The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Perry, Right Rev. Charles

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Perry, Right Rev. Charles, M.A., D.D. first Church of England Bishop of Melbourne, Vict., was the third son of John Perry, of Moor Hall, Essex (an eminent shipbuilder at Blackwall and the originator of the East India Docks), by his second wife, Mary, daughter of George Green, of Blackwall. The late Bishop was born at Hackney, Middlesex, on Feb. 17th, 1807, and was educated at Dr. Heathcote's school, Hackney, under Dr. Butler at Harrow, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1828 as Senior Wrangler, first Smith's prizeman, and seventh in the first class of the Classical Tripos (bracketed equal with another competitor). He was elected Fellow of Trinity in 1829, and after studying for the Bar from 1828 to 1831 (in which year he took his M.A. degree), returned to his college, where he remained as tutor and assistant tutor till 1841. Dr. Perry was ordained deacon in 1833, and priest in 1836; and married in 1841 Fanny, daughter of Samuel Cooper, of Tranby, near Hull. The next year he took the living of St Paul's, Cambridge, which he held till his appointment as first Bishop of Melbourne in 1847. To this see, which was created on the subdivision of the diocese of Australia, he was consecrated in Westminster Abbey on St. Peter's Day in that year, and arrived in Melbourne by the ship Stag, accompanied by Dean Macartney, on Jan. 23rd, 1848. He was installed on the 28th in the cathedral church of St. James's (when he preached his first sermon in Australia), and on Feb. 13th the Queen's letters patent constituting Melbourne a bishop's see and appointing Dr. Perry the first Bishop were read in St, Peter's Church on the Eastern Hill. In this way Melbourne came to rank as a city. On his arrival he found only three Anglican clergymen in his diocese, and he had to lay the foundations of a system of Church organisation amidst the social delirium of the first gold discoveries. Belonging emphatically to the Evangelical or Low Church school, Dr. Perry stamped its characteristics on the discipline and theology of his budding diocese. He possessed the business qualifications which, more than eloquent preaching, were required in a pioneer diocesan in a new community, and was an excellent organiser. The system of Church government through an assembly of the clergy and of laymen elected in every parish was adopted for the first time in Australia in the diocese of Melbourne in 1854 under his ægis. Having witnessed an amazing extension of Church influence and organisation under his rule, Bishop Perry arrived at the conclusion to hand over the carrying on of the work to a younger and stronger man. He left Melbourne for London on April 26th, 1874, and resigned his see in the following year, though the arrangements for the appointment of his successor, the able and energetic Dr. Moorhouse (q.v.), were not completed till 1876. In May 1878 Bishop Perry was appointed prelate of the order of St Michael and St George, and in Nov. of the same year Prebendary and Canon of Llandaff. The latter preferment he resigned in 1889, after a stroke of paralysis, which left him unfitted for farther labour. He died on Dec. 2nd, 1891. The Bishop was made an honorary M.A. of Melbourne University in 1869. By his will Dr. Perry appointed as trustees of his Australian estate Mr. Henry Henty, of Kew, Melbourne; Judge Thomas a'Beckett, of the Supreme Court, Melbourne; and Mr. William Edward Morris, registrar of the diocese of Melbourne. To the Melbourne Governesses' Association, the Melbourne Clergy, Widows, and Orphans' Fund, the Melbourne Church Missionary Society for the Chinese, and the Melbourne Church Mission to the Aborigines, the testator left £50 each. Out of a sum of £2000 due to his estate, if recovered, the sum of £1000 is to be given to the Bishops of Melbourne and Ballarat for the churches of their dioceses. The testator bequeathed the silver testimonial plate presented to him on his resigning the bishopric of Melbourne to Trinity College, Cambridge, for use by the master in his lodge.