John Henry Stockton

Photo courtesy of Adventist Heritage Centre, Australia.

Stockton, John Henry (1854–1896)

By Milton Hook

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Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

First Published: January 29, 2020

John Stockton was the first person in Australia to become a Seventh-day Adventist after the arrival of Seventh-day Adventist missionaries from the United States in 1885.

British Heritage

John Henry Stockton was born in Manchester, Lancashire, England, on September 8, 1854, to Thomas and Harriet (Mort) Stockton. He was christened on the eighth day at Saint Mary, Saint Denys, and Saint George Anglican Church, now Manchester Cathedral. He began his childhood with an older sister, Alice, and a brother, Alfred.1

To Australia

In December 1855, John’s father emigrated to Melbourne, Victoria, on the Red Jacket in order to find a suitable place for the family to join him later.2 He chose a farming property at Moliagul, west of Bendigo. Harriet was pregnant when he left England, and the babe, Ann Mort Stockton, died in infancy, 1856.3 In January 1858 mother Harriet, together with children Alice, Alfred, and John sailed on the British Lion to rejoin Thomas.4 A third son, Samuel, was born at Moliagul in 1862.5

John became a coach builder, employed by John Lockhead. He married Lockhead’s daughter, Ann Pollock Mindora, in the Presbyterian Church on Napoleon Street, East Collingwood, suburban Melbourne, February 25, 1876. Ann was the same age as John, twenty-one, born at sea on the way from England to Australia.6

A Change of Faith

Some Seventh-day Adventists in San Francisco adopted Australia as their mission field, mailing Signs of the Times to random names they found in the Melbourne Street Directory. One church member, E.A. Stockton, noticed the name of J.H. Stockton in the listing and began sending literature, even though he was simply a namesake rather than a relative. When the original party of Seventh-day Adventists arrived in Melbourne in 1885 Elder Mendel Israel called on John Stockton at Clifton Hill to invite him to their Sabbath School held in their rented home “Sumerlide” in suburban Richmond.7

On August 8, 1885, John and his two eldest children, “Minnie” and “Harry,” walked several kilometers to attend the Sabbath School at Richmond. The following week Samuel also attended but did not continue. John’s wife, Ann, joined the group in September.8 John and Ann attended a tent crusade at North Fitzroy near Stockton’s home, after which they both were baptized. The Melbourne SDA Church was organized on January 10, 1886,9 in which the Stocktons were charter members, the first in Australia. John was elected as deacon.

Apart from his deacon duties, Stockton took an active part in the Melbourne branch of the International Tract and Missionary Society (ITMS), his name appearing repeatedly as a member of various committees10 and giving reports of activities from time to time.11 He and fellow church member, William Wainman, joined the ranks of the colporteurs. They sailed to Brisbane, Queensland, as pioneers to sell Thoughts on Daniel and Revelation, reporting back to an October 2, 1887 meeting of the ITMS that 375 copies were sold.12 In August 1890 Stockton sailed alone to pioneer the work of the Church in Western Australia by selling health and other denominational books13 until he returned at the end of the year.14 At the Fifth Australian Conference Session, January 1893, he urged that missionaries be sent to Western Australia to capitalize on the seed that he had sown.15

In the meantime, in 1892, Stockton was elected as the West Australian representative on a committee to search out a site and plan for the establishment of a training school in Melbourne.16 One was found at Saint Kilda and the Australasian Bible School was started there in August 1892. Teenagers “Minnie” and “Harry” Stockton were among the early students.17 The Stocktons transferred their membership to the Prahran Church, nearer to the school.18

Demise

On Friday evening, July 17, 1896, John died suddenly of heart failure at his home in Preston, northeast Melbourne. He was buried in the Melbourne General Cemetery at Carlton North.19 The children of John and Ann were Mindora or “Minnie,” Henry or “Harry,” Ernest, Ruth, Percy, Arthur, Roy, and Myrtle. Seven survived their father, their ages at the time of his death ranging from two to twenty years.20 It was a premature and tragic passing of a highly principled man who courageously followed his convictions and did much to strengthen the Adventist cause during its infancy in Australia.

Sources

Corliss, Julia A. “The Journal of J.A. Corliss: 1883-1891.” James White Library, Andrews University, Michigan. Retrieved from: https://adventistdigitallibrary.org/adl-22252758/journal-j-corliss-1883-1891?solr_nav%5Bid%5D=02873c770b2f381845b3&solr_nav%5Bpage%5D=O&solr_n

Daniells, A[rthur] G. “Australian SDA Conference.” The Bible Echo, February 1, 1893.

“Death of Bro. J.H. Stockton.” The Bible Echo, July 27, 1896.

“Deaths.” The Age, July 18, 1896.

District of Collingwood. Marriage Certificates. State Government of Victoria. Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Melbourne, Victoria.

Israel, M[endel] C. “Meeting of the Australian Tract Society.” The Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, February 15, 1890.

