Lichfield Road, TW9

Place Name

George Augustus Selwyn (April 5, 1809 – April 11, 1878) was Bishop of Lichfield from 1868 until his death, having previously served as the first Anglican Bishop of New Zealand. After his death, Selwyn College, Cambridge, was founded to honour his life and contribution to scholarship and religion. This street was named in his memory by his nephew and ward Charles William Selwyn in 1881 when the estate was being developed. As chaplain to the British forces Selwyn was at the Battle of Rangiaowhia during the Invasion of the Waikato which became the largest and most important campaign of the 19thCentury New Zealand Wars. Accounts claim that the battle was one of the most shameful episodes of the war, the village was occupied mostly by elderly men, women and children. Most terrified villagers fled, a few shot at the troops, some sheltered in the churches, at least seven were burnt to death in their houses; and at least one attempted to surrender, but was murdered by troops ignoring their orders. Women were raped and killed in front of children. It was unclear what Selwyn’s role was, although he had done more than most to reach out to the native population, learning the language and generally advocated for Māori rights; he was often a critic of the unjust and reckless land acquisition practices. However, the very fact that he was with the troops is said to have set back the church’s missionary cause. Soon after he was made Bishop of Lichfield and returned to England. He died at the Bishop’s Palace, Lichfield, and was buried in the grounds of Lichfield Cathedral.

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