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George Grimm (1833–1897)

from Sydney Morning Herald

The Rev. George Grimm, M.A., the ex-Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of New South Wales, who had been seriously ill for the past three weeks, passed peacafully away yesterday morning at his residence, the Manse, Rozelle, Balmain. On Sunday last his friends and relatives entertained serious fears as to his recovery, but it was thought the unremitting care that he received from Dr. Sydney Jones and Dr. J. B. Graham might help towards his recovery, out on Tuesday morning before noon he gradually sank, the immediate cause of death being hemorrhagic purpurs. By his death the Presbyterian Church has lost one of those who may be called her pioneer ministers, and who has rendered distinsuished service both to the Church and the literature of this colony.

The deceased was born at Brechin, Forfarshire, Scotland, on 9th June, 1833, and in a few more days would have completed his 64th year. His parents, who were seceders, belonged to the humbler ranks of life, and at an early age he was apprenticed to a mechanical trade. His early education was of the scantiest description, even for the son of a workman, but the thirst for knowledge being awakened, he filled up the few hours he could spare from his manual work by attendance at a night school and by self-tuition. He was fortunate, however, at this period in being brought under the influence of the Rev. James McCosh, then one of the parish ministers, but who is now well known as Dr. McCosh, the widely known president of Princeton College, America, distinguished for his able contribution to the literature of religion and philosophy. Mr. Grimm became a favourite pupil in his Bible class, and thus received a religous and intellectual impetus which did much to direct his future career in the ministry. Later Mr. Grimm made a further advance in his studies by attending the Aberdeen Grammar School for a few months to prepare himself for the University. He now determined to give up manual toil, and, by the aid of private teaching, push himself through the University of Edinburgh. It would hardly be expected that under such difficulties his career at this seat of learning would be distinguished among the hundreds of students who had superior advantages, yet Mr. Grimm carried off the gold medal as the best Latin scholar of his year. ln his second year he won the senior gold medal — a feat the rarest character in the annals of the University. He also gained high honours in the Greek class.

After graduating M.A. with classical honours, he entered upon the free Church theological course. No prizes were awarded in the Theological Faculty proper, but Mr. Grimm won prizes in the voluntary classes for German, natural science, and distinguished himself as a student of Hebrew, the love of which he retained in later life, where, as tutor in Systematic Theology he presided over many Hebrew students. Before completing his study and receiving license as a preacher he resolved that his ministerial career should be spent in the colonies. His talents being generally recognised, as he had been associated in Christian work with Dr. Caudlish and his colleague Dr. Dyers, many of his friends sought to restrain him as they thought he would be throwing himself away, and even though his old mentor Dr. McCosh, remonstrated, he offered his services to the colonial committee. Within four months of his leaving college he was on his way to Queensland, accompanied by his wife.

On his arrival at Brisbane he was ready to go to any part of Queensland. Mr. Grimm was sent to Dalby towards the end of 1865, it being a trying time for Queensland and a difficult outpost of the Church, there being no minister beyond him to the west of Australia. But actuatad by a keen sense of duty, the distinguished classical student became a devoted bush pastor, and for five years laboured with marked success building a church and establishing a congregtation. At the instance of the late Dr. Lang, Mr. Grimm was led to remove to New South Wales on account of the climate, and here again his work was that of a pioneer. In 1870 he was settled at the combined charges of Young and Grenfell, then of Lambing Flat and Emu Creek diggings. During his pastorate churches were erected at both towns, and a splendid manse at Young was built.

In 1879 his talents and service brought him the highest honour the Church could bestow, and he was elected Moderator. ln 1880 Mr. Grimm became minister of Balmain West where he actively laboured until his death. During his pastorate the commodious manse has been erected, and a new church to take the place of the old one was shortly erected at Rozelle, Balmain, as well as another at Drummoyne, a branch of the ministerial charge carefully fostered by the deceased gentleman. His work on the Australian Explorers is now well known and many of his works have been noticed in these columns. The mention of the names of the books he has written shows the varied nature of his rich mental pursuits, and all of them are notable for the thoroughness and mastery of the subject. Amoug these are books on The Sabbath, The Memory, and How to Improve It, A Concise History of Australia, The Unveiling of Africa, The Immortality of the Soul, and The Bulwarks of our Faith. These, however, represent but a fraction of his literary labours. As early as 1879 he was a contributor to the Sydney Mail, and during the past three years he was the editor of The Presbyterian. He relinquished his duties shortly before his death on account of failing strength, making it impossible to continue the threefold duties of minister, editor, and theological tutor.

In his ministerial circle at Balmain he was prominent in connection with various public movements, more particularly in reference to the discountenancing of Sunday demonstrations, and also in many local public improvements. He leaves a widow and nine children (three sons and six daughters). His son, Mr. George A. Grimm, is the orgainst of the Young Men's Christian Association.

A special memorial service will be held at the Presbyterian Church, Rozelle, to-day at noon, and his cortege will leave shortly afterwards for the Presbyterian Cemetery, Necropolis.

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Citation details

'Grimm, George (1833–1897)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 22 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


9 June, 1833
Brechin, Forfarshire, Scotland


2 June, 1897 (aged 63)
Balmain, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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