Ronald Hall

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Ronald Owen Hall

Révérend R.O. Hall, consacré évêque de Hong-Kong à l'église Saint Paul de Londres.jpg
ProvinceAnglican-Episcopal Province of China
DioceseVictoria (1932–51)
Hong Kong and Macau
Installed30 December 1932
PredecessorCharles Ridley Duppuy
(Diocese of Victoria)
SuccessorGilbert Baker
(Diocese of Hong Kong and Macau)
Personal details
Born(1895-07-22)22 July 1895
Died22 April 1975(1975-04-22) (aged 79)
Lewknor, Oxfordshire
BuriedSt Margaret's Lewknor, Oxfordshire[1]
Alma materRoyal Grammar School, Newcastle, and Bromsgrove School.

Ronald Owen Hall CMG MC* (Chinese: 何明華; Jyutping: Ho Ming Wah; pinyin: Hé Mínghuá; 22 July 1895 in Newcastle upon Tyne – 22 April 1975 in Lewknor, Oxfordshire) was an Anglican missionary bishop in Hong Kong and China in the mid 20th century. As an emergency measure during the Second World War, with China under Japanese occupation, he ordained Florence Li Tim-Oi as the first woman priest in the Anglican Communion.[2]

Hall had just finished his schooling when the First World War broke out, during which he served as an infantry and staff officer. He was decorated with the Military Cross and Bar, and rose to the rank of major. After the war he took a shortened degree course at the University of Oxford, and made his first visit to China for a student Christian conference in 1922. After a period as a parish priest in his native Newcastle, he became Bishop of Victoria, Hong Kong in 1932, remaining in Hong Kong until his retirement in 1966. He and his wife then settled in Oxfordshire.

Early life[edit]

Hall was born on 22 July 1895 in Newcastle, England. He was the second child (and eldest son) of an Anglican clergyman, Cecil Gallopine Hall, who was then Curate of St Andrew's Newcastle, and his wife Constance Gertrude (née Upcher, herself the daughter of another clergyman).[3][4] Hall was educated at the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle, and Bromsgrove School.[3][5]

War service[edit]

With the outbreak of the First World War, he joined the Northumberland Fusiliers. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant on 10 December 1914 for service with the 18th (1st Tyneside) Battalion,[6][7] one of the "Pals battalions" raised as part of Lord Kitchener's New Armies. He was promoted to temporary captain on 1 April 1915.[8] He was transferred to 15th (Nottingham) Battalion, Sherwood Foresters on 9 July 1915, and subsequently to the General List with the same date, having been appointed a staff captain.[9][10] On 7 June 1916 he was appointed a General Staff Officer, 3rd Grade.[11] On 7 April 1917 he was appointed brigade major,[12][13] reputedly the youngest in the British Army.[3] He was appointed General Staff Officer, 2nd Grade, with the temporary rank of major, on 14 October 1918.[14][15] He relinquished his commission on 16 January 1919.[16][17] He was awarded the Military Cross in the 1918 New Year Honours,[18] and a Bar to the medal in the 1919 New Year Honours.[19]

Early ministry[edit]

After the war, Hall took his degree at Brasenose College, Oxford, on the shortened degree course run in the immediate post-war years. He became a leader of the British Student Christian Movement and was appointed to the national staff in 1920.[4] Hall attended the World's Student Christian Federation conference in Peking in 1922. He became friends with young Chinese Christian leaders, including the evangelist T. Z. Koo (Gu Ziren) and Y. T. Wu, the founder of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement in China.[4][20]

Ordained deacon in 1920 in Newcastle Cathedral and priest in Southwark Cathedral in 1921 for work with the Student Christian Movement,[21] Hall later became vicar of St Luke's Newcastle upon Tyne.[22]

Bishop of Hong Kong[edit]

In 1932 he was appointed Bishop of Victoria, Hong Kong,[23][24] and then from 1951 of the smaller Diocese of Hong Kong and Macau, retiring in 1966.[25] He was consecrated a bishop on 28 October 1932, by Cosmo Lang, Archbishop of Canterbury, at St Paul's Cathedral.[26]

Social engagement[edit]

Hall was described as a "legendary figure"[27] with a "burning compassion for the less privileged".[20] He emphasised the needs of ordinary people, especially victims of social upheaval. As Bishop of Hong Kong, he advocated for the poor and supported the Chinese revolution.[4] Before World War II, Hall established an orphanage in Tai Po,[27] Hong Kong, which later became the St Christopher's Home.[28] He was also instrumental in the setting up of the Hong Kong Housing Society. Under his leadership, the Anglican Church became a major partner with the Hong Kong government in provision of social services.[29]

Ordination of first woman priest[edit]

While Bishop of Hong Kong, Hall ordained the first woman priest in the Anglican Communion. The Japanese occupation of Hong Kong and of parts of China had made it impossible for Anglican priests to get to neutral Macau, where there were a number of refugee Anglicans with no priest. Florence Li Tim-Oi had already been made a deaconess in Macau by Hall and had been authorised by him and his assistant to give the sacraments to the Anglicans in these extenuating circumstances.[30] In January 1944, Li travelled through Japanese-occupied territory to the small town of Hsinxing, as yet unoccupied by the Japanese, to meet with Hall; from there they proceeded to Shaoqing where he regularised her administration of the sacraments by ordaining her as a priest on 25 January 1944.[31] The Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, William Temple, confided to others his conflicting views but he felt compelled to take a public stand against it.[32][33]

