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Matthew Burnett
Title : Matthew Burnett Matthew Burnett
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Source : Frearson's monthly illustrated Adelaide news, March 1883, supplement
Date of creation : 1883
Format : Newspaper
Dimensions : 200 x 140 mm
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Description :

Illustration of the revivalist preacher and temperance advocate, Matthew Burnett.

Yorkshire born Matthew Burnett settled in Victoria in 1863. He was perhaps the most colourful of the early revivalist preachers.

Burnett visited Adelaide in 1880 and subsequently spent almost three years visiting nearly every town in the colony of South Australia. He initially held weekly meetings in the Adelaide Town Hall and open- air meetings in Light Square. These included brass bands, singers and banners and culminated in torch-lit processions to Pirie Street Wesleyan Church. Burnett was reportedly theatrical and flamboyant in his presentations. Critics referred to his 'screech-owl style of oratory' (Lantern, 8 May 1880, p. 9).

Combining a message of moral reform with abstinence from alcohol, Burnett persuaded many people to sign a pledge promising teetotalism. These included a thousand at Port Adelaide and two thousand at Moonta Mines. He claimed to have induced six million Australians* to sign the pledge. Burnett's mission also galvanized opposition to the opening of hotels on Sunday. However those in favour of Sunday opening successfully lobbied the South Australian Parliament against this move.

John Gore and Edward Saunders, who had previously joined the Salvation Army in England, met through Burnett's Light Square meetings. They subsequently organised the first Salvation Army meetings in Adelaide, using a format similar to Burnett's assemblies.


*In 1880 the entire population of Australia was estimated at just over 2, 231,000. By 1933 this had risen to 6,629,839 men, women and children.

Related names :

Burnett, Matthew, 1839-

Gore, John

Saunders, Edward

Adelaide Town Hall

Light Square (Adelaide, S. Aust.)

Pirie Street Wesleyan Church (Adelaide, S. Aust)

Salvation Army (Adelaide, S. Aust.)

Coverage year : 1883
Place : Adelaide (S. Aust.)
Region : Adelaide city
Further reading :

Hilliard, David. Popular revivalism in South Australia from the 1870s to the 1920s, Black Forest, S. Aust.: Uniting Church Historical Society, 2005

Paterson, Roslyn M. A select bibliography of South Australian religious history. Hindmarsh, S. Aust: Public Libraries Branch, 1990

Peake, Andrew Guy. Sources for South Australian history Dulwich, S. Aust.: Tudor Australia Press, 1987. Ch.10 Church records

Whitehead, John. Adelaide, city of churches Magill S. Aust.: M.C. Publications, 1986

Internet links :
State Library of South Australia factsheets online Religion in South Australia



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