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Robert Evelyn Freeth (1886-1979)

Son of Evelyn Freeth (1846-1911) and Florence Thompson Oakes (1851-1931)

Born 7 Apr 1886 at Rathmines, Dublin
Married  Gladys Mary Snashall on 28 Mar 1913 at St John's Church, Ashfield, NSW.
Died 16 Sep 1979 at Perth, West Aust.


Children from marriage between Robert Evelyn Freeth and Gladys Mary Snashall:

  1. Gordon Freeth, born 6 Aug 1914 at Angaston, SA. Died 27 Nov 2001 at Hollywood Hospital, Western Australia
  2. Ernest Evelyn Freeth, born 29 Feb 1916 at Sydney, Australia. Died 4 Dec 1992 at Perth, Western Australia
  3. Elizabeth Oakes Freeth, born 13 Apr 1918 at Sydney, Australia. Died 5 Apr 1998 at Bali, Indonesia


7 April 1886 Born 26 Palmerston Road, Rathmines, Dublin
14 March 1902 Confirmed United Diocese of Dublin, Glendalough and Kildare
Education Lindley College
Education Dublin High School (?)
1905 Final Year Kings College School, Wimbledon (Scholarship to Selwyn)

1908 Graduated Selwyn College, Cambridge - BA (Hons)
Senior Classical Scholar; Ridley Hall (theological training)
1909 Ordained Deacon St Alb for Melanesia

8 July 1909 Sailed to Norfolk Is. Aboard RMS Paparoa, from London to Wellington. Arrived 29 Aug
1910 Ordained Priest St Barnabas’ Chapel, Norfolk Island
1910-1913 Missionary In charge of eight islands of the Banks group in the New Hebrides
16 Sept 1911 Father died Sir Evelyn Freeth died at Homefield, New Milton
1912 Travel SS Moldavia

28 March 1913 Married Gladys Mary Snashall, St John’s Church, Ashfield, NSW
1913-1914 Curate Christ Church, North Adelaide
9 May 1914 Priest-in-Charge Angaston and Nooriootpa
1912 Postgraduate Degree: MA
6 Aug 1914 First child Gordon Freeth Born at Angaston
1915 Prize Essay won the Derbyshire Prize, Selwyn College, Cambridge

1915-1916 Assistant Chaplain, Kings School Parramatta
29 Feb 1916 Second child Ernest Evelyn Freeth born, Sydney
1 Sept 1916 Precentor Precentor of St Andrews Cathedral, Sydney; and
Principal of Cathedral Choir School
1918-1920 Chaplain, Housemaster: Kings School Parramatta
13 April 1918 Third child Elizabeth Oakes Freeth born, Sydney
1919-1920 Teacher Senior Classics Master, Kings School
1920-1926 Ass’t Master Church of England Grammar School, N Sydney
1926-1927 Headmaster Headmaster Prep School, and
House Master Junior House - CE Grammar School

January 1928 Headmaster Guildford Grammar School
10 January 1931 Mother dies At Hampstead
1941 Granted Canonry St George’s Cathedral, Perth
1949 Retires From Guildford Grammar School
1950 Residence Moved into 180 Swan Street, Guildford
1953 Archdeacon St George’s Cathedral, Perth
2 Feb 1957 Assistant Bishop St George’s Cathedral, Perth
1958 Travel Visited Christmas Island
1963 Retired
1967 Licensed to officiate Diocese of Perth

16 September 1979 Died Aged 93


Educated at King's College, Wimbledon. Scholar of Selwyn College Cambridge BA (2nd Classical Tripos) 1908, MA 1912. Australian College of Theology ThD 1961. Ridley Hall, Cambridge 1908. Derbyshire Prize 1915.

Ordained deacon 1909. St Alb for Melanesia. Ordained priest for Melanesia 1910. Missionary at Banks Island 1909-1913; Curate of Christ Church N Adelaide 1913-1914. Priest-in-charge of Angaston 1914-1915.

