WEBBER, William Thomas Thornhill (1837-1903)


WEBBER, William Thomas Thornhill (1837-1903)
third Anglican bishop of Brisbane
son of William Webber, a surgeon, was born at Grosvenor-square, London, on 30 January 1837. He was educated at Tonbridge school and afterwards at Norwich under Dr J. Woolley (q.v.). Going on to Pembroke College, Oxford, he graduated B.A. in 1859, M.A. in 1862, and was given the honorary degree of D.D. in 1885. Webber was ordained deacon in 1860, priest in 1861, and was curate of Chiswick 1860-4 and in charge of the church of St John the Evangelist, Red Lion-square, London, from 1864 to 1885. He was a most energetic and successful pastor in a crowded district, during his pastorate a new church, clergyhouse, and school were built, and besides looking after his parish, Webber was on a large number of committees of charitable and educational organizations. From 1882 to 1885 he was also a member of the London school board, and had become one of the best-known clergymen in London. He was appointed bishop of Brisbane in 1885, was consecrated at London on 11 June, and enthroned at Brisbane on 17 November.
Webber threw himself into his work with great energy, but found the huge diocese unwieldy. He visited England to attend the Pan-Anglican synod at Lambeth in 1888, and in 1892 the diocese of Rockhampton was established, which took over a large part of central Queensland. Webber worked hard for religious instruction in state schools, and two diocesan church schools were founded with some success, the high school for girls at Nundah, and St John's school, Brisbane. Much of his time was given to raising funds for a cathedral at Brisbane and before his death over £30,000 was in hand. The foundation-stone was laid in 1901 by the Duke of York, but the building was not begun until some five years later. The site chosen was a commanding one on the heights overlooking Petrie's Bight. Webber visited England again in 1901, and early in 1902 preached by command before King Edward VII at Sandringham. He fell ill during the year and on his return in May 1903 his condition was serious. He died at Brisbane on 3 August 1903.
Webber had a forceful personality and great powers of organization. He was a high churchman but held that both sections of his church could be equally devoted to it, and though a total abstainer he would not force his views on those who disagreed with him. It was held by some that he spent too much time in England and too little in overseeing his country parishes, but Queensland, when he came to it, was a young colony, and Webber felt he was doing a useful work by bringing the need of his diocese for men and money before the Church in England.
The Brisbane Courier, 4 August 1903; Crackford's Clerical Directory, 1903; The Church of England Messenger, Melbourne, August 1903; Jubilee History of Queensland, p. 132.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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  • William Thomas Thornhill Webber — (30 January 1837 – 3 August 1903) was third Anglican bishop of Brisbane.Webber was born in London, the son of a surgeon, William Webber. He was educated at Tonbridge School, Kent, at Norwich under Dr John Woolley and Pembroke College, Oxford… …   Wikipedia

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