Cowper Family in Australia - William Cowper - ship sketch Home
waters edge
sydney cove west side

sydney as william cowper saw it for the first time
in the footsteps of William Cowperwilliam cowper crest and signature


Early St Philips Church
The earthly centre of William's life work, an early painting of the original St Philip's Church (1802 - 1856) by early Australian artist PW Lewin

(State Library of New South Wales)

Explore with us now the activities planned to celebrate the arrival of William and his family. The committee’s overriding objective has been to provide a range of activities that family members will not only enjoy, but also provide a setting in which the contribution of William and his family can be highlighted.

The Hunter Connection – 1st and 2nd August 2009

Saturday and Sunday 1st and 2nd August 2009 family members will visit St John the Evangelist, Stroud, Tahlee Ministries and Christ Church Cathedral Newcastle for a weekend in the Hunter at which the work of William and William Macquarie will be recognised.

Download - More information on The Hunter Connection (PDF)

Saturday 1st August will see the family at Stroud where William’s fourth son Reverend William Macquarie was minister at the delightful Church of St John the Evangelist. Here our hosts will be the Friends of St John’s who will arrange lunch and show us around the town and its environs. Lunch will be provided at Mill Creek Vineyard by local winemaker Helen Gillard.

St John The Evangelist Church Stroud
St John the Evangelist, Stroud

(Photograph: Corinne Cowper 2007)

Overnight, Tahlee Ministries have offered accommodation at Tahlee, former home of the Australian Agricultural Company, for whom William Macquarie was chaplain. Later Tahlee was purchased by Robert Hoddle Driberg White where he lived with his bride Eliza Cowper, William Macquarie’s daughter and William’s granddaughter.

On Sunday 2nd August at Christ Church Cathedral we celebrate William’s visit to Christ Church on 2nd August 1818 where he preached the sermon at the official opening by Governor Lachlan Macquarie. William, in fact, was the first regular clergyman to perform divine service at Newcastle. The next day (3rd August 1818) he baptised 30 children and married ten couples before returning to Sydney by sea.

And lest we forget Mary Stephena, William’s eldest daughter, who married George Brooks, Colonial Surgeon at Newcastle, for both she and George we believe were stalwarts of the new cathedral at Newcastle throughout their lives.

St Philip’s Church, Church Hill – 16th and 18th August 2009

St Philip’s Church, Church Hill is the spiritual home of the Cowper family in Australia. Here, William laboured for 49 years as both Rector and Assistant Colonial Chaplain before being appointed Archdeacon for the County of Cumberland. The second Rector was his son, William Macquarie. Together father and son provided spiritual guidance for sixty years which saw the fledgling colony move towards self government and beyond. It was, of course, St Philip’s that provided nurture for all William’s family, a legacy all family members share today.

Current St Philips Church

The current Parish Church of St Philip, Church Hill Sydney, consecrated in 1856. The public appeal for funds was commenced by William himself with a donation of five hundred pounds!
(Photograph: Corinne Cowper 2001)

Two services will be held at St Philip’s; the first at 10.00 am on Sunday 16th August 2009 and the second, a thanksgiving service at noon on Tuesday 18th August 2009.

After the service on Sunday 16th family members will be able to mix and mingle over lunch at a venue yet to be confirmed and immediately before the thanksgiving service there will be a series of short talks presented about William’s children after refreshments are served at 9.30 am.

The thanksgiving service to be held on 18th August 2009, is on the actual anniversary of William and his family’s arrival at Sydney Cove. We hope that representatives of many of the organisations that William instigated, and still functioning today, will attend this service.

Download - More information on services - St Philips v4.pdf

It is important that you and your family give a clear indication of your intention to attend the lunch on Sunday and the talks of Tuesday.

The Parliamentary Connection
You will be excited to hear that the Speaker of the NSW Parliament has asked the Parliamentary Archivist to arrange a suitable exhibition and launch function during August 2009 as part of our commemorations. The Committee will enter into discussions with the Speaker’s representatives early in 2009 to finalise these arrangements – needless to say we were honoured by the Speaker’s kind offer made – “recognising the contribution of the Cowper family in New South Wales and in particular the contribution of Sir Charles Cowper as Premier”.

