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Coombs Canon William Henry

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William Henry Coombs was born in England in 1816. He came to Gawler to take up the position of clergyman in response to the appeal of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel after a plea from Governor Gawler to send a minister. He left England with his wife in July 1846, having been ordained a Deacon. After arriving in Gawler, he began to conduct regular Church of England services at Stephen King’s flour mill. He was ordained a priest in Trinity Church, Adelaide, on 29 June 1848. In 1854 he was appointed rural dean of Gawler and became a minor canon of the Cathedral of Adelaide in 1858. His ministry at Gawler lasted almost 50 years; he died suddenly at the age of 79 on 23 August, 1896.

In addition to the memorial to his memory at St George’s Cemetery, a stained glass window in honour of his dedication to the parish of Gawler adorns St George’s Church.

This information was extracted from 'Gawler's Cemeteries' Historical Leaflet. Researched and written by Anne Richards, Librarian, Reference and Research Services

Number 16 in a Series of Historical Pamphlets produced by Gawler Public Library © 2008 Gawler Public Library

Please click here to view the document, with reference to Canon William Henry Coombs on Page 14.

George E. Loyau "The Gawler Handbook" [G.E.L.] p11 The Willaston Bridge "was swept away by a heavy flood in July 1847....Mr. Uren, the boatman, through the kindness of Mr. Calton, had placed his boat on the river, purposely to convey the Rev. Mr. Coombs to the sunday service at the old school-house; having done so, he was returning for others, when, by some mischance, he fell into the water and was carried away by the stream, and his heavy boots soon filling, he was, although a first class swimmer, dragged beneath the service and drowned...it was not m until seven days after that his body was found."

[G.E.L.] p12 "To the Church of England belongs the honour of establishing the first regular services for the worship of God in Gawler, and the first appointment of a resident Minister - the Rev. W.H. Coombs, now the Rev. Canon Coombs, whose zealous and untiring labours....have won the respect and admiration of all classes and denominations."

[G.E.L.] p120 "Societies - The first Building Society was established in the year 1856, and called "The Gawler Town and Suburban Building and Investment Society". It was on the terminating principle, and proved a great success, the shares running out in six years and three months. The first Trustees were the Hon. Walter Duffield,J.P., Dr . Otto Schomburgk, J.P., Rev. Canon Coombs."

[G.E.L.] p126 "The Rev. Canon Coombs is one of the pioneers of Gawler; his ministrations extend over a period of thirty-four years, commencing in 1846, consequently he is an authority on matters connected with the town. His genial manner and kindly disposition, combined with liberal opinions, have secured for him a great number of friends, and, although being entitled to be called the Venerable Canon on account of his years, his intellectual and bodily vigour is such that many young men may well envy his capacities for work. In every movement in the town, either of a political or philanthropic character, either for the benefit of the many or the individual (no matter the creed), like a worthy Athenian he is ever ready to counsel or succour those in distress. He still officiates at St. George's, and it is the desire of the inhabitants that he may long be spared to conduct the duties of the Church where he has been so long and honourably connected, and in the field where the labourer has been worthy of his hire."

[G.E.L.] p127 "Three of Stuart's exploration parties on their departure and return attended Divine service at St. George's, when special sermons were preached by the Incumbent."

George E. Loyau "The Gawler Handbook" [G.E.L.] pp166 and 167 "After McKinlay's death it was universally felt that something should be done to perpetuate his memory, and accordingly, meetings were held in Gawler and a Committee was formed to carry out the wish of the people - vis., that a suitable monument should be erected "to commemorate his personal worth and the services rendered by him to the colonies as an explorer." The site selected was at the terminal point of Murray-street, at its junction with Cowan-street, and adjacent to the old burial ground. The Committee chosen to carry out the matter, and who brought it to a successful issue, were as follows:- Chairman, W.F. Wincey, Esq., J.P., Mayor of Gawler; Treasurers, J. Thornley, Esq., J.P., Manager Bank of South Australia, Gawler, Richard Holland, Esq., J.P., Turretfield, near Gawler; Hon. Secretary, John Rudall, Esq., Gawler; Committee, A.H.F. Bartels, Esq., Mayor of Adelaide, E.M. Bagot, Esq., J.P., Charles Bonney, Esq., J.P., E.S. Burkett, Esq., J.P., W.R. Cave, Esq., John Chambers, Esq. ,J.P., Rev. Canon Coombs, Hon. J. Crozier, M.L.C., Walter Duffield, Esq., J.P., James Dawson, Esq., Samuel Davenport, Esq., J.P., James Fergusson, Esq., Robert Fotheringham, Esq., Thomas Fotheringham, Esq., Rev. James Gordon, Joseph Gilbert, Esq., J.P., F.A.Grant, Esq., J.P., E.L. Grundy, Esq., John Hope, Esq., Thomas Hogarth, Esq., J.P., G.W. Hawkes, Esq., S.M., J.H.Howe, Esq., Joseph Keynes, Esq., J.P., Hon. A.B. Murray, M.L.C., Rev. J.C. McMchael, James Martin, Esq., J.P., John Mitchell, Esq., J.P., H.T. Morris, Esq., J.P., W.F.H. Popham, Esq., M.D., Ross T. Reid, Esq., Henry Scott, Esq., J.P., Dr. Schomburgk, H.C. Swan, Esq., S.M., R.J. Turner, Esq., S.M., and George Warren, Esq., J.P.

Please click here to see photos of Canon Coombs.

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