HL Deb 15 June 1854 vol 134 cc177-81

then rose to ask the noble Duke the late Secretary of State for the Colonies what was the cause of the delay which had taken place in appointing a successor to the late Bishop of Sydney, who died in England on the 20th of February, 1853. He had asked the noble Duke a similar question in July last; and he then stated that the delay arose from its being then under consideration of the Government whether the bishopric should be erected into the archbishopric of Sydney. He believed that some further delay had since occurred in consequence of the appointment having been offered to, but declined by, the Bishop of New Zealand. Under these circumstances the delay which had taken place might not have been altogether unnecessary but still it was matter of great regret that the see should have been left for eighteen months without episcopal superintendence, and he trusted that the noble Duke would be able to assure their Lordships that steps were now being taken to fill up the appointment. He wished also to know what would become of the revenues of the see during the period for which it had been vacant.


could assure the House that no one regretted more than himself the delay which had taken place in filling up this see; more especially on account of the causes which had of late occasioned it. He thought the noble Lord had done good service in drawing attention to this subject, because, for reasons which he would state, he feared that the circumstances which had caused this long delay were not unlikely to occur again, and it therefore behoved the Church to consider whether means might not be taken to obviate the inconveniences that might otherwise arise. The first cause which led to the delay in the appointment of a successor to the late Bishop of Sydney was a representation which the Government received from the Archbishop of Canterbury and others of the bench of Bishops here, of the expediency of erecting the bishopric of Sydney into an archbishopric. To that representation the Government, after carefully considering the subject, decided that it was not expedient at that moment to accede. As soon as that determination was arrived at he (the Duke of Newcastle), with the concurrence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and others of the episcopal bench, offered the appointment to a rev. gentleman, an archdeacon, resident in this country, who was well qualified for the office. That rev. gentleman, however, declined to accept the appointment. Subsequently, after some further unavoidable delays which took place with reference to the proposed appointment of other parties, he again received a proposition to recommend to Her Majesty the translation of the Bishop of New Zealand to the vacant see. That course, indeed, had been suggested to Nina very soon after the death of the late Bishop, but he objected to it on more than one ground—certainly, however, upon no ground personal to the Bishop of New Zealand, for he was of all men living the fittest to occupy the vacant see—but prin- cipally because he believed it objectionable to translate a bishop without his knowledge and possibly against his consent. He, therefore, in the first instance declined to appoint the Bishop of New Zealand. When, however, after receiving the refusals to which he had referred, he was again pressed by Bishops of the Church and others, in greater numbers than before, to appoint the Bishop of New Zealand; when he received intelligence that the people of Sydney itself especially desired his appointment, and that they were then in hopes that it had already gone out and was approaching their shores; and when, moreover, he heard that even the people of New Zealand thought that, as part of the metropolitan see, they would derive more advantage from their Bishop being placed at its head than they could do from his remaining is his present position; under these circumstances, he at length, though with some hesitation, thought that Bishop Selwyn should be promoted to the metropolitan see, and that a clergyman long resident in New Zealand, and well acquainted wish the colonists and with their feelings, should be appointed Bishop of New Zealand. Her Majesty at once acceded to this recommendation, and he did not lose twenty-four hours in sending out to the Colony to announce the appointment of Bishop Selwyn. Within, however, a fortnight after that announcement had left these shores, information was received here that the Bishop of New Zealand had left the Colony for England, on matters connected with his diocese. The communication of his appointment consequently never reached him, and he was not made aware of the circumstance until after his arrival in this country. He reached England in the first week of May; and within a few days afterwards he (the Duke of Newcastle) wrote to him, fully explaining all the circumstances under which it was thought desirable that he should be appointed to the metropolitan see, and urging all those considerations of a public character which were likely to lead him to forego the indulgence of all those affectionate feelings with which he was known to be actuated towards the colonists of New Zealand, and which might have the effect of inducing him to decline to leave them. Bishop Selwyn did not feel enabled to come to a conclusion upon the subject at once; and he (the Duke of Newcastle) did not receive his answer to the letter urging him to accept the appointment, which was dated May 10 or 11, until die 8th of the present month. He regretted to say that, acting no doubt as he believed to be for the best, but, as he (the Duke of Newcastle) and others thought, taking an erroneous view of what would be for the real interest of the Church, Bishop Selwyn then declined to accept the appointment to the metropolitan see. His noble Friend would therefore perceive, that if any error had been committed by him (the Duke of Newcastle) it must have had its origin in his endeavours to appoint to the see of Sydney the man best calculated to discharge the duties of his position in the most efficient manner. He (the Duke of Newcastle) received the reply of Bishop Selwyn only three days before he actually surrendered the seals of office as Colonial Secretary to Her Majesty, and when the arrangements by which he quitted that department were fully completed. Under these circumstances it was quite impossible that he could himself take any further measures to remedy what he believed to be a great misfortune—the vacancy of this important see, He had already said, however, that he thought it was not unlikely that similar events would again occur, and he did so for this reason—up to a very recent period it had been the invariable practice, on any vacancy occurring in a colonial bishopric, to send out a clergyman from this country, because there were not in the Colonies clergymen of a class eligible for appointment as bishops. But in the course of the last few years a very material change had taken place. The number of the clergy in the Colonies had increased to an immense extent, and there were now in many Colonies, and particularly in New Zealand, men who were as well calculated to discharge the functions of bishops as any in this country. Under these circumstances—following out the principles which, during the brief period he had presided over the Colonial Office, he had applied in civil appointments—that they should be given to persons resident in the Colony if they were fit to undertake their duties—he certainly anticipated that Colonial Secretaries would frequently think it their duty to recommend to her Majesty the appointment of clergymen resident in Colonies. There was this inconvenience attendant upon the great advantage which would otherwise result from this course—that it would be necessary to obtain the consent of those reverend gentlemen to their appointments, and that when they were resident in dis- tant colonies, delays of the kind such as had now taken place, might not be of un-frequent occurrence. With regard to his noble Friend's question with respect to the revenues of the see, he should not have been prepared to say what would have become of them during its vacancy if they were supplied by endowment; as, however, the greater part of the revenues of this see were voted by the Colony itself, the decision of this question would, of course, rest with the Colonial Legislature.


remarked, that he entirely acquitted the Government of any blame on account of the delay which had occurred with reference to this appointment.

House adjourned till To-morrow.