ROBERT GRAY (1809-1872), first bishop of Cape Town and metropolitan of South Africa, was born at Bishop Wearmouth, Durham, and was the son of Robert Gray, bishop of Bristol. He was educated at Eton and Oxford, and took orders in 1833. After holding the livings of Whitworth, Durham, 1834-1845, and Stockton-on-Tees 1845-1847, he was consecrated bishop of Cape Town in 1847; the bishopric having been endowed through the liberality of Miss (afterwards Baroness) Burdett-Coutts. Until 1853 he was a suffragan of Canterbury, but in that year he formally resigned his see and was reappointed by letters patent metropolitan of South Africa in view of the contemplated establishment of the suffragan dioceses of Graham's Town and Natal. In that capacity his coercive jurisdiction was twice called in question, and in each case the judicial committee of the privy council decided against him. The best-known case is that of Bishop Colenso, whom Gray deposed and excommunicated in 1863. The spiritual validity of the sentence was upheld by the convocation of Canterbury and the Pan-Anglican synod of 1867, but legally Colenso remained bishop of Natal. The privy council decisions declared, in effect, that the Anglican body in South Africa was on the footing of a voluntary religious society. Gray, accepting this position, obtained its recognition by the mother church as the Church of the Province of South Africa, in full communion with the Church of England. The first provincial synod was held in 1870. During his episcopate Bishop Gray effected a much-needed organization of the South African church, to which he added five new bishoprics, all carved out of the original diocese of Cape Town. It was also chiefly owing to his suggestions that the universities' mission to Central Africa was founded.
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