SHORT, Augustus (1802-1883)


SHORT, Augustus (1802-1883)
first Anglican bishop of Adelaide
was born near Exeter, England, on 11 June 1802. His father, Charles Short, a London barrister, came of an old English county family. Short was educated at Westminster school and Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated with first-class honours in classics. He took orders in the Church of England as deacon in 1826 and priest in 1827 and in the same year accepted the curacy of Culham, near Abingdon. In 1829 he resigned to become a tutor and lecturer in his old college; one of his students was W. E. Gladstone. In March 1833 he was appointed public examiner in the classical schools, and in January 1834 was made junior censor. In June 1835 he was presented by the dean and chapter of Christ Church to the living of Ravensthorpe in Northamptonshire. The church and parsonage were both badly in need of repairs and restoration, the church was badly attended, and the education of the children neglected. Short by assiduous visiting and hard work succeeded in making considerable improvements in all these directions. He published in 1838, Sermons intended principally to illustrate the Remedial Character of the Christian Scheme, was appointed Bampton lecturer in April 1845, and preached the course at Oxford in 1846. The lectures were published in the same year under the title The Witness of the Spirit with our Spirit. In July 1847 (sic) the archbishop of Canterbury offered Short the choice of two newly established sees, Newcastle in New South Wales, and Adelaide. Short decided to accept Adelaide and on St Peter's Day, 1847, was consecrated at Westminster Abbey. He sailed for Adelaide on 1 September and arrived on 28 December 1847, the eleventh anniversary of the proclamation of the colony. There were then only five churches in the diocese, three at Adelaide, one at Blakeston and another at Gawler. Short travelled through the settled parts of South Australia, and before the end of 1848 went to Western Australia, then a part of his diocese. He returned to Adelaide early in 1849 and on 24 May 1849 laid the first stone of St Peter's College, founded in 1847 by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and William Allen (q.v.). He was the first president of its council of governors. In 1851 the withdrawal of state aid to religion compelled the Anglican Church in South Australia to devise a voluntary system of maintaining itself. Short, who had prepared a draft constitution for the diocese, visited England in 1853 and obtained counsels' opinion, which agreed that it was competent for a colonial diocese to organize itself without Imperial authority. The constitution was submitted in October 1855 to a diocesan assembly and was adopted. In 1856 the diocese of Perth was founded and Short was relieved of the oversight of the whole of Western Australia, a difficult task especially in view of the limited means of communication. The Adelaide diocese had been presented with some land in the city by W. Leigh, the income from which became very useful for general diocesan purposes, and by the liberality of William Allen the pastoral aid fund was instituted. Other funds for the endowment of the diocese and for providing retiring allowances for the clergy were also successfully initiated. The question of building a cathedral was long postponed. Soon after his acceptance of the see Short made inquiries about a site for it and was informed that the centre of Victoria Square had been allotted for this purpose. This was objected to by the city council and Short decided to have the question definitely settled and brought a friendly suit for this purpose. The decision was against him and eventually the present site was bought. Subscriptions were raised but the building was not begun until 1869. It was consecrated on 1 January 1878. In November 1881 Short became ill while preaching and under medical advice decided to retire. He left Adelaide for London in the beginning of January 1882. On 30 November he attended the consecration of G. W. Kennion (q.v.) as second bishop of Adelaide, and handed him the pastoral staff which had been presented to Short by the clergy and laity of Adelaide on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his consecration. He died at Eastbourne on 5 October 1883. He married in December 1835 Millicent Phillips who survived him with several daughters.
Short was a fine scholar and a thoughtful preacher, always endeavouring to convince by argument rather than by the use of rhetoric. He was interested in education and was elected vice-chancellor of Adelaide university when it was founded in 1874, and chancellor in 1876. Personally he was kind and modest, a good business man and an excellent administrator who could deal with church matters with firmness, wisdom and discretion. A good man and a good colonist, with a great capacity for work, he had all the qualities of a great pioneer bishop.
F. T. Whitington, Augustus Short, First Bishop of Adelaide; The Register and The Advertiser, Adelaide, 9 October 1883; British Museum Catalogue; J. W. Bull, Early Experiences of Life in South Australia, p. 262.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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