BROUGHTON, William Grant (1788-1853)


BROUGHTON, William Grant (1788-1853)
first Anglican bishop in Australia
son of Grant Broughton and his wife Phoebe Ann, daughter of John Rumball, was born at Bridge-street, Westminster, on 22 May 1788. He was educated at the Barnet Grammar School and King's School, Canterbury, where he was a King's scholar. He gained an exhibition at Cambridge university and wished to qualify for the church. His father, however, had died, and it was necessary that he should earn his own living, and through the influence of the Marquis of Salisbury he obtained a clerkship in the East India House in 1807. In October 1814, having in the meanwhile received a bequest of £1000 from a relative, he decided to go to Cambridge, and entered at Pembroke College. He graduated B.A. in 1818 (6th wrangler), and M.A. in 1823. He was ordained deacon and priest in 1818, and was given the curacy of Hartley Wespall, Hampshire. During the next few years Broughton did some scholarly work, and in 1823 published his An Examination of the Hypothesis—that the Text of the Elzevir Greek Testament is not a Translation from the Latin. This was followed in 1826 by A Letter to a Friend touching the Question "Who was the Author of Eikon Basilike?", and in 1829 by Additional Reasons in Confirmation of the Opinion that Dr Gauden and not King Charles the First was the Author of Eikon Basilike. He was transferred to the parish of Farnham in Surrey in 1827. While in Hampshire he had come under the notice of the Duke of Wellington who obtained his appointment to the chaplaincy of the Tower of London in 1828. He could hardly have taken up this position before, in October of that year, again through the Duke of Wellington, he was offered the archdeaconry of New South Wales at a salary of £2000 a year. After a week's consideration he accepted the position, sailed for Sydney on 26 May 1829, and arrived there on 13 September.
Immediately Broughton arrived in Australia he was appointed a member of the legislative council and of the executive council. The population of New South Wales was then about 36,000 of whom nearly half were convicts. There were eight churches and 12 clergymen, and Broughton lost little time before making a visitation of the country centres. On 3 December he delivered his first charge to his clergy, and in February 1830 went to Tasmania and visited the parishes there. Before starting on this journey he had drawn up a "Plan for the Formation and Regulation of the King's Schools Preparatory to the institution of a College in New South Wales". This provided for a school for day boys in Sydney and another for day boys and boarders at Parramatta. The plan was submitted to Governor Darling (q.v.) and the eventual result was the founding of the well-known King's School at Parramatta which was opened on 13 February 1832. The history of this school, published in 1932, speaks of Broughton as "the virtual founder of the King's School". The questions of a vigorous educational policy and the need of more clergy were continually in his mind, and in November 1832 Broughton applied for leave of absence to enable him to visit England and bring his views before the colonial authorities. Leave was granted and he left for England about the end of March 1834. He was not successful in obtaining any help from the imperial revenue, but the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel undertook to contribute the sum of £4000, which encouraged Broughton very much. While in England the question of appointing a bishop for Australia had again been raised. Governor Bourke (q.v.) had suggested it in a dispatch dated 11 March 1834, and in a dispatch dated 30 November 1835 Bourke was informed that the suggestion was being carried into effect and that Broughton had been nominated to the new see. He arrived at Sydney on 2 June 1836, and was installed at St James church three days later under the title of bishop of Australia. In 1838 he visited Port Phillip and Tasmania, and at the end of that year took ship to New Zealand to visit the missions there. In January 1839 he went to Norfolk Island and soon after returned to Sydney. He found that the education question had again been raised and that it was proposed to grant £3000 a year for schools available for Protestants, and that £1000 should be granted to Roman Catholic schools. Broughton made a speech that took two hours to deliver and at its conclusion the proposals were withdrawn. His opposition was not only on account of the proposed grant to the Roman Catholics. He felt strongly that the attempt to provide religious instruction for children of the Church of England with those of the various sects of English nonconformity was fallacious in principle and impossible in practice. There is but one step he said "from the persuasion that all forms of religion are alike, to the more fatal persuasion that all religions are unimportant".
During the years between 1840 and 1850 Broughton's efforts were largely directed to encouraging the building of churches and parsonages throughout New South Wales. A small divinity school for the training of clergy was also at Sydney, and a suggestion Broughton had made during his visit to England came to fruition. In 1848 St Augustine's College, Canterbury, was opened, and began a great career as a training school for the ministry in missionary dioceses. In Australia the building of St Andrew's cathedral, Sydney, was begun, and by 1850 the nave and aisles were nearly completed. The discovery of gold in 1851 so disorganized the colony that much of the work on the cathedral had to be postponed, and the building was not ready for use for many years.
Broughton had long felt the need for the subdivison of his enormous diocese and frequently raised the question in letters to England. Tasmania was made a separate diocese in 1842, and Broughton offered to give tip half his income towards the provision of bishops for Melbourne and Newcastle. He was allowed to contribute £500 a year and in 1847 bishops were appointed for Melbourne, Adelaide and Newcastle. Broughton became bishop of Sydney. In 1850 a conference of the six bishops of Australia and New Zealand was held at Sydney, a second conference followed in 1852, and at each the question of a constitution for the Church of England in Australia was fully considered. On 16 August 1852 Broughton left for England in connexion with some of the constitutional issues that had been raised. He went by steamer to Panama, and crossing the isthmus joined the West Indian mailboat which had a most unfortunate voyage, the captain and several members of the crew dying of yellow fever. Broughton was himself very ill and never completely recovered. In January 1853 he was working hard interviewing the Archbishop of Canterbury and many others in connexion with his mission. He was invited to preach at St Paul's cathedral but his medical advisers ruled against it. In February he became seriously ill and he died at London On 20 February 1853. He was buried in Canterbury cathedral and a Broughton scholarship at St Augustine's College, Canterbury, and two Broughton prizes at The King's School, Parramatta, were founded in his memory. In addition to the books already mentioned his Sermons on the Church of England was published in 1857, and many of his sermons and charges were published separately. He married in 1818 Sarah Francis, who died in 1848. He was survived by two daughters who both married in Australia.
Broughton was short and slender and as a result of an accident in his undergraduate days walked with a limp. He was extremely conscientious and hardworking, a good business man, somewhat autocratic in the management of his diocese, yet humble about his own ability. As a preacher he was logical rather than eloquent. He appears to have been a moderately high churchman; he was accused by two of his clergy of desiring to Romanize his church, but he was a vigorous fighter against the claims of the Roman Catholic Church, and he would have nothing to do with Pusey's defence of the attempt to reconcile the articles of the Church of England with the teachings of the Roman Church. He fought hard but without success for the retention of the "established" status of his Church in Australia, but outside his Church he was in no sense a party man, and was always interested in any movement that seemed likely to lead to the social advantage of the colonists.
F. T. Whitington, William Grant Broughton Bishop of Australia; S. M. Johnstone, The History of the King's School, Parramatta; J. R. Tanner, The Historical Register of the University of Cambridge, p. 479; H. R. Luard, Graduati Cantabrigiensis; Historical Records of Australia, vols. XV to XXI, XXIII to XXVI; P. A. Micklem, Journal and Proceedings Royal Australian Historical Society, vol. XXII, pp. 190-202.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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