Assistant Chaplain of Kings School Parramatta 1915-1916; Chaplain and Housemaster 1918-20; Senior Classics Master 1919-20; Precentor of St Andrews Cathedral Sydney and Principal of Cathedral Choir School Sydney 1916-18; Ass't Master C.E. Grammar School North Sydney 1920-1926; Head Master Prep School and House Master Junior House 1926-27; Authorised to Officiate Diocese of Sydney 1920-1927.

Headmaster Guildford Grammar School, Perth 1928-1949; Canon of St George's Cathedral, Perth 1941-1949; Archdeacon of Perth 1952-62; Consecrated Ass't Bishop of Perth in St George's Cathedral, Perth 2nd Feb 1957, retired 1963. Licensed to Officiate, diocese of Perth from 1967.

The following appeared in "The Old Guildfordian" (April 1963), a Guildford Grammar School Newsletter on the occasion of Bishop Freeth's retirement from the Church:

Bishop Freeth's father, Sir Evelyn Freeth, was a civil servant and an authority on taxation. From 1884 to 1902 he held appointments in Dublin, and before he retired in 1908, he was Secretary of the Estate Duty Office in London. Robert Evelyn Freeth was born in Dublin in 1886, and was educated at the King's College School, Wimbledon, and at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He was Senior Classical Scholar of the College, and was awarded his B.A. degree with Honours in 1908. He won many trophies in rowing for his College, and rowed in the University trial eights winning crew. The M.A. degree was conferred upon him in 1912. From Selwyn College he went to Ridley Hall for theological training, and was ordained deacon for service in the Diocese of Melanesia in 1909. At the age of twenty three he set sail for Melanesia, and spent the next four years on missionary service there under Bishop Wilson, who was later to be second Bishop of Bunbury. Ordained priest in 1910, the Reverend R.E. Freeth had charge of eight islands of the Banks group in the New Hebrides; in his parish were sixty seven schools.

In 1913, following his marriage, Mr Freeth was appointed to a curacy in Adelaide, and after two years in that diocese, went to Sydney. He spent the next thirteen years, except for a brief period as Precentor of St Andrew's Cathedral, on the staff of two of Sydney's leading public schools - The King's School, Parramatta, and the Church of England Grammar School ("Shore"). He came to Guildford in January 1928 and was headmaster until the end of 1949. In 1941 he was given a canonry of St George's Cathedral. The twenty two years of Canon Freeth's headmastership were difficult times because of the Depression and the Second World War with the resultant exile to Fairbridge, but, under his guidance, the School steadily went forward and further built up the good name it had acquired under Canon Henn. The detailed story of these years is not necessary here; it is well documented, and will be written in time to come.

Canon Freeth came out of his well-earned retirement in 1953 to be Archdeacon of Perth. At the end of 1956 he laid down this office, with its heavy administrative duties, having been offered the appointment of Assistant Bishop of Perth. The latter office had been created in 1950, when the Bishop of Kalgoorlie was appointed, under an agreement designed to help the Goldfields diocese through a crisis. After Bishop Muschamp relinquished the office in 1954, it was vacant until Bishop Freeth's consecration in 1957. In the absence abroad of Archbishop Moline, Bishop Muschamp consecrated the new Assistant Bishop on 2nd February of that year, assisted by the Bishop of North West Australia, the Bishop of Bunbury (who gave the sermon) and Bishops W.E. Elsey and C.L.Riley. The Old Guildfordians marked the consecration by presenting the bishop with one of the insignia of his office - the pastoral cross. This was handed to Bishop Freeth in the School Chapel at the Lady Day service on 24th March 1957. The Australian College of Theology, of which he is a Fellow, awarded the bishop a Doctorate of Theology, and the public announcement of this was also made at a School function.

The Assistant Archbishopric is entirely the gift of the Archbishop, and this was meant principally to assist him in carrying out such episcopal functions and duties as administering confirmation. Dr Moline's recent retirement therefore brought with it automatically the official retirement of the Assistant Bishop. The office differs from that of a Coadjutor Bishop, as known in some of the Eastern States and in England, where definite administrative duties are involved and where the retirement is not automatic. Both offices differ from that of Auxiliary or Coadjutor Bishop in the Roman Catholic Church, which appointment is often made "cum successionis regione" ("with right of succession", to translate for the benefit of those who escaped the rigours of Canon Freeth's inculcation of Latin in the upper forms).

