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Israelite House of David
Title : Israelite House of David Israelite House of David
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Date of creation : 1916
Format : Photograph
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Description :

Members of Israelite House of David

Betty Leworthy, in retirement at Victor Harbour in 1873, recorded the story of her life in a series of letters to her grand daughter. Recalling her school days at Crewkerne, in Somerset, in 1814, she said:

... Dr Ash of the Established Church ... brought word that a person named Joannah Southcote [sic] would give birth to the Messiah, that a vast number of learned and affluent persons advocated her cause. If any one of the young ladies acknowledged this statement to be true, they were to be regaled with cake and wine. I remember feeling indignant at such palpable wickedness and at once declared I did not believe one word that had been advanced. (Leworthy, Betty. Reminiscences, PRG 3/3/3)

The Israelite House of David grew in part out of the visions of Joanna Southcott, a Devonshire housemaid, in the 1790s. She was seen by her followers as one of the 'messengers' predicted in the Bible in the book of Revelation. Her prediction of the French invasion of Italy by a then unknown general named Bonaparte drew particular attention at the time. Although she appeared to be miraculously pregnant at the age of 64, she died soon afterwards.

Richard Brothers in London, in the 1780s, inspired the formation of the British Israelites with similar visions and beliefs to the Southcottians. The Israelite House of David was established in Michigan, USA in 1878 following visits by Englishman, James Jershom Jezreel, who saw himself as another of the 'messengers'. The Christian Israelite Church was founded by John Wroe in England in 1822. Wroe brought this teaching to Australia, with 'sanctuaries' meeting in South Australia, at Gawler and Adelaide from the 1850s until the 1880s. The sect attracted unwanted publicity when the son of one of the Gawler trustees, John Kerney, John Kerney junior, turned bushranger as 'Captain Thunderbolt' with his brother David, and the son of other sect members, Thomas Field. All were arrested in 1866 after hold-ups at Prospect and Gawler.

All three groups were based on similar interpretations of Biblical predictions about the second coming of Christ. Unlike many alternative sects, they held a high regard for other churches, believing that 'the elect' could be found scattered amongst all Christian denominations. In 1904 a House of David group formed in Melbourne, and by 1916 there was a group in Adelaide. The group remained active until the 1930s. The movement influenced Leo Harris, founder of the Commonwealth Revival Crusade in Adelaide in 1945.

Related names :

Brothers, Richard

Captain Thunderbolt

Harris, Leo

Jezreel, James Jersham, 1840-1885

Kerney, John

Leworthy, Betty, 1800-1891

Southcott, Joanna, 1750-1814

Wroe, John, 1782-1863

British-Israel World Federation. Adelaide Branch

Christian Israelite Church

Commonwealth Revival Crusade (Adelaide, S. Aust.)

Israelite House of David (Adelaide, S. Aust.)

Coverage year : 1916
Place : Adelaide (S. Aust.); Gawler (S. Aust.)
Region : Adelaide city
Further reading :
British-Israel World Federation. Adelaide Branch. Syllabus for half-year ending ... 1924, 1935
Kingdom of God , Adelaide: [British Israel World Federation, 1933?]
'Law courts', South Australian advertiser, 13 November 1866, p. 4
Lewis, James R. The encyclopedia of cults, sects and new religions, Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1998
Leworthy family. Personal papers, PRG 3
Rogers, Philip George. The sixth trumpeter: the story of Jezreel and his tower, London: Oxford University Press, 1963
Thiem, W.E. Principal Kiek in open eruption against British Israel and Bible inspiration, Adelaide: Adelaide Branch, British-Israel World Federation, [1934]
Wroe, John. An abridgement of John Wroe's life and travels ... : Volume 3, s.l.: Ashton under Lyne, Trustee of the Society surnamed Israelites, 1902



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