Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Patrick Maurice Haydon (1890–1949)

by Brian Maher

This article was published:

Patrick Maurice Haydon (1890-1949), by Tesla Studios, 1920s

Patrick Maurice Haydon (1890-1949), by Tesla Studios, 1920s

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an23763004

Patrick Maurice Haydon (1890-1949), Catholic priest, was born on 19 March 1890 at Hornsby, Sydney, youngest of nine children of Irish-born parents Martin Haydon, hotelkeeper, and his wife Bridget, née Purcell. Patrick was educated at St Joseph's Convent School, Granville, St Mary's Cathedral School, Sydney, and St Joseph's College, Hunters Hill. Despite excellent academic prospects, he chose to study for the priesthood at St Patrick's College, Manly, and required dispensation from the canonical age of 24 in order to be ordained on 30 November 1912 at St Mary's Cathedral. In December he was appointed to Queanbeyan in the rural deanery as assistant to Fr Matthew Hogan.

His arrival coincided with the development of the Federal Capital Territory, marked by the official naming of Canberra on 12 March 1913. Haydon acquired a motorbike, visited work depots, and celebrated Mass under canvas at the Cotter River and in temporary huts at Westridge (Yarralumla) and Molonglo (Fyshwick). He later assembled congregations at Acton Hall, the Royal Military College, Duntroon, and Ainslie School. Weekly Sunday Masses began at Acton Hall in January 1925. The traditional 'station' Masses continued for some years at Springbank, home to the Sullivan and Bates families.

When a reorganization in 1917 transferred Queanbeyan to the Goulburn diocese, Hogan returned to Sydney. Only 27 years old and exulting in the title of 'bush priest', on 26 January 1918 Haydon was confirmed as pastor of Queanbeyan. His Catholic pilgrimages to Canberra in 1927, 1928 and 1930 were attended by bishops and other dignitaries. On 30 January 1927 some five thousand people came to the site (at Parkes) which he had negotiated for a national cathedral and episcopal residence. At the gathering on 27 February 1928 he was appointed first pastor of St Christopher's parish, Canberra; he chose this patronal title with regard to the countless visitors he foresaw would travel to Canberra.

Co-operating with other churchmen, Haydon cared for workers and their families during the Depression. His strong leadership promoted social work and fund-raising efforts in the parish, and created deep bonds of loyalty to him. He initiated eight building projects in Queanbeyan and Canberra; St Christopher's Church, Manuka, was opened in 1939. From 1923 he had edited a monthly newsletter, the Angelus, in which he revealed his polished style of prose and his extensive scholarship, and he contributed poems and articles to Church publications. Haydon became a confidant to four prime ministers—James Scullin, Joe Lyons, Frank Forde and Ben Chifley—who were members of his congregation while in the capital. He was appointed vicar-general of the diocese in 1940 and prothonotary apostolic (monsignor) in 1941.

Dame Enid Lyons described Haydon as 'six feet four inches [193 cm] tall and proportionately broad, and every inch pure Australian'. Because of a serious stammer, he kept his sermons short, but his speech impediment was largely 'overcome by the swift beauty of his thought' and his 'natural eloquence'. He died of haematemesis on 19 April 1949 in Canberra Community Hospital and was buried in Canberra cemetery. The Haydon Catholic Centre, Manuka, commemorates him.

Select Bibliography

  • W. W. Farmer, Monsignor P. M. Haydon (Syd, 1952)
  • E. Lyons, So We Take Comfort (Lond, 1965)
  • Canberra Times, 20, 21 Apr 1949
  • Archives of (Catholic) Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn (Archbishop's House, Canberra).

Citation details

Brian Maher, 'Haydon, Patrick Maurice (1890–1949)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 25 May 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

Patrick Maurice Haydon (1890-1949), by Tesla Studios, 1920s

Patrick Maurice Haydon (1890-1949), by Tesla Studios, 1920s

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an23763004

Life Summary [details]


19 March, 1890
Hornsby, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


19 April, 1949 (aged 59)
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

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