The Scots Kirk

In 1821, a group of Scottish settlers unhappy at having to worship in St David's Church of England, came together to establish their own religion here. They busied themselves in writing to Scotland asking for an ordained minister to be sent and to the Lieutenant Governor here, asking for a grant of land on which to build a church. They were granted a block of land in Bathurst Street, extending back as far as Melville Street, adjacent to the Prisoners' Barracks, later the Hobart Gaol. A further grant of land was given for the purpose of a burial ground.

Answering the call to minister in Hobart Town was Reverend Archibald McArthur, a young, intelligent and gifted oratory from Edinburgh. Archibald arrived in Hobart Town Christmas Eve 1822 on board the Skelton. On 5 January 1823 he held the first Presbyterian Service in a room at the Government Factory.

At a meeting in February 1823, 'the Presbyterian Church in Van Diemen's Land was officially formed, a committee of management established, and arrangements made for the minister's salary and to raise funds for a church.

Through the generosity of the people of Hobart Town, a small kirk of freestone was built at the rear of the Bathurst Street allotment. Designed by William Wilson who was connected to the Richmond Bridge, and typical of many kirks to be found in the Scottish countryside the kirk was built by convict labour in an ashlar style. Later a two storey manse was built on site for the minister and his growing family.

Reverend Archibald McArthur, despite the serious reservations he had early on, soon went about establishing the Presbyterian Tract Society, Presbyterian Missionary Society and was also involved in the Auxiliary Bible Society, Infant School Society, the Van Diemen's Land Friends Society and Bethel Union.