Dr. Charles Perry, D.D. first Anglican Bishop of Melbourne

Henry Weigall, 1829-19251875

State Library Victoria

State Library Victoria
Melbourne, Australia

Charles Perry (1807–1891) studied law at Trinity College, Cambridge. However, his growing interest in religion led to his ordination as an Anglican priest by the Bishop of Ely in 1836. His active work in the Church Missionary Society resulted in his name being put forward for the proposed diocese of Melbourne. The nomination was accepted and Perry, accompanied by his wife Frances, arrived in Melbourne in January 1848.

Perry was eager to establish the Anglican Church in Australia as self-governing, and believed that lay people should be involved in the workings of the church. After the separation of Victoria from New South Wales, Perry petitioned to have a bill passed by the Legislative Council in 1854, and then returned to England to successfully plead for Royal Assent. It passed into law in December 1855 and the first legally authorised Synod of the Anglican Church in Australia was convened in October 1856. The Act became the model for all other Australian diocesan constitutions.

Education was also important to Perry, and he established the Melbourne Diocesan Grammar School in 1849. He was often in conflict with the government concerning secular and denominational schools. His term as bishop concluded in 1874, when he returned to England.


  • Title: Dr. Charles Perry, D.D. first Anglican Bishop of Melbourne
  • Creator: Henry Weigall, 1829-1925
  • Date: 1875
  • Provenance: Gift of the subscribers, 1876.
  • Rights: This work is out of copyright. No copyright restrictions apply.
  • lithograph: Painting
  • View more information about this image in the State Library Victoria catalogue: http://search.slv.vic.gov.au/MAIN:SLV_VOYAGER1782940
  • View a full-size version of this image: http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/282504
  • Physical dimensions: 94.7 x 120.7 cm. (sight) in gilt frame 156.0 x 129.5 x 12.0 cm.
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • A.E. Ferris: Weigall's early art training and aptitude enabled him to rapidly build up a successful career as a portrait painter. His sitters included the Duke of Wellington and members of the royal family. His marriage to Lady Rose Fane, daughter of the 11th Earl of Westmorland, secured his position in society. Weigall exhibited frequently at the Royal Academy and is represented in many public collections, including the National Portrait Gallery, London.

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