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Camidge, Charles Edward (1837–1911)

by Ruth Teale

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

Charles Edward Camidge (1837-1911), by unknown engraver, 1887

Charles Edward Camidge (1837-1911), by unknown engraver, 1887

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, A/S09/08/87/117

Charles Edward Camidge (1837-1911), Anglican bishop, was born on 2 October 1837 at Nether Poppleton, Yorkshire, England, eldest son of the vicar (Canon) Charles Joseph Camidge and his wife Charlotte, née Hustwick. Educated at St Peter's School, York, and Wadham College, Oxford (B.A., 1860; M.A., 1863; D.D., 1887), he was made deacon on 31 December 1860 and priested on 22 December 1861 by Archbishop Longley of York. On 3 July 1862 at Sheffield he married Laura Carow Sanderson, daughter of a wealthy merchant; they had no children. After a brief curacy in Sheffield, in 1861 he became curate to his father, now vicar of Wakefield; Charles organized the Wakefield Industrial and Fine Art Exhibition of 1865 and wrote an account of it.

Camidge became successively vicar of Hedon in 1868, rector of Wheldrake in 1873 and vicar of Thirsk in 1876. The archbishop presented him to the canonry and prebend of Wetwang in York Minster in 1882; he became rural dean of Thirsk next year. A moderate churchman with leanings toward Tractarianism, he was recommended for the bishopric of Bathurst in New South Wales by the Evangelical Bishop Hill of Sodor and Man, who described him as 'a good man all round, [who] has a nice wife, good means, and [is] ready to accept the post'. He was consecrated on 18 October 1887 in Westminster Abbey and was tendered a choral farewell in York Minster: all the music had been composed by his grandfather, father and uncle, organists of the minster from 1756 to 1859, and his nephew and grandnephew.

Enthroned at Bathurst on 3 January 1888, Camidge searchingly reorganized his huge diocese of 73,000 square miles (189,069 km²) and encouraged bush clergy to conduct services in numerous small centres, thereby dramatically increasing the official attendance figures for the diocese. He elevated the standards of church music, resuscitated the offices and expounded the duties of rural dean and archdeacon, stiffened the examination for ordinands, and in 1891 amended the patronage ordinance to permit episcopal presentation to all vacant cures.

In the Sydney Morning Herald in March 1890, Camidge ably defended the Church of England against Cardinal Moran; his half of the controversy was later published privately in Bathurst. Although reputed to have declined nomination to the sees of Sydney in 1889 and Goulburn in 1892, he accepted a crozier presented that year by the Bathurst diocese. He was a business-like president of synod, whose addresses were well prepared and comprehensive, and on social issues analytical and thoughtful.

In 1900-07 a dispute engineered by Dr J. T. Marriott, incumbent of All Saints Cathedral, Bathurst, which involved the conflicting cathedral and parochial functions of that church, undermined Camidge's failing health. In July 1902 he took a cruise to Vancouver, Canada, and in 1904-05 another to Western Australia. In January 1906 he visited England after his episcopal concession had facilitated a settlement at All Saints. On the advice of Revs F. H. Campion and E. H. Lea he established the Brotherhood of the Good Shepherd in January 1902, to minister in the isolated parts of the diocese. He himself purchased the site of Brotherhood House, Dubbo, which he opened and dedicated in September 1905. A Freemason, Camidge was grand chaplain of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales in 1888-89. He preached and spoke frequently in Sydney, and as senior bishop in Australia acted as primate in 1909-10.

A fine musician, knowledgeable about art and a keen gardener, he died suddenly on 5 May 1911 at Bishopscourt, Bathurst, and was buried in the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church, Kelso. His estate was valued for probate at £13,578. Survived by their adopted daughter, his wife died on 13 May 1914.

Select Bibliography

  • Bathurst Times, 6 May 1911
  • Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 6 May 1911
  • Evening News (Sydney), 6 May 1911
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 6, 8 May 1911
  • R. M. Teale, The Anglican Diocese of Bathurst, 1870-1911 (M.A. thesis, University of Sydney, 1968)
  • S. E. Marsden papers (State Library of New South Wales).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Ruth Teale, 'Camidge, Charles Edward (1837–1911)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/camidge-charles-edward-5480/text9315, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 12 December 2018.

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

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