John Eggleston


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Eliza Moulton

John Eggleston 2

  • Born: 1813
  • Marriage: Eliza Moulton before 1839 1
  • Died: 1879, St Kilda

  General Notes:

From (Australian Dictionary of Biography)

EGGLESTON, JOHN (1813-1879)
, Wesleyan minister, was born on 2 January 1813 at Newark, Nottingham, England, son of Frederic Eggleston, confectioner and local preacher, and his wife Ann, née Else. In 1833 he was hired by a Lincolnshire circuit to conduct services. Next year he was accepted by the British Conference as a ministerial probationer and filled appointments at Rotherham, Buxton, Sheffield and Edinburgh before his ordination in 1838 at the Wesleyan Conference in Bristol. There he was persuaded by the newly-appointed general superintendent of Australasian Missions, Rev. John Waterhouse, to accompany him to New Zealand.

After his marriage to Eliza Moulton in 1838, Eggleston embarked with the missionary party and arrived in Hobart Town on 31 January 1839. Because plans were changed Waterhouse and Eggleston stayed in Hobart while the others went to New Zealand. A year later Eggleston left Hobart to take charge of the small Wesleyan society in Adelaide. Primitive living conditions and disagreements with church members over state aid led to his early withdrawal and he returned to Van Diemen's Land where he was stationed at Launceston as a colleague of Rev. William Butters in 1843. Appointments to New Norfolk in 1846, Hobart in 1847, and Sydney in 1850 preceded his transfer to the Collins Street Chapel, Melbourne, where he was active on the Wesleyan Education Committee for the Victoria district. He returned to Sydney in 1856 as general secretary of Australasian Foreign Missions and became responsible for their oversight in New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji and Samoa, which in 1855 had become the charge of the Australasian Conference. Because of the huge correspondence Eggleston was released from circuit duties in 1858. He faced many difficulties: missions in the north of New Zealand were desolated in the Maori wars of 1862 and those in Samoa were the subject of a bitter dispute with the London Missionary Society. Despite Eggleston's efforts to raise money, the amount contributed by the Australasian Church decreased, and the Missionary Committee of the British Conference had to continue substantial grants. After debate the Australasian Conference of 1861 decided to continue the missions despite their financial burden.

Confidence in Eggleston's administration was expressed by his election as president of the Australasian Conference in 1860. He resigned as missionary secretary in 1863 and returned to circuit work at Wesley Church, Melbourne. There he renewed his interest in educational affairs, especially the establishment of the Wesleyan Grammar School (Wesley College) opened in 1866. He visited England in 1867 and on his return was superintendent of circuits at St Kilda, Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Clunes and Geelong East. He was appointed treasurer of the supernumerary ministers and ministers' wives fund in 1868 and helped to prepare a plan for the improved government of the Church by annual and general conferences. Failing eyesight forced his retirement in 1878 and he died at Brighton on 23 January 1879. Eggleston was an untiring and earnest minister, evangelical and pietistic in theology. His two sons and two daughters, together with their descendants, became influential in church, law, politics and architecture in Victoria.
Select Bibliography

J. C. Symons, Life of the Rev. Daniel James Draper (Lond, 1870); M. Dyson (ed), Australasian Methodist Ministerial General Index (Melb, 1889); Spectator (Melbourne), 30 Jan 1879. More on the resources

Author: Renate Howe

Chapter 19


From the story told in previous chapters, the reader will remember that John Eggleston retired from circuit responsibilities in 1878, and died suddenly during the 1879 Wesleyan Conference in Melbourne. His wife apparently died almost immediately after her husband. The following is the "In Memoriam" which was published in "The Spectator."

"On Wednesday evening, 5th inst. (February, 1879), a funeral sermon for the late Rev. J. Eggleston was preached in Wesley Church (Melbourne) by the Rev. S. Ironside, in accordance with the appointment of the Conference.

Notwithstanding the extreme heat of the weather, there was a large congregation, comprising persons from all the city and suburban circuits, who listened with great interest to the sermon and the biographical sketch which was read. Mr. Ironside had been a fellow-voyager from England with Mr. and Mrs. Eggleston, so that his personal acquaintance with them extended over a period of about forty years.

The rev. gentleman preached an appropriate sermon from 2 Timothy iv : 6 - 8 - 'For I am ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.'

