HALE, Matthew Blagden (1811-1895)


HALE, Matthew Blagden (1811-1895)
first Anglican bishop of Perth
third son of R. H. B. Hale and his wife, Lady Theodosia Bourke, a daughter of the 3rd Earl of Mayo, was born at Alderly, England, in 1811. He belonged to the same family as the celebrated chief justice, Sir Matthew Hale. Educated at Cambridge, he graduated B.A. in 1835, M.A. in 1838, and D.D. in 1857. He was ordained deacon in 1836 and priest in 1837. After being a curate at Tresham and Wotton-under-Edge he became perpetual curate of Stroud, a parish of 8000 inhabitants from 1839 to 1845. In 1847 he met Augustus Short (q.v.), bishop of Adelaide, who asked him to go to Adelaide as his archdeacon. They sailed to Australia in the same vessel and arrived at Adelaide in December 1847. Hale was interested in the aboriginal problem, and in 1850 succeeded in obtaining a grant from the government to assist in founding an institution for the education of aborigines at Poonindie. One part of the scheme was the management of a farm with aboriginal labour. Hale as superintendent kept a watchful eye on the institution until he was appointed bishop of Perth in 1856. After he left difficulties arose, but these were surmounted and the institution was conducted with success for many years.
Before taking up his new duties Hale visited England and was consecrated bishop of Perth at the chapel of Lambeth Palace on 25 July 1857. In this year he published a small volume, The Transportation Question or Why Western Australia should be made a Reformatory Colony instead of a Penal Settlement. Soon after his arrival at Perth he founded a school known as "Bishop Hale's school", which had many pupils who afterwards followed distinguished careers in Western Australia. Hale worked with success during the 18 years he was at Perth and in 1875 was translated to the see of Brisbane. He retired in March 1885, returned to England and published The Aborigines of Australia, being an Account of the Institution for their Education at Poonindie. He died on 3 April 1895. He married (1) Sophia Clode who died in 1845 leaving him with two young children and (2) Sabina Molloy. Hale was a kindly man of devoted piety much respected and liked both at Perth and Brisbane. He was one of the early men to understand that the aborigines would respond to proper treatment.
P. Mennell, The Dictionary of Australasian Biography; The Brisbane Courier, 6 April 1895; J. S. Battye, The Cyclopedia of Western Australia, vol. II, p. 84; J. G. Wilson, Western Australia's Centenary, p. 145; M. B. Hale, The Aborigines of Australia; Crockford's Clerical Directory, 1892.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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