Israel, M[endel] C. “Melbourne T. and M. Society.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, November 1887.

Israel, M[endel] C. “Opening of the Seventh-day Adventist Mission in the Australian Field.” Union Conference Record, October 11, 1909.

Israel, M[endel] C. “The Melbourne Tract Society.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, September 1887.

“John Henry Stockton.” Ancestry.com. Retrieved from: https://www.ancestry.com.au/family-tree/person/tree/19738948/person/1025514655/facts

“Meetings were continued in the tent at North Fitzroy . . . “Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, February 1886.

Morrison, E[nos] M. “To the Australian and New Zealand Canvassers.” The Home Missionary, January 1891.

Stockton, J[ohn] H. “Prahran, Melbourne.” The Bible Echo, November 1, 1893.

Tenney, G[eorge] C. “Minutes of the SDA Conference.” The Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, January 15, 1892.

“Unassisted Passenger Lists, 1852-1923.” Public Record Office, Victoria. Retrieved from: https://prov.vic.gov.au/explore-collection/explore-topic/passenger-records-and-immigration/unassisted-passenger-lists

“We are glad to welcome Bro. J.H. Stockton . . .” The Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, January 1, 1891.

White, W[illiam] C. “A Day in the Bible School.” The Bible Echo, November 1, 1892.

W[hite], W[illiam] C. “The Bible School.” The Bible Echo, July 1, 1893.

Notes

  1. “John Henry Stockton,” Ancestry.com, accessed January 20, 2019, https://www.ancestry.com.au/family-tree/person/tree/19738948/person/1025514655/facts

  2. “Unassisted Passenger Lists, 1852-1923,” Public Record Office, Victoria, accessed January 28, 2019, https://prov.vic.gov.au/explore-collection/explore-topic/passenger-records-and-immigration/unassisted-passenger-lists

  3. “John Henry Stockton,” Ancestry.com, accessed January 20, 2019, https://www.ancestry.com.au/family-tree/person/tree/19738948/person/1025514655/facts

  4. “Unassisted Passenger Lists, 1852-1923,” Public Record Office, Victoria, accessed January 28, 2019, https://prov.vic.gov.au/explore-collection/explore-topic/passenger-records-and-immigration/unassisted-passenger-lists

  5. “John Henry Stockton,” Ancestry.com, accessed January 20, 2019, https://www.ancestry.com.au/family-tree/person/tree/19738948/person/1025514655/facts

  6. District of Collingwood, Certificate of Marriage no. 707 (1876), State Government of Victoria, Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Melbourne, Victoria.

  7. M[endel] C. Israel, “Opening of the Seventh-day Adventist Mission in the Australian Field,” Union Conference Record, October 11, 1909, 1-3.

  8. Julia A Corliss, “The Journal of J.A. Corliss: 1883-1891,” James White Library, Andrews University, Michigan, accessed January 30, 2019, https://adventistdigitallibrary.org/adl-22252758/journal-j-corliss-1883-1891?solr_nav%5Bid%5D=02873c770b2f381845b3&solr_nav%5Bpage%5D=O&solr_n

  9. “Meetings were continued in the tent at North Fitzroy . . . ,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, February 1886, 32.

  10. E.g., M[endel] C. Israel, “The Melbourne Tract Society,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, September 1887, 138.

  11. E.g., M[endel] C. Israel, “Meeting of the Australian Tract Society,” The Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, February 15, 1890, 61.

  12. M[endel] C. Israel, “Melbourne T. and M. Society,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, November 1887, 171.

  13. E[nos] M. Morrison, “To the Australian and New Zealand Canvassers,” The Home Missionary, January 1891, 19-21.

  14. “We are glad to welcome Bro. J.H. Stockton . . . ,” The Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, January 1, 1891, 16.

  15. A[rthur] G. Daniells, “Australian SDA Conference,” The Bible Echo, February 1, 1893, 44-45.

  16. G[eorge] C. Tenney, “Minutes of the SDA Conference,” The Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, January 15, 1892, 28.

  17. W[illiam] C. White, “A Day in the Bible School,” The Bible Echo, November 1, 1892, 329-330; W[illiam] C. W[hite], “The Bible School,” The Bible Echo, July 1, 1893, 224.

  18. J[ohn] H. Stockton, “Prahran, Melbourne,” The Bible Echo, November 21, 1893, 348.

  19. “Deaths,” The Age, no. 12,912, July 18, 1896, 3; “Death of Bro. J.H. Stockton,” The Bible Echo, July 27, 1896, 232.

  20. “John Henry Stockton,” Ancestry.com, accessed January 20, 2019, https://www.ancestry.com.au/family-tree/person/tree/19738948/person/1025514655/facts.

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Hook, Milton. "Stockton, John Henry (1854–1896)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Accessed April 18, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=785R.

Hook, Milton. "Stockton, John Henry (1854–1896)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Date of access April 18, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=785R.

Hook, Milton (2020, January 29). Stockton, John Henry (1854–1896). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved April 18, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=785R.