The first minister of the Presbyterian Church in Geelong was the Rev. Andrew Love. He ministered there for twenty-seven years from 1840 until his death in 1867 at which time it was estimated that, amongst his other duties, he had performed over four thousand marriages.
Before leaving Scotland, Andrew Love was appointed by the Colonial Committee of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to the pastoral charge of the Presbyterian congregation at Geelong. The Committee voted £100 to him as his salary for one year, from the date of his arrival at Geelong, in the event of a permanent appointment not being provided for him; and they also allowed him £105 for outfit and passage. His appointment was announced to the Colonial Office previous to this last grant being made, with a request for Government aid, to pay his outfit and passage. In answer to this announcement, the Colonial Secretary, on 31 August 1839, refused the request, and stated, "That it would not be possible to afford any augmentation of the expenditure with which the Colonial Treasury is already charged for the support of the Ecclesiastical Establishments, and that the Governor of New South Wales had recently reported that there was now no want of clergymen of any denomination in the Colony." This answer was communicated to Mr. Love by the Committee. Mr. Love was, however, ordained by the Presbytery of Hamilton on 9 September 1839 and the Committee wished him a safe arrival at Geelong.
Rev. Love and his family travelled to Australia on board the "India" - a 493 ton barque that sailed from Greenock, Glasgow, Scotland. It put into Adelaide en route and arrived at Melbourne on 9 April 1840 ( This was the same ship that was completely destroyed by fire on its next voyage to Australia ). They then travelled in the mail car from Melbourne to Geelong. While crossing the Werribee Plains it broke down, but with some temporary repairs using the pocket handkerchiefs of the passengers it was able to complete its journey.
Having arrived at Geelong, he proceeded to Mack's Hotel, but upon approaching it he saw numbers of men passing in and out whose appearance horrified him. Most of them had dirty black pipes in their mouths, and nearly every word they spoke was accompanied with an oath. He soon found that a large proportion of the people consisted of those who had come over from Van Diemen's Land to try their fortunes, bringing with them assigned servants - men who were wild of speech, but who, notwithstanding their profanity, were more civil and obliging than the servants found here at a later period.
There were very few houses in Geelong in those days, and South Geelong was almost a terra incognita, the Retreat Hotel, then in course of building, being the only habitation on that side. There was no place to preach in until Mr. David Fisher kindly provided him with the use of a store, variously described as a woolshed and a barn used to house ducks, geese, fowls and horses. A cockatoo, perched above the head of the preacher, would think nothing of suddenly exclaiming in the middle of the sermon, "Get out of that."
In 1840 a residence was built for the Rev. Love and his family. This was said to be the first brick house built in Geelong. On 8 October 1840 he was formally elected as the Minister of the Presbyterian Church in Geelong.
On one occasion, early in his ministry, he rode ninety-five miles to baptise two children. This was a formidable journey in those days when it was often necessary to reserve the speed of his horse for a spurt in the event of the aborigines exhibiting their dangerous proclivities. Six months after baptising those children he met the father of them in Geelong. Asking him for a subscription to build the church, the father responded with "I'll not give you a penny." He was a Scotchman. That man died worth many thousands. It must be said, however, for the squatters that they had little enough in early times to part with, their wealth having been in most cases acquired in later years.
The Presbyterian Church in Geelong was not built without some difficulty. There had been some attempts to build it in the beginning of 1842, but the builder's eye was affected with an unfortunate squint, and the walls not being plumb, had to come down again. The place was finally completed and opened for Divine Service on the 3 July 1842, when the trustees found that they had got into such difficulties that they ran the risk of being shut out of their own church. So they borrowed £600 from a Bank in Hobart Town. This church later became known as St. Andrew's Church.
On 25 January 1859 Rev. Love gave a speech at a dinner to celebrate the Burns Centenary. This was very well received and a request was made to have it printed. Later in 1859 he considered, but declined, nomination for the parliamentary seat of East Geelong, giving his reasons as: "1. I cannot bring myself to see it to be right to give up the clerical character which I have been so long privileged and honoured to bear, and which cost me so severe a struggle to obtain; 2. The recent manifestation of attachment to me as their pastor, on the part of my congregation, and the promise I then gave that I would continue among them, forbid the act; 3. An increasing physical infirmity would, I fear, greatly affect my efficiency in the long and fatiguing discussions of the Assembly."
In 1861-62 he served as the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria.
Though he had appeared to be in reasonably good health until the week before his death, he had in fact been ill for some time. He underwent an operation on Monday, 22 April 1867 but passed away at 4.00 pm. the following day at St. Andrew's Manse, McKillop Street, Geelong. A funeral service was held in St. Andrew's Church on 25 April 1867. The proceedings were commenced by the Rev. Irving Hetherington giving out a psalm, after which the Rev. Thomas Mackenzie Frazer offered up an impressive prayer. The Rev. Dr. Adam Cairns then delivered an eloquent address. Following the service the funeral procession made its way to the Eastern Cemetery.
His widow, Catherine, died on 27 February 1877 at 60 Tideswell Terrace, Albert Park, Victoria and was buried on 1 March 1877 at the Eastern Cemetery, Geelong.
Andrew Love is believed to have been born on 22 August 1798 at Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland, the son of William Love, miller, and his wife Janet, nee Crooks. He married Catherine Law, daughter of Thomas Law and his wife Frances (Fanny), nee Black, on 12 March 1822 at Symington near Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland. Their six children were:
1. William Wharrie Love, born 17 March 1824 at Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland and believed to have died prior to 1834.
2. Andrew Love, born 21 August 1827 at Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland. Married 30 April 1853 at Victoria Cottages, Geelong to Mary Thompson Patterson Fairbairn, daughter of George Fairbairn and his wife Mary, nee Hardie. Sometime Member of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria. Died 15 August 1901 at Sydney, New South Wales.
3. Frances Anne Love, born 28 November 1828 at Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland. Married 1854 in Victoria to William John Gilchrist, barrister-at-law. Died 12 April 1896 at 73 George Street, Fitzroy, Victoria.
4. Janet (Jessie) Love, born 3 September 1830 at Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland. Married 2 June 1853 at the Presbyterian Manse, Geelong to Thomas Rae.
5. William Love, born 15 April 1834 at Kirkintilloch, Dunbarton, Scotland. Died 23 June 1851 in Victoria.
6. John Love, born 25 August 1838 at Kirkintilloch, Dunbarton, Scotland. Died 10 June 1862 at sea en route from Fiji to Sydney, N.S.W.
Rev. Andrew Love had an older sister named Margaret. She was born 10 April 1796 at Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland. On 19 February 1819 she married Andrew Mitchell Younger Turner at Kirkconnell by Sanquhar, Dumfries, Scotland. Her husband was a bookseller in Scotland for many years before they emigrated to Victoria. Their children were Joseph Turner (1825-1883); John Turner (1827-1883) a photographic artist; William Turner (1831-1919) a bank manager, he married Maria Reinhardt; and Janet (Jessie) Turner (c1833-1898) who married William Galbraith. Margaret died at Beechworth, Victoria on 3 January 1866. Her husband died in December 1871.
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