A Messiah for the West: J. C. M. Fisher and the Church of the Firstborn in Western Australia
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On 9 May 1901 the Allinga arrived at Fremantle, bringing a new religious and social order to Western Australia (WA). Among her passengers were two bearded Victorians, Solomon and Samuel Richard Fisher, the sons of James Cowley Morgan Fisher, otherwise known as 'The Nunawading Messiah', the leader of a Victorian millenarian sect, the Church of the Firstborn. The purpose of their journey was to choose a locality where members could settle as a community in order to practise their peculiar faith and social customs. Fisher's community was one of a handful of historical communes in Australia that had a religious motivation for its foundation. Secular and humanist communes have proliferated, but only a few were strictly religious in their emphasis. They included Herrnhut, Hill Plain and Holy City in Victoria; The Manor in New South Wales; and, as we shall see here, New Jerusalem, established by the Firstborn at Wickepin, WA. The emergence of the Firstborn sect in Victoria in the 1860s has been described elsewhere. This paper discusses the motives for its move west in the early-twentieth century, and examines the special character (much commented upon at the time) of the community it established at Wickepin.
Journal of Australian Colonial History
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