Download more information on the Parliamentary Activities (PDF)

We will keep you advised about these activities – however if you would like to keep in touch with developments please let us know by ticking the appropriate boxes on the accompanying form.


Book Launch – Mitchell Library – 17th August 2009
The family is indebted to the State Library of New South Wales for their contribution to our celebrations.

On Monday 17th August 2009, 5.30 for 6.00 pm the Commemorative Edition of the book written by Dr. Peter Bolt will be launched at the Mitchell Library. Wine; soft drinks; sandwiches; tea and coffee will be provided by the Mitchell Library at a cost of $15.00. This amount is payable to the Library.

As this event is open to the public, interested family members will need to book early, when tickets become available.

Online Booking Link - State Library of NSW for Book Lauch

This Commemorative Edition, will be the precursor to a more comprehensive book about William to be part of a series of books entitled Studies in Australian Colonial History by Dr. Bolt scheduled for publication at a later date.

Together with the launch of the book, arrangements have been made with the Mitchell Library for case exhibits, commemorating the Williams’ contribution to life in New South Wales. These exhibits will run right through the month of August 2009.

Download more information on the William Cowper Book Launch (PDF)

Download Order form for Book: William Cowper (1778-1858): The Indispensable Parson The Life and Influence of Australia’s First Parish Clergyman (PDF)

‘Cowper Places’ 17th – 22nd August 2009

During the week 17-22 August, the National Trust will run a half-day bus tour around ‘Cowper Places’ in the City. These places are: St Philip’s Church and museum; Lang Park (site of the first St Philip’s); The Garrison Church, at The Rocks (founded by William); Macquarie Place – site of William’s home; Parliament House (Charles); Sydney Hospital (Henry); Sydney Grammar School (Charles), Moore College (William and William Macquarie); St Paul’s College (William); St Andrew’s Cathedral (William Macquarie); and Sussex Street Public School, now home of the Bethel Union (William). After the morning tour, the group will catch a ferry to Cockatoo Island (Biloela, home of William’s grandson, Charles Jnr and his family) to enjoy lunch.

Download - More information on Cowper Places Sydney Tour (PDF)

As these tours are run by the National Trust, the cost of the tour (to be advised) will be payable to them, and as for the Mitchell Library, interested family will need to book early when tickets become available.

Wivenhoe Family Reunion and Picnic – 23rd August 2009

Wivenhoe, built by Charles and Eliza in 1836 on land granted to William by Governor Macquarie

(Photograph: Corinne Cowper 2005)

We have made arrangements for a family gathering on Sunday 23rd August 2009 at Wivenhoe - at this stage simply called a ‘family picnic’. Time will reveal the program for the day and the activities that will be taking place. Early planning sees the involvement of the Friends of St Paul’s Cobbitty and the Camden Historical Society.

Wivenhoe, just north of Camden, was the home built by Charles Cowper (William’s third son – later Sir Charles) on land which had been granted to William by Governor Macquarie. William’s eldest son Henry was married nearby at the Heber Chapel in Cobbitty. Many family members are interred in the little church yard at St Paul’s Cobbitty, where there is a memorial window to Charles who was very much the church’s benefactor.

Download - More information on Wivenhoe Family Reunion and Picnic (PDF)

We will need volunteers to help us on the day – so if you are willing to help with planning or assisting on the day, please indicate your willingness on the enclosed form.


Similarly we are looking for photographs and sketches of family members, particularly those from the first generations. From among William’s children we are yet to locate a picture of Henry or Mary Stephena – nor do we have a picture of Hannah, Ann or Harriet, all serious omissions in a quest of this kind. Also we know that many unidentified photographs exist, and we’d like to help put names to the faces if we can.

So please hunt through those long forgotten boxes and albums and see what you can find. And, if you can help in cataloguing and indexing the photographic records of our Australian family we’d like to hear from you using the enclosed form.

Oral history

Interest is being expressed in talking to older family members with a view to recording some form of oral history – as with our memorabilia and photographic quests if you can assist here please let us know. We must not let the opportunity pass without trying to record some oral history of events and characters from the past.



IMPORTANT - Final Events Program with Times and Contacts - PDF

Amended Booking Sheet (v6) - PDF

Booking Letter (Liz Pawsey) - PDF

Download PDF version of Cowper200 Celebrations v2 (479 KB)