William Augustine Duncan Print Page Print this page

A stained glass window erected by friends commemorates journalist and public servant ,William Augustine Duncan (1811-1885). 

In 1839 Duncan became foundation editor of the Roman Catholic Australasian Chronicle, published in Sydney. Its columns ably expounded the rights, not only of the church, but of other out-groups, especially small farmers and working men. 

Duncan established his own Duncan's Weekly Register, of Politics, Facts and General Literature in July 1843. Its literary columns revealed him as an intelligent critic and the patron, publisher and friend of colonial poets, especially Charles Harpur and (Sir) Henry Parkes. As editor Duncan stressed the liberal quality of his Catholicism. Financial troubles forced the Register to close in December 1845.

Thereafter Duncan earned his living in the customs service. At Brisbane he filled many subsidiary posts including deputy-sheriff, immigration officer, chairman of the Steam Navigation Board, commissioner of the peace, and water police magistrate. His diligence and ability were as marked as ever, and won him appointment as the New South Wales collector of customs in May 1859. He retired in 1881 and was appointed a C.M.G.

That the ripe scholarship of William Augustine Duncan and his splendid services to religion are not forgotten by the Catholic community of Sydney, of which the late distinguished gentleman was so long an ornament, was shown by the heartiness of the applause which greeted the announcement made by the Cardinal-Archbishop on Sunday evening last that a memorial window bearing Mr. Duncan's name was to be erected in the cathedral. His Eminence said he had a very agreeable duty to discharge in announcing that a number of friends of a distinguished Catholic who had passed away, and who in his day was an ornament to the Church in this land, had made arrangements in grateful remembrance of his virtues and his services to erect a memorial in St. Mary's in the appropriate form of a stained-glass window. He was sure he had only to mention the name of the late Mr. Duncan to secure the approval of the meeting of this tribute to one who was in every way so well worthy of it. It had been thought fit to honour the name and the memory of the distinguished Catholic gentleman he had mentioned in this most fitting form and he (the Cardinal) was confident the step thus taken would commend itself to the whole Catholic community.
Freeman's Journal (Sydney), 20 December 1890.


Address:College Street, St. Mary`s Cathedral, Sydney, 2000
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -33.871528
Long: 151.2135
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Window
Monument Theme:People
Monument Designer:Lyon & Cottier (Sydney)


Approx. Monument Dedication Date:1892
Front Inscription

 Pray for the soul of William Augustine Duncan, in memory of whom some of his friends gave this window, 1892. 

Source: MA, ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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