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Florence Emily Green (1862–1926)

by Kelvin Grose and A. De Q. Robin

This article was published:

Florence Emily Green is a minor entry in this article

Arthur Vincent Green (1857-1944), Anglican bishop, was born on 31 October 1857 at Albury, Surrey, England, son of Rev. Samuel Dutton Green and his wife Eliza, née Dutton. Much of his childhood was spent travelling between England, Australia and New Zealand: his father was appointed to the parish of Penwortham and Clare in the diocese of Adelaide in 1861 and in the next ten years lived variously in Wales, Scotland and New Zealand. After Arthur's mother died in New Zealand in 1872, his father took up an appointment at Kangaroo Flat, Victoria, before returning to England for the sake of the boy's schooling.

Matriculating in 1874 from the College of St Andrew and St Edmund, Salisbury, Arthur apparently studied law at the University of Durham before joining his father at Cape Town; there he worked as a junior master at the Diocesan College, Rondebosch. He then accompanied his father (d.1879) to Victoria.

Green planned to complete his law course, but first had to matriculate at the University of Melbourne. However, on meeting Bishop Moorhouse, he offered himself for ordination. He obtained a stipendiary readership under Archdeacon J. K. Tucker and took services from Benalla to Yarrawonga whilst lodging at Wangaratta. At the same time he studied for his matriculation examination, which he passed in mid-1877; four months later he completed the first year of his arts degree. Moorhouse offered him a scholarship at Trinity College, University of Melbourne, and he graduated B.A. with honours in 1879 (M.A., 1883). In 1880 he was ordained as curate of St Andrew's, Brighton, and on 28 December at Avenel, married Matilda, daughter of Archdeacon Tucker, then in her early thirties. After a trip to Europe Green returned to assist H. H. P. Handfield at St Peter's, East Melbourne, and in 1885 was appointed vicar of Maldon, having meanwhile enrolled for a law degree at the University of Sydney (LL.B., 1885; LL.D., 1887). He was appointed to St Martin's, Hawksburn, in 1887 and a year later to St Paul's, Geelong. In 1890 he became archdeacon of Ballarat, vicar of Christ Church and examining chaplain to Bishop Thornton for whom he had high regard.

Green was elected bishop of Grafton and Armidale, New South Wales, in 1894, the first Victorian-trained clergyman to become an Australian bishop. During his seven-year episcopate he doubled the staff of the clergy, dedicated over eighty new churches, established a theological college for the training of local clergy and built a registry office and bishop's house at Armidale. He travelled widely throughout his diocese, often camping out in primitive conditions.

In December 1900 Green was translated to Ballarat as its second bishop, his diocese comprising the western half of Victoria. He set out to augment the Home Mission Fund to assist payment of poorer clergy, to establish St Aidan's Theological College and to make a beginning on Christ Church Cathedral. In 1903 the Synod of Brisbane elected him as bishop but he declined the invitation. In 1908 he began plans for establishing Ballarat Church of England Grammar School for Boys which opened in 1911. In 1910 he delivered the Moorhouse lectures on 'The Ephesian Canonical Writings' (published that year in London); his Australian Sermons (1914), were extensively used by the lay readers in his diocese. On medical advice he resigned in 1915 and moved to Heidelberg, but continued for eight years as a canon of St Paul's Cathedral and a lecturer at Trinity College. He died on 24 September 1944, predeceased by his wife and survived by his son, Rev. Walter Green.

Green was described as a man of 'unquenchable vitality', tall and slender, with blue eyes and classic, well-modelled features; he was always immaculately dressed. An able scholar with a passion for education, he had a personal magnetism which drew large crowds wherever he preached.

His elder sister Agnes was a religious of the Community of St Denys in Wiltshire, England. His younger sister Florence Emily (1862-1926) was born on 12 April 1862 at Oamaru, New Zealand. She was educated by her parents and at a private school, Sorbonne, at South Yarra, Melbourne. Although one of the first women to sign the University of Melbourne's matriculation register, she did not take a degree there. She was, however, a Th.A. of the Australian College of Theology with first-class honours.

Florence's life was devoted to her religion, to her brother Arthur and to the education of young women. In the early 1880s she paid for the boarding and tuition fees of young Ettie (Henry Handel) Richardson, who later caricatured her maliciously but accurately as 'Miss Isabella' in The Getting of Wisdom; Arthur was the irritable 'Mr Shepherd'.

Florence moved to Maldon with Arthur in 1885 and in 1886 helped to found Trinity Church High School. She remained headmistress until 1889 and when Arthur moved to Geelong, she founded the Girls' High School there, the forerunner of The Hermitage. In 1895 she was first headmistress of the New England Girls' School; under her guidance it became one of the largest girls' boarding schools in Australia. In 1907 the diocese purchased the school from her and she went abroad, returning to Victoria in 1910. After acting as caretaker headmistress of Firbank Church of England Girls' Grammar School, Brighton, in 1911, in failing health she went to Ballarat and later lived at Greensborough, Ivanhoe and Murrumbeena.

Florence Green was deeply religious. The basis of her life was prayer. She was also very practical and, like Arthur, a born teacher. Pedagogically she stressed good reading, religion and 'current affairs'; she was interested in the public questions of the day and up to the minute in her own reading. She possessed boundless mental and physical energy and determination. Brisk and cheerful, she had a warm smile and even at 50 her skin was unlined and her hair thick and shiny; her eyes were 'quite startlingly blue'. By nature however she was an ascetic.

Florence Green never married. She died of Parkinson's disease at Murrumbeena on 5 April 1926 and her ashes were interred in Warringal cemetery, Heidelberg.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Forster, Address on Florence Emily Green's Death, St Peter's Cathedral, 11 April 1926 (Armidale, 1926)
  • Ballarat Church Chronicle, July 1915
  • New England Girls' School, Chronicle, June 1926
  • Overland, 72 (1978), p 24
  • Ballarat Courier, 3, 5 July 1915
  • Armidale Chronicle, June 1926
  • Argus (Melbourne), 26 Oct 1944
  • Armidale Express, 11 Dec 1946
  • W. Green, Memorandum on New England Girls School and Florence Emily Green (manuscript, c1965, privately held)
  • E. Summons, Memories of Florence Emily Green (manuscript, privately held)
  • C. Wellard, An Appraisal of the Ideology of Florence Emily Green (manuscript, privately held).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Kelvin Grose and A. De Q. Robin, 'Green, Florence Emily (1862–1926)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 19 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (Melbourne University Press), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

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