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Paterson River history

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St. Ann's Presbyterian Church, Paterson

When large-scale settlement of the Paterson area began in 1822 the religious needs of local residents were serviced by the Rev. George Middleton who was Church of England Chaplain to the penal settlement at Newcastle and the only resident pastor in the district at the time. When Middleton resigned in 1827 he was replaced by the Rev. Frederick Wilkinson who was suspended in 1830 and replaced by the Rev. Charles Wilton. Middleton, Wilkinson and Wilton each served the Paterson area as part of their official role as Colonial Chaplain to Newcastle.

Presbyterians, however, were the first to have a full-time resident minister at Paterson when the Rev. William Ross arrived in late 1838. (Paterson's first Church of England resident minister, the Rev. John Jennings-Smith, arrived in October 1839). Ross was one of only two Gaelic speaking ministers in the colony at the time.

Meeting at Paterson to build Presbyterian church

In August 1839 a meeting was held in Paterson to erect a 'Church of Scotland' (see press clipping at right).[1] Ross and his parishioners were quick to start building, and tenders were called in April 1840. By May 1840 nearly £800 had been subscribed. In October 1841 the outside walls were nearing completion after extended delays. St Ann's was completed in 1842 and officially opened on 27 August that year by Ross.

Further details of the long history of St. Ann's and the ministers who served there are provided in Cameron Archer and Jack Sullivan's book (see references below).

St Ann's served as one of the oldest continually operating Presbyterian churches in Australia until its closure and decommissioning about 2009. It has since been sold.

St. Ann's Presbyterian Church, Paterson

St Ann's Presbyterian Church, Paterson, in 2004 (photo: Brian Walsh).


1. Sydney Herald, 26 August 1839 p2.


Archer, Cameron and Jack Sullivan. A History of St. Ann's Presbyterian Church Paterson. Paterson: Paterson Historical Society, 2004.

Elkin, AP. The Diocese of Newcastle. Australasian Medical Publishing Company, 1955.

See also

St Pauls (C of E), Paterson.