William Broughton (bishop)

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William Grant Broughton
Bishop of Australia
Nicholas, W. Bishop William Grant Broughton (1843).jpg
Portrait of Broughton by William Nicholas
ChurchChurch of England
DioceseAnglican Diocese of Australia
Personal details
Born(1788-05-22)May 22, 1788
DiedFebruary 20, 1853(1853-02-20) (aged 64)
BuriedCanterbury Cathedral
SpouseSarah Francis
Previous post(s)Archdeacon of New South Wales
EducationQueen Elizabeth's School, Barnet
The King's School, Canterbury
Alma materPembroke 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 an Anglican bishop. He 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).

Early years[edit]

Broughton was born in Westminster, England. He was educated first at Queen Elizabeth's School, Barnet, then 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.

Colony of New South Wales[edit]

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.[4] He ceased to be a member of the Legislative Council when it was changed to a partially elected body in 1843,[5] but remained a member of the Executive Council until 1849.[4] He was also in charge of the commission for the overall policy towards Tasmanian natives which continued the policy of bounties and roving parties.[6] 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.[7]

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.[8] In 1838, Broughton visited the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, on M.S. Pelorus, for a pastoral visit to the native church established by the Church Missionary Society among the Māori.[9] 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 traveled 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.

The building of St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney was commenced during the late 1840s.[10]

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

A portrait of Broughton, by Marshall Claxton, is held at St. Paul's College, Sydney.

The Broughton River and Port Broughton in South Australia and Broughton Streets in Kirribilli, Concord, Canterbury, Camden and Campbelltown are all named after him.

Broughton is commemorated in the Australian Anglican calendar on 20 February. The Anglican Church of Canada commemorates him on June 6, on which day he is celebrated for his efforts to form an autonomous synod of bishops and set up a truly independent Province within the Anglican communion, laying the groundwork for the synodical form of government that has become one of the hallmarks of modern Anglicanism.


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. Another son, Charles Broughton Boydell, married Rose Madelaine, the daughter of William Munnings Arnold and grand-daughter of the first incumbent of Paterson, NSW, John Jennings Smith. William's elder brother, Charles, married into the prominent Blaxland family through John Blaxland's granddaughter, Elizabeth.

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. p. 37. Retrieved 17 November 2013 – via Trove.
  4. ^ a b "Reverend the Hon. William Grant Broughton (1788-1853)". Former Members of the Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  5. ^ Cable, K J (1966). "Broughton, William Grant (1788-1853)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Melbourne University Press. ISSN 1833-7538 – via National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  6. ^ Diamond, Jared (1991). The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee. London: Vintage Random House. p. 252. ISBN 978-0-09-991380-1.
  7. ^ Cable, Kenneth; Rosemary Annable (1999). St James' 1824-1999. Sydney: Churchwardens of St James Church. p. 5. ISBN 0-646-37719-1.
  8. ^ Wyatt, R.T. 1937; foreword by E.H. Burgmann, The History of the Diocese of Goulburn, Goulburn: R.T. Wyatt.
  9. ^ Carleton, Hugh (1874). "Vol. I". The Life of Henry Williams. Early New Zealand Books (ENZB), University of Auckland Library. p. 210.
  10. ^ "St. Andrew's Anglican Cathedral and Chapter House | NSW Environment & Heritage". www.environment.nsw.gov.au. Database number: 5054713. Retrieved 28 September 2018.

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 Broughton (bishop) at Wikimedia Commons