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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Short, Right Rev. Augustus

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Short, Right Rev. Augustus, D.D., first Church of England Bishop of Adelaide, belonged to the family of the Shorts of Bickham, in Devonshire. His father, Charles Short, who practised as a barrister in London, resided at Woodlands, Wartlington, Hants. He was born on June 11th, 1802, and educated at Westminster School and at Christ Church, Oxford, where his cousin, Thomas Vowler Short, afterwards Bishop of Sodor and Man and of St. Asaph, was tutor. He graduated B.A. in 1823 as first class in classics, M.A. in 1826, and remained at Oxford in the capacity of a private tutor, being ordained deacon in 1826 and priest the next year, when he undertook duty as curate of Culham, near Abingdon. Two years later he resigned the curacy, on being appointed tutor and lecturer of his college, Mr. Gladstone being amongst his pupils. In 1833 he was appointed public examiner in the Classical Schools, and in the next year Sub-censor of Christ Church. In June 1835 he was presented by his college to the vicarage of Ravensthorpe, Northamptonshire, and on Dec. 10th he married Miss Millicent Phillips, of Hints Hall, Staffordshire. In 1845 Mr. Short was appointed Bampton Lecturer at his old university; and in 1847, when the sees of Melbourne, Adelaide and Newcastle (N.S.W.) were established and endowed through the liberality of Lady Burdett-Coutts, he was offered by the Archbishop of Canterbury the choice of the two latter bishoprics, and after due consideration selected Adelaide, being consecrated in Westminster Abbey along with Bishops Perry (Melbourne) and Tyrrell (Newcastle). The Bishop reached Port Adelaide on Dec. 28th, 1847, this being the eleventh anniversary of the founding of the colony of South Australia. Dr. Hall, first Archdeacon of Adelaide, and afterwards Bishop of Brisbane, and the Rev. J. P. Wilson, afterwards first head master of St. Peter's Collegiate School, Adelaide, accompanied him. Bishop Short was warmly welcomed by Governor Robe, but soon found himself face to face with the difficulties of an organisation more completely voluntary than he had been led to anticipate. The modified State aid hitherto accorded to all the denominations was abolished in 1851. Governor Gawler's apportionment, and Governor Robe's subsequent grant, of a site for an Anglican cathedral in the Victoria Square reserve of Adelaide, was disputed by the local authorities, and declared by the local courts to be invalid, on the ground that, though a governor could legally make grants of waste lands, he could not alienate public reserves. On appeal this judgment was affirmed by the Privy Council, and at a later date the last vestige of Anglican precedency was swept away by another decision of the appellate tribunal, declaring the letters patent granted by the Crown to the early colonial bishops, including the Bishop of Adelaide, to be ultra vires, and invalid in all cases where issued subsequent to the passing of the Act of 1842, which gave a representative legislature to New South Wales. The territorial and ecclesiastical jurisdiction conferred on him under the royal letters patent of June 1847 having thus vanished into thin air, Bishop Short set himself to work to create a voluntary organisation which should replace the edifice of privilege which had thus been cut away from beneath his feet. In this he was completely successful, and as his sturdy and straightforward character became understood, he gradually obtained a strong hold on the respect and regard of the people of South Australia. His action was not always popular, as in the case of his refusal to allow the Rev. Thomas Binney to preach in the Church of England churches within his diocese; whilst his co-operation with the Roman Catholics in opposing the secular system of State education was also a rock of offence. In other directions, where he considered no vital principle to be involved, he disarmed hostility by timely compromises, as in the case of the exclusive right to the private entrée at the Governor's levees, which he had long enjoyed. When this privilege was impugned in the Assembly, Bishop Short proposed its extension to the heads of the other denominations in the colony, and thus settled a matter which Sir James Fergusson, the then Governor, was inclined to fight out, on the ground that Bishop Short's position was differentiated from that of the ministers of other sects by his possession of the Queen's letters patent. When the University of Adelaide was established, in 1872, Bishop Short was appointed the first Vice-chancellor, and in 1876 he succeeded Sir R. D. Hanson as Chancellor. Bishop Short attended the first General Synod of the bishops of Australia and Tasmania, held in Sydney in 1872, and was present at the Lambeth Conference in 1878. Having admitted the invalidity of the letters patent issued in his own favour, Bishop Short was strongly opposed to the action of Bishop Barker in claiming the primacy of Australia on the strength of the letters patent given him in 1854. At the same time he supported his recognition as Metropolitan by the common consent of the several Australian and Tasmanian dioceses. In the result the latter view triumphed. Having premonitions of heart disease, Bishop Short resigned his see in Nov. 1881, and finally left the colony in Jan. 1882. In November he assisted at the consecration of his successor. Dr. Kennion, in Westminster Abbey, and died at Eastbourne on Oct. 5th, 1883.