2011 ASSLH conference – The ‘Radical’ Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr William Temple


The ‘Radical’ Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr William Temple1

Doris LeRoy


This paper will outline the life of Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, who was the head of the Church of England worldwide from 1942-1944. Temple was an unusual archbishop, who had joined the Labour Party in Britain in 1918.  While his parentage doubtless assisted to his rise within the church ranks, his ability was recognised despite his socialistic leanings. His dedication to socialistic ideals and commitment to bettering the lot of the working class never faltered.  Following the example of his father, also Archbishop of Canterbury, Temple championed the efforts of Workers Education Association. He was its chairman for sixteen years from 1908. Temple’s influence permeated far beyond England.  His visit to Australia in 1910 was at the request of the American Dr Mott, who had visited to encourage the Australian branch of the Student’s Christian Movement, but found a hostile reception. Temple had far greater success in motivating the SCM to become more militant in tackling ‘any actual Australian evil or darkness, or to uplift any Australian mass of submerged humanity’. The White Australia policy and materialism were other targets. His visit brought him into contact Anglicans such as Ernest Burgmann and H. V. Evatt, with their undoubted Labor Party sympathies. Burgmann was also involved with the Worker’s Education Association. Temple’s association with the SCM never ceased and the lasting influence of the SCM on influential members of the Australian Labor Party has been well documented. Temple’s leading part in encouraging ecumenism is equally well documented, especially as co-founder of the Council of Christians and Jews in 1942. His interest in education continued and his collaboration with Rab Butler on the 1944 Education Act was regarded as decisive in the British Labour Party’s landslide win in the 1945 election. He followed the Christian Socialist tradition of F. D. Maurice and Henry Scott Holland and is credited with popularising the phrase ‘the Welfare State’ in his book Citizen and Churchman in 1941. Following his untimely death in 1944 his many books continue to influence those who view ‘The state as a servant and instrument of God for the preservation of Justice and for the promotion of human welfare’.

Dr Doris LeRoy left school at 14 with an intermediate certificate and then worked as a secretary and lab assistant, married at 20, reared her children and finally returned to study in her mid-50s with a course on computers at a women’s study centre at Footscray TAFE. She completed an arts degree, an honours year and then enrolled in a PhD. She’s an Altona mother of four and grandmother of three and during her enrolment she had to overcome the death of her husband, breast cancer and the replacement of both hips. She delivered the Valedictory Address at her Graduation ceremony on 1 December 2010 after receiving the award of Doctor of Philosophy from Victoria University, Melbourne.



This paper concentrates on the influence of Archbishop William Temple’s social and political activities, both within and outside of the Anglican Communion. Temple’s theological activities are well documented; the legacy he left, through his commitment to both ecumenism and bettering the social conditions of those less fortunate than most, is not as well known. The term ‘radical’ was often applied to William Temple during his lifetime, on the basis that if:

temperamentally the reactionary does not want social change, the conservative does not expect it, the liberal only hopes for it, cautiously, and the radical expects it, and looks forward to it, then in such a typology Temple was all his life a radical.2

Temple was committed to the Workers Education Association (WEA) and to the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF), with its various member organisations. It should be noted that the terms `Student Union’ and `Student Movement’ are interchangeable for the purposes of this paper—Temple uses ‘Movement’ when in fact ‘Union’ was in use at that time in Australia. His use of `Australasian’ when referring to the Student Christian Movement was correct – only later did New Zealand separate from the Australian organisation. The term ‘labour’ is used to describe both the political party and the movement, the name change to Labor did not occur until after Temple’s visit but was still used by some.


William Temple was born on 15 October 1881, the second son of Frederick, bishop of Exeter, who had married Beatrice Lascelles in 1876. William did not have the struggle to achieve an education as had Frederick, the thirteenth child of a family of fifteen. In 1838 Frederick won a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford. While the influence of the Tractarian Movement was evident in Oxford at the time, Frederick’s stance was closer to the Oxford Liberal Movement. Elected a fellow of Balliol and appointed a lecturer in mathematics and logic, Frederick’s commitment to social justice became obvious following his ordination in 1846 when he was in charge at Kneller Hall, which trained masters for the workhouses and penal schools. Frederick was appointed chaplain-­in-­general to Queen Victoria in 1856 and headmaster of Rugby School in 1858.

