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Robert Haining (1802–1874)

by J. McLellan

This article was published:

Robert Haining (1802-1874), Presbyterian clergyman, was born on 14 August 1802 at Maxton, Roxburgh, Scotland, a son of Rev. John Haining and his wife Wilhelmina, née Wilson. He was educated at Sir John Watson's Hospital, and took literary and divinity courses at Edinburgh University in 1818-25. For some years after completing his studies Haining held no ministerial appointments and as a tutor depended upon whatever opportunities presented themselves.

To provide for religious ordinances within the colony, the South Australian Act of 1834 authorized the appointment of chaplains and clergymen of the established Church of England or of Scotland. This was implemented in 1836 by the appointment of an Anglican clergyman as colonial chaplain. In 1840 the Church of Scotland applied without result to the colonization commissioners for South Australia for aid to maintain a chaplain in South Australia. Subsequently, at Edinburgh on 5 February 1841, the Acting Committee of the General Assembly's Committee on Colonial Churches decided to appoint Haining as the Church of Scotland minister at Adelaide 'or where in the surrounding country Mr Haining think the most suitable position'. After trials for ordination before the presbytery of Edinburgh, Haining was ordained on 31 March 1841. On 1 June he married Jessie, a daughter of Robert Grant, bookseller of Edinburgh, and embarked with his wife in the Orissa, arriving at Port Adelaide on 20 November.

Given the use of Trinity Church, Haining held his first religious service in Adelaide on the afternoon of 28 November 1841. Later services were held elsewhere until in January 1842 a building was hired in Hindley Street, Adelaide, originally opened in 1838 for Wesleyan services and later used by the Baptists. Through the agency of an energetic Church of Scotland Society of South Australia formed in December 1841, a small church, St Andrew's, was erected for Haining in Grenfell Street, Adelaide, and opened on 14 July 1844. This church was succeeded by a larger edifice, also St Andrew's, in Wakefield Street, opened on 13 February 1859.

Haining endeavoured with somewhat indifferent results to advance his denomination among Presbyterians sparsely scattered throughout the rural areas. In the face of some internal dissension and mistrust, the Church of Scotland in South Australia through Haining, accepted state aid in 1846-51, in the form of land grants and finance. He supported proposals made in the early 1860s to unite the various Presbyterian denominations in the colony, and was one of the principal participants at the consummation of union, and the subsequent creation of the Presbyterian Church of South Australia on 10 May 1865.

Upon his arrival in South Australia Haining's style and manner were regarded as characteristic of sincerity and simplicity of aim. Some thirty years later he was described as a clergyman of broad sympathies, allied with strict orthodoxy, of genial temperament and unassuming disposition. His ministry at Adelaide ended in 1871. He died at Glenelg on 26 April 1874.

His portrait in oils is in the archives of the Presbyterian Church of South Australia.

Select Bibliography

  • W. Gray, ‘Centenary History, 1839-1939’, Presbyterian Banner, July 1932, pp 2-3 and Sept 1932, pp 1-3
  • miscellaneous documents (State Records of South Australia, and Presbyterian Church of South Australia, Adelaide)
  • Haining papers (privately held).

Citation details

J. McLellan, 'Haining, Robert (1802–1874)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 16 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (Melbourne University Press), 1966

View the front pages for Volume 1

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


14 August, 1802
Maxton, Roxburghshire, Scotland


26 April, 1874 (aged 71)
Glenelg, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

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