Polding, John Bede (DNB00)

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POLDING, JOHN BEDE (1794–1877), first Roman catholic archbishop of Sydney, was born in Liverpool on 18 Nov. 1794. Left an orphan early, he was adopted by his relative, Dr. Brewer, president of the English Benedictines. He was sent at eleven years old to be educated at Acton Burnell, the headquarters of the Benedictines. On 16 July 1810 he joined the Benedictine order, became a priest in March 1819, and was at once appointed tutor at St. Gregory's College, Downside, in Ireland. Many of his pupils were distinguished in later life. In his devotion to the work Polding declined the see of Madras in 1833.

On the decision to erect the vicariate-apostolic of Australia into a bishopric, Polding was selected for the office, and consecrated bishop of Hiero-Cæsarea on 29 June 1834. In September 1835 he arrived in Sydney and devoted himself to the organisation of the new diocese. In 1841 he revisited England, and thence went to Rome, where he was employed on a special mission to Malta, made a count of the holy Roman empire, and a bishop-assistant to the papal throne. He was appointed archbishop of Sydney on 10 April 1842.

Polding's return as an archbishop roused a storm among members of the church of England in Australia, but his calm and cconiliatory demeanour gradually disarmed opposition.

In 1846–8, in 1854–6, and again in 1865–1866, Polding visited Europe to further the interests of his see and bring out new helpers. He was constantly traversing the remotest parts of his diocese, which included Tasmania, and won the admiration and devotion of clergy and laity. In 1871 he left for Europe to attend the œcumenical council, but his health broke down at Aden, and he returned to Sydney. He died on 16 March 1877 at the Sacred Heart Presbytery, Darlinghurst, Sydney.

[Melbourne Argus, 17 March 1877; Heaton's Australian Dictionary of Dates.]

C. A. H.