The social commitment that was to cause his son problems was evident in an essay Frederick wrote for a ‘broad church’ book, Essays and Reviews (1860),3 which was deemed unacceptable to many, including Bishop Wilberforce of Oxford. While Temple’s work dealt with the intellectual and spiritual growth of the human race and was scarcely contentious, other essays included in the book were. Published shortly after Darwin’s Origin of the Species, Essays sold 22,000 copies in two years and was widely debated. Frederick would not withdraw his essay until 1870, after he accepted the bishopric at Exeter, despite the opposition this engendered in some, including Lord Shaftsbury and Canon Edward Pusey, a leader in the Oxford Movement. Frederick’s translation to London in 1885 saw him continue his work amongst the poor, especially as a temperance worker. Temperance was to be a lifelong stance of William’s also. After the sudden death of Archbishop Benson, Frederick was appointed as archbishop of Canterbury, even though he was seventy six years of age and becoming blind. He oversaw the Lambeth Conference of 1897 and crowned King Edward VII in 1902. He died in December of that year following his collapse while delivering a speech on the Education Act in the House of Lords. Frederick had been a champion of education and especially of the education and rights of women. William Temple’s biographer, F. A. Iremonger, claims that Frederick’s influence on his son ‘in guiding, warning, teaching and stimulating…is beyond compute’.4

William Temple, as the second son of the archbishop, enjoyed a life without any real hardship, apart from a disposition to suffer from gout. William followed his brother Frederick to Rugby school in 1894. He was studious and achieved well? his headmaster considered that `anything was possible to him’.5  He accepted a place at Balliol College and trained in philosophy, not systematic theology.6 Temple did so well at Oxford that on his graduation he was offered thirty different positions. He accepted a post as fellow and lecturer in philosophy at Queen’s College, which he held for six years. His interest in ‘workingmen and social justice’ was labelled as `odd’ by most of his contemporaries. He made a special study of St Thomas Aquinas, as well as undertaking extracurricular activities, such as the university mission to the poor. He worked with R. H. Tawney and Albert Mansbridge, who had founded WEA in 1903. Temple was president of WEA for sixteen years from 1908, and developed within the organisation a model of education suited to the workers, which would assist them to help themselves, in answer to the social service paternalism of the university mission. Temple was following the example of Frederick Denison Maurice, the mid nineteenth century theologian and Christian socialist, who wanted to challenge both the `unsocial Christians’ and the ‘unChristian socialists’.7 Alongside this interest, his theological study was sufficient to convince Archbishop Davidson of Canterbury that he was ready for Holy Orders, although others doubted it because of his ‘uncertainties’ regarding the doctrines of the ‘Virgin Birth and the Bodily Resurrection of our Lord’.8 His ordination was an example of the challenge Temple set the church and letters passed to and fro between the bishops before Temple was made deacon in Canterbury Cathedral on 20 December 1908. Temple ‘dominated’ the WSCF conference in Oxford in 1909. Before he was ordained priest later that year, he gave a series of addresses in London to men and women students under the auspices of London Intercollegiate Christian Unions. These were highly acclaimed and were published as The Faith and Modern Thought.9

Influence of T. H. Green

The philosopher T. H. Green was an immense influence on Temple. In the 1880s Green and an influential school of idealist philosophers advocated `prominence to the state in discussions of education, equality and social justice’.10 Australians influenced by Green’s liberal philosophies included Bernhard Wise, author and leading promoter of the New South Wales Industrial Arbitration Act of 1901. These `hallmarks of social liberalism’ were also evident in the thinking of Henry Bournes Higgins, although he had ‘no direct connection to Green’. The intervention of the state to achieve wage justice `was very much that provided by T. H. Green in 1881′. Two other influential Australians who acknowledged Green’s influence in industrial relations were W. J. Brown and H. V. Evatt. Brown was appointed president of the Industrial Court of South Australia in 1916. Evatt’s acknowledgement of Green’s influence came in an essay written as a 21-­ year-­old, which he presented to Prime Minister Billy Hughes.11

