CLARKE, Henry Lowther (1850-1926)


CLARKE, Henry Lowther (1850-1926)
fourth bishop and first Anglican archbishop of Melbourne
son of the Rev. W. Clarke, of Firbank, Westmorland, England, was born on 23 November 1850. He was educated at Sedbergh school, and, winning a scholarship which took him to St John's College, Cambridge, graduated B.A. in 1874 as seventh wrangler, and M.A. in 1877. He was ordained deacon in 1874 and priest in 1875, and was curate of St John's, Kingston-on-Hull, from 1874 to 1876. He subsequently held various vicarages in the north of England during the next 26 years, and was vicar of Huddersfield when he was appointed bishop of Melbourne in February 1903. During the period since the resignation of Bishop Goe (q.v.) the area of the diocese of Melbourne had been much reduced by the formation of new dioceses at Bendigo, Wangaratta and Gippsland. When Clarke began his work he appointed a commission to tabulate the present position and future needs of the diocese, and he later came to the conclusion that certain parishes had become too large and needed subdividing, that means must be found for a more complete training of the clergy, and that there must be an extension of secondary education by means of church schools. In 1905 Clarke became first archbishop of Melbourne and metropolitan of Victoria. He ruled his diocese with a firm hand refusing to allow himself to be allied to any party. Recognizing that what may be called the puritanical and the aesthetic types of mind are permanent in human nature, he held that the greatest safety would be found in a middle course, and that no good would be done by straining after uniformity in minor matters. The question of the reunion of the churches was given some consideration, but little progress was made. There was, however, much expansion in the social work of the church, and several successful secondary schools were established, including the Melbourne Church of England Girls' Grammar School, and Trinity Grammar School, Kew. In March 1920 Clarke went to London to attend the Lambeth conference, and in November resigned his position as archbishop of Melbourne. He lived in retirement at Lymington, Hampshire, and busied himself with literary work. His published writings include: History of the Parish of Dewsbury (1899), Addresses delivered in England and Australia (1904), The Last Things (1910), Studies in the English Reformation (1912), Addresses delivered to the Synod of the Diocese of Melbourne (1914), The Constitutions of the General Provincial and Diocesan Synods of the Church of England in Australia (1918), Constitutional Church Government in the Dominions Beyond the Seas (1924), an authoritative and comprehensive work; Death and the Hereafter (1926), and with W. N. Weech a History of Sedbergh School (1925). Clarke died on 23 June 1926. He was given the honorary degree of D.D. by both Cambridge and Oxford. He married in 1876 Alice Lovell, daughter of the Rev. Canon Kemp. She died in 1918. Two sons and a daughter survived.
Clarke was a man of good presence, a witty and lively conversationalist, interested in music and the fine arts, and well read in the poets, whom he often quoted with effect in his addresses. He was a clear, scholarly and forcible speaker, and a liberal-minded and sound administrator. His 18 years of office at Melbourne was a time of steady progress, particularly on the educational side of the work of his church.
The Times, 25 June 1926; The Argus, Melbourne, 24 June 1926; Crockford's Clerical Directory, 1926; Year-Books of the Melbourne Diocese, 1903-20.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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