Bishop William James Hughes

Bishop Hughes turns the sod for the new church of St. Barnabas-on-the-Hill
Bishop Hughes turns the sod for the new church of St. Barnabas-on-the-Hill

Life and Career

Born in 1894, Hughes was educated at the University of Leeds and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree. He was ordained Deacon in 1921 and Priest in 1922 after a course of study at the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield. After a period as curate at St Matthew’s, Leicester he was appointed Priest in charge at St Hilda’s, Leicester. From there, he moved to become Vicar of St Benedict, Bordesley after which he was appointed Rector then Dean of St George’s Cathedral, Georgetown, Guyana.

In 1944, Hughes was appointed Bishop of British Honduras. After a very short time in this post, he was translated to Barbados, during which time he set up the Barbados Church Association to prepare for disestablishment. In 1951, he returned to England to be Vicar of St George’s Church, Edgbaston, and additionally served as an assistant bishop in Birmingham diocese. He was also made an honorary Canon of Birmingham Cathedral in 1952. Two years later, however, he was enthroned as the first Bishop of Matabeleland. During his time in Matabeleland, he became known for his dry comments on the administration of the region – for example, when it was proposed to have a second capital at Bulawayo, he offered this quote from W. S. Gilbert: “Ambassadors cropped up like hay, Prime Ministers and such they grew as asparagus in May and Dukes were three a penny.” After four years, he became the Archbishop of Central Africa.

In 1957, he was awarded a Lambeth degree by Geoffrey Fisher, the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was a Sub-Prelate of the Order of St John of Jerusalem from 1958 and in 1961 he was translated for the final time to Trinidad. He retired in 1970 to Canada, where he continued to minister at Holy Trinity, Port Burwell, Ontario. He died whilst visiting friends in Harare on 5 December 1979.

Preceded by: Bishop Frank Noel Chamberlain

Succeeded by: Bishop Clive Abdulah