The clergy down under!

CCED users may well be interested in a new book just published by the Australian historian Michael Gladwin, who teaches at Charles Sturt university in Canberra. Entitled Anglican Clergy in Australia 1788-1850: Building a British World, and published by Boydell and Brewer as part of the prestigious Royal Historical Society Studies in History series, Gladwin’s book gives a fascinating account of the lives of the Anglican clergy in the early years of the settler colonies in the Australian continent. A lot of work has been published over recent years about missionaries in the British empire, but in comparison the lives and work of clergy serving the (ostensibly!) Christian communities of settlers and negotiating the challenge of working out the relations of the Church in a new political, social and geographical context has only recently begun to attract the serious attention it deserves (three other recent studies of importance in this respect have been Hilary Carey’s God’s Empire: Religion and Colonialism in the British World c.1801-1908 [Cambridge, 2011], G A Bremner’s Imperial Gothic:Religious Architecture and High Anglican Culture in the British Empire, 1840-1870 [Yale, 2013], and  Joe Hardwick’s An Anglican British world: the Church of England and the expansion of the settler empire, c. 1790-1860 [Manchester, 2014]).

Gladwin’s book focuses exclusively on Australia, and by doing so is able to offer a richly textured description of the lives of the Anglican clergy which will be of great help to anyone tracing the lives of the clerics involved in this very particular aspect of the growth of global Anglicanism. Michael made use of the CCEd in his work, which cast some light on the careers of the clerics before and in some cases after they went out to Australia, and it is particularly opportune that it should appear shortly after the traces of colonial careers to be found in the English archives began to go live on the Database website. We are delighted to see the database being used in such work. The team congratulate Dr Gladwin on his important volume  (I should declare an interest here, in that I served as Gladwin’s academic editor for the book, but I can honestly say that I have learned a very great deal from it, and that it was a fascinating and thought-provoking study).

Arthur Burns

This is how Gladwin himself summarizes the content of his book:

Anglican clergymen in Britain’s Australian colonies in their earliest years faced very particular challenges. Lacking relevant training, experience or pastoral theology, these pioneer religious professionals not only ministered to a convict population unique in the empire, but had also to engage with indigenous peoples and a free-settler population struggling with an often inhospitable environment. This was in the context of a settler empire that was being reshaped by mass migration, rapid expansion and a widespread decline in the political authority of religion and the confessional state, especially after the American Revolution.
Previous accounts have caricatured such clerics as lackeys of the imperial authorities: “moral policemen”, “flogging parsons”. Yet, while the clergy did make important contributions to colonial and imperial projects, this book offers a more wide-ranging picture. It reveals them at times vigorously asserting their independence in relation both to their religious duties and to humanitarian concern, and shows them playing an important part in the new colonies’ social and economic development, making a vital contribution to the emergence of civil society and intellectual and cultural institutions and traditions within Australia. It is only possible to understand the distinctive role that the clergy played in the light of their social origins, intellectual formation and professional networks in an expanding British World, a subject explored systematically here for the first time

Michael Gladwin, Anglican Clergy in Australia 1788-1850: Building a British World (Boydell and Brewer for the Royal Historical Society, 2015; 13 Digit ISBN: 9780861933280; £50.