When the war ended in 1945, Li, to avoid controversy, gave up her licence as a priest, though never renounced her ordination. At the provincial synod of the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui in Shanghai in 1947, Hall tried but failed to receive retroactive approval in canon law for Li's ordination. In 1948, Hall was awarded the Order of Brilliant Star with Plaque by Chiang Kai-shek.[34]

Retirement and legacy[edit]

Hall retired in 1966 and was succeeded as bishop by Gilbert Baker.[25] Hall would subsequently be recognised throughout Hong Kong and England:


Due to his close connections with Christian leaders in China, he was accused of being deeply influenced by Chinese communists.[39] For example, the governor of Hong Kong Alexander Grantham (1947–57) commented that one of the Hall's foundations, Bishop's Worker Schools, was "completely communist-dominated and centres of communist and anti-British indoctrination."[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hall was one of the founders of Chung Chi College.



  1. ^ "Ronald Hall, Bishop, Missionary". Diocese of Oxford. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  2. ^ The Times, 25 April 1975; p. 18, "Obituary The Right Rev Ronald Hall"
  3. ^ a b c Richard Symonds (October 2008). "Hall, Ronald Owen (1895–1975)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/56438. Retrieved 24 June 2012. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ a b c d Long, Charles Henry. "Ronald Owen Hall (1895–1975)". Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  5. ^ Who was Who 1897–1990 London, A & C Black 1991 ISBN 0-7136-3457-X
  6. ^ "No. 29043". The London Gazette. 23 February 1915. p. 593.
  7. ^ "No. 29080". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 January 1915. p. 1835.
  8. ^ "No. 29158". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 January 1915. p. 4521.
  9. ^ "No. 29269". The London Gazette. 20 August 1915. p. 8292.
  10. ^ "No. 29250". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 August 1915. p. 7651.
  11. ^ "No. 29656". The London Gazette. 7 July 1916. p. 6749.
  12. ^ "No. 30074". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 May 1917. p. 4774.
  13. ^ "No. 30889". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 September 1918. p. 10621.
  14. ^ "No. 31035". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 November 1918. p. 14047.
  15. ^ "No. 31036". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 November 1918. p. 14062.
  16. ^ "No. 31320". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 April 1919. p. 5463.
  17. ^ "No. 32831". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 June 1923. p. 3975.
  18. ^ "No. 30450". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 December 1917. p. 35.
  19. ^ "No. 31092". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1918. p. 22.
  20. ^ a b Paton, David MacDonald (1985). R.O.: The Life and Times of Bishop Ronald Hall of Hong Kong. Diocese of Hong Kong and Macao. ISBN 9780951085103.
  21. ^ Crockford's Clerical Directory1940–1941 Oxford, OUP, 1941
  22. ^ "Photo of church".
  23. ^ The Times, 30 July 1932; p. 10, "New Bishop of Victoria, Hong Kong"
  24. ^ Hall, Ronald O. (30 December 1932). "Enthronement Sermon Bishop R O Hall 1932, Hong Kong". Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  25. ^ a b The Times, 3 May 1966; p. 18, "Thanksgiving Fund in Hongkong"
  26. ^ "St Paul's Cathedral. Consecration of the Bishop in Victoria, Hong Kong". Church Times. No. 3641. 4 November 1932. p. 541. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 1 January 2022 – via UK Press Online archives.
  27. ^ a b Emerson, Geoffrey Charles (2008). Hong Kong Internment, 1942–1945: Life in the Japanese Civilian Camp at Stanley. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 9789622098800.
  28. ^ "A Brief History of St John's Cathedral". Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  29. ^ British Missionaries' Approaches to Modern China, 1807–1966 by Wong Man Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University
  30. ^ "I'm not an advocate for the ordination of women. I am, however, determined that no prejudices should prevent the congregations committed to my care having the sacraments of the Church." Rose, Mavis. Freedom From Sanctified Sexism – Women Transforming the Church. Queensland, Australia: Allira Publications. 1996. pp. 129–149. Retrieved July 2010 from
  31. ^ Li, Florence Tim Oi (1996). Raindrops of my Life. Toronto: Anglican Book Centre. pp. 20–21. ISBN 1-55126-128-6.
  32. ^ Rose, Mavis. Freedom From Sanctified Sexism – Women Transforming the Church. Queensland, Australia: Allira Publications. 1996. pp. 129–149. Retrieved July 2010 from
  33. ^ National Archives
  34. ^ "No. 38227". The London Gazette. 5 March 1948. pp. 1625–1626.
  35. ^ "Ming Hua Tang". Chung Chi College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  36. ^ "HKU Honorary Graduates". University of Hong Kong. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  37. ^ "No. 44004". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 June 1966. p. 6533.
  38. ^ "Bishop R.O. Hall and History of the Association". Bishop Ho Ming Wah Association and Community Centre. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  39. ^ Leung, Beatrice; Chan, Shunning (2003). Changing Church and State Relations in Hong Kong, 1950-2000. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
  40. ^ Kong, Wong Man (14 January 2008). "The China Factor and Protestant Christianity in Hong Kong: Reflections from Historical Perspectives". Studies in World Christianity. 8 (1): 115–137. doi:10.3366/swc.2002.8.1.115.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Anglican Communion titles
Preceded by Bishop of Victoria
Diocese abolished
New diocese Bishop of Hong Kong and Macau
Succeeded by