Temple’s practical discipleship of Green’s ideas led him to endeavours such as the WEA, as well as to his stance at the Pan-­Anglican Congress in London in 1908.12 Regarding `Christianity and Socialism’ Temple claimed that:

The control of life by the individual possessor of capital must be modified. The speaker did not think that the ideal could be achieved short of nationalisation but that should not concern us now. The Christian was called to assent to great steps towards Collectivism. Socialism as an ideal might be remote, but as a method it was already with us, and it was for us to choose whether we should help or hinder it.13

Amongst the over 5,000 delegates at the congress were representatives of dioceses in Australia; including the archbishops of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, the bishops of Bendigo, Brisbane, Grafton and Armidale, Perth and North Queensland, as well as laity. Eminent conservative figures such as Dr Leeper (warden of Trinity College, Melbourne),14 Senator Henry Dobson from Tasmania, well known for his attempts to better the lot of the working man,15 the Hon. F. S. Grimwade, a deeply committed Anglican,16 and others, not so well known— such as Mr and Mrs A. N. Stacey (Bathurst) and Mr George H. V. Jenkins (Grafton and Armidale).

Matters of great importance to the world-­wide Anglican Communion were discussed, including `socialisation’. Delegates were divided on the influence of the labour movement and the Labour Party in Australia. However, Rev. C. H. S. Matthews, an English priest,17 who had served in the Bush Brotherhood in New South Wales, claimed that the Labour Party in Australia was responsible for many improvements to social conditions cited by previous Australian speakers.

Grimwade claimed that the `Labour Party’ was identified with the `Socialism that would destroy our homes’. Major W. F. Everett from Grafton and Armidale considered that ‘Socialism in Australia was founded on Christianity’. However, Senator Dobson said he was against `Marxian Socialism’ but strongly believed in `Christian Socialism, or applied Christianity, and wanted to see it pushed ahead’. Temple declared for `nationalisation’,18 attractive to those who were Christians but also committed socialists.

Visit to Australia

At the instigation of the `forceful and compelling’ American Dr John R. Mott, the presiding officer of the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in 1910 and also a leader in the WSCF, Temple visited Australia in 1910, during the long university vacation, `to demand the reshaping of the social order on the principles of Jesus Christ’. Mott had visited Australia previously, but his `American, evangelical Protestantism’ troubled some Australian students.19 The insularity of the Australasian Student Christian Movement (ASCM) concerned Mott. While Temple doubtless held Mott’s commitment to foreign missionary work, the involvement of university students in organisations such as the WEA was an aim. University of Sydney academics Professors Francis Anderson, a devotee of T. H. Green, and Arnold Wood were already involved in university extension courses. Temple’s address in Adelaide on `Democracy and Education’ outlined how the WEA was formed, so that `the opinions of the working man’ could be communicated to the University of Oxford. The involvement of `Labor in the government of the country’ [Britain] meant that `labor should have what only the universities could give’.20 The Barrier Miner reported that Temple `travelling to the East on the R.M.S. Marmora, intends delivering lectures throughout the Commonwealth under the auspices of the Australasian Students’ Christian Union’ (ASCU).21 However, the press was generally more interested in his father’s status.

Temple acknowledged that he knew nothing of social conditions in Australia but would speak on general principles 22—but this did not save him from the wrath of the influential Hon. W. A. Holman, MLA. Temple’s address at the University of Sydney, in which he asserted `that a new and comprehensive political philosophy is the deepest need of today’, roused Holman to claim that indeed `the Labour movement’ [in Australia] already had such a philosophy.

Holman was one who had risen through the Labour ranks in Australia and had achieved his law degree part time. Holman held `a deep intellectual and emotional commitment’ to the Labour Party in NSW.23 He endorsed Temple’s aspirations but claimed that `the Labour movement was based on such an ideal’. Holman considered that `the teaching apparatus of University and public schools is being hopelessly left behind in the inculcation of public spirit’.24 Holman’s wrath was understandable: the labour movement in Australia was very much in advance of that in Britain, and in fact the Labour Party had achieved majority government of Australia in the 1910 April elections.

