John Monks was born in 1815 to George and Ann Monks at Monk House, Newton-le-Willows. He was baptised at Risley Chapel on 12th February that year.
He married Lucy Dickinson on 12th June 1836 at All Saints Church in Wigan.
Tragically their son, James died not long after he was born and was buried at Risley on 1st March 1837. Lucy Monks was buried exactly one week later, aged 27.
John was one of the Unitarians ejected from Risley Chapel in 1838 and was involved in the building of Croft Unitarian Chapel.
John’s younger sister Alice Monks had married Francis Duffield, who was a home missionary at the Salford church. The couple were leaving for Australia with their son William and John took the opportunity for a new start and decided to join them. They sailed on the ship 'Delhi' from Liverpool, arriving in Australia on 20th December 1839.
John vowed that if God prospered him in his new country, he would build a church. He did prosper and built Shady Grove Unitarian School and Church in 1845.
John married Priscilla Appleton (also from Lancashire, sailing in 1839 on a different ship) in 1850 and they had ten children.
Unfortunately, John and Priscilla were still to suffer some personal hardships. On 24th December 1854, their son John passed away aged just 9 months. In 1863, their daughter Emmeline died, aged 3 years and 10 months. Their youngest daughter Emma passed away aged 20 in May 1889. John himself died in November that year.
They were all buried at the Shady Grove Unitarian Church Cemetery.
The church still stands today and is still active. The building is listed with the South Australia Heritage Register.
Cheyvonne Bower is a local historian with a passion for the past.