Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Goe, Field Flowers (1832–1910)

by James Grant

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

Field Flowers Goe (1832-1910), by unknown engraver

Field Flowers Goe (1832-1910), by unknown engraver

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, A/S02/12/86/181

Field Flowers Goe (1832-1910), Anglican bishop, was baptized on 10 February 1832 at Louth, Lincolnshire, England, only son of Field Flowers Goe, solicitor, and his wife Mary Jane. He was educated at King Edward's Grammar School, Louth, and after reading law for a time he proceeded to Oxford, matriculating at St Edmund's Hall in 1853 and graduating from Magdalen Hall (later Hertford College) B.A. (3rd class honours) in 1857 and M.A. in 1860.

Goe was ordained deacon and priest in 1858 by Archbishop Thomas Musgrave of York and appointed curate of Christ Church, Kingston-on-Hull. In the same year he was appointed incumbent of this parish and on 5 June 1861 married Emma Rodgers, daughter of William Hurst, architect, of Doncaster. He remained at Hull until 1873 when Bishop Baring of Durham presented him to the important rectory of Sunderland. In 1877 he was presented by Lord Chancellor Cairns to St George's rectory, Bloomsbury, where his preaching talents and organizing ability had greater scope. He was in demand as a missioner, participated in several Church congresses, and, although an Oxford man, was appointed in 1884 one of the select preachers to the University of Cambridge.

In 1886 the appointment of a successor to James Moorhouse as bishop of Melbourne was remitted to an English committee comprising the archbishops of Canterbury and York, the bishops of Durham and Manchester and Bishop Perry. Goe was appointed in September, awarded an honorary D.D. from Oxford, consecrated bishop on 24 February 1887, and installed at Melbourne on 14 April.

Goe succeeded to an unfinished cathedral and an unwieldy diocese in a rapidly expanding metropolis. He quickly decided that priority must be given to St Paul's Cathedral which was completed, apart from spires and tower, and consecrated on 22 January 1891. However, metropolitan extension and creation of country dioceses had to be postponed when diocesan and parochial income contracted following the collapse of the land boom. Not until 1901, when on 3 October the Church Assembly passed an Act creating three new dioceses at Bendigo, Gippsland and Wangaratta, was subdivision achieved.

Goe was an Evangelical churchman but this was apparent more in support for activities than in discouragement of other schools of thought in the diocese. He promoted a mission to the diocese by the Irish evangelist, George Grubb, in 1891 and in 1892 encouraged the formation of a local association for the Church Missionary Society; but he also gave strong support to the 'deaconesses' of the high church Mission to the Streets and Lanes. While the alleviation of social evils of the time, such as the problem of sweated labour in factories, concerned him, he believed that 'salvation ought to come first'.

Goe was contrasted unfavourably with his eloquent and forceful predecessor, Moorhouse, and was characterized as cautious and colourless. But he displayed an exemplary devotion to duty and, in the dark days of depression, courage in adversity. His sincerity was never questioned.

Goe's wife accompanied him on his extensive travels and was especially active in the Church's work among women and children. On her death on 24 July 1901 the Australasian wrote that 'memories will be cherished in many a bush vicarage of the quiet lady with the sympathetic voice, chatting away cheerfully and hopefully under the grand old gum tree at Bishopscourt'. Her death, and increasing ill health, led Goe to resign in October of that year. He left Melbourne on 7 April 1902 and accepted a brief appointment as assistant bishop of Durham. He retired to Wimbledon where he died on 25 June 1910. A portrait by J. C. Waite is in the Chapter House of St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne.

Select Bibliography

  • Church of England Messenger (Victoria), 7 Oct 1886, 4 Oct 1901, 1 May 1902
  • Australasian (Melbourne), 5 Oct 1895, 27 July 1901
  • Argus (Melbourne), 30 June 1910
  • Guardian (London), 1 July 1910.

Citation details

James Grant, 'Goe, Field Flowers (1832–1910)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/goe-field-flowers-6413/text10965, published in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 2 October 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2014

Field Flowers Goe (1832-1910), by unknown engraver

Field Flowers Goe (1832-1910), by unknown engraver

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, A/S02/12/86/181