However, Temple’s visit did encourage ASCU involvement in the WEA and also attempts at better relations with the labour movement. The distrust between the `WEA intellectuals’ and the labour movement was never resolved. The ASCU, despite being ecumenical in nature and containing diverse identities such as Robert Menzies and H. V. Evatt, both of whom attempted social reform, never achieved the recognition it deserved from the labour movement.25 The bridges between the universities and the labour movement were not mirrored in Australia as at `home’.

Although Temple appealed to university students, particularly males, to volunteer to become foreign missionaries, he emphasised home mission. He had a high opinion of the university students he met, and worked very hard in the six weeks he was in Australia. He made ninety-­one speeches, six in one day in Sydney. Ernest Burgmann heard Temple talk at St Paul’s College in Sydney. The socialist influence evident in Burgmann’s life is also illustrated in that of one of Burgmann’s pupils at St John’s College, Morpeth, William (Alf) Clint did enter the ministry and work with the Bush Brotherhood, but on condition he was permitted to remain a member of the A.L.P. and the Australian Workers’ Union.26

The Church of England Messenger drew attention to Temple’s addresses in both St Andrew’s, Sydney and St Paul’s, Melbourne, cathedrals, with a fuller report of the breakfast arranged for him following Holy Communion in St Paul’s by the Social Questions Committee of Synod. The honorary secretary of the ASCU also attended. Temple stressed the need for a `social theology’ and remarked on the `conservatism’ of the `ecclesiastically-­minded lay men of Great Britain’.27 The welcome in Melbourne was tempered by opposition in the university council to Temple using university premises to speak to the students’ unions. Also in Melbourne, Temple drew the ire of the Truth newspaper. This paper was noted both for its sensationalism and its disregard for the truth it supposedly revealed. It held an anti-­religious bias toward all faiths. At the time of Temple’s visit to Melbourne Anglican Archbishop Clarke was suing the paper for defamation in another matter. Temple was denigrated, incorrectly, as `a minor canon of the Anglican persuasion’, `the son of a very big ecclesiastical gun, vis., a defunct Archbishop of Canterbury, who used to save souls on the starvation wage of £15,000′. Temple was accused of trying to convince `the benighted inhabitants of the wicked city of Melbourne that there is no real conflict between the teaching of science and orthodox theological dogma’. The article continued in a similar vein— referring to supposed assertions that `it is “wicked” to accept the teachings of men like Darwin and Huxley’.28 There was no mention made of Temple’s `mission’, that of encouraging students to become involved in mission work and the implementation of a social gospel.

Temple discovered that the ASCM was gaining strength. He decided that of `all the marvels he had seen in Australia the greatest marvel of all is the Australian S.C.M’. The long term response was not that which Mott had hoped, of student volunteers prepared to make a permanent commitment to foreign missionary work. But in Sydney, where Temple was most accepted, there were efforts to become involved in housing projects. By the mid-­1920s students were questioning the ‘right to get others to accept our religion’. The emphasis had changed to `new world issues’ such as `industrial organisation, racial issues and international peace’.29 In this Temple’s influence was `ongoing’. The ASCM `was determined that religion would influence the shape of post-­war Australia’. The Campaign for Christian Order, formed in the late 1930s in the United Kingdom, ‘drew on the ideas’ of Temple … and the Malvern Conference of 1941 and in Australia was especially promoted by Bishop John Moyes of the Armidale diocese’. The CCO was supported by the ASCM in the post war years.30

After Australia

On the way to Australia Temple accepted the headmastership of Repton School.31  He made no secret that he regarded the public schools as ‘reproducing our class system in accentuated form’ and that his aim was eventually to move to a system that would reduce this; he was never comfortable in the role. He also wished to maintain his work for the `Student Movement and Workers’ Education’. The location of Repton, in a remote country village did not easily permit this. The promised reform of the system also proved more difficult than Temple anticipated. An offer of a place at St Margaret’s Westminster with a canonry at Westminster Abbey came to nothing, as Archbishop Davidson had overlooked the fact that Temple was not yet six years in Priest’s Orders. A later offer in 1914 from the Lord Chancellor to be rector at St James Piccadilly was accepted gratefully, as it would permit him to do justice to those committees to which he had been appointed. That Temple added to Repton, in the form of learning, preaching and teaching, is undeniable.32 The next incumbent of the headmastership was Geoffrey Fisher, who was to follow Temple to Canterbury.

