The Rev. Thomas Samuel Grace
was born in Lancashire, in 1815, and was educated for the ministry at St. Bee's Theological College. After receiving his education he entered a mercantile firm, in which he remained a few years. He then took up the ministry, joined the Church Missionary Society, and
came to New Zealand in 1850. Shortly after landing in Auckland, he took up missionary work on Lake Taupo, at Pukawa and Tokaanu, where he established native schools, and carried on his mission work, until the war broke out in 1861. During the war the Maoris turned him away from the mission station and he went in 1864 to Auckland, whence he continued to carry on missionary work, in connection with which he travelled to Taupo, the Thames and the East Coast. During one of these journeys, he and the Rev. Karl Volkner were taken prisoners by the fanatical Hau-haus at Opotiki. Mr. Volkner was hanged by the Maoris, but Mr. Grace, assisted by a European settler, escaped to the man-of-war “Eclipse,”
which had come from Auckland to the rescue of the district. Mr. Grace settled at Tauranga in 1870, and still carried on his mission labour. In 1875, he left for England at the request of the Church Missionary Society, and was engaged in deputation work for two years. He returned to New Zealand in December, 1876, and continued to work in the Taupo district until 1879, when he died at Tauranga, leaving a wife and family to mourn the loss of a good husband and affectionate father.
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Blenheim was opened in May, 1868, by the Rev. Mr. Russell, who succeeded Mr. Nicholson, the first resident Presbyterian minister in Marlborough. Mr. Russell was succeeded, in 1870, by the Rev. W. Sherrifs, M.A., who, in 1881, removed to Waipukurau, Hawke's Bay. In time a larger building became necessary, and the present church was erected in the year 1892, on a site in Alfred Street. It is on the banks of the Omaka river, and faces Market Place. St. Andrew's is a wooden building, with accommodation for 350 persons. There is a membership of over one hundred, and services are held three times a week. There are Presbyterian churches also at Picton and Kaikoura, each with a minister in charge, and the churches at Renwicktown and Seddon are worked in conjunction with St. Andrew's, Blenheim, by a home missionary. Old St. Andrew's church is now used as a Sunday school.