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Anglican Clergy in Australia, 1788-1850

Anglican Clergy in Australia, 1788-1850: Building a British World

Michael Gladwin
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 266
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  • Book Info
    Anglican Clergy in Australia, 1788-1850
    Book Description:

    Anglican clergymen in Britain's Australian colonies in their earliest years faced very particular challenges. Lacking any relevant training, experience or pastoral theology, these pioneer religious professionals not only had to minister to a convict population unique in the empire, but had also to engage with indigenous peoples and a free-settler population struggling with an often inhospitable environment. Previous accounts have caricatured such clerics - several of whom doubled as magistrates - as the imperial authorities' lackeys: "moral policemen", "flogging parsons". While the clergy did indeed make important contributions to colonial and imperial projects, this book shows that they explicitly rejected the subordination of Church to state, vigorously asserting their independence in relation to both religious duties and humanitarian concern. The author also demonstrates the clergy's vital contribution to the evolution of the new colonies in their economic development, and in the emergence of civil society and distinctive intellectual and cultural institutions and traditions. The clerical contribution was shaped by their social origins, intellectual formation and professional networks in an expanding settler empire, explored systematically here for the first time. What emerges is a much more nuanced understanding of the place of the Anglican Church in the history of colonial Australia than has previously been presented, shedding important new light on the religious, social and political history of both Australia and the British World of which it formed a part. Dr Michael Gladwin is Lecturer in History, St Mark's National Theological Centre, School of Theology, Charles Sturt University, Canberra

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-429-1
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
    Michael Gladwin
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xiii)
  6. [Map]
    (pp. xiv-xiv)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-26)

    In August 1849 the Revd william browne, Anglican minister of Launceston, Tasmania, wrote to a friend about a fellow clergyman, the Revd Thomas Rogers, who had been summarily dismissed from his position as chaplain of the infamous penal settlement at Norfolk Island:

    Is it not astounding that the authorities in Norfolk Island did not shrink from the persecution of so highly gifted and valuable a man as Mr. Rogers? ... From all that I have been able to learn, he possesses in a singular degree the power of securing the attention and winning the affection of the convicts. As an...


    • 1 Anglican Imperial Designs? Funding, Recruitment and National Backgrounds
      (pp. 29-56)

      Somewhat like the long migratory sea journeys undertaken by nineteenthcentury Australian clergy, this chapter commences a long chronological and thematic journey that takes us from their metropolitan backgrounds, funding and recruitment through to their colonial and imperial careers. This transnational and imperial context of both Australian and Anglican history is one that historians have only recently begun to reassess. Consequently, the knowledge available about the Australian clergy’s funding, recruitment and metropolitan backgrounds and their relation to the colonial and imperial state is largely impressionistic. Analysis of these sinews of the Australian clergy’s careers can shed light on at least two...

    • 2 Gentility, Manners and the Ideal Colonial Clergyman
      (pp. 57-70)

      In August 1847 Charles Perry, bishop of Melbourne, wrote to the Revd Henry Venn, CMS Secretary and Perry’s trusted London commissary. Perry informed Venn that he wanted only clergymen who were:

      perfectly sound in the faith, zealous for the glory of their god & Saviour, active, intelligent, humble, gentlemanly, willing to endure hardness, forbearing towards those who differ from them in non-essentials, but ready to contend earnestly for the faith against every combatant, for the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, and determined themselves (in the Spirit of the Apostle) to know nothing among the people committed to their charge but...

    • 3 Social Background, Education and Motivation
      (pp. 71-94)

      Much is now known concerning the social location, education and motivation of overseas missionaries during this period, notably for India and the South Pacific.¹ Historians have stressed missionaries’ relatively humble social origins in the aspirational or lower middle class. Little attention has been paid, however, to clergy recruited for the british world. Hardwick and Le Couteur have indeed raised questions of social and educational background, but their scope has been limited to Cape and NSw clergymen before 1850, and Queensland clergymen in the years 1842 to 1875.² In stressing the middle-class origins of most Anglican clergymen, both have provided useful...


    • 4 Ecclesiastical Roles: Rites of Passage and Public Worship
      (pp. 97-113)

      In part II the focus shifts from the clergy’s metropolitan backgrounds to their roles and activities in Australia, and the extent to which these transcended colonial and imperial imperatives. Australian Anglican clergymen performed at least three distinct but interrelated roles in their society.¹ The first was ecclesiastical, encompassing provision of worship, preaching and sacraments; the ‘occasional offices’ to mark rites of passage; and educating and catechising in duty to god and neighbour. This chapter explores how this work illuminates the clergy’s relationship with society and state.

