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Anderson, Ernest Augustus (1859–1945)

by Laurel Clyde

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

Ernest Augustus Anderson (1859-1945), bishop, was born on 24 March 1859 at Milton Damerel, Devonshire, England, fourth son of Rev. William Dyer Anderson and his wife Mirianne, née Harrison. He was educated at Bedford Grammar School and Queens' College, Cambridge (B.A., 1882; M.A., 1895), where he was an athlete, rower and footballer. He went to North Queensland as a mission preacher in 1882, was made deacon, and on 13 May 1883 ordained priest. On 13 August at Mackay he married Amelia Constance Isabel Ross (d.1917). He was incumbent of Holy Trinity there in 1884-86, and rector of St Thomas's, Hughenden, in 1886-91; from 1889 he was also an honorary canon of St James' Cathedral, Townsville. In 1891 Bishop Stanton, newly translated to Newcastle, New South Wales, appointed him to St Paul's, West Maitland, where he became known as a vigorous Low Church preacher.

In 1894 Anderson succeeded S. Linton as bishop of the Riverina. He was consecrated at St Paul's Cathedral, London, on 29 June next year, then raised money for his diocese before returning to New South Wales; he was installed in St Paul's Pro-Cathedral at Hay on 11 February 1896.

Anderson had experienced in Queensland similar bush conditions to those he would meet in the Riverina, a see of over 70,000 square miles (181,299 km²), with fourteen parishes worked by fifteen clergy. He was faced immediately with the financial collapse of his diocese. Its Episcopal Endowment Fund had been largely depleted through the dishonesty of a solicitor. After two court cases, by 1915 some £11,000 of the original £15,000 had been rescued. Meanwhile Anderson had been paid less than half the annual £800 he had been promised and had spent his personal fortune in maintaining his position as bishop, furnishing Bishop's Lodge, Hay, and educating his children; it was twenty-two years before he was free of debt.

From 1915 motor cars made diocesan travel easier, but Anderson still had to make long annual tours on unmade roads. He had many difficulties with clergy whose churchmanship differed from his, or who had failed in other parishes but were accepted for the Riverina diocese because of the difficulty of recruitment to isolated bush parishes. In 1915 tension reached a peak when E. A. Frost, rector of Broken Hill, was tried at Hay for heresy and breach of ecclesiastical discipline. The panel did not find his High Church views heretical, but he was forced to leave the diocese because of the bishop's hostility. During Anderson's episcopate thirty-two churches and many rectories were built and the number of clergy increased. Diocesan finances after 1920 were stable.

Anderson was an able artist and painted a mural in his pro-cathedral. He had a magnificent china collection and was an authority on roses. On 19 January 1925 at Auckland, New Zealand, he married a widow Margaret Jane Boyd, née Miller-Crook. He resigned his see on 30 June and retired to Auckland where he died on 5 April 1945, and was cremated. He was survived by a son and four daughters; his second son had been killed in action in 1917. His portrait is held by descendants at Hay.

Select Bibliography

  • Church of England, Diocese of Riverina Year Book, 1896-1924
  • Town and Country Journal, 8 Dec 1894
  • Riverine Grazier, 14 Feb 1896, 7 Nov, 12 Dec 1924, 10 Apr 1945
  • Hillston Spectator, 13 Apr 1917
  • Riverina Papers, and correspondence (Riverina Diocesan Registry, Narrandera).

Citation details

Laurel Clyde, 'Anderson, Ernest Augustus (1859–1945)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/anderson-ernest-augustus-5014/text8339, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 11 December 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

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