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William George Hindley (1853–1936)

by A. De Q. Robin

This article was published:

William George Hindley (1853-1936), clergyman, was born on 16 March 1853 at East Retford, Nottinghamshire, England, son of John Hindley, shoemaker and later merchant, and his wife Catharine, née Hall. After a private-school education at Sheffield he began a commercial career, but in 1878 he responded to an appeal by Bishop Moorhouse for Englishmen to offer themselves for service in the Victorian bush. With his wife Sarah Jane, née Johnson, whom he had married at Sheffield on 30 March 1875, Hindley sailed for Melbourne in the Cuzco; the ship broke its shaft in the Great Australian Bight and only reached Portland with the aid of a rigged sail. After a week of elementary theology at Bishopscourt in Melbourne, Hindley went as a stipendiary lay reader to the remote mining town of Omeo in Gippsland. He held services in the Rechabite Hall, visited the gold-miners and prepared himself for ordination by further study. A year later his wife and two young children joined him.

In 1880 Hindley was made deacon by Moorhouse and sent to Milawa, where he substantially reduced the debt on the church. In 1882 he was ordained priest and appointed to the charge of St John's, Bairnsdale. During his four years there a new church was built and Hindley ministered to a parish extending over 10,000 sq. miles (25,900 km²) of eastern Victoria with the aid of three lay readers.

Hindley was appointed vicar of St Michael's, North Carlton, in 1886 but resigned two years later to become organizing secretary of the Bishop of Melbourne's Fund at the request of Bishop Goe. He assisted at Holy Trinity, East Melbourne, taking charge of the parish in 1892. Hindley was already demonstrating a capacity for financial management, but the coincidence of his work as secretary of the fund with the building boom in Melbourne gave him a solid, cautious approach to church finances in later years.

In 1895 he succeeded G. O. Vance as vicar of Holy Trinity, Kew; five years later he was appointed a canon of St Paul's Cathedral and in 1902 became archdeacon of Melbourne. He resigned the charge of Kew in 1904 in order to devote his time more fully to the archdeacon's duties, but in 1910 he became incumbent of St James Old Cathedral. Archbishop Lowther Clarke had appointed him vicar-general and chaplain to the archbishop of Melbourne in 1908. He administered the diocese from the resignation of Lowther Clarke in 1920 to the enthronement of Harrington Clare Lees as archbishop in 1921.

One of the most influential figures in the history of the diocese, Hindley was chiefly responsible for the legislation which subdivided the Melbourne diocese in 1903 and created the dioceses of Bendigo, Gippsland and Wangaratta, and for the establishment of the Clergy Provident Fund in 1917. He was also a guiding hand in founding a number of Church of England schools. He was co-editor and later chief-of-staff of the Church of England Messenger from 1899 to 1918. Affable in manner, he had a quiet sense of humour, and his epigrammatic sayings punctuated his speeches and sermons. His chief ability lay in his capacity to sum up men and policies accurately and he had the acumen to put policies into practice. In 1927 he resigned to live at Mount Eliza. His wife died in 1932. Hindley died on 18 May 1936 and was buried in Boroondara cemetery, Kew. Of their ten children, five daughters and a son survived him. A portrait by W. B. McInnes is in the chapter house of St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne.

Select Bibliography

  • A. E. Clark, The Church of our Fathers (Melb, 1947)
  • Church of England Messenger (Victoria), 22 May 1936
  • Weekly Times (Melbourne), 13 Oct 1900, 1 Dec 1906
  • Table Talk (Melbourne), 4 Oct 1895, 19 Apr 1928
  • Argus (Melbourne), 19 May 1936.

Citation details

A. De Q. Robin, 'Hindley, William George (1853–1936)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 24 June 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

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

William Hindley, n.d.

William Hindley, n.d.

State Library of Victoria, H91.223/2

Life Summary [details]


16 March, 1853
East Retford, Nottinghamshire, England


18 May, 1936 (aged 83)
Victoria, Australia

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