Australian Dictionary of Biography

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John Gore (1846–1931)

by P. Dale

This article was published:

John Gore (1846-1931), Salvation Army officer, was born at Sutton, Lincolnshire, England, son of William Gore, shoemaker, and his wife Martha, née Marsh. On 3 September 1867 he was converted at a Christian mission conducted by 'General' William Booth. For two years he helped Booth in the mission which in 1878 became known as the Salvation Army. In 1870 Gore married Sarah Simpson and in April 1878 they arrived with three children at Adelaide in the Clyde. He found work as a plate-layer and had charge of laying the second track from Adelaide to the port. Deeply religious, he became active in the Bible Christian Church.

In 1880 Gore met Edward Saunders, who had been a member of Booth's mission and had arrived in Adelaide in 1879. They decided to hold meetings on Booth's lines and next evening preached in the notorious Light Square. They were abused by the mob but continued to preach. Convinced that the effort was worthwhile, they wrote to Booth asking him to send officers 'as fast as fire and steam can bring them'. Encouraged by Booth, Gore and Saunders decided to hold their first official Salvationist meeting on Sunday, 5 September, at the open forum in Botanic Park. The meeting was successful and barracks were soon built at the corner of Hindley and Morphett Streets. In February 1881 when two Salvation Army officers arrived, sixty-eight converts and supporters marched to the port to greet them. Their numbers increased and by 1882 the Salvationists had started in Sydney.

Gore decided to become a full-time officer and in October 1883 was appointed to Kapunda. There his family suffered much hardship: the eldest son was attacked for 'being an Army boy' and his mother's wrists sprained went she went to his rescue; and after meetings he and his helpers often had to leave the hall by the back door to avoid angry mobs. Known in army circles as 'John and Sarah', they were stationed in turn with rapidly-growing corps at Bowden, Moonta, Port Pirie, Port Augusta and Norwood. Transferred to New South Wales in 1889 they served at Wallsend, Leichhardt, Penrith, Parramatta, Wagga Wagga and Wollongong. Everywhere his unorthodox methods and fiery preaching attracted audiences but his forthright testimony won many lasting converts. Widely known as 'Salvation Gore' he retired from active service in 1902 with the rank of adjutant and later became staff-orderly at colony headquarters. In 1924 he was the first Australian officer to receive the 'Order of the Founder'. On 12 March 1927 he unveiled a commemorative tablet in Adelaide's Botanic Park where the army had begun its official Australian operations. His wife died on 14 August 1915 and on 25 May 1916 Gore married an elderly widow, Esther Willings, who cared for him until he died aged 85 at Mortdale on 28 December 1931. He was survived by six children of his first marriage. Three of them were Salvationist officers; the eldest son, William, became a major and composed band music of international renown.

Select Bibliography

  • P. Dale, Salvation Chariot: A Review of the First Seventy-One Years of the Salvation Army in Australia, 1880-1951 (Melb, 1952)
  • J. Thomas, ‘The Salvation Army in South Australia’, Victorian Review, vol 7, no 38, Dec 1882, pp 121-31
  • War Cry (Eastern Australia), 20 Dec 1924, 2 Apr 1927, 16 Jan 1932, 29 June 1940.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

P. Dale, 'Gore, John (1846–1931)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 18 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (Melbourne University Press), 1972

View the front pages for Volume 4

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


Sutton, Lincolnshire, England


28 December, 1931 (aged ~ 85)
Mortdale, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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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.