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Lot 4980    SESSION 18 (2.30PM FRIDAY 28 JULY)    Other Properties - Australian Groups

Estimate $5,000

PAIR: Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (Officer OBE) (Civil); British War Medal 1914-18. First medal unnamed, Chap-General. J.L.Rentoul. A.I.F. on second medal. Named medal impressed. Extremely fine.

OBE (Civil): London Gazette 19/10/1920, p10096 - for services in or for certain of the Overseas Dominions, and in connection with the War, to The Right Reverend John Laurence Rentoul, M.A., Moderator Presbyterian Church, Chaplain-General Australian Imperial Force.



In a very large article on the death of Rev. Rentoul published in The Argus, Melbourne on Fri 16 April 1926, p11, it is stated that this honour was conferred on him on the advice of Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson, the Governor General of Australia, which is notable considering that Reverend Rentoul was in Australia the most outstanding and fearless opponent of the South African War.



The Very Reverend John Laurence Rentoul M.A, D.D., Professor at Ormond College, Melbourne, Victoria, age 69, born at Garvagh, Londonderry, Ireland; appointed Chaplain 1st Class and Chaplain General (Presbyterian), Australian Military Forces 01Dec1913; Enl.16Aug1916 in AIF, Chaplain's Dept; Emb.16Aug1916 for official inspection visit and on voyage was Transport Officer; to camp at Salisbury Plains, England followed by tour of operational areas in France and Flanders where he was under fire at Ypres; admitted to 14th General Hospital at Boulogne, France 31Oct1916 with severe bronchitis; RTA 26Dec1916 and arrived 09Mar1917; Appt terminated 09Mar1917; on Reserve List in 1920; Chaplain General Rentoul delivered the address for the Anzac Memorial Service at Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1920.



On 7 December 1926, eight months after his father's death, Chaplain-General Rentoul's son wrote to the OIC Records, 8 Military District requesting an unclaimed Peace Medal to his father be forwarded to his mother. This appears to be the 1919 Peace medalet that was issued to all Australian school children (see item with this lot). The OIC Records replied that the British War Medal was Chaplain General Rentoul's only medal entitlement.



John Laurence Rentoul was born in Ireland, the son and grandson of Presbyterian ministers, the family being originally from Perth, Scotland. He was educated at Queen's College, Belfast graduating B.A. in 1867 and M.A. with first class honours a year later. He undertook postgraduate studies in theology at Leipzig, Germany and was ordained a minister in the Presbyterian Church of England in 1872. He was married to Annie Isobel Rattray at Southport on 30 October 1878. He was nominated by another preacher, Oswald Dykes, for the position of Minister of St George's, East St Kilda, Melbourne. He and his wife left for Australia arriving in 1879.



When he arrived in Australia there was a bitter battle within the Presbyterian Church in Victoria between two groups along theologian lines. Reverend Rentoul was outspoken towards one side of the debate and during this dispute he was able to secure one of two available appointments as a professor to the theological hall at Ormond College, Melbourne, mainly because his views aligned with those of the college. He became principal of the theological hall in 1906 and remained there until his death, lecturing in the mornings, attending to pastoral matters and answering correspondence.



He was an advocate for various causes, for example he supported Home Rule for Ireland during the 1890s and delivered the St Patrick's Day address in Melbourne in 1901, he campaigned against Australian involvement in the South African War, in WWI he became Chaplain General in the AIF and was an advocate for conscription. In spite of his views, he nonetheless went to the defence of several of his theological students who were threatened with expulsion from Ormond College because they refused to enlist.



Reverend Rentoul was a proponent of Federation but insisted that the constitution should recognise God. He also campaigned for scripture to be taught in government schools and through the Victorian Peace and Humanity Society he urged that the nation should use love and charity to provide guidance and help to the poor, the criminal, the Aborigine and workers. His portrait hangs in Ormond College. Reverend John Laurence Rentoul died on 15April 1926 after collapsing at Spencer Street Station in Melbourne and is buried at St Kilda Cemetery.



Included with the lot is the WWI Certificate of Discharge of Reverend Rentoul's son, John Noel Rentoul, who was assessed as Medically Unfit before he had served. After John enlisted on 10 August 1915 representations were made to the Minister of Defence and these went down the line to the appropriate personnel in the Army and he was subsequently classified as medically unfit and discharged on 24 August 1915. The representations referred to the fact that John had a wife and child totally dependent upon him, also that he had an accident some years earlier that left him with a bad knee and that if he was injured during war service and unable to support his family, the task would fall upon his father, Reverend Rentoul, who was of an advanced age and already supporting his other son, Ormond, who unfortunately had lost his mind and was incapable of working, requiring an attendant to look after him.



With research.

Estimate / sale price does not include buyer's premium (currently 19.25% including GST) which is added to hammer price. All bids are executed on the understanding that the Terms & Conditions of sale have been read and accepted. For information on grading and estimates please refer to the Buying at Auction advice.

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