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Life and times of William Hutchins, first Archdeacon of Van Diemen's Land


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Clarke, Dudley Barrington 1981 , 'Life and times of William Hutchins, first Archdeacon of Van Diemen's Land', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The thesis seeks to examine and evaluate the
life of the first Archdeacon of Van Diemen's Land who
would have become its first Bishop bad he not died
The Introduction argues that there is an
important middle ground between believer and unbeliever,
that of nominal Christianity, upon which Hutchins set
great store. As a conservative evangelical in the
Simeon mould be regarded the Establishment as preserving
Christian assumptions and categories of thought. Having
observed radicalism in England and France, Hutchins
opposed a liberalism which merely meant breaking free
from assumptions, because it led to the loss of categories
of thought and would eventually produce an inability to
respond to Christian modes; he also opposed a
utilitarianism that promoted only secular knowledge.
Hutchins wished to establish a permanent foundation
in Van Diemen's Land a Christian society that could withstand
the inroads of liberal secularism, and be wished
also to maintain a public system of education which
would induct children into such a society. He knew the
financial and ecclesiastical difficulties in England but
he did not foresee the political problems he would meet
in Australia. The first three chapters show how Hutchins's
family, university and parish background confirmed in
him the view that the Establishment was the way in which
Christian attitudes and modes of thought could best be
preserved, and that the established church had a special
moral role to play in guiding and influencing the
government. Chapters Four and Five describe the situation
in Van Diemen's Land which led to Hutchins being called
from his remote Derbyshire village parish. Chapters
Six and Seven show some of the contrasts between England
and Australia; for example minor controversies and time
consuming trivialities beset clergy in both places but
in the intense atmosphere of Van Diemen's Land they
became significant and potentially disruptive. The
Church Extension Act of 1837 and its consequences are
dealt with in Chapters Eight, Nine and Ten. For Hutchins
the quarrel was not whether aid should be given to
denominations other than the Anglican: he agreed with
that. He was concerned rather with the principle of
establishment and the desirability of having a Parish
Church in every community, an outcome not possible under
the Act. Bishop Broughton's visitation of 1838,
described in Chapter Eleven, did not advance the cause
of establishment, nor did his tractarian tendencies
enhance the image of the Church of England as a Via Media. Chapter Twelve tells the story of Governor
Franklin's vacillation over the education question and
demonstrates how the Presbyterians aided the cause of
the secularists by separating public education from
religion, despite Hutchins's warnings. Chapters
Thirteen and Fourteen deal with other issues in which
the Archdeacon found himself at odds with the Colonial
Government but demonstrate how much his advice and
assistance was valued by the Governor. The last three
chapters attempt an assessment of his life and work in
the light of the profound impact which his death made
and has continued to make.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Clarke, Dudley Barrington
Keywords: William Hutchins, Archdeacons, 1792-1841, Tasmania, Van Diemens Land, biography, society and church, education
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