At the close of the sermon the following biographical sketch was read:-

The Rev. John Eggleston was a Methodist of the third generation. His grandfather was one of the first members of the church in Newark, and to him and his family the Methodist cause in that town was largely indebted in its early rise and progress. Mr. Wesley rested at his house on his visits to the town. One of our friend's greatest treasures was a society-ticket of his grandfather's, dated 1775. Long before railways were thought of, when travelling was both tedious and costly, the preachers always found a glad welcome at his house\\; in fact, it was called 'the travelling preacher's home'.

Mr. Eggleston's father, Mr. Frederick Eggleston, long known in Newark and the neighbourhood as Father Eggleston did not fully decide for Christ until the year 1813, the very year that John was born. He was then 28, and he at once began to preach the gospel, and for 59 years, until his death in 1872, he laboured in that capacity. He was a zealous, effective, popular local preacher. Everywhere he was welcomed and honoured. Conscientious in attending to all his appointments, never allowing weather to prevent, walking long distances to fulfil his duty, in great request for Sunday-school and other anniversaries, sometimes for three or four years in succession he had not a single Sunday at home.

As might be expected, reared in such a home, surrounded by such restraining, guiding, hallowing influences, our friend was, at a very early period of his life, brought under deep religious convictions. He himself states, in a journal accurately kept, that, when he was only seven years old, he was seriously impressed with the necessity of giving his heart to God. This first known and recorded feeling after God took place at a children's gathering on a Saturday afternoon, conducted by the Rev. Mr. Dalby, who was then stationed in the Newark Circuit. Such meetings were common in those days.

It was not, however, until he was sixteen years of age that he was savingly converted to God. He at once gave himself up to reading, meditation and prayer. It was his custom to rise every morning at five o'clock and spend the early hours in devotion and in the improving of his mind. He began to preach when he was eighteen years of age, and at once saw the fruit of his labours in the conversion of sinners.

After serving as a local preacher for three years, he was spoken to about dedicating himself to the ministry. This had been his serious conviction for some time\\; so he left himself in the hands of God and the church, and was sent for some months into the Sleaford Circuit, Lincolnshire, as a hired local preacher. At the London Conference in 1834 he was accepted as a minister on trial, and spent the four years of his probation in Rotherham, in Buxton, in Sheffield, and in Edinburgh.

It was in Sheffield, in the third year of his probation, that I first made his acquaintance. I had just been accepted as a candidate for the ministry. The fame of the young preacher had preceded him, as his first circuit, Rotherham, was only six miles distant. Great expectations had been raised, and they were more than realised. His sermons from the first were full of intelligence and power. I have a vivid recollection of a sermon on 'Noah and the Flood,' another on 'The Great White Throne,' another on 'The First and Great Commandment.' It was a regular thing to see six, or eight, or more anxious inquirers kneeling at the Communion-rails on a Sunday evening after sermon, in anguish of soul for their sins...... During the whole of his probationary ministry the Lord caused him to triumph in Christ, and made manifest the savour of His knowledge by him in every place.

He went to the Bristol Conference (1838) for ordination, with the unanimous approval of all concerned, and was looking forward to a long and happy career of service in the mother country. But at this Conference the Rev. John Waterhouse, who had been twenty-nine years in some of the best circuits, and was then finishing his three-year term in London, was invited by the Missionary Conference to come out to these colonies to superintend the Australasian Mission. He (Waterhouse) put himself in communication with our friend, and obtained his consent to accompany him on this important enterprise.

This change in his life came upon him as a surprise. As he himself stated, at the valedictory and ordination service, September, 1838, in City-road Chapel, where I was by his side -- 'Until the Conference, I had no idea of leaving my native land. There Mr. Waterhouse pressingly requested me to accompany him to Hobart Town. I felt such a consciousness of the omnipresence of God, and that in His presence I could be happy in any part of the world, that I did not see any strong objections. I knew that I had a mother who loved me dearly, and that even my leaving her to go into the ministry at home had cost her many a pang. I wrote to her, however, and received an answer of assent, which overwhelmed me. I saw clearly the finger of God in this dispensation, and that a blight would be brought upon my ministerial character if I resisted this call. I therefore yielded to this impression, and present myself before you this evening, feeling more than I ever felt of the true missionary spirit.'"

(It was at this point in his address that Ironside introduced, and read, the letter that John Eggleston's father, Frederick Eggleston, had written to his son, giving the parental consent and blessing, under the will of God, for him to travel to Australia.)

