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George Tait (1844–1934)

The Rev. George Tait, a notable figure in the Presbyterian Church in Australia, died at his home in Scott grow, East Malvern, yesterday afternoon, aged 90 years. He was ordained in 1870. He held many positions of distinction in his Church, and until the middle of last year he was engaged actively in the work of the Presbyterian Assembly. As clerk of the Assembly for more than 50 years he achieved a record which is not likely to be surpassed. His ripe experience and his taste for Church law and procedure made him an authority on these subjects among Presbyterians all through Australia.

It was not unusual during meetings of the Assembly to see a perplexed Moderator lean over the clerk's desk and seek the guidance of Mr. Tait on a vexed question of procedure of law Mr Tait was never at loss and once his decision had been given in the authoritative manner so characteristic of him the Assembly rarely pursued the subject.

As the first principal of the Presbyterian Ladies' College and as the minister of the Presbyterian Church in Punt road, South Yarra, Mr Tait will long be remembered by his Church. His labours on wider questions recalled remarkable gifts. He supported strongly the union of the State Presbyterian Churches into a Federal organisation. He was then Moderator of the Presbyterian Assembly of Victoria, and his influence aided greatly the formation of the General Assembly of Australia. When that organisation had been formed in 1906 he became the first clerk, and he retained the office until the middle of 1933, as well as the office of clerk of the Victorian Assembly thus he became the adviser of 42 Moderators and 12 Moderators-General.

A passion for the union of Christian forces seemed to be part of Mr. Tait's nature as it was of his father, the Rev. John Tait. John Tait was the leader of the movement for the union of Presbyterian churches in Victoria, which was achieved in 1859. He then became the clerk of the first assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria. Thus were the careers of father and son linked. The son was a strong advocate of the union of the Presbyterian Methodist and Congregational churches and two of his speeches on the subject are vividly recalled by many members of the assembly.

George Tait was born in Parramatta (N.S.W.) in 1844, and he came with his father to Geelong in the early 'fifties. Later, he became one of the first students of Scotch College, Melbourne. His religious education was received at New College, Edinburgh. In 1869 he married a Scottish girl Miss Sim, who came with him to Victoria in the same year. Mr. Tait's first charge was at Donald When the Presbyterian Ladies' College was founded in 1875 he became Its first principal. Ten years later he accepted a call to Warmambool Church, where he remained for nine years before becoming home mission superintendent. His longest and last ministry was at South Yarra, where he was called in 1891, and where he stayed until his retirement from the active ministry in 1914.

Mr Tait's wife died last year. He is survived by three sons and four daughter. The eldest son, Mr John Tait, is a solicitor at Warrnambool, Mr Gordon Tait is in business in Melbourne, and the youngest son, Mr Alan Tait, is principal of the Warwick Grammar School (Q). A younger brother, the Rev. Lithgow Tait, also a Presbyterian minister, lives in retirement at Deepdene.

The funeral will leave the Gardiner Presbyterian Church at 4 p.m. to-day for Boroondara Cemetery, Kew. A short service will be held in the church, beginning at 3.30 pm. The funeral arrangements are by B Matthews Pty Ltd, of South Yarra.

Original publication

Citation details

'Tait, George (1844–1934)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


12 April, 1844
Parramatta, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


21 December, 1934 (aged 90)
Malvern, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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