Reverend Dr Bache Wright Harvey became the vicar at St Paul’s in 1871.  As the population of the parish increased in size, he struggled with the amount of work required of him, and the vestry was faced with finding some solution. St Mark’s at the Basin Reserve was built at about this time to relieve some of the pressure on the other two city churches St Paul’s and St Peter’s. Nevertheless, at the 1878 parish annual meeting, Harvey requested that the vestry employ an assistant. At the time there were around 5,000 people in the parish, of which 3,000 were Anglican. When the vestry refused, Harvey promptly threatened to resign, saying that it was:

‘utterly impossible to undertake all the necessary work, sometimes being unable to visit all his parishioners more than about once a year’.

Ten days after the meeting, the vestry decided that perhaps their financial position wasn’t as bad as it had thought, and that it would employ an assistant for Harvey after all. This was the first assistant priest to be appointed at St Paul’s. Despite this, in February 1879 Harvey was granted a year’s sick leave; the vestry had to conceded that his illness had been brought on entirely by overwork in the parish.

He travelled overseas, but not long after his return to St Paul’s he left, to become a master at Wanganui Collegiate. Harvey had a lasting impact on the work of the diocese through his introduction of the General Church Fund, into which all pew rents, special fundraising and other income from all parishes in the diocese went, in order to pay for salaries and new churches and parishes.

After his death in 1888 the parish put a memorial window to Harvey in the north transept.  The inscription on the window reads that it was:

‘given by the parishioners to whom he dedicated himself with loving zeal and untiring energy’.


Top Image: Reverend R B Harvey. Photo by William James Harding, between 1870-1889. Ref: 1/4-004067-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington.