Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Murphy, Francis (1795-1858)

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MURPHY, FRANCIS (1795–1858), first Roman catholic bishop of Adelaide, was born at Navan, county Meath, on 20 May 1795, and received his preparatory education in the diocesan seminary of his native town. In twentieth year he entered St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, and in 1826 was ordained a priest by Dr. Daniel Murray, archbishop of Dublin. After serving as missioner at Bradford in Yorkshire for three years, he in 1829 took charge of St. Anne's, Toxteth Park, Liverpool. In 1838 he went out to New South Wales with Dr. Ullathorne (afterwards bishop of Birmingham), and on the latter's recall to England in the same year succeeded him as vicar general of Australia. On 8 Sept. 1844 he was consecrated in St. Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, bishop of the newly established suffragan see of Adelaide, being the first bishop consecrated in Australia. His diocese at this period contained only fifteen hundred Roman catholics, and he came to it with only 150l. which had been subscribed in Sydney. He held service in a store in Pirie Street, Adelaide, until his sole assistant, Michael Ryan, obtained a site and erected a church in West Terrace. The discovery of gold in 1851 caused the dispersion of a large portion of his congregations, and his churches were only kept open by Mr. Ryan visiting the gold fields, and there collecting money from the Adelaide diggers. When the excitement had somewhat subsided, he commenced erecting a cathedral in Victoria Street, but did not live to see it finished. He, however, succeeded in establishing twenty-one churches, served by thirteen priests, and in the management of his diocese won general esteem. He died of consumption at West Terrace, Adelaide, on 26 April 1858, and was buried within the precincts of his cathedral.

[South Australian Register, 27 April 1858 ; Tablet, 24 July 1858, p. 467; Beaton's Australian Dict. of Dates, 1879, p. 149.]

G. C. B.