[Convicts made to attend church by law] [6 November 1823]

[Editor: An extract from the news section of The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (6 November 1823), regarding the rule in New South Wales that all convicts were to attend church services every Sunday.]

[Convicts made to attend church by law]

In consequence of the fact being too notorious any longer to remain a secret, we are called upon to notice a circumstance that requires immediate attention. In 1814 certain Government and General Orders were specially issued for the purpose of enforcing the regular attendance at Divine Service of all the prisoners in the Colony, whether ticket of leave or otherwise; of the ticket of leave men’s non-attendance we are uninformed, but it is much to be regretted, that in the Town of Sydney, there are hundreds upon hundreds of assigned servants who never attend a Church, and that too, in defiance of the existing and imperative Regulations on that head. Where the blame is imputable, we are not compelled to know; but it must be allowed that an Order, of so beneficial a tendency, should not be allowed to die a natural death. An observance of such Orders is calculated to prevent Sabbath-breaking, drunkenness, and theft. Masters and mistresses should, for the sake of appearance at least, require their servants to go to Church once-a-day; and if the latter refuse to go, here are the Orders to compel them, and the efficient Authorities to see them executed:—

“All the Government men who are assigned to the service of individuals, at Sydney, shall (instead of mustering at the hour of ten o’clock on Sundays, as directed in the Government and General Orders of the 10th ultimo), in future assemble in their respective districts, at the hour of two o’clock in the afternoons of Sundays, and proceed from thence, under the direction of the district constables, to the place of general muster, in front of the Church, in Charlotte square, at which place they are to be assembled at half past two o’clock, and there mustered and inspected together, by the Assistant Superintendent of Police, and to attend the Divine Service in the afternoon. It will be the duty of the district constables to make the assigned convicts herein alluded to acquainted with the places where the district musters will be held; and the Assistant Superintendent of Police is hereby directed to confine all persons of the foregoing description, who shall attend either dirty in their appearance, or in a state of drunkenness. — He is also to cause all absentees to be apprehended and confined, reporting the circumstance on the next morning to the Principal Superintendent of Police. — October 8, 1814, and September 10, 1814.”

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (Sydney, NSW), Thursday 6 November 1823, page 2

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