Australian Dictionary of Biography

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John Youl (1773–1827)

by G. H. Stancombe

This article was published:

John Youl (1773-1827), Independent missionary and Anglican clergyman, was born on 30 June 1773 in London, the son of John Youl, whose Scottish ancestors had migrated from Stirling to England. In 1798 he was sent as a layman by the (London) Missionary Society in the Duff to Tahiti, but was captured by the French and repatriated. Back in London he engaged in home missions and was one of the founders of the London Itinerant Society. In May 1800 he was ordained at the Congregational chapel, Portsea, and sailed again for Tahiti in the Royal Admiral with Rev. James Elder and several other missionaries. Detained at Sydney for three months, he helped Rev. Samuel Marsden and preached at Toongabbie, Kissing Point and the Hawkesbury settlement. Impressed with the need for itinerant preachers in New South Wales, he proceeded reluctantly with his companions to Tahiti where he worked until 1807. He then returned to Sydney and accepted a call from the Portland Head Society to the little church of Ebenezer, to be paid in kind. On 31 January 1810 at Parramatta he married Jane, the daughter of 'Sergeant' George Loder, gaoler and pound-keeper of Windsor; they had six sons and three daughters.

Youl returned to England in 1813 for further study and was promised priest's orders by the bishop of London. He received episcopal ordination by the bishop of Chester in 1815. He was later commissioned by Earl Bathurst as the first chaplain to the settlement at Port Dalrymple in northern Van Diemen's Land at a salary of £183. He sailed for Sydney where Governor Lachlan Macquarie sent him temporarily to Liverpool until a house was ready in Van Diemen's Land for his family. Youl went to Port Dalrymple on 20 December 1818 to inspect his new parish. During this three weeks visit he married forty-one couples, some of whom had anticipated the blessing of the church, and baptized sixty-seven children. After long delay he and his family sailed from Sydney at his own cost in the government brig Prince Leopold. He arrived with thirty tons of freight at Launceston in November 1819 and moved into Government Cottage. His first services were held in Cameron Street in what had been a blacksmith's shop, and his parishioners were summoned by an iron drum. In July 1821 he moved to a new parsonage at George Town, where he ministered to the convict establishment and conducted a school, at intervals touring his large parish. On Bathurst's orders his salary was increased to £250 and he received 400 acres (162 ha) of glebe with five assigned servants and government stock. With his own free grant of 700 acres (283 ha) on the South Esk River and rams from John Macarthur's flock, he helped his sons to become successful pastoralists.

In December 1824 the foundation stone of St John's Church of England, Launceston was laid by Lieutenant-Governor (Sir) George Arthur. To Youl the plan was handsome within, but rather squat outside, since Arthur had thought the plans were too big, and foreshortened the nave with his pen. Youl moved to Launceston but a chest ailment and the prevailing moral laxity drove him to despair. A month after sharing in the consecration of the unfinished church, he died from asthma on 25 March 1827. His widow died at Perth, Tasmania, on 19 July 1877.

Select Bibliography

  • L. S. Bethell, The Story of Port Dalrymple (Hob, 1957)
  • ‘The London Itinerant Society’, Congregational Historical Society, Transactions, 7 (1916-18)
  • letters of John Youl to Thos Hassall, 1823-24 (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

G. H. Stancombe, 'Youl, John (1773–1827)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 22 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (Melbourne University Press), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


30 June, 1773
London, Middlesex, England


25 March, 1827 (aged 53)
Tasmania, Australia

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