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Samuel Green (1841–1904)

by Janet Scarfe

This article was published:

Samuel Green (1841-1904), by P. Schourup

Samuel Green (1841-1904), by P. Schourup

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 7828

Samuel Green (1841-1904), clergyman, was born on 2 February 1841 at Uppingham, Rutland, England, son of Rev. John Green, a Dissenting clergyman, and his wife Martha Margaret, née Holmes. His early ambition was to join the East India Civil Service. In 1863 he won a high place among applicants but changed his mind; he went instead to South Australia and offered himself for the Anglican ministry. Trained by Bishop Augustus Short, he was ordained in 1865. As parish priest he worked mainly at Port Adelaide in 1865-66 and 1868-93 and Glenelg in 1893-1904.

One of the first High Churchmen in a strongly Evangelical colony, Green asserted the catholicity of the Church of England and introduced such innovations as weekly celebrations of Holy Communion and choral Eucharists, with the so-called 'ritualistic devices' of processional cross, altar candlesticks and incense. In 1869 a petition against ritualism was circulated through the diocese by militant Evangelical laymen who urged synod to remove Green and three other clergy from the diocese. Synod refused almost unanimously to debate the motion. Short investigated complaints about Green's services and concluded that 'not a hint had been breathed of false doctrine' by the priest. Green claimed to be 'as firm a Protestant (according to the Prayer Book) as could be found'. His sincerity and tact won over his congregation and most laymen in the diocese. He was appointed clerical secretary of synod in 1870 and served on the standing committee for thirty-five years. A forcible debater and an efficient administrator, he was a recognized authority on Church polity and was mentioned at least once as a probable bishop.

Green also promoted the revival of spiritual discipline, conducting Lenten observance and retreats. He was closely connected with the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament and with early work of the Kilburn Sisterhood. As canon missioner of the diocese in 1896-1904 he conducted parish missions designed to strengthen the life of the Church. He was also keenly aware of social problems. Although scarcely a Christian Socialist, he was an energetic supporter of local institutes and was closely connected with the Port Adelaide Workingmen's Association, founded in 1872 and the Homestead League, formed by George Cotton in 1885.

Green decided to stand for Port Adelaide in 1878 in protest against the constitutional exclusion of ministers from parliament. Backed by local clergy, he had an enthusiastic response when 800 port electors attended a meeting to hear him and declare him a fit candidate. Proclaiming his principle vindicated, he stepped down before polling day.

Sharing the views of Bishop George Kennion, Green actively supported co-operation between capital and labour. In the 1887 shipping stoppage at Port Adelaide he addressed 3000 strikers, urging them to return to work, and warning them that not the employers but cunning men in their own ranks might be using the strike for selfish gains. The dispute ended after he arranged a conference between unionists and shipowners. He then seemed uncertain of labour principles but in the maritime strike of 1890 he told a large meeting that 'men were striking for their corporate existence—for unionism, by which they had managed to raise their lives. The owners had not a stake like that to fight for'. He also urged employers to initiate a permanent board of conciliation. Respected by both sides, he claimed 'many friends among the employers, but tenfold more among the men'.

A popular speaker, Green gave many public lectures, often using lantern slides. Some addresses were more scholarly than others: his 'Courtship' was acclaimed a masterpiece. He also ran a Spiritualist circle, with his wife as 'an effective Planchette medium', at the Port Adelaide Institute in 1880-81.

In 1865 Green had married Ellen Elizabeth, daughter of Rev. Edward Bayfield; they had no children. He died of heart disease at Glenelg on 23 July 1904.

Select Bibliography

  • F. R. Meleng, Fifty Years of the Port Adelaide Institute (Adel, 1902)
  • Observer (Adelaide), 17 Apr, 29 May 1869, 13 Apr 1878, 20 Sept 1890, 30 July, 13 Aug 1904
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 16 Dec 1884, 13 Oct 1887, 25 July 1904
  • Review (Adelaide), 1890-94
  • Diocesan synod, Reports, 1864-1905 (Diocesan Registry, Adelaide).

Citation details

Janet Scarfe, 'Green, Samuel (1841–1904)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 20 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

Samuel Green (1841-1904), by P. Schourup

Samuel Green (1841-1904), by P. Schourup

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 7828

Life Summary [details]


2 February, 1841
Uppingham, Rutland, England


23 July, 1904 (aged 63)
Glenelg, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

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