To 1840

60,000BCYears of Aboriginal residence.
1606Quiros searches for Terra Australis and names part of Vanuatu ‘La Austrialia del Espiritu Santo’
1641Catholic mission established in Timor
1681Evangelisation Congregation in Rome appoints Fr Vittorio Riccio of Manila Prefect Apostolic of Terra Australis
1769Fr Villefeix says first mass in New Zealand
1772French sailor Massicot buried on Dirk Hartog Island, WA
1787Fr Thomas Walshe asks Lord Sydney to be allowed to go to Botany Bay with First Fleet, no known reply
1788Jan 23 First Fleet enters Sydney Cove;
Jan 25 La Perouse enters Botany Bay; Abbé Mongez, his chaplain, celebrates the first Mass within Australian territory; death and burial of Fr Receveur;
3 Feb 1788 First Anglican service
1792Catholic settlers at Parramatta petition Governor Phillip for a chaplain but without result;
Pierson’s Point, Derwent River, named after Ambroise Pierson, chaplain and astronomer on l’Espérance; Abbé Louis Ventenat records Tasmanian native customs
1793Fr José de Mesa, chaplain of Malaspina’s expedition, helped to recover from illness by Anglican chaplain Richard Johnson “with a kindness, spirit of unity and a simplicity that were truly of the Gospel”
1795First recorded celebration of St Patrick’s Day
1798Rebellion in Ireland leads to transportation of many who will become leaders of the Church in NSW
1800Fr James Harold & Fr James Dixon arrive as convicts
1801Third convict priest, Fr Peter O’Neil, arrives and is sent to Norfolk Island
1803Governor King proclaims toleration of Catholics; Dixon says first public Mass and wedding
1804Castle Hill rebellion of Irish convicts;
Dixon’s permit withdrawn but appointed by Rome as ‘Prefect Apostolic of New Holland
1807French Royalist exile Huon de Kerilleau employed to tutor Macarthurs’ sons
1809Fr Dixon returns to Ireland
1810Fr Harold departs, leaving Australia without priests;
“Louis Peter, a native of India and Roman Catholic” a witness in a legal case
1812Ex-convict Sydney businessman Michael Hayes writes to his brother in Rome asking for priests
1814Angelo le Rosse accompanied to the gallows by a lay Catholic monitor
1816Layman James Dempsey reads prayers at executions
1817Fr Jeremiah O’Flynn arrives – without government credentials
1818O’Flynn arrested and deported, worship continues at the house of James Dempsey; Catherine Fitzpatrick trains choir
1819Visitors on the French ship Uranie communicate with Sydney Catholics;
Australia included in the Vicariate Apostolic of Cape of Good Hope, Madagascar, Mauritius and New Holland
1820Fr Philip Conolly and Fr John Therry arrive as official chaplains; Macquarie allows them to marry Catholics only;
meeting held in Sydney to raise money for a chapel (original report)
1821Conolly moves to Van Diemen’s Land, Therry left in charge in NSW;
First Catholic school at Parramatta;
Governor Macquarie lays foundation stone for St Mary’s Church, on site of later cathedral (original report; its planning);
Catholics in NSW reached around 9000, almost all poor Irish
1822Chandeliers and lamps presented for the church;
convict Andrew Higgins assigned to teach school in Kent St;
fund launched to build temporary chapel at Parramatta;
appeal launched to build chapel in Hobart
1823 Presbyterians advised to imitate Catholics if they want government subsidy;
St Virgil’s chapel Hobart built
1824Governor Brisbane attributes “every murder or diabolical crime” in the colony to Irish Catholics;
Fr Samuel Coote ministers in Van Diemen’s Land but conflicts with Fr Conolly
1825Thomas Byrne master of the Chapel School, Hyde Park
1826Fr Daniel Power arrives as chaplain; Therry moves to Parramatta;
Therry defends marrying a Catholic and Protestant;
Governor Darling suspends Therry’s appointment and salary
1827Benevolent Asylum worker harassed for assisting an inmate to convert to Catholicism … more;
Fr Power baptises aboriginal man on scaffold
1828First census of NSW shows 69% of the white population Protestant and 30% Catholic
1829WA settlement begins;
Fr Power attends four executions on one day;
Roger Therry arrives as commissioner of the court of requests
Early watercolour
St Mary’s Chapel, Sydney (background), c. 1830s
1830Catholic Emancipation Act promulgated for NSW (subsequent debates);
death of Fr Power
1831Fr CV Dowling OP arrives as chaplain
1832Fr John McEncroe arrives, and Attorney-General John Plunkett;
Consecration of first Catholic church, St Joseph’s Chapel, Hyde Park
1833Census shows 17,200 Catholics of a total white population of 61,000;
Dr WB Ullathorne arrives in Sydney as Vicar-General;
NSW Legislative Council makes grants for the appointment of four new chaplains, the completion of three unfinished churches, and £800 a year for schools and schoolteachers;
Rev Fulton‘s pamphlet Reasons why Protestants Think the Worship of the Church of Rome an Idolatrous Worship published in Sydney
1834 John Bede Polding created bishop and appointed vicar-apostolic of New Holland and Van Diemen’s Land
1835Polding arrives in Sydney as bishop;
first resident clergy appointed to districts
1836Polding applies for more government support; Governor Bourke’s Church Act provides government funds for all major churches;
John Baptist Pompallier consecrated bishop for missions in Oceania;
South Australia first settlers;
Financing secured for Catholic orphanage;
foundation of St Patrick’s Church, Parramatta;
Fr Dowling becomes first priest in the Hunter River district;
Pioneer farmer James Ruse received into Catholic Church;
first ordination in Australia, of Fr Bede Sumner;
Public meeting of Hobart Catholics condemns Fr Conolly for suing Polding
1837Ullathorne’s pamphlet The Catholic Mission in Australasia published in London and attracts Catholic support for mission;
St Patrick’s Church, Parramatta, consecrated;
St Bede’s Church, Appin designed by Therry;
St John’s Church, Richmond, Tas, completed
1838St Mary’s Seminary opened at Bishop’s House, with ex-Jesuit Fr Lovat president;
Fr Goold osa, Fr John Brady, Caroline Chisholm, Sisters of Charity and the “Men of ’38” Irish priests arrive in Sydney;
NSW Attorney-General John Plunkett achieves the conviction of seven perpetrators of the Myall Creek Massacre;
Ullathorne’s pamphlet The Horrors of Transportation;
first priests appointed at Bathurst;
Fr Therry sent to Hobart
1839First Catholic newspaper Australasian Chronicle founded;
first mass in Melbourne
1840End of Transportation to NSW;
authorities alarmed by an Irish demonstration at St Patrick’s, Church Hill;
Sydney Herald fears flood of Irish Catholic immigrants;
58 French Canadian exiles transported to Sydney
John Bede Polding DD OSB First Archbishop of Sydney
John Bede Polding D.D, O.S.B, First Archbishop of Sydney.

The ACHS Timeline


To 1840

1841 – 1900

1901 – 1950

1951 – 2023

-> 1841-1900