Thomas Nettleship Staley

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Thomas Nettleship Staley

Bishop of Hawaii
ChurchChurch of England
In office1862–1870
SuccessorAlfred Willis
Personal details
Born(1823-01-17)17 January 1823
Sheffield, Yorkshire, England
Died1 November 1898(1898-11-01) (aged 75)
Bournemouth, England
Catherine Workman Shirley (m. 1850)

Thomas Nettleship Staley SSC[1] (17 January 1823 – 1 November 1898) was a British bishop of the Church of England and the first Anglican bishop of the Church of Hawaii.


Thomas Nettleship Staley was born 17 January 1823 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England.[2] His father was the Wesleyan minister William Staley.[2] Staley entered Queens' College, Cambridge in 1840, earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1844, and became a Fellow in 1847 after earning his Master of Arts degree.[3] He was tutor at St Mark's College, Chelsea, from 1844 to 1848 and Headmaster of the St Mark's Practising School from 1848 to 1850[citation needed] (whilst still lecturing in mathematics at St Mark's College) and then Principal of the Collegiate School, Wandsworth, from 1850 to 1861.[3][4] He married Catherine Workman Shirley in September 1850.[5]

He was appointed by John Bird Sumner, the Archbishop of Canterbury,[6] and consecrated on 15 December 1861,[5] at the suggestion of Samuel Wilberforce and Queen Victoria, as the church's first bishop of the Kingdom of Hawaii.[citation needed] He and his wife[citation needed] departed on 17 August 1862 and arrived in Honolulu in October 1862, several weeks after the death of Albert, Prince of Hawaii, the only son of King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma Kaleleonālani Naʻea.[7]

ceremony under tent
Cornerstone of St. Andrew's Cathedral laid in 1867

His presence provoked conflict with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions because they considered him a symbol of ritualism. The fact that he was a bishop also bothered the Calvinists who disliked any kind of religious hierarchy. In a letter to Rufus Anderson of the American Board, the British missionary William Ellis (who had visited the Hawaiian islands in 1825)[citation needed] wrote that Staley was "associated with that section of the Church of England from which the greatest number of perverts to Popery has proceeded, and between whom and the Roman Catholics the difference is reported to be slight ..."[8] Even the American writer Mark Twain criticized Staley as an agent of Britain.[9]

Staley publicly defended his actions as being non-political, but was considered symbolic of the struggle for influence on the islands. Although he was appointed to the King's Privy Council 1863–1864 and Board of Education in 1865,[10] he denied ever giving political advice, or being behind any plots leading to British colonization of the islands.[11][page needed] In December 1863 he held the memorial service for Kamehameha IV[12] and later dedicated the Royal Mausoleum where the royal family was reburied. The next King Kamehameha V continued his support[citation needed] and the cornerstone for the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew was laid in a ceremony in March 1867.[13]

Staley began two church-operated boarding schools:[citation needed] Saint Andrew's Priory School for Girls[6] and ʻIolani School in Honolulu (originally named for Saint Alban). Staley was appointed Chaplain of Hawaii's Royal Order of Kamehameha I.

He corresponded with Charles Darwin regarding the decline in population of the native Hawaiians.[14]

Staley was frustrated with the political struggle, and suggested he would like to resign.[citation needed] He hoped to be replaced by an American Episcopal bishop,[15] but none could be found.[citation needed] He reluctantly retired in 1870 and was replaced by Alfred Willis.[16] He resided in Croxall[17][18] and died on 1 November 1898 at Bournemouth.[2]


  • Thomas Nettleship Staley (1868). Five Years' Church Work in the Kingdom of Hawaii. Rivington, London.

See also[edit]

  • Father Damien, the leper priest, for context on the struggles between Christian denominations in Hawaii then



  1. ^ Blain 2017, p. 56.
  2. ^ a b c Blain 2017, p. 53.
  3. ^ a b "Staley, Thomas Nettleship (STLY840TN)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  4. ^ Blain 2017, p. 54; Semes 2000, p. 116.
  5. ^ a b Blain 2017, p. 54.
  6. ^ a b Semes 2000, p. 116.
  7. ^ Blain 2017, pp. 54, 57–58.
  8. ^ Semes 2000, p. 119.
  9. ^ Zmijewski 2006, pp. 57–59.
  10. ^ "Staley, Thomas Nettlesby office record". state archives digital collections. state of Hawaii. Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
  11. ^ Staley 1865.
  12. ^ Blain 2017, p. 58.
  13. ^ Blain 2017, p. 55.
  14. ^ "Search results for Staley". The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
  15. ^ Herringer 2017, p. 85.
  16. ^ Herringer 2017, p. 85; Semes 2000, p. 132.
  17. ^ Semes 2000, p. 138.
  18. ^ "Croxall, Derbyshire". Kelly's Directory of the Counties of Derby, Notts, Leicester and Rutland, London. May 1891. pp. 103–104. Archived from the original on 4 May 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2010.

Works cited[edit]

Blain, Michael (2017) [2012]. "Blain Biographical Directory of Anglican Clergy in the Diocese of Honolulu, 1862–1902" (PDF). Project Canterbury. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
Herringer, Carol Engelhardt (2017). "Anglicanism beyond the British Empire". In Strong, Rowan (ed.). The Oxford History of Anglicanism. Volume III: Partisan Anglicanism and its Global Expansion, 1829 – c. 1914. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 69–91. ISBN 978-0-19-108462-1.
Semes, Robert Louis (2000). "Hawai'i's Holy War: English Bishop Staley, American Congregationalists, and the Hawaiian Monarchs, 1860–1870". Hawaiian Journal of History. Hawaii Historical Society. 34: 113–138. hdl:10524/159. ISSN 0440-5145.
Staley, Thomas Nettleship (1865). A Pastoral Address: Delivered in His Church on New Year's Day, 1865, in Reply to Certain Mis-statements in a Recent Report of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Honolulu, Hawaii: Hawaiian Gazette. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
Zmijewski, David (2006). "The Man in Both Corners: Mark Twain the Shadowboxing Imperialist". Hawaiian Journal of History. Hawaii Historical Society. 40: 55–95. hdl:10524/286. ISBN 978-0-945048-18-3. ISSN 0440-5145.

Further reading[edit]

Mammana, Richard J., Jr. (2010). "Anglican Faces: Thomas Nettleship Staley". The Living Church. Archived from the original on 29 September 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
"Staley, Thomas Nettleship (1823–1898) Bishop of Honolulu". National Register of Archives. The National Archives. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
Staley, Thomas Nettleship (1863). "An Inaugural Sermon Preached in the Temporary Cathedral of Honolulu, October 18, 1862, by the Right Rev. the Bishop of the Diocese". Honolulu: Polynesian Office. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
 ———  (1863). ""The Waiting Isles": Sermon Preached at the Farewell Service of the Mission to the Sandwich Islands, in Westminster Abbey, July 23, 1862, by the Right Rev. the Bishop of Honolulu". Honolulu: Polynesian Office. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
Religious titles
New creation Anglican Bishop of the Church of Hawaii
Succeeded by
Alfred Willis
Bishop of St. Andrew's Cathedral