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Thomas Chatterton Hammond (1877–1961)

by K. J. Cable

This article was published:

Thomas Chatterton Hammond (1877-1961), Anglican clergyman and college principal, was born on 20 February 1877 at Cork, County Cork, Ireland, youngest son of Colman Mark Hammond (d.1883), farmer, and his second wife Elizabeth, née Sergeant. Educated at Cork Model School, at the age of 13 Thomas became a railway clerk. His involvement with the Young Men's Christian Association, and a religious conversion, led him to full-time work as a street and mission preacher. Admitted in 1896 to train in Dublin with the Society for Irish Church Missions to the Roman Catholics, three years later Hammond enrolled at Trinity College, Dublin (B.A., 1903). His chief interest, apart from a conservative approach to scriptural studies, was in idealist philosophy. He was made deacon on 20 December 1903 and priested in the Church of Ireland by the archbishop of Dublin on 26 March 1905.

At St Anne's parish church, Cork, on 23 January 1906 Hammond married Margaret McNay, whose family had been closer to him than his own. As curate and, from 1910, rector of St Kevin's, an inner-suburban Dublin parish, he was an effective pastor, but his energies were directed to the wider field of evangelism and to the defence of the Irish Protestant position. He became a prolific pamphleteer, writing with learning and sardonicism. In the art of public speaking he had few equals for pungent and well-ordered eloquence. Hammond was appointed (1919) clerical superintendent of the Irish Church Missions and controlled a large staff engaged in educational, welfare and evangelistic work. He wrote Authority in the Church (1921), a study of Anglican episcopacy. In 1926 he toured Canada and Australia, defending the Book of Common Prayer which was then being threatened with revision.

As a result of his growing reputation, Hammond was appointed principal of Moore Theological College, Sydney. While Archbishop Howard Mowll thought the appointment provocative, he looked on him as a key figure in strengthening the diocese. Hammond arrived in April 1936 to find the college understaffed, poorly funded and lacking a distinctive direction. He began a vigorous campaign to improve it. His own teaching, though sometimes mechanical from overwork, was rigorous and systematic. With more staff and buildings (including a new chapel in 1950), he made the college a centre of evangelical Anglican teaching. His In Understanding Be Men (1936, sixth edition 1968) soon became a standard text and was popular with the laity. Hammond found it disappointing that his mature works—Perfect Freedom (London, 1938), a study in Christian ethics, Reasoning Faith (London, 1943), on Christian apologetics, and The New Creation (London, 1953), on the theology of regeneration—did not command similar support. Many, however, heard his fortnightly broadcasts, 'The Case for Protestantism'.

Hammond easily assumed the role of critic of Roman Catholicism; to so old a campaigner, the local scene seemed rather tame. In a short time he was a well-known public figure, feared and admired for his trenchant wit, his logic and his learning. Professor John Anderson and he readily engaged in controversy. Hammond was grand chaplain (1943-47, 1950-61) and grand master (1961) of the Loyal Orange Institution of New South Wales, and grand chaplain (1954-61) of the Federated Loyal Orange Grand Council of Australasia. Rector (1936-61) of St Philip's, he was a canon (from 1939) of St Andrew's Cathedral and an archdeacon without territorial jurisdiction (from 1949).

Administration was not his forte. Advice and advocacy were. He had helped Mowll to deal with the complaints of the liberal Sydney clergy, the 'Memorialists' (1938). A decisive opponent of Anglo-Catholicism, Hammond was a prime mover against Bishop Arnold Wylde (for using part of the Roman Catholic order of service) in the 'Red Book' case (1943-48) which sought, with some success, to place legal restraints on 'ritualist' worship, and he initiated a restrictive ordinance in the Sydney synod in 1949. Hammond championed what he believed to be the Protestant integrity of his Church. It was because he came to think that English canon and case law could no longer guarantee this position in Australia that, in 1955 and afterwards, he supported a constitution for an autonomous Church.

'T.C.' (as he was generally called) was not just an elderly Irishman spending his last years in a new land. He made a solid impact on Sydney Anglicanism. He was loved and feared, revered and reviled—which is what he wanted to be. He brought well-based scholarship to his new post and produced a large number of well-prepared ordinands. His fervour and invective were as effective as his personal kindliness and humour. Hammond retired from Moore College in 1953, but remained at St Philip's. Survived by his wife, three sons and only daughter, he died on 16 November 1961 in Sydney Hospital and was buried in Northern Suburbs cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • M. L. Loane, Centenary History of Moore Theological College (Syd, 1955)
  • M. L. Loane, Mark These Men (Canb, 1985)
  • S. Judd and K. Cable, Sydney Anglicans (Syd, 1987)
  • W. Nelson, T. C. Hammond (Edinburgh, 1994) and for publications
  • Church of England (Sydney), Sydney Diocesan Synod Reports, 1936-61
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 8 Apr 1926, 26, 27 June 1947, 17 Nov 1961, 1 Nov 1978
  • Australian Church Record, 23 Nov 1961
  • Anglican, 24 Nov 1961.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

K. J. Cable, 'Hammond, Thomas Chatterton (1877–1961)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 20 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (Melbourne University Press), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


20 February, 1877
Cork, Cork, Ireland


16 November, 1961 (aged 84)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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