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Hurst, George (1816–1885)

by S. G. Claughton

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

George Hurst (1816-1885), Methodist minister, was born on 26 September 1816 at Burbage, Leicestershire, England, son of Benjamin Hurst, nurseryman, and his wife Elizabeth, née Dudley. In July 1839 he was accepted as a preacher on trial by the Liverpool Conference and spent nineteen years on English circuits.

In 1858 Hurst volunteered to work in New South Wales and in 1859 was appointed to the Sydney north circuit (York Street). In 1862-64 he was at Bourke Street, Surry Hills. An able speaker, he soon proved to be a forceful debater in the Church courts. In 1859-64 he was a member of the Missionary and Connexional Committees. Interested in languages and literature, he helped to re-establish the Christian Advocate and Wesleyan Record in April 1864. He was transferred to Wollongong in 1865 and in 1867 returned to Sydney to superintend the Newtown circuit, where he was re-elected to the Missionary and Connexional Committees. In 1869-70 he was at Maitland. As president of the Australasian Wesleyan Conference at Adelaide he declared that he preferred 'solid instruction' at weekly class meetings and 'wholesale literature' in the libraries to the theatrical exhibitions and scenes for the display of youthful vanity fostered by the Young Men's Christian Associations and mutual improvement societies. In 1871 he was the first clerical general secretary of the Church Sustentation and Extension Society for New South Wales and gave his services gratuitously. In 1878 he was elected president of the New South Wales and Queensland Annual Conference. In his retiring address in February 1879 he referred to the friction arising from the difficulty most churches found in 'raising suitable men for their work'.

In 1881 Hurst became a supernumerary minister at Burwood but remained a member of the Connexional Committee and most other administrative and theological committees. In 1883-85 he was a general treasurer of the Australasian Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society which he was under 'a financial obligation to serve'. He had long been a councillor of Newington College. In 1884 Rev. William Taylor, founder of the Central Methodist Mission in Sydney, described Hurst as 'that Nestor of the Conference … a rugged old conservative … with his rough white head, his deep-set eyes all but covered by shaggy eyebrows'. He was thanked by the 1884 Conference 'for his great zeal and labour in raising the funds necessary' to secure young ministers from England.

Hurst died at Burwood on 1 July 1885 and was buried in the Randwick cemetery. He was survived by his wife Susannah Wean, née Ross, whom he had married at Burbage in 1842, and by two sons and two daughters of his ten children. His estate was valued at £37,550. At his memorial service Rev. William Kelynack paid tribute to Hurst's clear judgment 'that went so thoroughly to the heart of questions, the resolute will that … laboured to translate conviction into action'.

Select Bibliography

  • M. Dyson (ed), Australasian Methodist Ministerial General Index (Melb, 1889)
  • W. Hunt (ed), Methodist Ministerial Index for Australasia (Melb, 1914)
  • W. B. Taylor, Life Story of an Australian Evangelist (Lond, 1920)
  • Minutes of the London Wesleyan Methodist Conference, vol 14 (1858-60)
  • Minutes of the Australasian Wesleyan Methodist Church (1869-71)
  • Australasian Wesleyan Methodist Church, Minutes of the 12th New South Wales and Queensland Conferences (1884-86)
  • Christian Advocate and Wesleyan Record, Apr 1865
  • Weekly Advocate, 1879, July 1885.

Citation details

S. G. Claughton, 'Hurst, George (1816–1885)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hurst-george-3828/text6075, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 19 December 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

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