Boyce, Francis Bertie

St Bartholomew's church 1870s

Francis Bertie Boyce (1844-1931), Anglican priest and social reformer, worked in a bank when his father died and he had to leave school. He taught Sunday school and resolved to enter the Anglican ministry: he was ordained priest in 1869. He was posted out West, but returned to Sydney in 1882 as minister in St Bartholomew’s, Pyrmont.
In 1849 Edward Macarthur had vested the land in the Anglican Church, which built a church, a school, a parish hall and a minister’s residence. Here Boyce learned about slum housing before he moved on to St Paul’s, Redfern.
In these working-class parishes, Boyce became a social reformer, agitating for unemployment relief, slum clearance, better housing, old-age pensions, temperance and female suffrage. He helped create the British Empire League in Australia and became a strong supporter of the League of Nations.
As the Anglican congregation declined, St Bartholomew’s was demolished in 1970 and the land leased to the City of Sydney for public housing.