Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Julian Ralph Blanchard (1892–1980)

by J. H. Love

This article was published:

Julian Ralph Blanchard (1892-1980), Presbyterian minister, was born on 27 September 1892 at Broadwater, New South Wales, second son of native-born parents George Alfred Blanchard, headmaster, and his wife Elizabeth, née Dempsey. In 1902 George died, leaving Elizabeth with three sons. She moved to Sydney where Ralph was educated at Fort Street Model School and gained a bursary to the University of Sydney (B.A., 1913). After training for the ministry at St Andrew's College, he was ordained on 12 July 1917 and inducted into the Presbyterian Church of Australia's suburban parish of Ryde-Meadowbank. On 25 January 1919 he married a schoolteacher Doris Rachel Raysmith at St Stephen's Church, Sydney.

Having been appointed in 1919 to Ross Memorial Church, West Perth, in 1922 Blanchard was elected moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Western Australia. He became well known for his concern with the relations between church and state, and for his engagement in social issues. Prepared to cross swords with politicians over gambling laws, he denounced wine saloons as snakepits dealing in poison and death, which prompted a suit for slander: rather than apologizing, he contested the case and lost; the plaintiff received nominal damages. While principal of Presbyterian Theological Hall, Perth, Blanchard lectured there in church history and also taught at the nearby Kindergarten Teachers' Training College.

Leaving for New Zealand in 1926, he served at St John's Church, Wellington, and was on the boards of Scots and Queen Margaret colleges. Blanchard moved to Adelaide as incumbent of Scots Church in September 1939. He was moderator of the South Australian assembly for two terms in 1942-43 and moderator-general of the Australian assembly in 1948-51. With other religious leaders, he organized public meetings in Adelaide during World War II and in its aftermath, and issued manifestos containing Christian ideals for postwar development and social justice. He feared that 'humanity hangs precariously on the edge of an unspeakably terrible abyss'. Strongly ecumenical in outlook, Blanchard included Anglican and Catholic bishops among his friends. In 1949 he attended a conference of Asian churches in Bangkok and in 1950 visited the United Church of South India. He was appointed C.B.E. in 1957.

Following his retirement next year, he travelled abroad, received an honorary degree (D.D., 1958) from the University of Edinburgh and relieved at parishes in Edinburgh, London and Amsterdam, as well as at Jaffa, Israel. Returning to Australia in 1965, he settled in North Melbourne where he joined a local history association. Blanchard had been an army and school chaplain, and was also involved in the Young Men's Christian Association and the Australian Student Christian Movement. He enjoyed cricket, singing and poetry, particularly the work of John Shaw Neilson. Blanchard's published pamphlets were mostly for youth conferences whose members once sang to him: 'If you want to keep your flock, keep your eye upon the clock'. Well groomed, bespectacled and slightly pompous, though not without humour, he was an eloquent speaker—learned, forceful and challenging. Survived by his wife, son and two daughters, he died on 30 July 1980 at Parkville and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • Presbyterian, 1 Sept 1921, 1 June 1922
  • Presbyterian Banner, Aug, Nov 1939
  • North Melbourne News, Aug-Sept, Oct-Nov 1980, Sept-Oct 1982
  • West Australian, 1-3 Sept 1921
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 20 Feb 1950
  • Presbyterian Church Archives (State Library of South Australia)
  • private information.

Citation details

J. H. Love, 'Blanchard, Julian Ralph (1892–1980)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 25 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (Melbourne University Press), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


27 September, 1892
Broadwater, New South Wales, Australia


30 July, 1980 (aged 87)
Parkville, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.