Fellows of Senate

The Reverend William Binnington Boyce

The Reverend William Binnington Boyce was one of the original 16 Fellows of Senate appointed in 1850. He served on Senate until 1859.


(1804 - 1889)
Fellow of Senate: 1850 - 1859

William Binnington Boyce was born on 9 November 1804 at Beverley, Yorkshire, England.

He was twice marreid: in 1834, to Maria Bowden, daughter of James Bowden, merchant of Hull; and in 1873 to the eldest daughter of the late Hon George Allen.

His early career was essentially that of an active missionary. In 1829 he felt called to the ministry, was accepted by the British Conference and appointed to Buntingvale, South Africa. The following year he was chosen by the British Conference to compile a grammar of the Kaffir language which was published in 1834, the first work of its kind known.

After 13 years of distinguished administration and scholarship he was recalled to England in 1843, where he served for two years in charge of a church at Bolton, Lancashire.

In 1846 he went to Sydney as general superintendent for establishing the 'missions in Australia, Van Diemen's Land, the Friendly Islands and Feejee' as an Australian Conference.

When the University of Sydney was incorporated in 1850, a popular tribute was paid to his public and private worth in his appointment as one of the 16 original members of the Senate of the University. Active in 'the library committee' headed by Sir Charles Nicholson, he donated many books and continued a member of the Senate until 1859.

When the local Wesleyan Church acquired the right of self-government, he became the president of the first conference held in Australia in 1855.

Some time after this he returned to England where he was appointed to one of the General Secretaryships for Foreign Missions which he continued to hold for 18 years.

Returning to Sydney in 1871, he spent the last years of his life devoting himself chiefly to literary pursuits, but always taking an active part in the service of his church, regularly conducting the service in the chapel at Toxtoth Park.

He died on 8 March 1889, and was buried in the Wesleyan section of Rookwood cemetery.

From the obituary in The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 March 1889, and the Australian Dictionary of Biography

On 8 March 1923, a 3/4 length portrait in oils of The Reverend Boyce by artist John Longstaff was unveiled at the University. It was the the gift the relatives of the Rev Boyce, was presented to the University, and unveiled by the Rev T F Potts, as President of the Methodist Conference. The Chancellor (Sir William Cullen), in accepting the portrait for the University, said that the Senate of the University was only too glad to have something to remind it of those who worked so strenuously in the early days, when that seat of learning was founded.