Biographical entry: Chisholm, John Wallace (1923 - 1975)

24 May 1975


John Wallace Chisholm was the only Australian-born Anglican Bishop of Melanesia. Born in 1923, he graduated with a B.A. from Melbourne University in 1943 and the following year earned a Diploma of Education. He gained his Licentiate Theology in 1946. Ordained in the Diocese of London, he served as a curate at St. Stephen's Church, Westminster (1947-1951). He went to New Guinea as a missionary and served as a district priest for two years. In 1954, he was appointed sub-dean of the Cathedral at Dogura, and Headmaster of St. Paul's School there. He was made a Canon of the Cathedral in the following year, and Assistant Bishop of New Guinea under Bishop David Hand in 1964. Chisholm first visited Honiara in 1963 as a clerical representative of the Diocese of New Guinea when he attended the South Pacific Anglican Conference. He was appointed Bishop-Designate of Melanesia to replace Bishop Alfred Hill (q.v.) in May 1967.

Bishop Chisholm was an energetic reformer, and moved All Hallows' Boys School at Pawa (q.v.), Ugi and St. Mary's Girls School at Pamua (q.v.), Makira to Guadalcanal to form the co-educational Selwyn College. He also moved the theological college from Siota (q.v.) to Kohimarama, where it became Bishop Patteson Theological Centre in 1969. Chisholm also introduced two traditional Anglican religious communities in the 1970s: the Community of the Sisters of the Church, and the Society of St. Francis. He built and consecrated the new St. Barnabas' Cathedral (q.v.) in Honiara. He was responsible for the revision of the Melanesian Prayer Book and the eventual production of the Melanesian English Prayer Book. He was quite positive about the enculturation of worship, and was responsible for the formation of the new autonomous Church of the Province of Melanesia (q.v.), which started in 1975. At that time, Chisholm became the Bishop of Central Melanesia and Archbishop of Melanesia. Unmarried, he was uncomfortable with the movement towards the ordination of women in the Anglican Church in New Zealand. He was a dedicated smoker and died of throat and lung cancer on 24 May 1975 in Melbourne, and was buried in the grounds of St. Barnabas' Cathedral on 30 May. (Terry Brown, personal communication, 6 Nov. 2005; NS May 1967; SND 30 May 1975)

Related Places

Published resources


  • Solomons News Drum, 1974-1982. Details
  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details