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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]

The Most Rev. Henry John Chitty Harper

The Most Rev. Henry John Chitty Harper, Doctor in Divinity, first Bishop of Christchurch, and second Primate of New Zealand, was born at Gosport, Hampshire, England, on the 9th of January, 1803. He was educated at Hyde Abbey School, Winchester, and at Quean's College, Oxford; proceeded to his B.A. degree in 1826, M.A. in 1840, and became Doctor in Divinity in 1856. From 1828 to 1836 he was Private Tutor at Eton College, and was ordained deacon by the Bishop of Rochester in 1831, and priest in 1832 by the Bishop of Lincoln. He held the curacy of Eton College in conjunction with a colleague from 1831 till 1840, when the College presented him with the vicarage of Stratified Mortimer, Berkshire, in the diocese of Oxford. There the future prelate did exceptionally valuable and noteworthy work, and remained in charge of the parish till 1856. In describing the character which he maintained as a parish priest at Stratfield Mortimer, an English journal said, at the close of his incumbency, that Mr. Harper “combined in a remarkable degree the most spotless integrity and pureness of life, firmness and sweetness of temper, largeness of views, and unflagging zeal, ever accompanied by prudence and moderation.” On the 10th of August, 1856, Dr Harper was consecrated Bishop of Christchurch at Lambeth, under Letters Patent from the Crown. Bishop Harper shortly afterwards sailed with his family for New Zealand, and arrived at Lyttelton on the 24th of December, and was enthroned on Christmas Day in the procathedral, Christchurch, the Church of St. Michael and All Angels. Till 1866 his diocese included all the southern part of the Middle Island, but in that year the diocese of Dunedin was brought into existence. In 1869, after Bishop Selwyn had left the colony and became Bishop of Lichfield, Bishop harper was elected Primate of New Zealand, and continued as such till 1890, when he retired through failing health. He died at Christchurch on the 28th of December, 1893, leaving behind in the moral consciousness of the people, the work of the Church and the provision made for education, much lasting good due to his wisdom, his high character and public spirit. Bishop Harper is fittingly commemorated by a sculptured effigy in the Christchurch Cathedral, the cost—£600—having been raised by public subscription.

Standish and Preece, photo.The Late Bishop Harper.

Standish and Preece, photo.
The Late Bishop Harper.