Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Robin, Bryan Percival (1887–1969)

by Robin Radford

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

Bryan Percival Robin (1887-1969), by F. Gill, 1942

Bryan Percival Robin (1887-1969), by F. Gill, 1942

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 11126

Bryan Percival Robin (1887-1969), Anglican bishop, was born on 12 January 1887 at Oxton, Cheshire, England, elder son of Rev. Percival Carteret Robin, clergyman, and his wife Fanny Margaret, née Pollock. Bryan was educated at Rossall School, the University of Liverpool (B.A., 1909; M.A., 1941) and Leeds Clergy School (1909). Sent as assistant-curate to St Margaret's Church, Ilkley, Yorkshire, he was made deacon on 25 September 1910 and ordained priest on 24 September 1911. He sailed to Australia, joined the Bush Brotherhood of St Barnabas in 1914 and ministered to remote communities in North Queensland until 1921. The Sundowner (London, 1922), his book about his experiences, was credited with attracting other clergy to the brotherhood. Returning to Ilkley, he married Frances Nathalie Glennie on 12 January 1921 at St Margaret's.

Back in Queensland, Robin served as rector of Hughenden (1921-22), canon and sub-dean of St James's Cathedral, Townsville (1922-25), warden of St John's College, University of Queensland (1926-30), canon of St John's Cathedral, Brisbane (1926-30), and State chairman of the Student Christian Movement. Having returned to England, he was appointed rector of Woodchurch, Cheshire, in 1931; patronage of the incumbency had been held by his family since 1612. He was later rural dean (1936-41) of Wirral North, honorary canon (1940-41) of Chester Cathedral and an air-raid precautions warden during World War II. Consecrated bishop of Adelaide by the archbishop of Canterbury on 25 July 1941 in Westminster Abbey, he was enthroned at St Peter's Cathedral, Adelaide, on 2 December.

Although High Church in his leanings, Robin felt comfortable with the wide range of Anglican 'churchmanship' in the Adelaide diocese. He was enthusiastic and energetic, a spiritual man who 'enjoyed life, his faith, and people'. In manner he was stately—some said imperious—but not pompous. His keen sense of humour disturbed as well as challenged, as did his trademark raising of one eyebrow, well depicted in Ivor Hele's portrait (1956, held at Bishop's Court). Robin encouraged the celebration of the Eucharist as the focus of Sunday worship and preached a gospel that related faith to everyday life.

Early in his episcopate he appointed two commissions (1942-43) which paved the way for important pastoral strategies. The first dealt with the provision of religious education programmes in Church day and Sunday schools, and in state and independent schools. The second commission established a diocesan committee to co-ordinate and develop social welfare services. After 1945, through the Bishop's Home Mission Society, he sought ways to provide priests and resources for rapidly growing communities in new suburbs. To boost the number of his clergy, he invited members of the Society of the Sacred Mission to come from England and establish a theological college: St Michael's House, Crafers, was opened in 1947. As early as 1946 he supported the election of women to synod.

In 1956 Robin retired to England where he officiated as assistant-bishop (1958-67) of Portsmouth. He died on 17 June 1969 in his home at Petersfield, Hampshire, and was cremated; his wife, their two daughters and two of their three sons survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • P. Webb, Brothers in the Sun (Adel, 1978)
  • D. Hilliard, Godliness and Good Order (Adel, 1986)
  • Adelaide Church Guardian, Oct 1956, p 5, Aug 1969, p 8
  • Robin papers (Adelaide Anglican Diocesan archives)
  • private information.

Citation details

Robin Radford, 'Robin, Bryan Percival (1887–1969)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/robin-bryan-percival-11546/text20603, published in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 28 August 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2014

Bryan Percival Robin (1887-1969), by F. Gill, 1942

Bryan Percival Robin (1887-1969), by F. Gill, 1942

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 11126