heavy blow from a club resulting in a contusion of the eye, but that this had already healed by the time of his death. There has been much study of this point, which has not been conclusive. EN 12

A 20th century artist's impression of the burial of Father Laurent Réceveur.
At the right is shewn the coffin being carried, led by a crucifer and Father Mongez,
whilst a guard of honour surrounds the place of interment.

Drawn by Philip Hughes 1933 and digitally coloured by the Saint Bede Studio.

Since no account survives of the death and burial of Father Réceveur, it is only possible to describe what is likely to have occurred, in accordance with the time and liturgical custom. 
Something which is often asserted, namely that his burial was accompanied by a graveside Mass, is most unlikely. The liturgical law of that period had no provision for such a rite. 

We do not know whether Father Réceveur died at the encampment or on board the ship L'Astrolabe of which he was the chaplain, but given that this was in the middle of an Australian summer, his burial would have taken place without much delay. It is probable that the body of Father Réceveur would have been prepared on board one of the ships and vested in his priestly vestments, before being placed in a coffin constructed by the ship's carpenters. After that preparation, Father Mongez would have prayed the Office of the Dead with other members of the  Expedition, by the side of the coffin.  A Funeral Mass would have followed afterwards, at the conclusion of which the remains would have been honoured with incense and holy water, in much the same way as is done today. EN 13

Only after the completion of these Offices of the Dead, would the remains of Father Réceveur have been rowed ashore for burial, and a brief rite celebrated beneath a eucalyptus tree for the committal of his body to the earth.  In the days and weeks which followed, further Masses would have been offered for the Repose of his soul, with various degrees of solemnity.  The adjacent image is an artist’s impression of the scene at Frenchman’s Cove and corresponds to what we might call a Christian burial with military honours; we cannot rely on its accuracy, but it does help us visualise the occasion.

The circumstances of the friar’s death cannot be definitively known, because of a tragic turn of events which overtook the French expedition after it left Botany Bay on 10th March 1788. Approaching the island of Vanikoro (part of the Solomon Islands), both La Boussole and L'Astrolabe went aground on surrounding reefs and were dashed to pieces in a storm. There were some survivors who made it onto shore and accounts exist claiming that these men subsequently constructed a small sailing craft to escape the island. For almost 40 years, the disappearance of Lapérouse’s Expedition remained a mystery of great celebrity until a chance discovery in 1826 revealed its dreadful fate. EN 14

Very strangely, although the French visited the English settlement at Sydney Cove after the death and burial of Father Réceveur, they made no mention of his death to the English, even though English officers had met him. Only after the French had left Australian shores did the English discover the grave of the Franciscan and an inscription attached to the nearby tree.

The Surgeon-General of the First Fleet, John White, visited the site of the encampment at Frenchman’s Cove and found the adjacent grave of Father Réceveur. On 1st June 1788 he made the following entry in his journal :

After breakfast we visited the grave of the French abbé who died whilst the Count de Peyrouse was here. It was truly humble indeed, being distinguished only by a common head-stone, stuck slightly into the loose earth which covered it. Against a tree, just above it, was nailed a board, with the following inscription on it (...)
As the painting on the board could not be permanent, Governor Phillip had the inscription engraved on a plate of copper and nailed to the same tree; and at some future day he intends to have a handsome head-stone placed at the grave. We cut down some trees which stood between that on which the inscription is fixed and the shore, as they prevented persons passing in boats from seeing it.  EN 15
It is worth noting here that Governor Philip and other members of the English settlement demonstrated a practical respect in preserving and maintaining the place of Father Réceveur’s burial, something they had no obligations in. The copper plate described above also disappeared, and as the visit of the French faded from memory in New South Wales, the resting-place of Father Réceveur seems to have been neglected. 
The carving on the tree-trunk
whilst an exhibit in the 
Musée National de la Marine in Paris.

Another French expedition arrived in New South Wales on the ship Coquille in 1824, and officers of the ship went in search of Lapérouse's encampment and Father Réceveur's grave at Frenchman’s Cove. A member of the Expedition recorded that after they found the grave (with the assistance of local soldiers), they carved the trunk of the tree which shaded the site, with these words:
Près de cet arbre reposent les cendres du père Receveur, visité en mars 1824.
Near this tree lie the remains of Father Receveur, visited in March 1824.  EN 16
Subsequently, in 1825 and again in 1829, there were further French explorers seeking the site at Frenchman’s Cove. The officers of one expedition dug about near the tree and found human bones. It was on this precise place that the tomb of Father Réceveur was constructed, in the year 1829. This was formally arranged between the Government of France and the Government of New South Wales. EN 17 Although it has undergone various refurbishments over the course of almost two hundred years, the present monumental tomb of Father Réceveur is the same one erected in 1829. It was constructed in Sydney. The inscription on the tomb seems to be in most respects similar to those accounts recorded by the First Fleet officers. It is laudable that the original words marking the grave of Father Réceveur have been handed down to us, with little change. EN 18 The present inscription is as follows:


Here lies L[aurent] Receveur, French priest of the Friars Minor and scientist in the Circumnavigation of the world by the Count de Lapérouse.  He died on 17th day of February in the year 1788.

