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Bishop Tufnell

From The Church Chronicle [Diocese of Brisbane], February 1, 1897, page 2.

THE death of the first Bishop of this Diocese cannot be without interest to the community. It marks an epoch in the early history of the Church, to which ages yet unborn will look back with mingled feelings of curiosity and interest, about the man who laid the foundation of the See of Brisbane. Even now we who remember them even to be separated from those early days by a revolution as complete as that which marks some well defined period of history. Think of the days when there were post and rail fences in Queen-street, a steamer once a week to Sydney, no railways, no telegraph; when to 9 Englishmen out of 10 at Home, Australia had such a sickly savour of convict associations and ideas, when the most sanguine never dreamed of our early development into a nation, you get some conception of the state of things to which Edward Wyndham Tufnell, Bishop, Duncan Mackenzie, John Sutton, Vincent Ransom, E. G. Mowley, John Tomlinson (Bishop's Chaplain), and T. Jones, clergy, all of whom are still living, came. They joined three clergymen working here--Benjamin Glennie, John Moseley, and Lacy Ramsey. The Bishop and his clergy arrived in Sydney in August, 1860, in the full rigged ship "Vemeira," after a passage from England of 97 days--that sounds like modern Queenslanders like a "bit of Romance"--Bishop Tufnell had been consecrated on St. Peter's Day, 1859; he did not leave England till the May following, for his income was only £200 a-year from £6000 in consols, so he immediately set to work to collect funds, and altogether £22,000 were subscribed for the establishment of the See--the building of Bishopsbourne, on land given by Mr. Isaac, a Darling Downs squatter--and the erection of the Leichhardt-street Schools.

At that time there was State aid to the Clergy; and had the Bishop arrived a few months earlier, several of the Clergy would have been entitled to the allowance from the Government of the £100 per annum still drawn by Archdeacon Glennie. It was a bitter disappointment to the Bishop on landing to learn that "The Anti-State Aid Bill" had been passed, and that he was deprived of so large an endowment for his Diocese an the very beginning of his career. His friends in England, however, supplied him with about £700 per annum. But Bishop Tufnell was not the man to grapple energetically with such a depressing condition of things. He had lived the life of a country vicar for some years, in the Hamlet (known to the writer of this paper) of Broad Heaton in a remote part of Wiltsire, and had then been called to the Living of St. Peter's in the dull, sleepy town of Marlboro' in the same County. It was not a good preparation for the first Bishop of a Colonial See. They were positions which called forth no powers of organisation, no energy for active work and an active brain, and so Bishop Tufnell threw himself energetically into deputation work or for the S.P.G. It was his earnestness in this work that doutless caused him to be selected as first Bishop of Brisbane, but it must never be forgotten that the "fifties" and the "sixties" were years in which the Church at Home lived much more on her prestige than her activities, energies--certainly in the provinces and the country districts. And it was this education--this training--the Bishop brought with him into the fresh life and the altered condition of things in the Colony; and it was not a satisfactory training, and makes all the more creditable to him the good work which he did. Bishop Tufnell represented splendidly the cultured, high-souled irreproachable character of the Church of England dignitary (Bishop Tufnell was in those days of Prebendary of Sarum) he was a centre of light and learning, of culture, honor and piety, and one could not be a few minutes in his presence without being conscious that he was all this. Bishop Tufnell, all this while, was a bachelor. He came to the Diocese in 1860; in 1865 he went Home. While in England he suffered from a severe attack of small-pox, which, as it generally does, left its traces. While in England on this occasion Bishop Tufnell married his cousin. On his return to the Diocese it was the old story of battling with difficulties, and in '73, without many regrets after 14 years of arduous toil and care, his Lordship resigned the See, and ceased to take much active interest in the Diocese beyond a grant of £500 from his private purse towards keeping Bishopsbourne in repair. Bishop Tufnell's income at the time of his resignation was about £420 per annum. His Lordship held two or three Livings in England after his return, the important Living of Croydon among the rest, and he then retired to Falsham--near Raynor--opposite the Isle of Wight. There, as Canon of Chichester, he gave valuable help to the late aged Bishop Durnford, who died in harness at 93 years of age. To the last Bishop Tufnell worked quietly but devotedly. On the Sunday before his fatal illness he took the services in his little church, though not feeling well. On the Monday he sickened and become conscious that the end was approaching, and after three-week's illness he passed quietly away. Bishop Tufnell was a Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford (founder's kin), and the writer's first acquaintance with him was as Senior Proctor, Mr. Rice, the Rector of Exeter, being the Junior Proctor, in 1858.

It is seriously to be hoped that the Church will not let his memory die without some memorial.

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