February 3

Foundation documents from 1788

There are two books of enormous significance to the foundation of Australia, in addition to the documents which authorised the settlement in 1788. They are the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer used by the Rev Richard Johnson in the very first Christian service on Australian soil held on 7 February 1788.


 His text came from Psalm 116, beginning 'What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?' The Bible was the large leather-bound King James Version which he  carried with him on the First Fleet.

The Rev Richard Johnson's Bible, and his Book of Common Prayer, foundational documents in the formation of Australia, now reside under the care of St Philip's York St Anglican Church in Sydney. The current Rector of St Phillip's, The Reverend Justin Moffatt, considers Johnson's KJV to be one of our greatest treasures.

The Rector points out that few countries are able to still show documents of such importance to the foundation. When Gov Phillip arrived in Sydney, he brought with him for of the foundation’s of this nation: the rule of law, the English language, the Crown, and our Judeo Christian values.

Later we were to receive the gift of responsible self-government under the Westminster system and we ourselves decided, ,“humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God”  to unite in an indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown and under the Constitution,

The Bible bears the signatures of  King George the Sixth when he visited Australia as Prince Albert, by Queen Elizabeth the Second, Prince Charles and Diana Princess of Wales .



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