Temple’s St James period— another four year stint— saw the same pattern as at Oxford. Temple did not join ‘the club’ of clerics; he felt they spent too much time in small talk. He was made honorary chaplain to the King. He travelled to America to give the Paddock lectures to the General Theological Seminary in New York City during the Great War, even though this meant travelling through waters menaced by German U-­boats. His book, Church and Nation, was the result of these lectures.33

Lifelong friendships from Rugby were maintained, especially with R. H. Tawney, Harry Hardy and Lionel Smith. His socialist associations earned him the attention of the Criminal Investigation Department during the Great War, along with other clergy such as Dean Hewlett Johnson. In 1916 he married Frances Anson, the secretary of the Westminster branch of the Christian Social Union, of which he was the president. Temple showed his devotion both to his writing and to Frances by giving her `a set of fresh copies of all his books published to date, now numbering ten, including two privately printed, as an engagement present’. He also finished Mens Creatix late in the night before his wedding.34

By now Temple was openly declaring his hand in attempts to reform the church and society. His editorship of the weekly Christian paper The Challenge in 1915-­1918 saw him contribute both money and unpopular sharp editorials, as he was critical of the English hatred of all things German, and demanded the `radical equality of sacrifice’ of all citizens to equal that of the soldiers. His announcement at a convocation in 1918 that he had joined the Labour Party, when seconding a `wild-­cat socialistic resolution’ put by Canon Garbett, brought the comment that Temple was always prepared to combine resurrection and insurrection. By today’s standards the resolution was not radical: it called for a living wage, unemployment insurance and collective bargaining.35 But it was unacceptable by the mores of the time. Temple was obviously not in `the tradition that made the Establishment a “religious framework” for the Conservative Party at prayer!’36

The Life and Liberty Movement engrossed Temple. He co-­operated within the church for a National Mission of Repentance and Hope, trusting it would bring the church to realise its shortcomings with regard to its responsibilities to the nation. He worked `…night and day, up and down the country, confronting the church with its weakness and pleading its case with the people; to no avail’. The only positive gain was a unanimous report to the Archbishops’ Commission on Church and State, ultimately resulting in a contentious movement to free the church from state control. The Life and Liberty Movement had Temple as its `mind and muscles’. His task was to ensure that those who wanted disestablishment, and those who did not, remained together to fight for church reform. Temple’s speech to a `vast throng’ in the Queen’s Hall, London, with an overflow group in the small hall, chaired by Cyril Garbett, resulted in a resolution that Temple, Garbett, and Albert Mansbridge took to Archbishop Davidson. Davidson received the resolution, which asked for the archbishop `without delay’ to find on what terms `Parliament is prepared to give full freedom to the Church in the sense of full power to manage its own life’ and answered that he would go into the matter `with reasonable speed’. Temple then threw himself into action, knowing that they had to revolt.  This of course meant relocation from St James. One of the major problems, Temple saw, was the inequality of stipends within the church. Some priests, in influential parishes, might receive $US20,000 (equivalent to £7,000 sterling p.a.) ministering to `fewer than a thousand souls’ while in poorer parishes a priest might receive only $US1,000, (£350 sterling p.a.) for ministering to twenty thousand souls. The plea to wait `until the War ended’ did not convince Temple, who replied that `The Trade Union Congress and the Labour Party were not “waiting”, nor were the teachers with their new Education Bill, and neither would the Church’. Frances Temple found them a small house in West Kensington, where Temple celebrated Holy Communion weekly at St Mary Abbots church nearby, having been shown how to don the High Church regalia by one of his former students from Oxford. Bishop Gore and Archbishop Davidson convinced him not to volunteer for the forces and he spent his time travelling the country conferring and speaking for Life and Liberty, as well as maintaining his work with the WEA, all the time editing The Challenge. After a year’s hectic effort the church finally agreed to push Parliament for a Church Assembly in which the church could legislate its own affairs. Again Temple became unpopular when he succeeded in opening seats in the Assembly to women, and defeated the requirement that delegates be confirmed. He refused offers of posts at both Durham and Oxford universities, finally accepting a canonry at Westminster Abbey. He had at last decided on commitment to the church. As previously noted, philosophy not systematic theology was Temple’s training and he wanted to read more classical theology. However, he also wanted to `maintain a happy combination of the church’s Christian witness, the university’s rational enquiry, and the Labour Movement’s passion for social justice’.37

