Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Cowie, William Garden
COWIE, WILLIAM GARDEN (1831–1902), bishop of Auckland, born in London on 8 Jan. 1831 was second son of Alexander Cowie of St. John's Wood, London, by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Garden. Both parents came from Aberdeenshire. Admitted a pensioner of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, on 20 May 1852, and elected scholar in the following October, he was second in the first class of the law tripos in 1854 and graduated B.A. in 1855, M.A. in 1865, and D.D. in 1869. Ordained deacon in 1854 and priest in 1855, he served the curacies of St. Clement's, Cambridge (1854), and Moulton, Suffolk (1855-7). Appointed in 1857 chaplain to the forces in India, he was present at the capture of Lucknow (receiving medal and clasp) and at the battles of Aliganj, Rooyah, and Bareli; he accompanied Sir Neville Chamberlain's column in the Afghan campaign of 1863-4 (medal and clasp), and in 1864 acted as domestic and examining chaplain to G. E. L. Cotton [q. v.], bishop of Calcutta. In 1865 he was chaplain in Kashmir, and warmly supported the work of the Church Missionary Society at Srinagar. In 1867 he returned home and became rector of Stafford. In 1868 bishop G. A. Selwyn [q. v.], on his translation from the see of New Zealand to that of Lichfield, was empowered by the diocesan synod of Auckland to choose a successor for the diocese of Auckland (the title of New Zealand expiring). He nominated Cowie, who was, in 1869, consecrated bishop of Auckland in Westminster Abbey.
Cowie readily won the confidence of the settlers, diligently visiting all parts of his diocese. He fostered St. John's college, Auckland, for ordination candidates, of which he was visitor and governor, and in 1880 was made a fellow of the University of New Zealand. .He found many of the Maoris alienated by the war, but conciliated these, encouraged the native ministry, and established native church boards in his northern archdeaconries. He came home for the Lambeth Conference of 1888, and in a small book, 'Our Last Year in New Zealand' (1888), he explained the conditions of his diocese and his mode of life. In 1895 he was made primate of New Zealand. He came home again for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria and the Lambeth Conference of 1897, receiving in that year the D.D. degree at Oxford. His strength failing, he resigned his see in 1902, and died shortly afterwards at Wellington, New Zealand, on 21 June.
He married in 1869 Eliza Jane, eldest daughter of William Webber of Moulton, Suffolk, and granddaughter of Sir Thomas Preston, Bart., of Beeston Hill, Norfolk. She died in New Zealand on 18 Aug. 1902. Cowie published, in addition to the work mentioned, 'Notes on the Temples of Cashmir,' and 'A Visit to Norfolk Island.'
[The Times, 27 June 1902; Guardian, 1 Oct. 1902; E. Stock, History of the Church Missionary Society, 1899, ii. 575; Two Hundred Years of the S.P.G., p. 442; Jacob, Colonial Church Histories: New Zealand, pp. 340-1; Lowndes, Bishops of the Day; private information.]