The Rev. Robert Cartwright was one of the pioneer Christian clergy in what is now the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn.
He was born in Shropshire in 1771 and arrived in Australia in 1810. He was appointed to the Hawkesbury River district around Windsor, then became chaplain in the Liverpool district about 1819.
In 1820 he accompanied Governor Lachlan Macquarie to the “New Country” in southern New South Wales where he conducted what is believed to be the first Christian service in what is now the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn near Lake Bathurst.
In 1838, at the age of 67, he was appointed to the southern districts of the colony where he began a remarkable 18-year ministry in the sparsely settled areas of Collector, Yass, Boorowa and Tumut. He died in 1856 and is buried near his former church at Liverpool.
Cartwright was deeply concerned with the plight of the indigenous people of Australia and wrote to Macquarie at some length on this issue, although his ideas seem rather paternalistic by today’s standards. He believed that the Aborigines should be settled in townships with permanent housing, schools and industries to assist their advancement. He hoped he might be a chaplain to such a community.