Soon after Bishop Freeth's consecration, the new Archdeacon of Perth, Archdeacon Hawkins, was elected Bishop of Bunbury, and Bishop Freeth was asked by the Archbishop to resume the duties of Archdeacon. He continued to hold the dual position for four years, until Archdeacon MacDonald's appointment in 1961. As Archdeacon, Bishop Freeth was several times called upon to be Administrator of the Diocese during the Archbishop's absence.

Many, in fact, have been the activities and offices of the Archdeacon and Bishop since 1953, by no means all of them ex-officio. He has been a Diocesan Trustee, Diocesan Councillor, and delegate from the Diocese of Perth to Provincial and General Synods. His interest in missions continues, and he has been a member of the Diocesan Board of Missions and of the Forrest River Mission Board of Management. Above all, his experience and wisdom has been invaluable in the cause of religious education. In 1957 he was chairman of a committee which inquired into Special Religious Instruction in State High Schools. Following its report, Synod set up a Department of Religious Education in State High Schools, and he was a member of its committee. Though disappointed that the Church has as yet been unable to establish a school in the suburbs south of the river, he was delighted when the Church was invited to assume control of Hale School in 1958. He is a member of the Board of Governors of Hale School. The Bishop has also been a member of the Education Advisory Committee, the Church of England Schools Trust, and the Council of St. George's College.

In the training of men for the ministry he has been deeply involved as chairman of the Wollaston Theological College governing body. Recently he has led a campaign to raise funds for the completion of the College buildings. Other committees on which he has served include those of the Department of Promotion, the Board of Le Fanu House, Cottesloe, and the Presentation Board; he was warden of the Lay Readers' Guild, and Chairman of the Church of England Boys' Society. More recently he has been busy as a member of the committee electing a new archbishop. Several of these positions he continues to hold.

In 1958 Bishop Freeth paid a visit to Christmas Island at the invitation of the administration. The island had just been transferred to Australian administration by Singapore's government, and the Church authorities had followed suit. No doubt the Bishop saw many comparisons and contrasts with his work in the Pacific Islands forty five years before.

Bishop Freeth officiated and preached at numerous special services, and is often a distinguished guest at important functions. Old Boys in their home parishes have had many an opportunity to meet him when he has come to administer confirmation or to dedicate buildings. He gave the addresses at the great services to mark the centenary of the churches at Toodyay and Katrine last year. On 31st July last year he preached a most interesting sermon at a public service in the School chapel held to mark the jubilee of the laying of its foundation stone. In many ways he has shown his continuing interest in the School, and all look forward to his presence each year on such occasions as Speech Day and Old Boys' Dinner.

On 28th March occurred the fiftieth anniversary of the Reverend R.E. Freeth's marriage to Miss Gladys Mary Snashall. Mrs Freeth, as well as being the wife of a busy man and the mother of two sons and a daughter, has found time during all these fifty years to give constant help to her husband's work and to the Church. As hostess at the School she is well remembered. Many have admired her paintings of the Chapel. In particular, she has maintained a deep interest in Missions, and was largely responsible for the formation of the Anglican Women's Association, of which she is chairman.

Since 1950 Bishop and Mrs Freeth have lived in their comfortable home in Swan Street, Guildford. The lounge furnishings include an unobtrusive television set, but the Bishop denies he is an avid viewer. Through their windows they have the tranquil scene of cattle grazing on the flats and beyond the Swan River (The School's rowers, who go by, have surely proved that they are still as good today as they ever used to be). The Bishop keenly attends to his favourite hobby of gardening, and in his garden is still the Grecian Urn which always seemed so appropriate in the garden of the house of the headmaster and classical scholar.

Created by: Robf. Last Modification: Thursday 10 of June, 2010 22:06:06 WST by Robf.

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