A sketch of the grave of Father Réceveur made in 1842. 
Adjacent is the remains of the tree on which the
French sailors had carved a memorial before the tomb was constructed in 1829.
On the far left can be glimpsed the Lapérouse monument.

The State Library of NSW.

Over the course of 230 years, the grave of Father Réceveur has been a place of respect and devotion on the shores of Botany Bay. In 1788, 1824, 1825, 1829, 1879, 1933, 1938, 1988 and 2008, particular commemorations were made of his death and burial. In more recent decades, there has been a continuing tradition of offering Mass and celebrating the Office of the Dead near his grave each year on or near the Anniversary of his death.

The grave of Father Réceveur as it appeared c. 1885.
That hallowed spot is rightly understood to mark the location where the rites and prayers of the Catholic Church were first celebrated in the settlement of New South Wales. We may ponder the Providence of God that, at the very moment English settlement was being established at Sydney Cove, two ships - filled with French Catholics and two priests - simultaneously arrived. Accordingly, the grave of this young priest - which has been the focus of continuous respect and prayer since 1788 - Australian Catholics will always hold in reverence.  For this is the place where the public prayer of the Catholic Church began to be offered after European Settlement.

The grave of Father Réceveur as it appears today.
The Randwick City Council.


Replica of the altar-stone.

Courtesy of the Lapérouse Museum, Sydney.
As described previously, the remains of one of the Lapérouse vessels La Boussole was discovered and explored in 1964 at a reef off the island of Vanikoro. A number of artifacts were retrieved from the wreck of La Boussole, including something most precious to Australian Catholics. Broken into a few pieces was the portable altar stone which had been used on the ship for the celebration of Mass. Liturgical law required that, even outside the confines of a church or chapel, Mass was to be offered on a stone consecrated by a bishop. It is beyond doubt that, during their time in Botany Bay, Masses were offered by Fathers Réceveur and Mongez on the altar stone recovered from the wreck of La Boussole. Although this precious relic was housed in the Lapérouse Museum in Sydney from 1988 – 2008, it is now preserved in the Musée National de la Marine in Paris. In the Sydney museum, however, is kept an exact replica of the altar stone, a photograph of which is adjacent, kindly provided by the curators of the Lapérouse Museum. EN 19


Father Edward Bond addressing Pilgrims at the grave of Father Réceveur
30th April 1933.



EN 1
The pennant Chef d'Escardres indicated the commander of that vessel had a rank equivalent to what we now refer to as Vice-Admiral.

EN 2
France and Great Britain were at war between 1778 and 1783 and again from 1793 (the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars).

EN 3
Remarks & Journal kept on the Expedition to form a Colony in His Majesty’s Territory of New South Wales ... by Lieutenant Philip Gidley King, Second Lieutenant of His Majesty's Ship Sirius. Two volumes, 1786-1792. Vol. 1 titled: 24th October 1786 – 12th January 1789. Collection of the State Library of NSW.

EN 4
A description by John White in his Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales, first published, 1790. White was the Surgeon-General to the First Fleet and new colony.

EN 5
So named after Viscount Sydney at that time the British Home Secretary, who had governed the process of forming the First Fleet.

EN 6
Whereas in the English-speaking world, these two priests would have enjoyed the same form of address, namely “Father”, in the French-speaking world, Father Réceveur had the title reserved for priests of Religious Orders, namely “Pére”. Father Mongez, however, was referred to as “Abbé”. For the purposes of this article, we refer to them both as “Father”.

EN 7
Further details about the academic and scientific attainments of the two chaplains may be found in an article by F.R.L. Carleton An eighteenth century Conventual Franciscan naturalist on the Laperouse Expedition: Père Laurent Receveur (1757-1788), The Great Circle Vol. 15, No. 1 (1993), pp. 18-29. Published by the Australian Association for Maritime History.

EN 8
Lieutenant King’s journal, previously cited.

EN 9
In more recent years, scientists and historians have researched records which indicate that a number of violent storms and strong winds were experienced along the coast of NSW in the period January - March 1788. See, Gergis, Garden and Fenby, "The Influence of Climate on the First European Settlement of Australia: A Comparison of Weather Journals, Documentary Data and Palaeoclimate Records", 1788–1793, in the journal Environmental History vol. 15, no. 3, July 2010. https://www.jstor.org/journal/envihist

EN 10
A French naval regulation of 1765 detailed the duties of chaplains to lead public prayer morning and evening “in an audible voice”, in addition to the recitation of the Angelus, all of which was to be signalled by the tolling of the ship’s bell. Furthermore, on every Sunday and greater feast, Mass was to be publicly celebrated. These duties are listed in Carleton’s article, op. cit. There is something important to be deduced by these regulations. Religious observance was a usual thing aboard ships of the French navy and it should not be assumed that the crew had no interest in them.

