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Archbishop Charles Riley, Theological Education and the Foundation of the University of Western Australia, 1903–c.1929


This paper critically examines the role of Charles Riley, Bishop of Perth, in the foundation of the University of Western Australia in 1913. Riley advocated a modern university devoted to applied science, which would also include a humanities/arts component that would be able to deliver a liberal education. It goes on to explore what a ‘liberal education’ meant to Riley in connection with a theological education for clergy. It argues that Riley, and his successor Archbishop Le Fanu, desired a theological education for clergy connected with the university as productive of such a liberal education. Such an education would enable clergy to be leaders in society, capable of understanding modern issues in the context of faith, and able, by virtue of their education, to engage sympathetically with people of diverse backgrounds and views.

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Rowan Strong is Professor of Church History at Murdoch University, Perth, Australia.

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2. Alexander Fred, Campus at Crawley: A Narrative and Critical Appreciation of the First Fifty Years of the University of Western Australia (Melbourne: The University of Western Australia Press, 1963), pp. 1112.

3. Alexander, Campus at Crawley, p. 24 n. 97, pp. 36–37.

4. Alexander, Campus at Crawley, pp. 12–13, p. 24.

5. Charles Riley, Charge to Synod (1909), p. 26, Diocese of Perth Archives.

6. Report of the Royal Commission on the Establishment of a University (8 September 1910) Western Australia. Minutes and Votes and Proceedings of the Parliament, 1910–1911, Vol. II (Perth, 1911), pp. 42–44.

7. Alexander, Campus at Crawley, pp. 28–29, p. 40.

8. Alexander, Campus at Crawley, pp. 48–49.

9. Gregory Jenny, Seeking Wisdom: A Centenary History of the University of Western Australia (Crawley, WA: UWA Publishing, 2013), p. 8.

10. Alexander, Campus at Crawley, pp. 48–49, p. 488.

11. The West Australian, 5 March 1913, p. 4.

12. The West Australian, 6 December 1913, p. 4.

13. Snape Michael, The Royal Army Chaplains’ Department: Clergy under Fire (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2008), pp. 103111; Hugh MacLeod, Religion and Society in England 1850–1915 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996), pp. 151–56.

14. Boyce P.J., ‘The First Archbishop: Charles Owen Leaver Riley’, in Fred Alexander (ed.), Four Bishops and their See: Perth, Western Australia 1857–1957 (Nedlands, WA: University of Western Australia Press, 1957), pp. 4852.

15. Boyce, ‘First Archbishop’, pp. 52–57.

16. Breward Ian, A History of the Churches in Australasia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 16.

17. Breward, Churches in Australasia, pp. 138–39; Dickey Brian, ‘Secular Advance and Diocesan Response 1861–1900’, in Bruce Kaye et al. (eds.), Anglicanism in Australia: A History (Carlton, Vic: Melbourne University Press, 2002), p. 59.

18. Dickey, ‘Secular Advance and Diocesan Response’, p. 60.

19. Judd Stephen and Cable Kenneth, Sydney Anglicans (Sydney: Anglican Information Office, 1987), pp. 5761, 132–35.

20. Boyce, ‘First Archbishop’, p. 65.

21. Boyce, ‘First Archbishop’, p. 74.

22. Hawtrey C.L.M., The Availing Struggle: A Record of the Planting and Development of the Church of England in Western Australia 1829–1947 (Perth, 1949), chs. 12, 13.

23. Riley, Charge to Synod (1912), p. 18, Diocese of Perth Archives.

24. Riley, Charge to Synod (1909), p. 26, Diocese of Perth Archives.

25. Alexander, Campus at Crawley, pp. 29–30.

26. Riley, Charge to Synod (1909), p. 26.

27. Newsome David, The Victorian World Picture: Perceptions and Introspections in an Age of Change (London: John Murray, 1997), pp. 157158.

28. Riley, Charge to Synod (1910), p. 20, Diocese of Perth Archives.

29. Riley, Charge to Synod (1911), pp. 5–16, Diocese of Perth Archives.

30. Boyce, ‘First Archbishop’, p. 102.

31. Boyce, ‘First Archbishop’, p. 48, p. 97.

32. Boyce, ‘First Archbishop’, p. 49.

33. Peter Boyce, ‘Riley, Charles Owen Leaver (1854–1929)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 12 September 2013.

34. Mott John R., The Future Leadership of the Church (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1909), p. 75.

35. Howard Hopkins C., John R. Mott 1865–1955: A Biography (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1979), pp. 325326.

36. Mott, Future Leadership, p. 65.

37. Mott, Future Leadership, p. 38, p. 112.

38. Patrick Graham A., The Miners’ Bishop: Brooke Foss Westcott (Peterborough: Epworth Press, 2nd edn, 2004), p. 75.

39. Quoted in Patrick, The Miners’ Bishop, p. 205.

40. Boyce, ‘First Archbishop’, pp. 96–97; Alexander, Campus at Crawley, p. 512.

41. Alexander, Campus at Crawley, pp. 506–507.

42. Alexander, Campus at Crawley, pp. 513–15.

43. Boyce, ‘First Archbishop’, p. 104, pp. 184–85.

44. Alexander, Campus at Crawley, p. 520.

45. See the following email to me from the editor of the history of St George's: ‘Riley and Le Fanu did not intend that St George's would become a theological college, taking up where St John's had left off many years before. They would have been well aware of the requirement in the University Colleges Act 1926 that the College had to provide for University students only (though there was always a possibility of approaching the Senate for approval for “other classes of students” … Warden Law states clearly [in the 1932 college magazine]: “It is not a theological college, though we have, and it is to be hoped often will have, ordinands among our members, nor is there any special theological instruction given.” The reasons for not offering theological instruction remain a puzzle. Storrs, by this time installed as Sub-Warden, had been hand-picked by Le Fanu as “a priest qualified to teach the first year of theology.” It would seem Le Fanu had intended, in 1930, for this to happen at St George's, but if it were a full-time course it could well have been abandoned as contrary to the University Colleges Act’ (quoted with sender's permission; Brian Wills-Johnson to Rowan Strong, email of 25 September 2103, in author's possession).

46. Hedges Paul M., ‘Architecture, Inculturation and Christian Mission: The Buildings of the Cambridge Mission to Delhi and their Meaning for the Church Today’, International Review of Missions, 89 (2000), pp. 180181.

1. Rowan Strong is Professor of Church History at Murdoch University, Perth, Australia.

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