John Dunmore Lang

200 years ago in 1823 John Dunmore Lang arrived in the colony of Sydney
effectively marking the commencement of the Presbyterian Church in Australia.
Find out more...

About Our Experts

At the time of filming in May 2023, Dr Peter Barnes was the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Australia. He was for many years the pastor of Revesby Presbyterian Church. Peter’s doctoral studies were in Australian Church History and he is the author of a number of books and articles including academic publications on Lang. He lectures in Church History at Christ College Sydney.

Malcolm 16.12.2017#5

Retired professor Dr Malcolm Prentis is a widely respected academic with a particular interest in Scottish immigration to Australia and Australian Presbyterian Church History. He is the author of many academic works on Australian history including The Scots in Australia (2008). He attends Chatswood Presbyterian Church in Sydney.

Dr Hugh Chilton’s doctoral studies were in Australian Church History. At the time of production he was head of ScotsX at The Scots College, Sydney and Vice-President of the Evangelical History Association. Hugh is the author of Evangelicals and the End of Christendom: Religion, Australia and the Crises of the 1960s.

Dr Andrew Bain is a Queenslander, historian, and Vice Principal and Head of Church History at Queensland Theological College. Andrew completed first-class honours degrees in both history and theology from UQ and Moore Theological College, as well as Masters (Cambridge University) and PhD (UQ) degrees in history. Andrew has also studied philosophy, completing a masters degree on Kant’s ethics at Macquarie, for which he was awarded the University Medal. He has published in a range of areas in Christian ethics, historical theology, and adult education. 

Lang Facts

  • Born: Ayrshire Scotland on the 25 August 1799.
  • Arts Degree (1815) and Master of Arts (1820) from Glasgow University. Doctor of Divinity (1825) from Glasgow University. Major Theological Influence: Rev Dr Thomas Chalmers.
  • Licenced to preach by the Presbytery of Irvine in 1820, ordained in September 1822.
  • Arrived in Sydney Cove aboard HMS Brixton on the 23 May 1823. 
  • Founded the Presbytery of Sydney on the 14 December 1832
  • Expelled from the Presbytery of Sydney on the 18 January 1838 and founded a rival Synod. Reconciled to the Presbytery of Sydney in 1840.
  • Elected to parliament 4 times between 1843 and 1869.
  • In 1851 he was sentenced to 4 months jail for libel and again in 1855 he sentenced to 6 months jail for libel. Ten thousand people signed a petition for his release, but he served the full sentence. 
  • Died: 8 August 1878. 
  • Press reports describe his funeral as the largest seen in the colony with an estimated 70,000 Sydneysiders lining the streets of his funeral procession from Wynyard to Central. The funeral marchers stretched for over a mile and the funeral procession was led by 500 Chinese people in recognition of Lang’s stand against their racist treatment by the colonial leaders. 
  • Lang married Wilhelmina Mackie in 1831 and they had 10 children. The last of their children died in 1934. John and Wilhelmina had no grandchildren. 
  • His statue in Wynyard Park was unveiled in 1890. It is possibly the only statue of a church leader currently standing on public land in Australia. 

Elected to NSW Parliament: 
  • 1843 -1847 (Port Phillip a.k.a. Melbourne)
  • 1850 -1851 (for City of Sydney), 
  • 1854-1856 (for Stanley a.k.a. Brisbane), 
  • 1859 -1869 (Legislative Assembly)

Appearing On Screen in the Video Series

Dr Hugh Chilton, Director of Research, The Scots College, Sydney.
Dr Malcolm Prentis, retired Professor of Australian History and author of The Scots in Australia (2008)
Dr Peter Barnes, historian and Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Australia (2020-2023).
Dr Andrew Bain, Vice Principal and Head of Church History, Queensland Theological College.
Dhanu Eliezer,  Deacon, Scots Church Sydney.
Edwina Soh, Chaplain, Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Sydney.
Carolyn Wang, student, Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Sydney.
Jehiel Pather, student, The Scots College, Sydney.
Charlotte Edwards, student, Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Sydney.
Jeremy Lau, student, The Scots College, Sydney.
Craig Tucker, pastor, Scots Church Sydney.

Videographer: Aidan Mahyrhofer
Additional filming: Gus McCowatt, REACH Australia; and Vicki Meehan, Queensland Theological College.
Script Editing and Historical Research: Hugh Chilton (The Scots College), Cathy Tucker (Scots Church Sydney and PLC), Craig Tucker.
Research assistance: Sue Pacey and Daryl Lightfoot (NSW Presbyterian Archives).
Images: Photography of Scots Church Sydney take by Andrew Loh. All other graphics used in the videos are public domain images from the National Library of Australia (accessed online).   

Special thanks to:

Scots Church Sydney.
The NSW Presbyterian Assembly Business Committee.
Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Sydney.
The Scots College, Sydney.
NSW Presbyterian Archives.
Queensland Theological College.
REACH Australia.
City of Sydney (permission to film in Wynyard Park).
The Pulse, NSW Presbyterian Church online magazine.
The JDL 200 Committee (Dr Paul Cooper, Dr Hugh Chilton, Craig Tucker).
The videos were filmed on Eora country and Turbul country and the JDL 200 Committee and Scots Church Sydney respectfully acknowledge the first inhabitants of these places.