      The second role of the clergy was civil and governmental. In the Australian colonies...

    • 5 Flogging Parsons? Chaplaincy, the Magistracy and Civil Roles
      (pp. 114-128)

      The vignette of Thomas Rogers, with which this book began, disclosed his warm relationship with his convict flock and his critique of the convict system. It suggests a different relationship from that usually presented by historians, where it has long been overshadowed by the ‘flogging parson’ tradition in Australian historiography. The pre-1850 clergy have been portrayed as uncritical agents of both the ruling classes and the brutal machinery of the convict system. In contrast, Rogers’s experience indicates two themes. One is the suggestion of a closer and more sympathetic relationship between convicts and clergy at the grass-roots level than most...

    • 6 Clergy, Culture and Society
      (pp. 129-152)

      It has been suggested that Anglican Christianity in colonial Australia ‘spoke to man’s eternal soul, not his temporal welfare; it found expression in the Church, not civil society’.¹ Such a contention could not be further from the truth, however, as this chapter will demonstrate by examining the role of clergymen in social, philanthropic and cultural activities. These undertakings ranged from institutional leadership to founding savings banks for workers. The clergy’s influence also extended to community leadership in everything from developing local infrastructure to pioneering pastoralism and creating cultural institutions. A salient feature of these activities is the considerable extent to...

    • 7 Clergy and Indigenous Peoples
      (pp. 153-162)

      In his survey of the devastating encounter between European colonisers and Australia’s indigenous peoples, John Harris concluded that for many years the role of the Anglican Church ‘was neither to inspire the nation nor to stir its conscience, but to maintain silence’. Little was done to ‘halt the destruction of Aboriginal culture, or promote an understanding of what it represented’.¹ For most Anglican clergymen the period was indeed marked by silence and inactivity. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Tasmania, where clergy (and most laity) offered little public comment on the brutal suppression of Aborigines whose population was reduced...


    • 8 The Impact of Voluntarism
      (pp. 165-189)

      One of the key narratives in colonial Anglican historiography of the second third of the nineteenth century concerns the Church’s difficult transition towards voluntarism in the wake of the constitutional revolution of 1828–32.¹ with the substantial dismantling of the confessional state by 1832, church leaders justified metropolitan establishment on the ground that the Church was the ‘natural educator of the nation’.² For those concerned with the colonies and the empire, the Church’s self-understanding became increasingly grounded in episcopal authority or in mission, rather than in establishment. Colonial Anglicans showed how the Church could operate outside establishment and with greater...

    • 9 Colonial Quiverfuls: Clerical Family Life
      (pp. 190-201)

      ‘I heartily wish it could be accomplished’, wrote broughton in 1839 of the ‘excitable’ Revd Charles Spencer’s desire to marry. ‘but really all clerical appointments are so miserably inadequate that I hardly know what to say to the prudence of it unless there be something else, however little, to depend on … I am much depressed by the prospect … of introducing what Sydney Smith calls a … generation of beggars.’¹

      Although the general consensus on colonial clergymen (as well as on most foreign missionaries) was that married men were steadier, broughton was well aware of the challenges that the...

    • 10 Clerical Identity, Laity and Voluntarism
      (pp. 202-215)

      John Mereweather, a perceptive clerical observer of Tasmania, Melbourne and Sydney dioceses, proffered his opinion of voluntarism in 1850. ‘The direct voluntary system’, he wrote, was a system in which ‘coarse-minded people often presume upon their contributions towards the support of the clergyman, and dictate to him in an indelicate manner.’ Although people contributed freely enough to support a minister in anewdistrict, he added, when the novelty of having a clergyman wore off, or when they found that he was not a ‘mere puppet in their hands, and has ideas of his own’, some ‘cantankerous little-great man will...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 216-228)

    In March 1816 the governor of NSW, Lachlan Macquarie, pronounced a court-martial (illegally as it turned out) on the Revd benjamin Vale and had him marched unceremoniously through Sydney’s dusty streets before rebuking him sternly in a private meeting. Vale had been in the colony only two years. In 1814, fresh out of Christ’s College, Cambridge, and newly married, the scholarly twenty-six-year-old had arrived in Sydney as assistant chaplain to the 46th Regiment. Avowing patriotic impulse, Vale had helped william Moore, a colonial solicitor, seize an American cargo schooner in February 1816 as a prize of war, despite Macquarie having...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 229-252)
  13. Index
    (pp. 253-268)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 269-269)