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Stow, Thomas Quinton (1801–1862)

from South Australian Register

It is our painful duty to-day to announce the death of the Rev. Thomas Quinton Stow, the first Congregational minister in this colony, who died on Saturday, the 19th inst, at the house of Mr. John Fairfax, Sydney. The Hon. the Attorney-General — Mr. Stow's eldest son — received a brief telegram from Mr. Fairfax on Saturday, announcing the mournful intelligence that at ten minutes past 6 o'clock a.m. Mr. Stow quietly breathed his last. It is known to many of our readers that the reverend gentleman has for some months past been in a precarious state of health, sufficient to awaken the most serious apprehensions of his friends. In February last he left this colony for Sydney to fulfil a temporary engagement at Pitt-street Chapel, in that city. Though for some months previous his health had been very indifferent, and he had been laid aside from public labour, it was fondly hoped by his friends and by himself that the change would have been productive of beneficial results. He was able to fulfil his engagement, and seemed to be decidedly better in his general health, when he was suddenly protracted by a severe attack of illness, which from the first assumed a serious form, and awakened much anxiety amongst his numerous friends. New symptoms were developed, and heart-disease, which was not before suspected, too plainly showed itself. Immediately on the melancholy news reaching this colony Mr. Stow's youngest son left to join his afflicted father. He was subsequently followed by Mr. Augustine Stow; and these two gentlemen have had the mournful satisfaction of rendering to their dying father all those kindly offices which devoted filial affection suggested. The feeble state of Mrs. Stow's health rendered it impossible that she should undertake such a long journey, and, therefore, the reverend gentleman has been deprived of the comfort of having her with him in his great affliction. For some time the hope was indulged that Mr. Stow's health might be sufficiently restored to enable him to return to his home; but at length the symptoms assumed such a serious form as utterly to forbid the continuance of this hope. Dropsy surpervened on the original disease, and indicated an entire breaking up of the system. Just a week before his death Mr. Stow telegraphed to the Rev. Mr. Cox, the Secretary of the Congregational Union, asking for the prayers of the Churches on his behalf — a request which, we believe, was generally responded to. On Friday evening, we understand, Mr. Todd, of the Telegraph Office, received a telegram announcing the fact that Mr. Stow was fast sinking, so that the sad tidings of his decease were not unexpected. At intervals during his long and painful illness, we hear that the reverend gentleman suffered intense anguish from a difficulty in breathing, and for some months, not being able to lie in bed, he was obliged to occupy a sitting position; but in his greatest sufferings he was brave, patient, and submissive. At length, worn out by protracted illness, he calmly fell asleep.

