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Thomas Kemmis (1835–1897)

from Sydney Morning Herald

By the death of Canon Kemmis, which took place yesterday, there has been removed from the ranks of the local clergy of the Church of England one of her foremost men, and, one which it will be a difficult matter to replace. For over 30 years he had been incumbent of St. Mark's, Darling Point, but his ministrations were by no means confined to that church. More than any other clergyman occupying a similar position, he was known not only through this colony, but all through the eastern colonies of Australia, and, although he was credited with High Church tendencies, yet his preaching proclaimed him a man singularly broad in his views. As an orator he was distinguished. His commanding presence, strong and regular features, his deep sonorous voice, which had been so trained as to be modulated to any tone, and his graceful gesture, all lent their powerful aid to this faculty. As an elocutionist he was equally popular, and his public readings here some years ago always drew large audiences.

Canon Kemmis was born at O'Connell's Plains, New South Wales, in 1835, and was educated at the King's School, Parramatta, where he was contemporary with many distinguished men, including Justices Windeyer, Innes, and G. B. Simpson, and Archdeacon Gunther, of Parramatta. In his year he became the head of the school, winning many prizes. After leaving the King's School, for a few months he was under Dean Cowper, preparing to enter Moore College, to which he subsequently proceeded. In 1858 he was ordained deacon, and two years later priest being the first duly ordained clergyman to be educated by the college. In the same year Canon Kemmis married the oldest daughter of Archdeacon Gunther late of Mudgee, and till 1863 was incumbent at St Clement’s, Yass. In the following year he was appointed incumbent of St Mark’s, Darling Point, and continued there till his death. In 1885 he was appointed canon of St Andrew’s Cathedral, and recently he was made a chaplain to the Primate. The deceased gentleman was also a Fellow of St Paul's College within the University of Sydney. At one time he was secretary of the Clergy Widows and Orphans Fund, and was connected with the Australian Churchman. As an ecclesiastical writer he obtained some repute. For his latest work, "The Pope, the Cardinal, and the Prior," written in 1895, he was thanked by the Primate. In 1885 Canon Kummis visited Great Britain, and while there was the guest of some of the distinguished authorities of the Church of England. Before he returned from England, in 1887, the Canon was offered two livings, but in each case he declined the preferment. Eight years ago the deanery of Hobart was offered to him, but this appointment he also declined. It is 18 months since Canon Kummis had the first attack of the illness which eventually led to his death. He recovered on that occasion, although the attack left him much weakened, and he continued in fair health till Saturday evening last, when he was again suddenly seized. He was attended by Dr R. S. Bowker, the family medical attendant, and on Tuesday afternoon Dr Bowker and Dr MacLaurin had a consultation. Dr MacLaurin said that Dr Booker had done everything that could be done. Death occurred about a quarter to 12 o'clock yesterday morning. For 24 hours before the event the deceased gentleman was unconscious. Canon Kemmis leaves a widow and five sons and four daughters, two of whom are married. The funeral will take place on Friday afternoon, leaving the vicarage at 2 o'clock for St. Mark's Church, and proceeding thence to the South Head Cemetery.

At the conclusion of the afternoon Lenton service at St Andrew's Cathedral yesterday the Dead March in "Saul" was played by the organist as a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased canon. The congregation and choir remained standing until the close.

A memorial service will be hold at the Cathedral on Sunday morning.

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Citation details

'Kemmis, Thomas (1835–1897)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 13 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Thomas Kemmis, c1870

Thomas Kemmis, c1870

State Library of New South Wales, P1 / 874

Life Summary [details]


Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia


24 March, 1897 (aged ~ 62)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

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