|1. ||John Brown Gribble was born 1 Sep 1847, Redruth, Cornwall, England; died 3 Jun 1893, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia ; was buried Waverley Cemetery, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. |
Gribble, John Brown (1847?1893)
This article was published: in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4 , 1972
online in 2006
John Brown Gribble (1847-1893), missionary, was born on 1 September 1847 at Redruth, Cornwall, England, son of Benjamin Gribble, miner, and his wife Mary, née Brown. He arrived at Port Phillip in 1848 with his parents. They settled at Geelong where John was educated and on 4 February 1868 married Mary Ann Elizabeth Bulmer.
In October 1876 Gribble was admitted to the ministry of the United Free Methodist Church, but soon joined the Congregational Union of Victoria and became a home missionary at Rutherglen and Wahgunyah near the Murray River. His travels took him into the Riverina where he preached at Jerilderie, became its first resident missionary, had an encounter with the Kelly gang and made contact with the remnants of Aboriginal tribes. In 1879 he visited Maloga mission on the Murray, toured the Murrumbidgee with Daniel Matthews, at Jerilderie published A Plea for the Aborigines of New South Wales, and with £6 15s. and the help of his wife opened the Warangesdah Aboriginal Mission at Darlington Point. They built huts, dormitories and a church and made several converts. In 1880 the mission received a government grant and was visited by Bishop Mesac Thomas, of Goulburn, who baptized nineteen Aborigines and decided to sponsor the mission. Gribble was made a stipendiary reader that year, deacon in 1881 and priest in 1883. With help from the government, diocese and Aborigines Protection Association the mission prospered but the costs rose to £1200. In 1883 a report on Warangesdah by the protector of Aborigines provoked a government inquiry which led to the reform of the Aborigines Protection Board.
In 1884 Gribble was invited by Bishop Henry Parry of Perth to work in Western Australia and went to England where he raised funds and published Black but Comely, a description of Aboriginal life in Australia. In 1885 he opened a mission on the Gascoyne River but was strongly opposed by settlers who exploited native labour. In 1886 he published Dark Deeds in a Sunny Land: this fierce castigation of his opponents created a furore and the welfare of the Aborigines was obscured by much blackening of reputations until 1905. The booklet included an allegation that ?quite sixty natives, men, women and children? had been shot dead in one day in the Pilbara region, in what later became known as the Flying Foam massacre. Gribble?s witness, one David Carly, claimed to have seen ?the skulls of fifteen who were shot?.
In 1887 the mission was abandoned and Gribble returned to New South Wales where he opened a mission on the Darling River for the Aborigines Protection Association. In 1889-90 he was rector of Temora where he built the first church; after losing all his belongings when the rectory was burnt down he became rector at Batlow. In both parishes he continued to devote much time to the Aborigines. In 1892 he went to Queensland to open Yarrabah mission near Cairns. Suffering from malaria he retired to Sydney where he died on 3 June 1893. His tombstone in the Waverley cemetery described him as the 'Blackfellows' Friend'.
Gribble was survived by his wife, four sons and five daughters. His eldest son, Ernest Richard Bulmer Gribble (1868-1957), helped his father to found the Yarrabah mission and was in charge of it in 1894-1910. He was rector of Gosford in 1911-14, head of the Forrest River Mission, Western Australia, in 1914-28, chaplain of the Palm Island Aboriginal Settlement in 1931-41 and canon of North Queensland diocese in 1941-57. In 1932 he published The Problem of the Australian Aboriginal and in 1933 A Despised Race: The Vanishing Aboriginals of Australia. He was appointed O.B.E. in 1956.
R. T. Wyatt, The History of the Diocese of Goulburn (Syd, 1937)
P. Hasluck, Black Australians (Melb, 1942)
B. Thorn (ed), Letters from Goulburn (Canberra, 1964)
Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, New South Wales), 1883, 3, 919, 937.
t is with deep regret that we learn from our Sydney files of the death of the Rev. John Brown Grlbble, who passed away a victim to the dread disease of consumption.The reverend gentleman may be said to have been the staunchest friend the Australian aboriginals ever had, as it was largely owing to the energy exercised on behalf of his stable and, whom he termed, his down-trodden brethren, that Mr, Gribble contracted the disease which ended his highly useful and self-sacrificing career. Referring to his death the Sydney Morning Herald states :? 'The death is announced of the Rev.J. B. Gribble, who has been closely identified with mission work among the aboriginals for some years past. As the founder of Warrangesda Mission Station on the Murrumbidgee he was widely known in the colonies, and more recently as superintendent of Bellenden-Ker Aboriginal Mission, near Cairns, in Northern Queensland, under the control of the Australian Board of Missions. By the death of Mr. Gribble the aborigines have lost a friend, and one who in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, and Queensland devoted the best years of his life to their temporal and spiritual welfare. His decease took place at Marrackville on Saturday last, and was expected for some time. He was relatively a young man, being in his 46th year. He leaves a widow and a family. A funeral service will be held at St. David's Church, Arthur-street, Surry Hills, at half-past 1 p.m., after which the interment will take place at the Waverley Cemetery.
Daily News, Perth, WA, 13 June 1893.
John married Mary Ann Elizabeth Bulmer 4 Feb 1868, Geelong, Victoria, Australia . Mary was born 29 Mae 1848, Kingston, Yorkshire, England; died 19 Sep 1929, Randwick, Sydney, NSW, Australia. [Group Sheet]
- Ethel Marion Reeves (née Gribble) was born 20 May 1879, Jerilderie, New South Wales, Australia; died 28 Jun 1965, Maryborough, Queensland, Australia; was buried 30 Jun 1965, Maryborough Cemetery, Queensland, Australia.