Mr. Stow was born at Hadleigh, in Suffolk, on the 7th day of July, 1801, so that he had just completed his 61st year. At the early age of 17 he began preaching the Gospel. Subsequently, for some years, he studied for the ministry at the Missionary College, Gosport, under the direction of Dr. Bogue, a theologian of no mean attainments. His first pastoral charge was at Huntingford, in Hertfordshire, whence he removed to Halstead in Essex, where he laboured with much success for many years, respected for his ability and consistency, and beloved for his kindness. When the colony of South Australia was founded the attention of the Committee of the Colonial Missionary Society in connection with the Congregational body in England, was directed towards it as a promising sphere of labour, and they resolved to send forthwith a minister of ability and well established character to occupy the important field. Mr. Stow was selected to fill the responsible post, and with his family he sailed from England in the year 1837, in the Hartly, having as his travelling companions the late Mr. Giles and his family, and arrived in the colony in October of the same year. From the commencement of his labours here he found in Mr. Giles a faithful friend and a useful fellow labourer. It is only a few weeks since we had to record the death of Mr. Giles, and now, almost before the grass is green above his grave, he is followed by his long-tried fast and firm friend. Mr. Stow, as it will be seen from what we have stated above, was one of the oldest of our fellow-colonists, having arrived in the colony soon after its foundation. In the first instance he preached in a tent, brought with him from England, which he pitched on the Park Lands. The first sanctuary was a very unpretending building of pine and reeds, which was partly erected by Mr. Stow's own hands, and which stood in North terrace, just above Trinity Church. This was the first religious edifice built in the colony. We have heard Mr. Stow speak of cutting the reeds for this building, and carrying them from the Reedbeds to the site of the chapel. In 1840 the chapel in Freeman-street was opened for divine worship. Though this edifice has long been surpassed by the many handsome churches which now adorn the city, it was then considered a noble and spacious sanctuary— an ornament to the colony, and a credit to the denomination. There Mr. Stow laboured with untiring devotedness and growing success for several years, until at length, to the grief of his friends, he was laid aside by severe illness. Efforts were at once made to obtain assistance for him in his arduous labours, which resulted in the arrival here, in the year 1855, of the Rev. C. W. Evan, who at first became his colleague, and ultimately his successor in the pastorate at Freeman-street Chapel. Though Mr. Stow was laid aside from official duties, he still continued to serve the Churches of his denomination. For a long time he gratuitously occupied the pulpits at Clayton Chapel and Glenelg, where his generous labours were highly esteemed and gratefully acknowledged. Indeed, it may be said that his labours in those places shortened his days. Had he heeded the warnings which failing health gave him, and resolutely ceased from work, he might have been spared for some time longer. But while he could suffer affliction he could not bear idleness. By his judicious counsels, untiring labours, and consistent character, he in an eminent degree served the interests of religion in this land. Possessed of natural ability of a high order, he had cultivated his powers by close and assiduous study to a much larger extent than might have been expected from the active life he led. In his best days, when in the full maturity of his powers, he was a ready and efficient public speaker. While the reasoning faculty predominated in his soul, and stern logic characterized his public efforts, he was by no means deficient in imagination, which occasionally flashed across his well reasoned discourses — a wondrous and fascinating charm. He had a playful humour and a withering satire, which, in his platform addresses, made him formidable to an antagonist. But however much he might be excited in the heat of debate — and there were occasions when in the interests of religious liberty all the deepest feelings of his earnest nature were roused — yet he never forget the courtesy of a gentleman or the kindness of a Christian. Neither his humour nor his satire was ever tinged with malice or employed to give pain. He was firm without being obstinate, conciliatory without being weak. Strong as was his attachment to religious liberty, and bravely as he laboured in defence of this great principle, he lived on terms of intimacy with good men of all denominations, and was always ready to serve any section of the Church of Christ. His influence on the earnest thought and healthy institutions of this colony it would be difficult to over estimate. By his labours in the pulpit, on the platform, and through the press, he did much to mould the thought and form the character of the province. His integrity, honesty of purpose, and manliness of spirit, were never questioned even by those who most strenuously opposed him. The estimation in which he was held was shown in a practical manner on two occasions, when his friends and admirers united to present him with handsome testimonials — the first amounting to nearly £500, and the second, on his retirement from Freeman-street Chapel, being the noble sum of £l,000. To these testimonials persons of all political creeds and of every religious denomination were proud to contribute. Few men have been more useful in their life or more honoured in their death than the Rev. Mr. Stow. We may add that Mr. Stow was the author of two useful and interesting works— the one entitled The Scope of Piety; and the other, Memoirs of Bowland Taylor, LL.D., Archdeacon of Exeter, and Sector of Hadleigh. We understand it is the intention of Mr. Stow's family to have his body brought to this colony for interment. There is a manifest fitness and propriety in this, as it seems a natural thing that his bones should finally rest in a land where so large a portion of his life was spent, and where his labours have been so earnest, self-denying, and successful. We are sure that many who knew and honoured him in life will feel a mournful satisfaction in paying the last tribute of respect to his memory. He was one of the foremost men amongst us, a true patriot, an urbane gentleman, a faithful minister, and a kind friend; and the death of such a man is a real loss, not only to the religious body of which he was so bright an ornament, but to the whole colony whose interests he so faithfully served.

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'Stow, Thomas Quinton (1801–1862)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/stow-thomas-quinton-2707/text25869, accessed 24 October 2017.

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