Christ Church, Strathalbyn: Faith Window

FaithWindowThis window depicts “Faith” one of the three theological virtues and is thus a companion piece to the Charity window on the opposite side of the church. It was made by H. L. Vosz, the firm responsible for the two east windows and was dedicated by the Rector, the Rev’d T. P. Wood at the morning service on Sunday 17 December 1911. It is in memory of four of the children of Mr and Mrs R. S. Smyth who lived at “Gaybrook”, Strathalbyn.

Robert Staples Smyth (1837-1913) was born in Ireland and grew up at Gaybrook House, Mullingar, County of Westmeath. This was a large estate and although the three-storied house was demolished in 1960 the stable block and a six acre walled garden still remain. His father was Robert Smyth and his mother, Henrietta Frances Alexander was the daughter of the Bishop of Meath.

Robert arrived in South Australia in early in 1862 and joined the police force as a trooper, third class. He was stationed at Wellington and with Lance Corporal Rollinson was involved in the arrest of Malachi Martin. He was rewarded with a bonus of six pounds for his part in this and in August he was promoted to trooper, second class.

He married Christina Isabella McPherson (1846-1916) from Wellington on the 24 August 1862 and his short but eventful career with the police ended with his resignation in February 1863. He then joined Mr Robert Douglas in a storekeeping business in East Wellington.

In 1885 Robert and Elizabeth with their ten children moved to Strathalbyn and in 1904 obtained a block of land on the Burnside Estate. Robert then built a “handsome family residence” which was called “Gaybrook” after his ancestral home.

Sadly four of the children predeceased their parents and they are commemorated in this window. Margaret Ann died in 1893, aged 25; Robert McPherson died in 1899, aged 25; Maud Mary, who was married to James Bell from Bell’s Store, died in 1901, aged 28; and Christina Maria, who was married to Vivian Ernest Cock, died in 1911, aged 33.

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