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Wylde, Arnold Lomas (1880–1958)

by Christopher Whittall

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

Arnold Lomas Wylde (1880-1958), Anglican bishop, was born on 31 March 1880 at Horsforth, Yorkshire, England, son of James Lomas Wylde, woollen manufacturer, and his wife Sarah Jane, née Taylor. Arnold was educated at Wakefield Grammar School and University College, Oxford (B.A., 1903; M.A., 1906). After three years in the East End of London at Oxford House, he prepared for the Anglican ministry at Cuddesdon College and was made deacon by A. F. Winnington-Ingram, bishop of London, on 23 December 1906. Ordained priest on 22 December 1907, he went as curate to St Simon Zelotes, Bethnal Green, becoming vicar in 1912. The administrative work of the parish kept Wylde from the pastoral aspect of his ministry which he believed was his primary priestly commitment. On 31 March 1921 he resigned to volunteer for missionary service with the Brotherhood of the Good Shepherd in New South Wales.

Wylde's years with the Brotherhood were carefree: he wrote to his former London parish of his excitement at the adventure which the bush offered him. In 1923 George Merrick Long, bishop of Bathurst, appointed him principal of the Brotherhood. Based at Gilgandra, where he was also rector, Wylde again accepted administrative responsibilities. His ministry with the Brotherhood was characterized by compassion. Understanding their isolation, he developed a special affinity with the people of the far west of the State, who found him 'full of fun'. He travelled countless miles to conduct services in small centres, and frequently gave lifts to swagmen in his battered T-model Ford. Both practical and spiritual in his approach, he was held in affection and esteem.

On 1 November 1927 Bishop Long consecrated Wylde coadjutor bishop of Bathurst in All Saints Cathedral; he remained principal of the Brotherhood until December 1928. When Long became bishop of Newcastle that year, Wylde served Bishop Crotty who resigned in 1936. After administering the diocese in the interregnum, Wylde was enthroned as bishop of Bathurst on 23 February 1937. During his episcopate the intellectual emphasis of Long and Crotty were oriented towards a greater pastoral focus. As bishop he immersed himself in every aspect of diocesan life and was highly regarded for his thoughtfulness and courtesy. At the same time, some parishioners objected to his High Church liturgical approach to worship.

In 1942 Wylde compiled and introduced a service book, The Holy Eucharist, which became known as the 'Red Book', because of its red cover. A legal suit (Attorney-General v. Wylde) was instituted in 1944 by a number of complainants in the diocese of Bathurst, assisted by elements within the diocese of Sydney led by Canon Thomas Hammond. They alleged that Wylde had been guilty of heresy, that he had deviated from the Book of Common Prayer and that the mandatory use of the Sign of the Cross and the sanctus bell were 'in direct conflict with the doctrines of the Church of England'. Wylde, relying on the expert advice of Canon Farnham Maynard and Bishop Francis de Witt Batty, maintained that a secular court had no jurisdiction to hear an ecclesiastical case, and claimed the right as bishop to authorize deviations from and additions to the Book of Common Prayer. The charge of heresy was withdrawn and the case proceeded on a charge of breach of trust. In 1948 the chief judge in Equity Ernest Roper granted injunctions against use of the 'Red Book'. The High Court of Australia dismissed Wylde's appeal but limited the judgement to twenty parishes and The Holy Eucharist continued to be used widely within the diocese. Bishop Batty believed that the 'Red Book Case' 'emphasised the need for the Church in Australia to obtain full power to enforce its own discipline and order its own law of worship'.

Wylde's style of worship, commitment to pastoral ministry and work among young people, his love of the outback and simplicity of manner were the standard in the diocese of Bathurst for nearly fifty years. The Archbishop of York in 1952 commented that 'Bishop and people knew and trusted each other'. In 1957 Wylde was appointed C.B.E. He did not marry. Wylde died on 7 June 1958 at Bishopscourt, Bathurst; his ashes were buried beneath the high altar in All Saints Cathedral.

Select Bibliography

  • T. C. Hammond (preface), The Bathurst Ritual Case (Syd, 1948)
  • Commonwealth Law Reports, 78, 1948-49, p 224
  • Journal of Religious History, 12, no 1, 1982, p 74
  • Sun-Herald (Sydney), 22 June 1958
  • C. G. Whittall, 'My Land of Righteousness?' The Life and Times of Arnold Lomas Wylde (M.A. thesis, University of Sydney, 1986)
  • D. Galbraith, Just Enough Religion to Make Us Hate: An Historico-legal Study of the Red Book Case (Ph.D. thesis, University of New South Wales, 1998)
  • Wylde papers (Anglican Diocese of Bathurst archives).

Citation details

Christopher Whittall, 'Wylde, Arnold Lomas (1880–1958)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/wylde-arnold-lomas-12082/text21677, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 21 December 2014.

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

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