In 1920 Prime Minister Lloyd George asked Temple to accept the bishopric of Manchester. Both Davidson at Canterbury and Cosmo Lang at York urged him to have his name put forward to the King and Temple was consecrated in York Minster on 25 January 1921. His diocese was `notoriously conservative’. His episcopacy in a diocese of `capitalist individualism’ where `competition is the life of trade’ ran smoothly enough until the General Strike of 1926, which lasted only a few days as there were concerns for the suffering of the people. The mining industry, with its history of being on and off strike for several years, did proceed with its strike. Temple came out strongly in support of the workers, which brought him in direct conflict with conservatives from Prime Minister Baldwin down. Baldwin was infuriated that some bishops would attempt to get the coalminers, mine owners and the government together, regarding such attempts as impertinence, while Temple felt that `Our religion and our office required of us that we should do anything which lay in our power to bring them, in a literal sense, to reason’.38

Despite Temple’s actions during the coal strike Baldwin nominated him with good grace to translate to York in 1929. York was in great need of Temple. The industrial and mining dioceses in the see were in `near social chaos’. Baldwin recognised that Temple was the man for the job, despite their differences. A similar situation was to occur in 1942 when Churchill realised Temple was needed in Canterbury. Temple enjoyed the full support of the people, apart from one matter, his support for Baldwin’s refusal to allow the marriage of King Edward VIII to Mrs Simpson. While at York, Temple’s stature grew. It was the longest he had remained in one post, and they were his most fruitful years. Frances Temple worked as a justice of the peace while William kept up his various endeavours. These were as numerous as they were successful. He chaired the BBC; he became a Privy Councillor. A wholehearted supporter of the League of Nations, he attended the Geneva Disarmament Conference in 1932. He refused to apportion blame solely to Germany for the Great War. He attended Lambeth 1932, continued his university mission work, gave the Gifford lectures in Glasgow, and revisited America for the Student Volunteer Movement and to lecture at universities there. He performed his diocesan duties and those as metropolitan of the province, in addition to the demands of supporting Cosmo Lang of Canterbury through illnesses. It must not be forgotten that Temple himself was not a well man. But he continued to write and his major theological work, Readings in St John’s Gospel, was produced while he was at York.

Ecumenical Endeavours

Temple’s involvement in ecumenical work had commenced when he was an usher in Edinburgh in 1910 for the Conference on Faith and Order. He was the obvious choice in 1924 for chairman of the ecumenical Conference on Christian Politics, Economics and Citizenship in Birmingham, which was attended by Australian Anglican clerics such as Ernest Burgmann, Roy Lee and Farnham Maynard, all very influential members of the ASCM. He ended the 1930s as chairman of a provisional committee of the World Council of Churches, despite knowing that opposition existed in the Church of England to such a concept. Even so, he won the approval of the Church of England. In 1939 he secured from the Vatican an assurance that `it saw no obstacles in the way of information and unofficial theology being exchanged’.39 World War II isolated the nascent WCC, the US was the recipient of the majority of the WWC records, and when the organisation finally became incorporated after the Amsterdam conference in 1949, the American influence was predominant, as the US had both the money and the ability to organise worldwide.

Both Temple and Garbett were reluctant supporters of the air war being waged against the Germans, despite many objections from the Anglican Communion.40 In 1940 at York, Temple had published A Conditional Justification of War, a pamphlet on the spiritual issues of the war. It was in this moral climate that the Malvern Conference was held in 1941. Claims were made that if a nation could feed and employ everyone in a war this should also be possible in peace.

