William Broughton (bishop)

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The Right Reverend
William Grant Broughton
Bishop of Australia
Nicholas, W. Bishop William Grant Broughton (1843).jpg
Portrait of Broughton by William Nicholas
Church Church of England
Diocese Anglican Diocese of Australia
Consecration 1836
Personal details
Born (1788-05-22)May 22, 1788
Died February 20, 1853(1853-02-20) (aged 64)
Buried Canterbury Cathedral
Denomination Anglican
Spouse Sarah Francis
Previous post Archdeacon of New South Wales
Education The King's School, Canterbury
Alma mater Pembroke College, Cambridge
Broughton from a picture reproduced in The Book of St Andrew's Cathedral by S. M. Johnstone

William Grant Broughton (22 May 1788 – 20 February 1853) was the first (and only) Bishop of Australia of the Church of England. (The Diocese of Australia was later divided into a number of smaller dioceses.)

Broughton was born in Westminster and educated at The King's School, Canterbury where he was a King's scholar. His fortunes turned from commerce to theology when he inherited a substantial sum, allowing him to study at Pembroke College, Cambridge. He graduated B.A. as 6th wrangler in 1818[1] and was that year also ordained deacon and priest and married to Sarah Francis. He graduated M.A. in 1823. He became a curate in Hampshire and later in Surrey where he was noticed by the Duke of Wellington who materially assisted his prospects, including influence in Broughton being offered the Archdeaconry of Sydney.

Broughton arrived in Sydney on 13 September 1829, succeeding Thomas Scott as Archdeacon of New South Wales (that at the time substantially encompassed what is now the states of New South Wales plus Queensland to the north and Victoria to the south.) At this time, the colony was ecclesiastically an archdeaconry of the Anglican Diocese of Calcutta.[2] Broughton offered to resign half of his professional income (£2500) to support a second See, "an instance of self-devotion," said a contemporary writer, "with scarcely a parallel." The Government accepted only £500 a year from him.[3]

Broughton was promptly made a member of both the colony's legislative council and executive council, assisting the Governor in the administration. He was also in charge of the commission for the overall policy towards Tasmanian natives which continued the policy of bounties and roving parties.[4] He was granted a leave of absence and returned to England in 1834, there championing the cause of the church. The result was not as he expected; the Diocese of Australia was to be formed. He was enthroned Bishop of Australia, on 5 June 1836, in St James' Church, Sydney, as leader of the new Diocese of Australia just days after his arrival from England.[5]

Due to Broughton’s appeals for clergy to serve in New South Wales, William Sowerby arrived in Sydney in 1837, immediately becoming the first Anglican clergyman at Goulburn.[6] Broughton had a controversy with Charles Beaumont Howard over Howard's jurisdiction in South Australia. Broughton was a busy bishop and travelled widely, perhaps more so after his wife died in 1848.

Broughton travelled to England in late 1852 and was involved in administration and missionary fund raising. He died in London in February 1853 and is buried in Canterbury Cathedral.


The Broughton window in St James' Church, Sydney
A coat of arms for Bishop Broughton in stained glass lining the entrance to St John the Baptist's Anglican Church, Ashfield.

In 1842 the Diocese of Tasmania was created; in 1847 the diocese was divided further to form four dioceses, Sydney (which Broughton retained), Adelaide, Newcastle and Melbourne.

Broughton is widely accepted as the founder of the King's School in Parramatta, then a town at a distance of a day's ride from Sydney.

Broughton made many journeys around the fledgling colony and is credited as instigating the building of many churches in places such as Newcastle and the Hunter Region north of Sydney and in the Monaro region inland to the south-west.

Broughton championed the Newcastle case and forfeited 500 pounds sterling from his salary to partly fund the development of a new diocese.

St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney, was commenced during the late 1840s.

On 12 March 1845 he consecrated St John the Baptist Church at what later became the site of the federal capital of Australia, Canberra.

His portrait, by Marshall Claxton, is at St. Paul's College, Sydney.

The Broughton River and Port Broughton in South Australia are both named after him.


Broughton also consecrated Saint Mary on Allyn, Allynbrooke, in the Hunter Valley. William Barker Boydell married his daughter Mary Phoebe Broughton and Broughton ordered that a church be built for his daughter to worship in. Boydell and Mary Broughton are both buried at St Mary on Allyn, along with their son, Henry, who died when he was one year old. William's elder brother, Charles, married into the prominent Blaxland family through John Blaxland's granddaughter, Elizabeth.

Broughton is commemorated in the Australian Anglican calendar on 20 February.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Broughton, William Grant (BRTN814WG)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ David, A.E. (1908). "Handbooks of English Church Expansion". London and Oxford: A. R. Mowbray & Co., Ltd. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  3. ^ Wright, Clyde (18 August 1900). "Restoration of St. James's Church, Sydney". Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW: 1870 - 1907). NSW: National Library of Australia. p. 37. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  4. ^ Diamond, Jared (1991). The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee. London: Vintage Random House. p. 252. ISBN 978-0-09-991380-1. 
  5. ^ Cable, Kenneth; Rosemary Annable (1999). St James' 1824-1999. Sydney: Churchwardens of St James Church. p. 5. ISBN 0-646-37719-1. 
  6. ^ Wyatt, R.T. 1937; foreword by E.H. Burgmann, The History of the Diocese of Goulburn, Goulburn: R.T. Wyatt.

Further reading[edit]

  • Michael Gladwin (2015) Anglican clergy in Australia 1788-1850: building a British world, Royal Historical Society, London. ISBN 9780861933280
  • G.P. Shaw (1978) Patriarch and Patriot: William Grant Broughton, 1788-1853, colonial statesman and ecclesiastic, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne. ISBN 0522841228
  • Fred T. Whitington (1936) William Grant Broughton, Bishop of Australia: with some account of the earliest Australian clergy Sydney

External links[edit]

Monument to Broughton in St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney. This is a cast of the tomb which is in Canterbury Cathedral.
William Grant Broughton's tomb in Canterbury Cathedral

Media related to William Grant Broughton at Wikimedia Commons