"Our friend, with the missionary party, arrived in Hobart Town on the 31st of January, 1839, and at once entered on his work. From the first a blessed impulse was given to the work. A system of regular pastoral visitation, both in town and country, was established\\; congregations were increased\\; the society was strengthened and encouraged\\; and many 'believers were added unto the Lord.'

After fourteen or fifteen months' service in Hobart Town, he was called to Adelaide, South Australia, to supply the place of Mr. Longbottom, and for several years was the only Methodist minister in that colony. There his ministry was crowned with the divine blessing. His own heart was full of sanctified love and power, and although it is thirty-five years since he left the colony, his name is in precious remembrance by all the older members of the church, and, in fact, by all who knew him.

Page after page of his journal records conversions\\; holy baptisms of the Spirit on church members\\; overwhelming visitations of divine power at love-feasts and prayer-meetings\\; the work deepening and extending both in town and country\\; churches erected and such-like work, demanding and exhausting all his energies, so that his health broke down, and he was driven by hard necessity back to Tasmania.

We have not time in this brief sketch to follow our dear father during the remaining thirty-five years of his ministry in Tasmania, in New South Wales (where for eight years he was General Secretary for missions), and to this colony.

His holy example and the marvellous power of his ministry are too well known, too highly appreciated, to require any lengthened observations. It will only be known 'in that day' how many multitudes were converted by his ministry. His wise and judicious counsels in committees, in district meetings, and in Conference will surely never be forgotten. Nineteen years ago he was President of the Conference, which held its sessions in this church. Some of my brethren, with myself, will gratefully remember that gathering.

He was my very near neighbour at Surrey Hills, Sydney, twenty-one years ago, when I came from New Zealand to these colonies, and for three years I had daily opportunities of witnessing, and I hope, profiting by, his holy life and walk. The motto of his life then, as always, was, 'Holiness unto the Lord.'

I need not speak of his labours in this city (Melbourne), in Clunes, and in Geelong. One young brother who, at the Conference just closed, was accepted as a probationer for the ministry, and who bids fair to be useful, was converted to God under our 'father's' ministry while he was stationed at Clunes.

The failure of his sight some years ago was a privation both to himself and the church, but he meekly, patiently, submitted to the will of God. On Sunday, the 19th January, he occupied the pulpit at East Brighton and at Brighton for the last time. In the morning he preached from 'Create in me a clean heart, O God,' and in the evening from 'I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.' etc. Both sermons were characterised by great power and fullness\\; his heart was so full of his theme that it appeared as though he was unable to finish. I was with him at tea on the Tuesday, before the missionary meeting, the last night of his life. We talked of our mutual friend, Rev. G. Maunder, who died suddenly in the chapel at Bradford, during Conference, in August last, and of other dear friends. We had some pleasant reminiscences of old times and old scenes, and so we went into the church to the missionary meeting. It was wisely hidden from both of us that this was to be our last interview on earth.

He spoke briefly, feelingly, from the chair, of his unabated attachment to the great mission cause\\; but remarked, that if he and they were spared he should have many opportunities of speaking to them on the subject. This was his last public service for Christ.

So fitly and appropriately closed an honourable, a laborious, and a most successful ministry, extending over forty-five years. He retired to rest after the meeting, and at five next morning the fatal seizure came upon him, rendering him insensible, and in the afternoon of the following day he breathed his last.

'He was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith, and much people was added to the Lord.' As far as he himself is concerned there is nothing to regret. The loss is ours\\; the gain is his. His dear wife, his faithful, loving companion and helpmeet for more than forty years, has soon followed him. 'They were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided.'

The church and the doubly-bereaved sons and daughters have suffered an incalculable loss. But we 'sorrow not as they who are without hope.' Let it be our earnest endeavour to follow the departed even as they followed Christ. Let the sons emulate the holy example of their father, and the daughters that of their mother, and it shall be well with them for ever.

May the mantle of our departed Elijah fall upon us whom he has left behind him." (10.)

was first published in 1982 in booklet form. A revised edition with the results of further research was published in microfiche form in August 2003. This contains brief biographical details on over two hundred clergymen who arrived in the Port Phillip District of New South Wales (now the State of Victoria) prior to separation on 1 July 1851. No distinction is made concerning how long they stayed. Some visited the colony only briefly, others were here for decades. "
(Rev.) John EGGLESTON (1813-1879) (Wesleyan Methodist);


John married Eliza Moulton before 1839.1


1 Web (Misc),

2 Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages (Victoria) - Certificate,, Marriage FE 1871.