Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.

JULIUS, Most Reverend Churchill

(1847–1938).

Anglican Primate and Archbishop of New Zealand, Bishop of Christchurch.

A new biography of Julius, Churchill appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.

Julius was born at Richmond, England, on 15 October 1847, the son of Dr F. G. Julius. He was educated at Blackheath Proprietary School, King's College, London, and Worcester College, Oxford, where he graduated bachelor of arts in 1869 and master in 1871. He gained his doctorate of divinity in 1893 and in 1920 was awarded a doctor of laws degree by Cambridge University. He was ordained a deacon in 1871 and a priest in 1872. Julius was curate at St. Giles, Norwich (1871–73); then at South Brent, Somersetshire (1873–75). He was successively Vicar of Shapwick (1875–78), Holy Trinity, Islington (1878–83), and Ballarat, Victoria, where he was also Dean of Christ Church Pro-cathedral and Archdeacon of Ballarat from 1883 to 1890.

In 1873 he married Alice, daughter of Colonel M. J. Rowlandson, and had a family of five daughters and two sons, one of whom, Sir George Alfred Julius, was the inventor of the totalisator and chairman of the Australian Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research from 1926 to 1945.

Julius was consecrated Bishop of Christchurch on 1 May 1890. On his arrival he found the cathedral was uncompleted. He launched an appeal in 1898 and had the building consecrated on All Saints' Day, 1904. But perhaps his greatest concern was with education. One of his first actions was to appoint a commission in 1892 “to consider the action of the church in relation to the education of the young”, the report recommending a joint submission to Parliament by heads of denominations to repeal the secular qualification in the Education Act of 1877. A Bill failed to pass in 1896 and the movement received a check during the First World War, on the grounds that contentious questions should be held in abeyance during a time of national emergency. Subsequently Julius sought to restore church primary day schools, but his enthusiasm, not being shared by many, resulted only in the rebuilding of St. Matthew's School (renamed Victory Memorial School), St. Albans, in permanent materials, and the opening of St. Mark's, Opawa, open-air school. Realising there must be trained teachers to establish church schools, in 1916 he offered half his salary and the use of Bishopscourt to form a church teachers' training college and a hostel for women students attending the Government Training College. The teaching order failed but the Bishop Julius Hostel is still performing its useful function. Further evidence of his zeal for education was shown in 1916 when a Diocesan Education Board was set up and a permanent Sunday school organiser appointed. From 1890 to 1920 Julius was a member of the Board of Governors of Canterbury College (University).

In 1893, on his return from England, he founded the Community of the Sacred Name whose deaconesses still give valued service in St. Saviour's Orphanage (converted in 1910 from St. Mary's Home) and in parochial duties. Under his vigorous leadership, the Mothers' Union, Bible Class Movement, and Girls' Friendly Society extended their activities, while clergy and Sunday school teacher refresher courses and retreats were organised. Missions were conducted in 1895 and 1910, and a healing mission in 1923. A City Missioner, the Rev. P. Revell, was appointed in 1919. Under the guidance of Julius, Canon Wilford commenced St. George's hospital in 1922, the first block of which was opened in 1928.

To Julius is due the setting up in 1916 of the Standing Committee of General Synod, which could act as an executive body between its triennial sessions. Julius became Primate in 1922, and at the General Synod that year, he became the first “Primate and Archbishop of New Zealand”, which position he held till 20 April 1925 when he retired. He died at Christchurch on 1 September 1938.

Julius was noted for his vigorous leadership in all church activities, his gifts of wide sympathy, geniality, eloquence, and humour, and, above all, his zeal for education.

by John Sidney Gully, M.A., DIP.N.Z.L.S., Assistant Chief Librarian, General Assembly Library, Wellington.

  • Canterbury Pilgrimage, Parr, Stephen (1951)
  • Church News, Oct, Dec, 1938
  • Press (Christchurch), 2 Sep 1938 (Obit).


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This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

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