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MONTAGU JOHN STONE-WIGG, ANGLICAN BISHOP of the SEE of NEW GUINEA

The ‘Four Corners’ blue Queensland 2 penny stamp was cancelled with the 9-bar B.N.G. and the unframed SAMARAI/ 25 JUN 00 postmark was nearby. The envelope was addressed to Rev. F.A.C. Livingston, St. John’s Church, Milson’s Point, Sydney, N.S.W. (Figure 1).

The reverse has a transit postmarks of an unframed COOKTOWN/ 2 30 P/ JU 28/ 00/ QUEENSLAND and SYDNEY/ JY 6/ 1-P-M./ 00/ 2 as well as a reception postmark of MILSONS POINT/ JY 6/ 1900/ N.S.W. In addition the flap has a purple insignia of a Bishop’s Mitre over the initials M.J.S.-W. (Figure 2).

Montagu John Stone-Wigg, Anglican bishop, was born on 4 October 1861 at Tunbridge Wells, Kent, son of John Stone Wigg, gentleman, and his wife Ellen Matilda. Montagu's father was stern and forbidding, and five of his six children chose to migrate. He was educated at Winchester College (1875-80) and University College, Oxford (B.A., 1883; M.A., 1887), and Montagu prepared for the Anglican priesthood at Ely Theological College. He was made deacon in 1884 and ordained priest in 1885. He served as curate at St Andrew's, Well Street, London, in 1884-86, and in the mission district of Holy Innocents', Hammersmith, in 1886-89.
Responding to a plea for clergy from Queensland's Bishop William Webber who had been his former vicar at St Andrew's, Stone-Wigg became assistant curate (1889-91), vicar (1891) and canon residentiary and sub-dean (1892-98) at St John's Cathedral where he confessed himself less at home among the 'swells' of Brisbane than among the artisans of Hammersmith. A dedicated Anglo-Catholic, he established a sisterhood in 1892.

n 1898 Stone-Wigg was appointed bishop of the newly established See of New Guinea where an impoverished, understaffed mission had struggled for survival since 1891. He was consecrated in St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney, on 25 January 1898, and was enthroned at Dogura, head-station of the diocese, in May. The Australian Board of Missions transferred responsibility to him for recruiting staff, raising funds and finding his own stipend, so he committed his personal inheritance of £10,000 to the diocese.
Stone-Wigg’s response to his Papuan (sic) flock was scholarly, sympathetic and humane. In 1907 he published The Papuans, a People of the South Pacific. When the Papua Bill (1906) threatened the security of the Papua land tenure, Stone-Wigg was in the vanguard of a successful missionary effort to have the offending clause removed. He inculcated discipline in his priests and lay workers, he was frugal and devout and had high expectations of others. If his staff chafed at the uncompromising regime, they relished his humour and admired his outspoken loyalty to the Anglican Church. Tall, handsome and urbane, Stone-Wigg married Elfie Marcia Mort at St John's Church, Gordon, Sydney, on 21 August 1907.

During his episcopacy he extended the mission's traditional activities of preaching, teaching and healing, initiated plantations and industrial work, cleared the mission of debt and gained endowment for the See. These constant demands wrought havoc with his constitution already debilitated by chronic asthma and malaria. Resigning on medical advice in 1908, Stone-Wigg settled in Sydney, an uncongenial climate for his uncompromising Anglo-Catholicism. There he founded and edited the monthly Church Standard, established a children's home at Burwood and served on the Australian Board of Missions. Increasingly incapacitated, he died at his Burwood home on 16 October 1918 and was buried in St Thomas's churchyard, Enfield. His wife and two young daughters survived him.

The information on Bishop Stone-Wigg was derived from the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

 
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