Henry Hutchinson Montgomery


Bishop Montgomery (AOT, PH30/1/624)

Henry Hutchinson Montgomery (18471932), fourth Anglican Bishop of Tasmania, was appointed in 1889. His family fell 'under the spell of the charm and simplicity of colonial life', and was 'ideally happy' in Tasmania. Montgomery's infectious enthusiasm and organisational skills resulted in unparalleled expansion of the church, but many inadequate clergy, apathetic laity and lack of money meant many of his initiatives failed. A 'bush bishop', he enjoyed tramping around the west coast, and personally conducted a 'Bush Sunday School' by correspondence. He paid particular attention to descendants of Tasmanian Aborigines living on Cape Barren Island, making ten visits as representative of both church and state, being more successful in meeting their material needs than their spiritual.

Deeply spiritual, Montgomery was interested in history, science and new theological ideas, opposing 'idolatry of the Bible'. Describing himself as 'an Evangelical High Churchman' who wished to prevent doctrinal arguments dividing the church, he was falsely accused by some Evangelicals of encouraging Papist ways. 'Dissent' was 'the enemy'. While upholding the established order and the Empire, he was cautiously liberal on social issues, supporting votes for women. A leading activist in the Australian church, his enthusiasm for missionary work resulted in his reluctant return to England in 1901 as secretary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. In 1881 he had married 16-year-old Maud Farrer. They had nine children, including Bernard Montgomery, the future victor of El Alamein, who recalled him as a henpecked saint.

Further reading: W Barrett, History of the Church of England in Tasmania, Hobart, 1942; P Hart, 'The Church of England in Tasmania under Bishop Montgomery, 18891901', MA thesis, UT, 1965; MM [Maud Montgomery], Bishop Montgomery, London, 1933.

Philip Hart