The foundations of St. John’s Launceston as a parish date from the arrival of the Revd. John Youl in 1819, in Port Dalrymple. Prior to that, the Revd Robert Knopwood traveled up from Hobart in 1811 and 1814, to perform several marriages and baptisms. Lieutenant Lyttleton had also issued licenses for marriage in the early years. Things were so much neglected that during Youl’s first visit up the river to Launceston, he married 41 couples and baptised 76 children! At this stage Governor Macquarie in Sydney, decided that George Town should be the main centre of government for the northern settlement, even though the population centre was fast emerging at Launceston,. This caused some difficulty as Youl was under government orders and was at first only permitted to visit Launceston.
By November 1819, Youl and his family had settled at Launceston, and the work of the church began. Divine Service (as Sunday services were called) were held under the trees or in a blacksmith’s shop; when wet. Youl called his congregation together by striking an iron barrel with a mallet, walking through the settlement in his “canonical dress”. The story of the life of this man can be found in John Youl, The Forgotten Chaplain by the Revd Dr. P.C. Blake.
In 1824, construction work began for a place of worship in Launceston, and in 1825, St. John’s Church opened its doors and the first service was held in December. This was the start of a committed parish to support Christian living in Launceston. The parish church existed under the Diocese of Madras, Calcutta, Australia and it was in 1842 that the Diocese of Tasmania was created and Russell Francis Nixon was appointed the first Bishop of Tasmania.