A Most Pivotal Event for Ipswich

Historian Ken Sbeghen (Above) tells Ipswich First about John Dunmore Lang
and his mission to inject the ‘right type’ into Ipswich

John Dunmore Lang, circa 1888.
Photo courtesy: National Library of Australia

John Dunmore Lang, after whom Lang Park is named, was a Presbyterian minister, politician, educationist, immigration organiser, historian, anthropologist, journalist and gaol-bird.

He was the first prominent advocate of an independent Australia, and called for his fellow Britons to seek boundless opportunities in Australia.

Ipswich Historical Society historian Ken Sbeghen is presenting a talk about him and how Dr Lang’s involvement in Ipswich shaped our city. Dr Lang and the ‘Fortitude’ will be presented on Sunday, 25 March at 10.30am at the Cooneana Heritage Centre.
“He sailed from Scotland in 1823 and spent the next 55 years in Australia, interrupted by numerous trips back and forth to Britain promoting his various schemes for the colony,” Mr Sbeghen said.

“Dr Lang’s mission was to improve the stock of Australian settlers. He wasn’t impressed with the standard being sent from England. He wanted to inject the right type of Christian (nonconformist), skilled, business and farming people from his homeland.

“In 1847 he sailed back to Britain and personally selected the settlers. Some of these families did very well and were very prominent people in Ipswich”

In 1849 three immigrant ships (Fortitude, Chaseley and Lima) chartered by him arrived in Moreton Bay with almost 600 immigrants. Many on board the Fortitude, after whom Fortitude Valley was named, were to settle in Ipswich.

Among them were medical doctor Henry Challinor and businessman Benjamin Cribb.

Mr Sbeghen describes Dr Lang as an interesting and controversial figure in his day.

“He was prosecuted twice for libel and owned a newspaper in Sydney,” Mr Sbeghen said.

“It was quite exciting times. Dr Lang was part of the free settlement era when people were trying to build a new society.”

Henry Challinor

Henry Challinor was the ship’s doctor aboard the Fortitude. By 1849, he had established a medical practice in Ipswich. He was elected to the Queensland Legislative Assembly for West Moreton 1861 -1863 then the Queensland Legislative Assembly for Town of Ipswich 1863 – 1868. He managed a mental asylum at Goodna and when the site was acquired by the University of Queensland it was renamed as the Challinor Centre in his honor.

Benjamin Cribb

Benjamin Cribb arrived on the Chaseley in 1849. By 1854 Benjamin Cribb and John Clarke Foote had created Cribb & Foote, which would become a major department store that stood on the corner of Bell and Brisbane Streets until it burned down in 1985. He was also a member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly for West Moreton 1857 – 1867 and the Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly for Ipswich 1870 – 1873.

This illustration was published in the Ipswich Punch in April 1866, summing up the sediment at the time.

I was born in Ipswich and grew up in Rosewood. My father was a coal mine manager at Oakleigh Colliery. I spent most of my career working as a public servant in administration and management. I wanted to know where my maternal ancestors came from in Germany.

My interest is in early colonial history, the 1820’s on. Ipswich history is also a fascination and I spend a lot of time reading and researching our history online, in newspapers and through archives.

I have been digitising images and archiving catalogs and collections for the Ipswich Historical Society for the past five years. I also have a blog Tales from Colonial Queensland and I also write for the Ipswich Historical Society blog.

Ken Sbeghen

Historian, writer and archivist, Ipswich Historical Society

Dr Lang and the ‘Fortitude’ – A Sunday Presentation by Ken Sbeghen

Once a month the Ipswich Historical Society have a Sunday Presentation.

When: 10.30am, Sunday 25 March

Where: Cooneana Heritage Centre, 1041 Redbank Plains Road, New Chum

Cost: Members $5 and Non Members $7

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