EN 11
The construction of an armed stockade is not surprising, given the unprovoked attack by natives in Samoa, resulting in the death and injury of many members of the Expedition. Lapérouse and his officers would have been very cautious about the Australia aboriginals, of whom they had no experience. One of the First Fleet diarists (David Collins, the Judge-Advocate) records in his An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales (London, 1798), that the aborigines did, in fact, attack the Lapérouse encampment, requiring the French – as a last resort – to fire upon them. There is no record that anyone on either side was killed in such a skirmish.  King Louis of France had given Lapérouse explicit instructions to avoid any acts of hostility upon natives they might encounter during the Expedition.

EN 12
A number of learned studies of the death of Father Receveur are referred to and summarised in Carleton’s article, op. cit., and in Edward Duyker’s Père Receveur : Franciscan, scientist and voyager with Lapérouse, Sydney 2011.

EN 13
There is every reason to believe that members of the Expedition were capable of joining Father Mongez in praying the Office of the Dead (namely, Matins, followed by Lauds), possibly in a sung form. This was a different form of Catholicism from Irish Catholicism of the same period; the French learned the chants of the Mass, hymns etc from childhood and would have been familiar with Offices of the Dead.  We must recall that all of this was prior to the Revolution, during which the State ruthlessly eliminated religious observance along with their monarchy and aristocracy.  A particular Mass would have been offered from the Roman Missal, designated the Mass on the Day of Death or Burial.

EN 14
The mysteries surrounding the fate of the two ships and their crews is discussed in this online article, being the research of Dr Garrick Hitchcock : http://www.sci-news.com/archaeology/clue-fate-famous-french-explorer-jean-francois-la-perouse-05179.html

EN 15
A description by John White in his Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales, op.cit.  Another First Fleet diarist, Lieutenant William Bradley visited the grave of Father Réceveur on 4th April, 1788, less than a month after the departure of the French.  He found that the Memorial attached to the tree trunk had been torn down by the indigenous, but not destroyed, allowing it to be transcribed onto the copper plate.  William Bradley A Voyage to New South Wales, manuscript held by the State Library of New South Wales.  We use the term "diarist" to describe the various journals, letters and books written by members of the First Fleet contemporaneously with the settlement.  Amongst these are Arthur Philip, William Bradley, Watkin Tench, David Collins, Philip Gidley King and John White.

EN 16
In later years this eucalyptus tree had died, and in 1854 the portion of the tree which bore the 1824 inscription carved by the sailor was removed and presented to France for the purposes of an Exhibition. In 1988, this item and many other objects from the Musée National de la Marine in Paris were given by the French Government as a Bicentennial Gift to Australia for the establishment of the Lapérouse Museum.  But in 2008, the trunk was returned to France for an Exhibition and a replica was constructed for the Sydney Museum.

EN 17
In 1825, whilst visiting Sydney, French nobleman Hyacinthe de Bougainville arranged for the construction of a monument to Lapérouse and a tomb for Father Réceveur. The Governor of New South Wales, Sir Thomas Brisbane granted land for this purpose. These memorials were not completed until 1829.  De Bougainville and the French Government made arrangements with various officials in Sydney about Father Réceveur's tomb. It would seem, however, that the local Catholic Church had no role in the preparation of that tomb.  

EN 18
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are a number of errors in the inscription on Father Réceveur's tomb, just as there are variations in the journals of the First Fleet diarists as to what the original parchment inscription actually said.  Various inaccuracies have persisted over the almost 200 years that the monument has been in place;  for example, that the surname was Le Receveur (instead of Réceveur) or that his first name was Louis (his name in Religion was Laurent). For this reason, we have included the notation [sic] on our transcription of the grave to indicate errors. It is perhaps a moot point whether the translation should read "in the Circumnavigation of the world by the Count de Lapérouse" or "in the Circumnavigation of the world under the leadership of de Lapérouse."

EN 19
We are indebted to the curators of the Lapérouse Museum in Sydney for kindly providing details about the altar-stone and the photograph of it for use in this article. The following description accompanies the exhibit in the museum :

“This Altar stone was commissioned by The Friends of the Laperouse Museum Inc. with funding provided by Randwick City Council.  It is on permanent loan by The Friends of Laperouse Museum Inc. The original Altar Stone was recovered in three pieces from the wreck of La Boussole in Vanikoro in 1964 by the Association Salomon of Noumea and Mr Reece Discombe. The pieces were then sent to Sydney, to be reunited and placed on exhibition for La Perouse Museum opening in 1988. One of the pieces was broken in transit, into 4 pieces. These original pieces were sent to the Musée National de la Marine in Paris in 2008, where they remain. The original Stone was 35cm x 35cm x 3cm. This reproduction was carried out in Paris by Madame Barbara Donné Donati, and is made of powdered stone and a binding agent. It is coloured from natural earth pigments to obtain colouring as close as possible to that of the original.”

A nineteenth century aquatint of the Count de Lapérouse.