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Henry Hopkins and George Clarke: Two Tasmanian nonconformists


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Alexander, A 1983 , 'Henry Hopkins and George Clarke: Two Tasmanian nonconformists', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Henry Hopkins and George Clarke were two Congregationalists
who lived in Tasmania between 1822 and
1913. Hopkins and his wife, both of lower middle-class
origins, emigrated to the colony and quickly built up
wealth, by importing and retailing ironmongery and by
largely establishing the wool trade in Van Diemen's
Land. Hopkins used his wealth to establish the Congregational
church, and to attempt to build up a society
where honest labourers could, by hard work, achieve
independence. To this end he was one of a group who
established banks, insurance companies, churches, schools
and new industries, and supported many charities. When
Victoria was settled, he duplicated his Tasmanian
activities there. Hopkins' career is typical of many
nonconformist merchants, and is a negation of the prevalent
view that Van Diemen's Land was inhabited by bad
convicts and worse free settlers. Clarke, Hopkins' son-in-law, was a Congregationalist
minister, highly regarded by the community as a whole,
and with a most influential congregation. He eschewed
money-making and politics, and through sermons, lectures
and pamphlets encouraged Tasmanians to be tolerant and
reasonable. Though conciliatory, he occasionally made a
public stand, for example, against Chiniquy's antiCatholic
behaviour, and, earlier in New Zealand, against
white injustice to the Maoris. Like Hopkins, Clarke was
interested in education, though more at the tertiary
level. He was instrumental in establishing the University
of Tasmania, was its first Vice-Chancellor (1890--1898), then Chancellor (1898-1907). It was due to his
wise leadership that the university survived many
crises in these years.
Hopkins and Clarke typify several trends in Tasmanian
history: from rather Dickensian early days to a more
sophisticated outlook, from a strongly evangelical creed
to a more reasoned one, from a society largely concerned
with economic survival to a secure, middle-class environ-
ment. They also typify a class whose contribution to
Tasmanian development has been largely ignored.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Alexander, A
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