Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Philip Arthur Micklem (1876–1965)

by K. J. Cable

This article was published:

Philip Arthur Micklem (1876-1965), clergyman, was born on 5 April 1876 at Waltham St Lawrence, Berkshire, England, son of Leonard Micklem, company secretary, and his wife Dora Emily, née Weguelim. He was educated at Harrow School, Hertford College, Oxford (B.A., with first-class honours in litterae humaniores, 1899; M.A. 1902; D.D. 1924), and Cuddesdon College. While assistant master at Harrow, Micklem was made deacon on 5 October 1902 and priested by the bishop of London on 4 October 1903. By this time, he had entered the parish ministry as curate of Shene, Surrey.

Micklem was first and foremost a scholar. His six years at Shene were given over to biblical studies. In 1909 he became a lecturer at St Augustine's College, Canterbury. A year later, responding to a call from Archbishop St Clair Donaldson, he migrated to Brisbane to become principal of the local theological college of St Francis. Here he proved an effective teacher and administrator, while completing his commentary on St Matthew's Gospel. As residentiary canon of the cathedral and incumbent of a small parish, Micklem participated in diocesan affairs, but his austere, fastidious temperament and his reserved manner made it difficult for him to be a part of Queensland life. The bitterness of the conscription issue deeply offended his strong Imperialism. In 1917 Micklem was glad to remove to the Church of St James, Sydney.

A city church with a widespread congregation, St James' had developed an 'advanced' ritual out of its Tractarian tradition. Under Micklem's direction, it became an Anglo-Catholic parish, with elaborate choral services. Such a stance separated him from the predominantly Evangelical diocese and gave him little opportunity to occupy important diocesan positions. In specialist areas, such as publicizing spiritual healing and advocating social services, Micklem was allowed some scope. Elsewhere his Incarnational theology—expressed in his 1931 published Moorhouse lectures, Values of the Incarnation—cut him off from the mainstream of Sydney Anglicanism.

Interested in the debates about constitutional autonomy for the Church in Australia, Micklem published his Moorhouse lectures for 1920 as Principles of Church Organization. While they failed to persuade his Sydney colleagues, his studies turned him into an historian of Australian religion; in 1936 he completed Frederick Whitington's biography of Bishop William Grant Broughton and helped to arrange the Broughton centenary celebrations. As rector of a church built by Francis Greenway, he was a pioneer advocate of the preservation of early colonial architecture and strenuously opposed the removal of St Andrew's Cathedral to the Hyde Park Barracks site.

On 29 March 1932 Micklem married a 25-year-old teacher, Evelyn Muriel Auriac. No longer was the bachelor rector wedded to his parish. With the election of Archbishop Howard Mowll in 1933 and the triumph of the conservative Evangelical party in the diocesan councils, Micklem realized that his ministry would become less creative. In 1937 he resigned and returned to England. Soon after his arrival he became provost of Derby cathedral, where he officiated for ten years. Wartime difficulties hampered his work but the influence of Archbishop William Temple aroused a new interest in the problems of post-war industrial society which he expressed, in a generalized historical context, in his Bampton lectures for 1946, The Secular and the Sacred (1948). In a series of pamphlets for the Industrial Christian Fellowship, he attempted to give practical application to his ideas. The septuagenarian classical scholar, with his remote, even icy, manner, was at the same time a compassionate and constructive social thinker.

In 1947 Micklem retired to Staplecross, Sussex. Survived by his wife, he died at Hastings on 5 December 1965. His ashes were placed in Derby cathedral and a memorial tablet was erected in St James' Church, Sydney.

Select Bibliography

  • K. J. Cable, St James' Church, Sydney (Syd, 1982)
  • Brisbane Church Chronicle, 1 Feb 1966
  • Anglican, 16 Dec 1965.

Citation details

K. J. Cable, 'Micklem, Philip Arthur (1876–1965)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 16 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (Melbourne University Press), 1986

View the front pages for Volume 10

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


5 April, 1876
Waltham St Lawrence, Berkshire, England


5 December, 1965 (aged 89)
Hastings, East Sussex, England

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