Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

Search the Guide

To find information in this Guide please select one of the green coloured options.

To Select a Page Group when displayed, right click and select 'Open'.

Copyright Conditions Apply.

ARMSTRONG, Thomas Henry (1857-1930)

ARMSTRONG, Thomas Henry (1857-1930)

Thomas Armstrong was born in Dublin, the first born son of John Simpson Armstrong and his wife Alice nee O'Dell. He was born in Hatch St, Dublin. At the time of his enrolment his father was Crown Prosecutor in Geelong.

Thomas was educated at Geelong Grammar School from 1866 to 1871, before attending Geelong College from 1871 to 1876. Geelong Grammarians’ notes that he said that he had been ‘removed from the School (Geelong Grammar) in 1871, in consequence of my father being dissatisfied with my progress at that time’. From the Geelong College, he entered Trinity College, University of Melbourne completing a BA in 1880 and his MA in 1883. Ordained deacon by Bishop Moorhouse in December 1880, and priest a year later, he became successively, curate of Christ Church, St Kilda (1881-1883), curate of Christ Church, Hawthorn (1883), vicar of St Columb's, Hawthorn (1883-1894), and archdeacon of Gippsland (1894-1902). He was rural dean of Sale (1896-1899), and a canon of St Paul's Cathedral and examining chaplain to the bishop of Melbourne (1899-1902).

On 24 February 1902, he became the first bishop of Wangaratta, eventually retiring after 25 years dedicated work building the new diocese on 31 March 1927. The bishop's lodge was built, St Columb's Hall for the education of clergy established, and a cathedral partially completed during his term. He was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Divinity by the University of Trinity College, Toronto, Canada in 1903.

After his retirement Armstrong was acting incumbent of St John's, Toorak, and was president of the Melbourne College of Divinity in 1930. David McVilly described him as ‘Low Church in outlook, energetic, cheerful and sympathetic. He was handsome and tall, with a strong physique and a red beard.’

In 1892, at Holy Trinity Church, Kew, he married Marion Ruth nee Henty (c.1863-1928), daughter of early Portland colonist, Henry Henty. Thomas died of heart disease and after a service at St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne was buried at Booroondara Cemetery. He was survived by a son - John Henry Brian Armstrong and a daughter - Marian Dorothea ‘Dorothy’ Armstrong (1900-1990).

Five Prize Award Books won by Thomas Armstrong in 1872 are held in the College Archives. These include:
First Prize - Fourth English Class, 12 December, 1872
Second Prize - Fourth Latin Class, 12 December, 1872
Third Prize – Scripture Class, 12 December, 1872
First Prize – Third Geography Class, 12 December, 1872
Second Prize – Third Algebra Class, 12 December, 1872

The State Library of Victoria holds several photograph albums relating to Bishop Armstrong and his family.

His brothers, Henry Edward Beamish Armstrong (1858-1928), John Armstrong (1860-1941), and Edmund La Touche Armstrong (1864-1946) were also educated at the College.

Sources: David McVilly, Included in 'Armstrong, Edmund la Touche (1864 - 1946)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, Melbourne University Press, 1979, pp 95-96; Geelong Grammarians, Page 167.
© The Geelong College. Unless otherwise attributed, The Geelong College asserts its creative and commercial rights over all images and text used in this publication. No images or text material may be copied, reproduced or published without the written authorisation of The College.