As archbishop of York Temple was asked by Prebendary41 Kirk of the Industrial Christian Fellowship to get together and preside over a conference of British churchmen in the `ordering of a new society’. Four hundred people attended, including 23 out of the 98 bishops, 14 deans, 21 canons, 14 archdeacons and 90 parish priests, while the rest were laity. The government would not allow them to meet in London because the Blitz was so fierce, so they journeyed to Malvern College in the Midlands. The Conference finally produced a declaration carefully drafted by Temple saying that `the ultimate ownership of the principal resources of the community’ in the hands of private owners `may be‘ a stumbling block to a just society. This stance earned Temple a `hideous cartoon’ of him with his gas mask, and the caption ‘England’s Leading Christian on His Way to Tea with his Spiritual Brother, The Ambassador of Bolshevismus’, in a German magazine. The findings of the Malvern Conference created discussion both in England and overseas. In America the equivalent of the Industrial Christian Fellowship, The Church League for Industrial Democracy, met and went further than the Malvern Conference, proposing outright socialism. Temple’s stance in both the coal strike and the Malvern Conference displayed his ability to lead the church.

Archbishop Cosmo Lang recommended Temple to Prime Minister Churchill for the throne of Canterbury in 1942. Churchill disliked Temple’s politics but was realistic about his capabilities; he regarded Temple as `the only sixpenny object in a penny bazaar’. He sent Temple’s name to the King as Lang’s proposed replacement, as long as Garbett translated from Winchester to York. Churchill came to regard Garbett as his `Archiepiscopal Ulysses’. Garbett travelled widely during the war, and Temple sent him to visit the Moscow patriarchate in 1943 `as a first step in reopening relations with the Church in the Soviet Union’. Dean Inge, who had retired as dean of St Paul’s cathedral in 1934, but remained influential in Britain, considered William Temple `dangerous’. But then Inge regarded the six years of British socialist rule after the war a disaster.

The war years were a trial for a man in ill health, both Lambeth and Canterbury were badly bombed, but the Temples did not leave. Temple still travelled around Britain, and sent messages to the troops. He had to placate those in the church and outside it who condemned the church’s `just war’ attitudes. His last pastoral acts on 21-­23 September 1944 were to his ordination candidates gathered around his bed. He had attended a retreat and addressed a charge on evangelism to them on 18 September. He died on 26 October 1944. It is impossible to do justice to Temple’s talents, a man of Catholic order, evangelical piety, liberal openness to new truth, ecumenical earnestness, and social concern in politics, economics, the arts, `every department of life’. Perhaps a fitting epitaph for Temple might be the Punch comment in 1948: ‘If Christian sanity survives in the modern world, none will deserve a greater share of the credit than William Temple’.42


Temple impressed on the Anglican Communion the need for proclaiming a social gospel. He also, through his ecumenism, influenced other churches and the ASCM. In turn, ASCM members who became involved in the WEA, or were later influential in Australian society undoubtedly retained vestiges of Temple’s influence. Powerful figures in Australian society such as H. V. Evatt, J. Portus, Burgmann, R. J. Hawke, Kim Beasley senior and junior, H. F. Whitlam and E. G. Whitlam had experienced the force of Temple’s social gospel. In Canberra especially, many public servants also acknowledged a debt to Temple, and admiration for Bishop Burgmann, who continued in Temple’s tradition. Temple’s involvement in the early days of the WEA benefited countless WEA students in Australia. This unusual archbishop did much to promote the cause of the labour movement, despite the obvious difficulties it caused him.



