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Henry Hutton Parry (1826–1893)

by Mark Haynes

This article was published:

Henry Hutton Parry (1826-1893), by unknown engraver

Henry Hutton Parry (1826-1893), by unknown engraver

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, A/S17/03/77/205

Henry Hutton Parry (1826-1893), Anglican bishop, was born on 18 December 1826 in Antigua, second son of Thomas Parry, archdeacon of Antigua and from 1843 bishop of Barbados, and his wife Louisa, née Hutton. Educated at Rugby, he entered Balliol College, Oxford, (B.A., 1851; M.A., 1859), and the University of Durham (D.D. by diploma, 1876). As a curate and deacon he returned to the West Indies, was ordained priest in 1852 and in 1855-60 was tutor at Codrington College. In 1861 his father appointed Henry archdeacon and when ill health forced him to return to England, Henry became vicar-general of the diocese. Episcopal work was performed by neighbouring bishops until Henry was appointed coadjutor bishop to his father and was consecrated in England on 15 November 1868. His father died on 16 March 1870 and Henry became administrator and married Elizabeth Mary Thomas (d. 11 November 1877). In 1874 he returned on account of her health, becoming locum tenens at St Neot's, Huntingdonshire. In 1876 he accepted the offer of the Perth see from A. C. Tait, Archbishop of Canterbury, who had chosen Parry despite the request of the Western Australian Church for a bishop with private means.

In his large and isolated diocese Parry's continuous problem was financial stability. At first the sources of income were the imperial grant, grants from such societies as S.P.C.K., S.P.G. and the Colonial and Continental Church Society and grants from the colonial government. None of these grants was permanent and in 1877 the imperial government warned that the colony would soon have to provide for itself. Throughout his episcopate Parry encouraged the development of three funds: the Sustentation Fund which was to maintain the ministrations of religion if colonial grants were withdrawn; the Diocesan Church Fund which was to provide ready money to meet emergencies; and the Building Fund which was to make loans without interest for new churches, schools and rectories. In appeals for money Parry always encouraged every member to make regular contributions, however small.

One of Parry's recurring difficulties was the provision of a worthy new cathedral. Public worship in Perth had been held since 1845 in St George's Church but it had become inadequate. Finance was the great problem but the Cathedral Fund was boosted in 1878 by a gift of £2000 from Sir Luke Leake whose widowed niece, Mary Suzanna, Parry married on 15 April 1879. Built of red brick and limestone, the cathedral was consecrated on 15 November 1888 by the primate, Bishop Barry. Its final cost was paid in 1891 when church land was sold for £5500.

In his annual reports to synod and in his preaching Parry stressed the need for personal discipleship and church attendance. He encouraged Sunday schools and such societies as communicants' guilds, the Purity Society and the Church of England Temperance Society. To stimulate help from the laity, he was prepared to license 'duly qualified' lay readers for areas without normal services. He also tried to recruit overseas clergy and find their stipends. He travelled widely throughout the diocese and in 1889 claimed that 'within a little over two years he had visited every parish in his diocese and confirmed 850 persons at different confirmations'. He was also concerned with events in the rest of the Church both in Australia and in England.

Parry had a lively interest in education but achieved little of permanent value in that field. Soon after his arrival he opened Bishop's Boys' College as a hostel under a resident clergyman so that religious education, then debarred from the high school, could be given out of school hours. He also hoped to train theological students as 'a first step towards a native Ministry for the Diocese'. Disturbed by the lack of religious training in government schools, he joined other ministers in September 1879 to have the Education Act amended to allow clergymen half an hour each week in these schools. In 1878 he announced to synod the establishment of a Girls' School and College including the names of a lady principal and a head teacher; they had twenty-six girls of whom six were boarders. By 1880 Bishop's College had fallen on hard times; the two theological students moved into Bishop's House and the buildings were rented to the Girls' College, which itself was closed in 1888 for lack of funds. In 1882 a commercial school had been established at Fremantle under the general management of the clergy of the parish and a committee. In 1885 Parry stressed the need for church primary schools in the colony's chief centres, for teacher training and for funds to aid religious instruction in government schools. In 1892 a Diocesan Board of Education was set up by Act of Synod.

Concerned about the Aboriginal population, Parry began early in 1878 to discuss the matter and by 1880 a committee was organized. In 1884 the governor reserved 150,000 acres (60,704 ha) in the Murchison and Gascoyne area, and Rev. John Gribble was invited to superintend the mission but within a year an acrimonious controversy was stirred up in the north and in Perth. Gribble left the diocese without leave and his clerical licence was revoked. The health of his successors forced them to withdraw and for want of funds the mission lapsed in January 1892.

The turning point of Parry's episcopate was in 1887. In 1885 he had been asked by synod to 'visit England and lay before the influential members of the Mother Church the needs of the colony'. On his return in 1887 he reported that his mission had failed financially, a disaster that compelled the Western Australian Church to depend upon itself. In 1888 a Diocesan Council replaced the Standing Committee for all the temporal affairs of the church. Synod also established 'The Diocesan Trustees', a corporation with perpetual succession and a common seal; all church lands were transferred to its care. A Diocesan Church Office was set up and in 1892 a secretary was appointed. For church extension a Diocesan Home Mission Society had been set up in 1890 with a central fund to provide for clergy and their maintenance in poor or newly-settled areas. The fund was to be maintained by a quarterly subscription of 1s. from each church member and an annual collection; an organizing chaplain was appointed in 1892.

After a short illness Parry died on 15 November 1893 on the silver jubilee of his consecration. He was survived by his second wife, by three of her children and by three from his first marriage.

Parry as bishop was described as saintly, scholarly and idealistic, traits which shaped his episcopate. From his arrival in the transition years that led to responsible government, the scope of his work was curtailed by primitive transport and stringent finance which were not ameliorated until the gold rush in the time of his successor. His main work was to strengthen church organization, but his primary interest was in the spiritual development of his people. Twenty more ecclesiastical buildings, increased local contributions, a team of clergy more than doubled, and the cathedral he built all stand as memorials of his work in Western Australia.

Select Bibliography

  • C. L. M. Hawtrey, The Availing Struggle (Perth, 1949)
  • F. Alexander (ed), Four Bishops and Their See (Perth, 1957)
  • West Australian Catholic Record, 1875-76, 1879-93
  • Quarterly Magazine (Diocese of Perth), 1889-93
  • L. W. Parry and M. L. R. Sanderson, ‘The story of the building of St George's Cathedral 1880-1888’, West Australian Church News, Dec 1930
  • Inquirer (Perth), 1875-76, 1879-93
  • West Australian, 1879-93
  • Daily News (Perth), 1882-93
  • Western Mail, 1885-93
  • Synod reports, 1877-93 (Perth Diocesan Registry)
  • M. L. R. Sanderson, Short Life of Henry Hutton Parry (held by author)
  • Papers re West Indies period (SPG Library, London)
  • H. H. Parry, diaries and letter-book, Diocese of Perth, 1877-86, 1888-93 (held by family), letters to dean of Perth 1886-87 (State Library of Western Australia), papers and memoirs (privately held).

Citation details

Mark Haynes, 'Parry, Henry Hutton (1826–1893)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 19 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

Henry Hutton Parry (1826-1893), by unknown engraver

Henry Hutton Parry (1826-1893), by unknown engraver

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, A/S17/03/77/205

Life Summary [details]


18 December, 1826
Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda


15 November, 1893 (aged 66)

Cause of Death


Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.