Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Linton, Sydney (1841–1894)

by K. J. Cable

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

Sydney Linton (1841-1894), by unknown engraver

Sydney Linton (1841-1894), by unknown engraver

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, A/S09/04/84/61

Sydney Linton (1841-1894), Church of England bishop, was born on 2 July 1841 at Diddington, Huntingdonshire, England, third son and fourth child of Rev. Henry Linton and his wife Charlotte, daughter of Rev. William Richardson. He was educated at Rugby School, where he excelled at football, and Wadham College, Oxford (B.A., 1864; M.A., 1870; D.D., 1884). A fine sportsman, he played in 1861 and 1862 for Oxford against Cambridge at Lord's. After several years as a private tutor and as a master at Haileybury College, he studied for holy orders and was made deacon in 1867 and priest in 1868 by the bishop of Gloucester and Bristol. Linton served his curacy at St Mark's, Cheltenham, and in 1870 became vicar of Holy Trinity, Oxford, a poor parish that he developed successfully. In 1877 he was appointed to St Philip, Heigham, Norwich, and on 13 June married Jane Isabella, daughter of Rev. Dr Charles Heurtley, professor of divinity at Oxford. The vigour of Linton's ministry at Norwich resulted in the offer of the bishopric of the Riverina in November 1883. He raised £4000 for his new diocese and on 1 May 1884 was consecrated in St Paul's Cathedral, London. In March 1885 he arrived in the Parramatta at Sydney with his family and was enthroned in St Paul's Church, Hay, on the 18th.

Linton's new see had been made possible by a large benefaction from John Campbell. The diocese covered over a third of New South Wales but included few more than 20,000 Anglicans. Many of the landholders were absentees or non-Anglicans while the mines at Broken Hill were attracting increasing numbers of Methodists. In an effort to make his diocese an effective unit of the Church, Linton set up regular diocesan institutions. A Church Society was founded in 1885 to build up a central fund and promote the extension of work in the diocese. The first synod met in 1887 and by 1890 its constitution was in good order. A bishop's lodge, made of iron, was built at Hay, the episcopal centre. He recruited new clergy: the staff of six in 1885 increased to eighteen by 1893. Churches were built and new parishes formed and the diocese was enlarged by the accession of Wilcannia from Bathurst.

Linton worked unceasingly. An indefatigable traveller and missionary, he liked nothing better than to exercise a pastoral ministry in new areas. Only in Broken Hill did his experience fail him. Linton's energy masked the impermanence of much of his achievement. Fifty-one clergymen came but few stayed for long. The depression of the 1890s revealed the weakness of the finances and the extent of the reliance on Linton's private resources. For all his missionary zeal he kept rigidly to the traditional parish structure and did little to encourage a flexible ministry. Impatient with business routine, he did not nurture the diocesan institutions that he had founded. He was very popular, tolerant in his churchmanship and unwearying in his efforts but failed to adopt any systematic policy. Yet in such a sprawling diocese he did well to accomplish as much as he did. He died at Melbourne on 15 May 1894 and was buried in Kew cemetery. He was survived by three sons and three daughters.

Select Bibliography

  • W. C. Pritchard, Sydney Linton: First Bishop of Riverina (Melb, 1896)
  • R. T. Wyatt, The History of the Diocese of Goulburn (Syd, 1937)
  • Town and Country Journal, 10 May 1890
  • Riverine Grazier, 2 Apr 1935
  • Riverina papers (Diocesan Registry, Narrandera)
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

K. J. Cable, 'Linton, Sydney (1841–1894)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/linton-sydney-603/text6389, published in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 24 April 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

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