1   DeWitt McKenzie, ‘The Radical Archbishop of Canterbury’, Milwaukee Journal, 2 November 1942, 15.
2   Joseph Fletcher, William Temple: Twentieth Century Christian (New York: Seabury Press, 1963), 247-­8.
3   Frederick Temple et al, Essays and Reviews, John W. Parker (ed.), (London: John W. Parker and Son, 1860.)
4   F. A. Iremonger, (abridged version by D. C.Somerville), William Temple: Archbishop of Canterbury: His Life and His Letters, abridged ed., (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1963).
5   Ibid., 244-­5.
6   Charles W. Lowry, William Temple: An Archbishop for All Seasons (Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1982), 3.
7   Fletcher, William Temple, 247.
8   Iremonger, William Temple, 27.
9   William Temple, The Faith and Modern Thought (London: Macmillan and Co., 1910).
10   John Lawson and Harold Silver, A Social History of Education in England (London: Methuen & Co.,1973), 320.
11   Marian Sawer, The Ethical State? Social Liberalism in Australia (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2003), 53-­67.
12   Delegates from the worldwide Anglican Communion attended this congress. One of the main outcomes of the congress was a working party to plan the 1910 World Missionary Congress.
13   PanAnglican Congress, 1908, Vol. 11 Section A – Church and Human Society, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, available on-­line pananglicancon04unknuoft accessed 27 February 2011, 83, 100,101, 108.
14   J. R. Poynter, ‘Leeper, Alexander (1848 -­  1934)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 10 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1986), 54-­7.
15   E. M. Dollery, ‘Dobson, Henry (1841 -­ 1918)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 8 (Melbourne: Melbourne Press, 1981), 311-­2.
16   J. R. Poynter, ‘Grimwade, Frederick Sheppard (1840 -­  1910)’, Australian Dictionary of BiographyVol. 4, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1972), 302-­3.
17   K. J. Cable, ‘Matthews, Charles Henry Selfe (1873 -­  1961)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 10 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press,1986), 446-­7.
18   Fletcher, William Temple, 247.
19   Renate Howe, A Century of Influence: The Australian Student Christian Movement 1896-­1996 (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2009), 23,26,114,117.
20   ‘Democracy in Education’, Address by Rev. W. Temple, Advertiser, 28 July 1910, 8.
21   ‘Christian Students’ Association. Visit of Rev. W. Temple. Son of the Late Archbishop Temple’, Barrier Miner, 20 July 1910, 4.
22   ‘Social Conditions and Christianity. An Indictment of Political Economy’, Advertiser, n.d., 8.
23   Bede Nairn, ‘Holman, William Arthur (1871 -­  1934)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 9 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1983), 340-­7.
24   ‘Political Spirit, Rev W Temple Combated, “Labour’s Definite Philosophy”‘, Sydney Morning Herald, 15 August 1910, 10.
25   Howe, A Century of Influence, 122-­6.
26   Ewan Morris, ‘Clint, William Alfred (1906 -­  1980)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 13 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1993), 444-­5.
27   ‘Breakfast to Rev. W. Temple: The Need of a “Social Theology”‘, Church of England Messenger, 16 September 1910, 1131.
28   ‘Science and Supernaturalism’, Truth (Melbourne), 10 September 1910, 5.
29   Howe, A Century of Influence, 157.
30   Ibid., 121, 259: Fletcher, William Temple, 261-­2.
31   Iremonger, William Temple, 39-­42.
32   Ibid., 50-­4.
33   Fletcher, William Temple, 253.
34   Ibid.
35   Ibid., 254-­5
36   Ibid.
37   Ibid., 256-­60.
38   Ibid., 263-­4.
39   Ibid., 262-­72.
40   ‘Debate Over UK WWII Strategic Bombing’ available online at http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=25898 accessed 9 April 2010. This article discusses an essay ‘Black, White and Grey’, by David Ian Hall, Linacre College, University of Oxford, for The Bomber Harris Trust Essay Competition, 30 June 1997.
41   Honorary canon. – see also Fletcher, William Temple, 277.
42   Fletcher, William Temple, 284. The Punch quote was from the issue of 11 August 1948.

Three main texts have been studied in regard to Temple’s life.:Episcopalian Joseph Fletcher’s William Temple: Twentieth Century Christian (1963) is particularly helpful and analytical, since the writer had met Temple just prior to the Depression of the 1930s. Fletcher’s commitment to radical activity is a foil to Temple’s preaching of a social gospel. Dean Iremonger’s study, William Temple: Archbishop of Canterbury (1963) is a much admired and widely quoted volume written by a man who shared some of Temple’s ambitions, and who used many of his letters to paint a picture of his life. In William Temple: An Archbishop for All Seasons (1982),_American Charles W. Lowry chose to compare Temple with Thomas Aquinas, to whom Temple paid particular attention while at Oxford; it is a fascinating comparison. Contemporary newspaper reports also help to create an appropriate consideration of one who left his mark on both the Anglican church and the world about him. Additionally, Renate Howe’s history of the ASCM in Australia has been invaluable in tracing the influence of Temple on Australian students. Marian Sawer’s text is invaluable in tracing the influence of T. H. Green in Australia.
I thank Renate Howe for her advice in how to tackle the very difficult task of identifying ‘influence’ within Australian society.