- Hart, Mrs P
- History - general, Biographies and personal histories
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- June 1996 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Thomas Henry Distin Morgan, born in England 28th December 1868 – son of John Furlong Morgan and Mary (Bradridge). When three months old his parents returned to their home – “Wiston”, Darling Point, Sydney, NSW, Australia. As he always accompanied his father who travelled frequently to England in connection with his business (china and glass importer) and by sailing ship – he developed a great love of the sea and as a young man was well known on the harbour in his 16 footer (specially built for him). He was educated at St. Mark’s School (Miss McAuley?), Darling Point, Sydney and Beckenhan Abbey School, Kent, England.
He graduated from St. Pauls College, University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts degree and blue in cricket. Studied Holy Orders at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, England. He was ordained Deacon in St. Pauls Cathedral, London, by the Bishop of London for Sydney, (presumably by Letters Dimissory) in 1894. He returned to Sydney with a letter from the Bishop of London to the Archbishop in Sydney. The Right Reverend Seumurez Smith suggesting that as there was no Mission to Seamen in Australia at this time, he considered that this man would be suitable to start such a mission, having worked on the London docks and in Liverpool during vacations.
On returning to Sydney he was delegated to look for suitable premises in which to start a Mission to Seamen. He was given an authority to officiate on the 2nd November 1894 and ordained priest by the Archbishop of Sydney in St. Andrews Cathedral on the 9th June, 1895. He received a licence as Chaplain Superintendent of the Mission to Seamen, 100 George Street, Sydney on the following day. A position which he held until the 30th June. 1908 during which time he also started a Mission to Seamen in Newcastle and Adelaide.
As this was still a time of sailing ships the Mission became very busy. Ships could be in port for as long as three months waiting for the wheat harvest and the wool clip. This gave time for midshipmen to be prepared for confirmation. Three committees were formed, each providing a concert per week for the entertainment of the men, and all the leading artists in Sydney took part. On Saturday nights the men provided their own concert to which women did not go.
In 1890 he was appointed Acting Chaplain Royal Naval Establishments, Garden Island. This was an unusual appointment as he was not a naval man and it is understood a special act had to be passed in the House of Commons to allow him to hold the position. At this time the Chapel on the Island was very small and his suggestion that one of the sail lofts be turned into a chapel was adopted and is still in use.
In 1908 June 30th he resigned both positions owing to a nervous breakdown and after a short holiday he was asked by Cannon Beck of St. Johns, Darlinghurst, Sydney to help in the Parish. This was not a diocesan appointment but an agreement between two friends and he was given authority to officiate on 26th April, 1909.
On the 3rd August, 1910 he was inducted Rector of St. Simon and St. Jude, Bowral, NSW by Archbishop J. C. Wright. During this time at St. Simon and St. Jude, twenty six and one half years, he greatly endeared himself not only to his parishioners but to the whole community.
He had great vision and much of his forward thinking proved very beneficial to the church and town. He felt strongly that sport played an important part in the education of the young.
(From Mrs. P. Hart, granddaughter of T.H.D. Morgan.)
On Sunday, March 8, Rev. Distin Morgan’s daughter, Miss Barbara Morgan, unveiled a brass plaque to her father’s memory in the Naval Chapel, Garden Island. The rectangular plaque is surmounted by a Naval crown and garland and reads:
“To the Glory of God and In Memory of the Reverend Thomas Henry Distin Morgan BA. First Chaplain to the Mission to Seamen in Australia 1895-1908. Chaplain (non-naval) to the Royal Naval Station Garden Island 1900-1908. Rector of St. Simon and St. Jude Bowral, NSW 1910-1937.”
The Rev. Distin Morgan was very well known in Bowral, almost a legendary figure. The Garden Island Chapel was formerly the sail-loft, and it was Rev. Distin Morgan’s suggestion to convert it to a Chapel when sail gave way to steam.
It is believed there is one other sail loft chapel in the world, in Antigua, in the West Indies, making the Garden Island Chapel almost unique.
(Southern Highlands News – 18 March 1987)