Walter Lawry was born on 3 August 1793 in Cornwall, England. Walter was accepted as a candidate for the Wesleyan ministry in 1817. After becoming a man of the cloth, Walter was appointed chaplain on board a convict ship, the Lady Castlereagh that arrived in Sydney in 1818.

Based in Parramatta, close to the souls that needed saving, Walter married Mary Cover in 1819, preached the first ever church service in Bathurst in 1820, and paid £300 of his own money to have the first Wesleyan church built in Parramatta. Walter also established a Sunday school for youths at the church, although the church hierarchy were very opposed to the idea.

In 1822 Walter set sail for Tonga on a mission. It was not a well-received mission so Walter returned with his family to England in 1825 and remained a clergyman. In 1843 Walter and family came to New Zealand. Walter had the grand title of the General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Missions in New Zealand and the South Seas.  Based mainly in Auckland Walter also went on another mission to the Friendly and Feejee Island and published a book in 1851, peppered with anecdotes of his observations.

By 1852 Walter was the Chair of the Auckland branch of the British and Foreign Bible Society. Two years later in 1854 and suffering from bad health, Walter retired to Parramatta, where he died in 1859. He was buried in the Wesleyan park that is named after him.

This story was originally published in the Taranaki Daily News.

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