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Hussey Burgh Macartney (1799–1894)

by A. De Q. Robin

This article was published:

Hussey Burgh Macartney (1799-1894), by Henry Samuel Sadd, 1850s

Hussey Burgh Macartney (1799-1894), by Henry Samuel Sadd, 1850s

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an9653347

Hussey Burgh Macartney (1799-1894), Church of England clergyman, was born on 10 April 1799 in Dublin, the youngest son of Sir John Macartney, baronet, and his wife Catherine, second daughter of Walter Hussey Burgh, lord chief baron of the exchequer. After private schooling, Macartney in 1816 entered Trinity College, Dublin (B.A., 1821; M.A., B.D., and D.D., 1847). Made deacon on 21 September 1822 and ordained priest on 14 September 1823, he served in curacies at Banagher, Killoe and Killashee, and was presented to the living of Creagh, County Cork, in 1831 by the Marquess of Anglesea. On 7 March 1833 he married Jane, daughter of Edward Hardman and his wife Rebecca, née McLintock.

To better his health Macartney became rector of Kilcock, County Kildare, in 1843. His cousin, C. J. Griffith, suggested that he migrate to Port Phillip and when Bishop Perry appealed for clergy to serve in the new diocese of Melbourne in 1847, Macartney's offer was accepted. He sailed in the Stag with his family and the bishop's party and arrived in Melbourne on 24 January 1848. For ten months he was in charge of the Heidelberg parish, holding services in the Presbyterian Church there and occasionally at Whittlesea, Broadmeadows and the Lower Plenty. In November 1848 Macartney was appointed archdeacon of Geelong, where he supervised the opening of new schools, extended the ministrations of the Church to surrounding localities and divided the parish of Geelong. Friction arose with the Christ Church trustees when a new vicarage was built at Ashby and the erection of St Paul's was started instead of extending Christ Church, but in 1852 Macartney left Geelong to become dean of Melbourne and incumbent of St James's Cathedral Church.

St James's was extended, repaired and on 30 December 1853 was consecrated, schools and services were established from Flemington to Bulla and by 1859 a parochial association was actively distributing funds to such charities as the Orphanage and Benevolent Asylum as well as the Melbourne Hospital, which the dean had helped to inaugurate. In 1855-56 Macartney administered the diocese whilst Perry was in England and in 1857 became archdeacon of Melbourne with responsibility for supervising deacons and lay readers not under a clergyman and for supplying ministrations to areas without resident clergy. This post he held for thirty years until he could no longer travel in country districts. In 1860 he resigned from St James's to devote himself to the work of the archdeaconry and assisting Perry with the growing administration. He was vicar-general in 1863-64 and again in 1874-77. When Perry resigned in 1876 the dean refused nomination as bishop of Melbourne, but continued to administer the diocese until Bishop Moorhouse arrived in 1877. Still vigorous at 84, he resumed charge of St James's in 1883 and administered the diocese between the departure of Moorhouse and the arrival of Bishop Goe in 1887.

In 1864 Macartney had been given a purse of sovereigns before he visited Britain with his family, and at his golden wedding he was presented with over a thousand sovereigns. In 1885 his health began to fail but he represented the diocese at every General Synod until 1886 and was active in founding St Paul's Cathedral. He died at the deanery, East Melbourne, on 8 October 1894, and after a service at St Paul's Cathedral was buried in the family vault in Melbourne general cemetery. Predeceased by his wife in January 1885 and by two daughters, he was survived by three daughters and three sons, two of whom were pastoralists and the third, named after his father, was incumbent of St Mary's, Caulfield, for thirty years until he died in 1898.

With decided opinions, natural eloquence and broad sympathies, Macartney was a thorough Irish Protestant in full sympathy with the Orangemen of Ulster. His evangelical attachment to the literal interpretation of the articles and liturgy of the Church of England and his administrative ability made him an ideal assistant to Bishop Perry who once described him as 'a willing horse who sometimes needed the rein but never the spur'. On only one point did Macartney publicly differ from his bishop: in 1856 his pamphlet State Aid to Religion and Education argued that it was the duty of the state to support the church and of the church to accept such assistance. As chairman of the Central Board of Education for the Anglican Church he firmly supported denominational schools and opposed the National education system. In Ireland he had published many books and pamphlets and in Melbourne his printed works included a lecture on The Antichrist (1854), Education in Victoria for the future (1860), Marriage with a Deceased Wife's Sister (1872), Spiritism (1872) and Notes on the Book of Revelation (1894). Unable to appreciate advanced theological insights he did not always agree with Bishop Moorhouse, but his affection for Perry's successors and his loyalty to them was never in doubt, whilst his wide knowledge of the diocese made him an invaluable counsellor.

Select Bibliography

  • T. W. H. Leavitt (ed), Australian Representative Men, vol 1 (Melb, 1887)
  • G. Goodman, The Church in Victoria During the Episcopate of the Rt. Rev. Charles Perry (Melb, 1892)
  • E. C. Rickards, Bishop Moorhouse of Melbourne and Manchester (Lond, 1920)
  • A. de Q. Robin, Charles Perry, Bishop of Melbourne (Perth, 1967)
  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, Victoria), 1867 (1st S), 4 (27)
  • Victorian Churchman, 12, 26 Oct 1894
  • Examiner (Melbourne), 9 June, 6 Oct 1860
  • Australasian, 18 Apr 1891
  • Table Talk, 3 Apr 1890, 24 June 1892, 13 Oct 1894
  • Bishop's letter-books, 1850-94 (Diocesan Registry, Melbourne).

Citation details

A. De Q. Robin, 'Macartney, Hussey Burgh (1799–1894)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 20 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne University Press), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Hussey Burgh Macartney (1799-1894), by Henry Samuel Sadd, 1850s

Hussey Burgh Macartney (1799-1894), by Henry Samuel Sadd, 1850s

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an9653347

Life Summary [details]


10 April, 1799
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland


8 October, 1894 (aged 95)
East Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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