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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Stanton, George Henry (1835–1905)

by E. C. Rowland

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

George Henry Stanton (1835-1905), by unknown engraver, 1878

George Henry Stanton (1835-1905), by unknown engraver, 1878

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, A/S28/09/78/109

George Henry Stanton (1835-1905), Anglican bishop, was born at Stratford, Essex, England, on 3 September 1835, son of William Stanton, of the Inland Revenue Department, and his wife Charlotte, née Hopkins. Educated at the Merchant Taylors' School and Magdalen Hall, later Hertford College, Oxford (B.A., 1859; M.A., 1862; D.D., 1878), he was made deacon in 1858 and ordained next year by the bishop of Winchester; in 1858-62 he was assistant curate at Christ Church, Rotherhithe, in 1862-64 at All Saints', Maidstone, and in 1864-67 at St Saviour's, Fitzroy Square, London. In 1867 he became vicar of Holy Trinity Church, Lincoln's Inn Fields. He was chosen in January 1878 as the first bishop of North Queensland. Consecrated in St Paul's Cathedral, London, on 24 June, by the archbishop of Canterbury, he was enthroned in St James's Pro-cathedral, Townsville, on 21 May 1879.

By four years of perseverance and personal contacts, he largely overcame the shortage of clergy and funds, and within ten years erected ten new churches. A diocesan magazine, the Monthly Record, appeared in 1883 and next year Stanton summoned the first diocesan synod of clergy and lay representatives and in 1886 he set up a cathedral chapter. He travelled widely on horseback to get to know the conditions and needs of the outback and to encourage its clergy and people. He planned a permanent cathedral at Townsville and consulted Edmund Blacket about its design. He turned the first sod on the site on 27 June 1887, but the work lagged.

In 1890 Stanton accepted the vacant bishopric of Newcastle, New South Wales, and was enthroned in Christ Church Pro-cathedral on 12 May 1891. He consolidated the work of his predecessors and undertook the construction of a permanent cathedral; its foundations were already laid but it had been the subject of much disagreement between the architect, J. H. Hunt and Rev. A. E. Selwyn; the first section was dedicated on 2 November 1902. Stanton was a meticulous administrator and pastor; he chose good staff, and several later became bishops. A scholar, he read widely in science, theology and philosophy. He detested war and spoke his mind in jingoistic days.

His friendly disposition and sincerity won an immediate response, especially from his clergy. It was said of him that 'he was a simple and deeply spiritual soul, marked by utter humility and utter devotion of the whole life to the service of God and of man for God's sake'. Unmarried, he died of heart disease at Morpeth on 4 December 1905 and was buried in the Church of England cemetery. He left £2000 to the diocese to help theological students.

Select Bibliography

  • J. O. Feetham and W. V. Rymer, North Queensland Jubilee Book 1878-1928 (Townsville, 1929)
  • A. P. Elkin, The Diocese of Newcastle (Syd, 1955)
  • E. C. Rowland, The Tropics for Christ (Syd, 1960)
  • J. M. Freeland, Architect Extraordinary (Melb, 1970)
  • Town and Country Journal, 6 Dec 1905
  • Diocesan and cathedral records (Diocesan Registry, Townsville and Newcastle).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

E. C. Rowland, 'Stanton, George Henry (1835–1905)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 22 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

View the front pages for Volume 6

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