Historical information

This is a book, ‘Divine Conduct or the Mystery of Providence’ originally written by the Rev. John Flavel in 1677. This is a later edition with no date listed but it is presumed it was re-published in the 19th century. The book was given to Janet McGhie in 1849, the first anniversary of the Warrnambool Sunday School, just 14 months after the first European settlers arrived in the new settlement of Warrnambool. The first Sunday School in Warrnambool was located in McDowell’s Store and run by Thomas Denney and Richard Osburne. The latter in 1851 commenced Warrnambool’s first newspaper, the Warrnambol Examiner and in 1887 published an important history of Warrnambool. Janet Garden McGhie was the daughter of Matthew and Isabella McGhie who were pioneer settlers in Warrnambool. Janet McGhie married Alfred Coulstock at the age of 17 and died in Warrnambool in 1918 at the age of 80. She was aged 11 when she received this book and one wonders what she made of the ponderous text.


This book is very precious as one of the few mementos we have of the very early days of Warrnambool’s settlement. It gives us a date for the establishment of the first Sunday School and the name of one of the award winners. It is also an interesting example of the pious and ponderous writings that young children were expected to read in the mid 19th century. It is presumed that at that time there would not have been a great choice of reading material available in Warrnambool to give to children

Physical description

This is a hard cover book of 252 pages. The dark green cover has gold lettering on the spine which is almost obliterated. The cover is partly detached from its binding and is much stained and blotched. There is an inscription on the inside front cover in black ink and a red stamp of the Warrnambool & District Historical Society on the first page. There are some indecipherable pencil markings on this first page and the last page.

Inscriptions & markings

‘Janet McGhee (or McGhie), 1st Anniversary Warrnambool Sunday School, Decr 3rd 1849’