Sidebar Sidebar

Who was Dunmore Lang?

Who is Dunmorerev_john

Rev. Dr John Dunmore Lang
(25 August 1799 – 8 August 1878)

Arriving in New South Wales in 1823 as a young Presbyterian minister in search of a pulpit, John Dunmore Lang quickly immersed himself in all aspects of the emerging colony. Fifty years later his funeral befitted a founding father not only of the Presbyterian Church in Australia but of the nation itself.

Lang established the Scots Church as well as his own secondary school, the Australian College, ran three newspapers and served as a politician from 1843 – 1869. He was a populist politician whose republican and democrat leanings strengthened during a quarter-century in the Legislative Council. He circled the globe eight times writing a book or two during most voyages.  One of his many missions was to recruit clerics and respectable tradesmen and small farmers from the British Isles–anywhere but Papist Ireland.

Volatile and vindictive, Lang loved a fight, answered only to God and never rested. Towards the end of a life peppered with church rifts, he was locked out of the very church he had built. The financial dealings of this fierce preacher of moral rectitude were labyrinthine and shady. They twice landed him in gaol, as did a willingness to libel opponents, yet he was a hero to ordinary workers and a perceptive critic of the treatment of Aboriginal people.

Lang is a problematic giant from our colonial past. Don Baker, his cool, authoritative and gently ironic biographer, considers him ‘almost as large a figure as he claimed to be’.

For further information: