Project Canterbury


Seeking a See

A Journal of
The Right Reverend Henry Lascelles Jenner D.D.
of his visit to Dunedin, New Zealand
in 1868-1869



Edited by
Rev. John Pearce M.B.E.








Formatted by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown, 2006

Reproduced with the permission of the Bishop and Diocesan Council of the Diocese of Dunedin of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia with the proviso that it be stated that the editor's interpretation reflects his personal views as Bishop Jenner was never legally confirmed as the bishop of Dunedin.

To Bishop Henry Jenner
"Namque tu solebas
Meas esse aliquid putare nugas"
carmina i (catullus)


Published 1984 and distributed for the
Standing Committee of the Diocese of Dunedin by
John McIndoe Limited, Dunedin, New Zealand

© by the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Dunedin

This book is copyright. Except for the purposes of fair reviewing, no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photo-copying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Printed in New Zealand by
John McIndoe Ltd, Dunedin

In regard to Otago and Dunedin, it was the intention of the founders to establish an especially Presbyterian settlement. ... As to Dunedin we have lately heard more of its desire to have a Church of England bishop of its own than any other propensity. And it is going to have a bishop-I may say has got one, though when I was there the prelate had not yet arrived. A former bishop did indeed come out-but he was not approved of,-and was returned, having never been installed. It is marvelous to me that the Australian and New Zealand Sees can find English clergymen to go out to them. The pay is small, generally not exceeding £500 a year. That bishops do not become bishops for money we are all prepared to admit. But the power also is very limited, the patronage almost none at all, and the snubbing to which they are subjected is excessive.

Anthony Trollope

Australia & New Zealand 1873, Chapman & Hall pp 342/344.



Foreword by the Bishop of London 11

Second Foreword by the Bishop of Dunedin 13

Preface 15

Introduction 17

Bishop Jenner's Journal 81

Epilogue 203

Index 225


Bishop Henry Lascelles Jenner Opposite page 96
National Picture Gallery

Port Chalmers in the 1860s Opposite page 97
Hocken Library

St. Paul's Cathedral, Dunedin 1866 Opposite page 120
Hocken Library

Queenstown 1871 Opposite page 120
Hocken Library

Bishop Harper Opposite page 121
Hocken Library

William Carr Young Opposite page 121
Hocken Library


by the Bishop of London

The Reverend John Pearce deserves our warm gratitude for his zeal and application in making the Journal of Bishop Jenner available to the general public. The Bishop writes graphically and with insight. The Journal provides a fascinating account of sea travel and the state of New Zealand in 1868. There are, however, other reasons which make this book particularly welcome. The episode of Bishop Jenner's appointment to the See of Dunedin is part of the history of the Anglican Communion. It concerns the relationship of the Archbishop of Canterbury to that Communion and the development of synodial government within it. It has hitherto been inadequately reported, as for example in the chapter on the Church in New Zealand in 'Constitutional Church Government' by Henry Lowther Clarke in 1924.

Father John's introduction sets the episode against the contemporary background in Church affairs. It also provides new material, apparently not available when Dr Clarke wrote. His account implies, for example, that Dr Jenner improperly described himself as Bishop of Dunedin. Father John's account makes it clear that while the Queen's Mandate for his consecration referred simply to a Bishop from the colony of New Zealand (it also authorised the consecration of Bishop Suter) the request of Bishop Selwyn was for a Bishop to be Bishop of Dunedin. Both the Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop Selwyn personally addressed Bishop Jenner as Bishop of Dunedin. It is good that in this and other ways justice is done to a sensitive, zealous, if at times somewhat naive man whose devotion is evident in an unselfconscious way throughout his Journal.

+ Graham Londin


By the Right Reverend Peter Mann
Bishop of Dunedin

While the Anglican Church in New Zealand is proud of her history and heritage there is a lingering sense of embarrassment and shame over what came to be known as "The Jenner Controversy" even though the affair took place over a century ago.

In the interval, Church historians have mulled over the events which led Bishop Jenner finally and very reluctantly to forego his claims to the See of Dunedin and their conclusions are generally that something less than justice was accorded to the Bishop by the Diocese and the General Synod.

In these earlier accounts, what Jenner himself felt about the controversy went largely unrecorded, mainly due to the paucity of material. Now at last the Bishop is able to speak for himself through the pages of the journal he kept and preserved by his family. Father John Pearce, a friend of Bishop Jenner's family and editor of the journal has rendered the Anglican Church in New Zealand a signal and timely service by making the publication possible. I gratefully acknowledge the meticulous work which Dr Ray Hargreaves has carried out in proof reading, indexing the book and selecting illustrations.

Bishop Jenner came out to New Zealand and toured Otago and Southland seeking the support of the Anglican communities to his claims. Like many Victorian travellers he kept a journal which provides fascinating descriptions not only of ecclesiastical politics but the land and its settlers.

There are many in the Diocese of Dunedin (including myself) who feel that some act of reparation should be made to the memory of Bishop Jenner. In sponsoring the publication of this book we trust that this obligation has at least been partially met.

+ Peter Dunedin

Project Canterbury