TYRRELL, William (1807-1879)


TYRRELL, William (1807-1879)
first Anglican bishop of Newcastle
the youngest of 10 children of Timothy Tyrrell, Remembrancer of the City of London, was born on 31 January 1807. He was educated at the Charterhouse as a day boy, and St John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1831 as fourth senior optime. He had intended studying law, but about the time of his father's death in 1832 he decided to enter the Church, and was ordained deacon in September 1832 and priest a year later. He was curate at Aylestone, near Leicester for about six years, was for a few months at Burnham, near Maidenhead, and in 1839 became rector of Beaulieu in Hampshire. In 1847 he was offered and accepted the position of bishop of the newly-created see of Newcastle, New South Wales. He sailed on 18 September 1847 with two clergymen, seven candidates for ordination, a schoolmaster and schoolmistress, his housekeeper, gardener and groom, with the wife and children of his gardener, 20 in all, and arrived at Sydney on 16 January 1848.
The new diocese covered an area of more than 125,000 square miles and there were only 14 clergymen. Tyrrell rode over much of it, working unceasingly, yet carefully reserving time every day for study and private devotions. He had no training college for his clergy and spent much time advising and helping the less experienced. In 1858 steps were taken to subdivide the diocese by forming the new diocese of Brisbane, and by September of that year he had arranged for the provision of £5000 as its endowment fund. Eight years later there was another subdivision when the see of Grafton and Armidale was formed. It was suggested that Tyrrell should go to England to assist in the selection of the first bishop, but he felt that it was his duty to stay in his diocese. With advancing years he was feeling the strain of his work, and was much exercised about the future of the diocese, the provision of stipends for the clergy, their training and superannuation, and the religious instruction of the young. When he made his will, leaving everything to the diocese, he hoped there would be a large endowment for it. He had an attack of paralysis in August 1877, and died, after an operation, on 24 March 1879. He was unmarried.
Tyrrell lived for his Church and his diocese. Naturally somewhat shy and retiring, he gave the impression of being reserved or even unsympathetic. But that was not so, as he had a full appreciation of the difficulties of his clergy, and was always glad to help them with kindly advice. Fifty-five churches were built during his episcopate, and he personally contributed to the cost of every one of them. He was fond of poetry and admired greatly Wordsworth and Shakespeare, but spent so little on himself that he even denied himself books. For many years Tyrrell worked hard and eventually successfully for the establishment of diocesan and provincial synods in Australia. He did not meddle in public matters, because all his energies were required for his work. He was a man of strong will, somewhat conservative, yet prepared to face and meet all changes. When the act was passed prohibiting future grants for ministers of religion, Tyrrell at once began devising measures to provide for future stipends. The consideration of matters of this kind led to his scheme for an endowment for the diocese. He had some private means, and his wants were so few that no doubt he was able to put aside a large proportion of his stipend. The various Australian books of reference all state that he left a very large sum to the diocese, some saying that it was £250,000 and others £500,000. Neither amount was correct, his will was sworn at under £41,200. When Tyrrell came to Australia he brought with him about £20,000 as an endowment fund for the diocese. This was invested on mortgage on country lands and the mortgagor having got into difficulties, additional diocesan funds amounting to about £12,000 were lent. Tyrrell used money of his own to purchase the mortgagor's interest in the properties, and under his will Tyrrell's interest in these and other properties was left to the diocese. The income from these properties was used for various diocesan purposes.
R. G Boodle, The Life and Labours of the Right Rev. William Tyrrell, D.D.; The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 and 26 March 1879; Year Books of the Diocese of Newcastle and Reports of the Synods, 1877-1943; information from the Registrar of the Diocese of Newcastle.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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