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Benjamin Glennie (1812–1900)

by K. Rayner

This article was published:

Benjamin Glennie (1812-1900), by unknown photographer

Benjamin Glennie (1812-1900), by unknown photographer

State Library of New South Wales, GPO 1 - 17632

Benjamin Glennie (1812-1900), Anglican clergyman, was born on 29 January 1812 in Dulwich, Surrey, England, the twelfth son of Dr William Glennie, principal of a private school in Dulwich, and his wife Mary, née Gardiner. He was educated at his father's school and at King's College, London. At 30, after several years on the Continent as a tutor, he entered Christ's College, Cambridge (B.A., 1847). Three of his elder brothers had migrated to New South Wales: Henry, a landowner, James, a doctor, and Alfred, a farmer later ordained. Benjamin arrived at Sydney in January 1848 in the party of Dr William Tyrrell, first bishop of Newcastle.

Glennie was made deacon by Tyrrell at Morpeth on 19 March and appointed to Moreton Bay. There he faced an immense pioneering task, made more difficult by the ineffectiveness of his predecessor, Rev. John Gregor, much religious indifference and a nervous condition which threatened the early termination of his ministry. In Brisbane he increased the congregation at the temporary St John's Church and established day and Sunday schools. He also visited Ipswich each month and made an extensive pastoral tour on the Darling Downs. Ordained priest in 1849, he was transferred next year to Drayton on the Darling Downs. In 1850-60 he was responsible for the whole of the Downs but after the diocese of Brisbane was created and his territory divided into parishes, he served at Warwick in 1860-72 and Drayton in 1872-76. He engaged in long and arduous pastoral tours which in the early years averaged 3000 miles (4828 km) a year on foot or horseback. He laid the foundations of a parochial system on the Downs by establishing congregations, buying strategic sites and building churches.

In 1863 Glennie had been appointed the first archdeacon of Brisbane by Bishop Edward Tufnell but took little part in diocesan administration until Bishop Mathew Hale moved him to the parish of Toowong, Brisbane, in 1876. From 1877 he was full-time archdeacon and, as examining chaplain, was also responsible for training the first local candidates for holy orders. When Bishop William Webber arrived in 1886 Glennie retired from active work and was appointed first honorary canon of St John's pro-Cathedral, Brisbane. In 1868 he had married Mary Brougham (1826-1890), daughter of William Crawshaw, master mariner, and his wife Mary; they had no children. He died on 30 April 1900 at Wynnum, near Brisbane.

Though not the first Anglican clergyman at Moreton Bay, Glennie may be rightly ranked as the pioneer of the Anglican ministry in Queensland. He won widespread affection and respect for his devoted pastoral work, his long, patient ministry in the face of many setbacks, his extensive travels and his foresight in laying the foundations of a parochial structure that provided for the future growth of the Church of England. Although often poor through the failure of his people to support him adequately, he was generous with money and by personal exertion raised the nucleus of the fund which made possible the foundation in 1908 of the Glennie School in Toowoomba. He is often referred to as the 'Apostle of the Downs'.

Select Bibliography

  • A. P. Elkin, The Diocese of Newcastle (Syd, 1955)
  • K. Rayner, The History of the Church of England in Queensland (Ph.D. thesis, University of Queensland, 1962)
  • Church of England papers (State Library of Queensland)
  • Glennie diary, 1848-60 (Brisbane Diocesan Registry).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

K. Rayner, 'Glennie, Benjamin (1812–1900)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 21 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (Melbourne University Press), 1972

View the front pages for Volume 4

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Benjamin Glennie (1812-1900), by unknown photographer

Benjamin Glennie (1812-1900), by unknown photographer

State Library of New South Wales, GPO 1 - 17632

Life Summary [details]


29 January, 1812
Dulwich, Surrey, England


30 April, 1900 (aged 88)
Wynnum, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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