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ON DISPLAY

Reverend Daniel Draper
, c. 1866

by Fredrick Charles Burman

albumen paper carte de visite (support: 10.1 x 6.2 cm)

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The Reverend Daniel James Draper (1810–1866), Wesleyan Methodist minister, began his career as a carpenter, apprenticed to his father. In 1830 he joined the Methodist Society and later moved to Wales, where he became a preacher. He was ordained in October 1835 having already undertaken to travel to the Australian colonies and spread the word there. He arrived in Hobart in February 1836 and over the next thirty years worked in Parramatta, Bathurst, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne, overseeing the building of churches and schools in cities and surrounding towns. Draper was instrumental in the founding of Wesley College in Melbourne in the 1860s, and during the height of the gold rushes in the 1850s he had made a point of attending to the spiritual needs of goldfields communities. Elected fifth president of the Australian Wesleyan Methodist Conference in 1859, he went back to England in 1865 to represent Australia at the British Methodist Conference and promote the Methodists’ achievements here. In February 1866 he and his wife boarded the steamship London to return to Melbourne; six days later the ship sank and all but seventeen on board perished. Like his shipmate, the actor Gustavus Brooke – who was aboard London intending to make a triumphant return to the Melbourne stage – Draper is said to have eschewed the chance of rescue. ‘Up to the time the ship went down’, it was reported, ‘the reverend gentleman ministered to those among whom he moved constantly’ and was ‘heard to say repeatedly, “Oh God, may those that are not converted, be converted now”.’ It was the day after Melbourne’s Wesley College had been officially opened.

Frederick Charles Burman (1841–1927) arrived in Victoria with his family in the early 1850s. He worked for a time in the painting and decorating business established by his father, William Insull Burman, around 1861. By the end of the decade, father and son had both taken up photography, with Frederick working initially from 41 Madeline Street, Carlton. Other members of the Burman family became involved in the business, which expanded to include studios in other suburbs and in the Melbourne CBD. The various Burmans – and permutations of the firm – evidently had an eye for ‘sure cards’, as among the numerous subjects of Burman cartes de visite are Eva Carmichael and Tom Pearce, the only survivors of the 1878 sinking of the Loch Ard; and Dominick Sonsee, ‘the Smallest Man in the World’, who was exhibiting himself at the Eastern Arcade on Bourke Street in 1880. Frederick Burman was among those to produce memorials relating the London sinking, issuing this carte de visite photograph of an engraving of Reverend Draper by John Cochran. In May 1866 it was reported that a ‘memorial volume’ had been published, ‘illustrated with portraits and biographical sketches of G.V. Brooke and Rev. D.J. Draper, and an illustration of the foundering of the ill-fated ship.’

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2010
Accession number: 2010.50