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Alberto Dias Soares (1830–1909)

by Ian Matheson

This article was published:

Alberto Dias Soares (1830-1909), Church of England clergyman, was born on 26 November 1830 at Highbury, London, son of Manoel Joachim Soares, a Portuguese merchant resident in England, and his wife Camilla, daughter of Judge Ledington. Educated at Stoke Newington mercantile school and University College School, London, he worked in his father's office, spent two years in Oporto and a year each in Paris and at the Putney College for Civil Engineering. In 1852 with his brother Gualter he sailed for New South Wales in the Formosa to report on the feasibility of a scheme to connect Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide with a central railway junction on the Murray River, to be named Alberto Town; it proved to be premature.

When Soares failed to find an engineering position he studied theology and supported himself as a merchant. In 1855 he became lay assistant to Rev. Robert Cartwright, whom he succeeded the next year as deacon in charge at Collector in southern New South Wales. He was ordained priest by Bishop Barker in 1857 and was incumbent of Christ Church, Queanbeyan, until 1877. He was a trustee of the Queanbeyan Penny Bank and active in founding the School of Arts. Renowned as an architect, he drew up plans for churches, parsonages, schoolhouses and halls. He designed a new stone church for Queanbeyan which was built in 1859-60, redesigned and enlarged the rectory and planned a Gothic stone church for St Philip's, Bungendore, which was opened in 1865. His other designs included Christ Church, Cooma, the Anglican churches at West Goulburn and Wentworth and the Presbyterian church in Queanbeyan. In recognition of his work Bishop Thomas appointed him an honorary canon of St Saviour's Cathedral, Goulburn, in 1876; he was also honorary diocesan architect. A talented water-colour artist and engraver, Soares was an enthusiastic and pugnacious Latin. As a trustee of Christ Church school, he had violent rows with its teacher, George Lane. Despite Lane's removal the school lost its certificate from the Council of Education and its reputation, which it never recovered; it was closed in 1870.

In 1877 Soares was appointed to West Goulburn and in 1877-81 was first organizing secretary of the Church Society of the diocese; he resigned in 1881 to concentrate on his parish work. While at West Goulburn he was diocesan registrar in 1884-93. Soares's most valuable work was as secretary of the Church Society in 1887-93, which enjoyed its most fruitful years under his guidance; his efforts to gain support for it took him on long and arduous journeys throughout the extensive diocese.

On his retirement in 1897 Soares settled in Sydney. In 1857 at Campbelltown he had married Catherine Tom Lane, of Orton Park, Bathurst. He died at Double Bay on 27 April 1909 and was buried in Waverley cemetery. Predeceased by two sons and a daughter, he was survived by two daughters.

Select Bibliography

  • W. F. Morrison, The Aldine Centennial History of New South Wales, vol 2 (Syd, 1888)
  • R. T. Wyatt, The History of the Diocese of Goulburn (Syd, 1937)
  • E. J. Lea-Scarlett, Queanbeyan: District and People (Queanbeyan, 1968)
  • private information.

Citation details

Ian Matheson, 'Soares, Alberto Dias (1830–1909)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 26 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (Melbourne University Press), 1976

View the front pages for Volume 6

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


26 November, 1830
London, Middlesex, England


27 April, 1909 (aged 78)
Double Bay, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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