The Reverend Dr Louis Giustiniani and Anglican Conflict in the Swan River Colony, Western Australia 1836–1838


  • This research forms part of an honours thesis submitted in the Department of Theology at Murdoch University in 2006. The author wishes to thank Associate Professor Rowan Strong for his guidance and supervision of this research project.

  • Dr Louis Giustiniani's name is also spelt Luis and Guistiniani in some references; however, the spelling with which he signed his own letters has been used in this article.

Lesley J. Borowitzka is a post-graduate student in the Theology Department, Murdoch University, Australia.


In 1835, the Western Australian Missionary Society appointed the Reverend Dr Louis Giustiniani to establish a Moravian-style mission in the Swan River Colony. The land grant essential for such a mission was not forthcoming from the government but Giustiniani established a small mission farm employing Aborigines at Guildford and started ministry among the settlers. This change of mission focus set the stage for conflict within the Anglican establishment of the colony, conflict which destroyed Dr Giustiniani's ministry. Giustiniani was well qualified and exerted himself to achieve the mission's objectives and many accusations made against him were essentially false; they reveal much about the prevailing culture and prejudices of the colony. He was defeated, however, because his ideas of church and mission differed from those of the colonial Church and society and because he did not conform to their expectations of the behaviour of a clergyman.