Australian Dictionary of Biography

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George Grimm (1833–1897)

by Alan Dougan

This article was published:

George Grimm (1833-1897), Presbyterian minister, was born on 9 June 1833 at Brechin, Forfarshire, Scotland, the eldest son of Robert Grimm and his wife Mary, née Arnott. After a meagre education he was apprenticed to a stonemason. He attended night school, encouraged by the parish minister, Dr James McCosh, later president of the College of New Jersey (Princeton). Dr Thomas Guthrie of Edinburgh described Grimm in his autobiography as 'a youth of superior talents and early piety … he commenced latin grammar, and placing the books before him while at his daily work, he studied and finally mastered it'. He saved enough to pay fees at Aberdeen Grammar School in 1855-56 and then, maintaining himself by manual work and private teaching, won a second-class prize in Greek and the senior-class Straton gold medal in Humanities at the University of Edinburgh (M.A., 1861). After three years at the Free Church New College he offered his services to the colonial committee of the Free Church. On 8 June 1865 he married Mary Hetherington at Sowerby Bridge, Yorkshire.

Sent to Queensland that year Grimm arrived in Brisbane and was inducted to Dalby. In 1870 he was transferred to Young and Grenfell in New South Wales. When Young and Grenfell became separate parishes he moved to Young where St Paul's Church and manse were built. In 1879 he was moderator of the New South Wales General Assembly and in 1880-97 served at Balmain West (Rozelle). There another St Paul's Church and manse were built and another congregation was established at Drummoyne where a church was built and named in his memory. Grimm was a faithful pastor; his preaching is said to have been 'evangelical, lucid, scholarly and improving, impaired by a somewhat awkward delivery'. But his greatest gifts were academic. In 1873-97 he was tutor in apologetics and systematic theology in the Theological Hall, St Andrew's College, and from 1886 a college councillor. He also studied botany and astronomy. Using original sources and journals he wrote widely on Australian history and contributed many articles to the Sydney Evening News and the Town and Country Journal. His many books and pamphlets included The Australian Explorers (1888), The Unveiling of Africa (1890), A Concise History of Australia (1891), The Sabbath: Patriarchal, Jewish & Christian (1892), Twelve Lectures on the Immortality of the Soul and the Life Everlasting (1892) and The Bulwarks of our Faith (1893).

Grimm died at Balmain on 2 June 1897, and was buried in the Presbyterian section of Rookwood cemetery. Of his surviving three sons and six daughters, his eldest son, Arthur Hetherington, was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly for Ashburnham in 1913-20 and Murrumbidgee in 1920-25, and briefly a minister without portfolio.

Select Bibliography

  • Testimonials & Certificates in Favour of George Grimm, M.A. (Brechin, 1861)
  • J. Cameron, Centenary History of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales (Syd, 1905)
  • C. A. White, The Challenge of the Years: A History of the Presbyterian Church of Australia in the State of New South Wales (Syd, 1951)
  • Australian Witness, 9 Dec 1876, 8 May, 10 July 1880
  • Presbyterian (New South Wales), 11 July 1897
  • Town and Country Journal, 15 Nov 1879
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 3 June 1897
  • General Assembly minutes, 1894, 1898, and Grimm papers (Presbyterian Library, Assembly Hall, Sydney).

Additional Resources

Citation details

Alan Dougan, 'Grimm, George (1833–1897)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 18 July 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]


9 June, 1833
Brechin, Forfarshire, Scotland


2 June, 1897 (aged 63)
Balmain, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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