Bishop Augustus Short starts St Peter's College, St Peter's Cathedral and the theological college

First Anglican bishop of Adelaide Augustus Short (1847-81)

As a high churchman, the first Anglican bishop of Adelaide, Augustus Short  (1847-81), frequently clashed with his own predominantly evangelical flock and with the province's dissenters.

Short, educated at Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford, became interested in the high-Anglican Oxford movement. He was consecrated bishop in Westminster Abbey in 1847 after choosing to come to Adelaide.

In Adelaide, his diocese, which included Western Australia, had only eight clergy, four church buildings, one parsonage and one school but, helped by early state aid, he began to build. With help from the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge and pastoralist William Allen, he transformed the Trinity Church school in Adelaide into the Collegiate School of St Peter.

But Short’s Tractarian ritual and doctrine sparked protest from the Anglican South Australian Church Society and a vigilant committee petition to the archbishop of Canterbury about the Adelaide bishop’s interference.

In 1858, furore followed Short’s to allow the Congregationalist divine Thomas Binney to preach in an Anglican church. In 1872, Short surrendered his claim to precedence over all faiths as bishop of Adelaide. This claim had been regarded by many as repugnant to the founding principles of the colony.

Abolition of state aid to South Australian church in 1851 increased Short’s financial problems. He created diocesan self-government through a synod (1855) and an administration that enabled the church to become financially self supporting.

Despite the divisions he created, Short’s legacy put the Church of England on a firm base, including creating the influential St Peter’s College, starting the building of St Peter’s Cathedral (1869) and founding St Barnabas’ Theological College (1880).

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