Edward Herbert Bleby was born at Vernon House, Sandown, Isle of Wight on the 15 December 1870, the son of Henry William Bleby and his wife Ann Elizabeth (née Waddy).
His father was a barrister in the Middle Temple and the son of a Wesleyan Minister.
His mother’s father, Samuel Dousland Waddy was also a Wesleyan Methodist minister who founded Wesley College, Sheffield in 1838 and from 1844 to 1862 was the College Governor and Chaplain. Her older brother, Samuel Danks Waddy, Q.C., M.P. was also a popular local preacher.
Edward and Ann were married in Ecclesall Bierlow, Sheffield in 1861.
Edward Herbert was educated at Highgate Grammar School and had hoped to study for Holy Orders but was prevented from doing this by ill health. Before coming to South Australia at the end of 1891 he had been living at home in Islington with his widowed father and two sisters while working as an insurance clerk.
Two years later he decided to resume his theological studies and was licensed as a lay reader in Norwood in 1893. In 1895 he entered St Barnabas College. He was made a Deacon by Bishop Harmer on St Thomas’ Day, 21 December 1896 and ordained Priest on Septuagesima Sunday, 6 February 1898.
Before coming to Strathalbyn he had served as an Assistant Curate at St Paul’s, Port Adelaide, Priest in Charge of South Yorke Peninsula Mission for three years and Rector of Melrose and Wilmington for four years.
While at Yorketown Edward Henry married Annie Maud Porter in St Peter’s Cathedral on Thursday 26 April 1900. According to the Yorketown paper The Pioneer “There was a large concourse of people among whom were many from the Peninsula. A large number of presents, very costly, were received by the happy couple.”
He was inducted as Rector of the Parish by Bishop Arthur Nutter Thomas on Friday 15 January 1909.
STRATHALBYN, January 16.-On Friday evening the ceremony of inducting the Rev. Edward H. Bleby to the cure of the parish of Strathalbyn was performed by the Bishop of Adelaide in the presence of a large and representative congregation. The Ven. Archdeacons W. J. Bussell (Broughton), F. W. Samwell (Petersburg), and C. S. Hornabrook (Adelaide) assisted. The proceedings were commenced with the first portion of the ordinary evensong. The Ven. Archdeacon Hornabrook conducted this part of the service, and the Ven. Archeacons Samwell and Bussell read the first and second lessons respectively. The chants and hymns were sung by the choir, Miss O. Sanders acting as organist. The special ritual of institution was observed, and the bishop delivered an impressive sermon from Ezekiel xiii. 7— ‘I have set thee a watchman unto the people of Israel.’ The bishop dwelt on the position occupied by a clergyman in the eyes of the world, his high calling setting him up as an example to others. He also pointed out that it was the duty of the parishioners to render their leader all the help possible in the fulfilling of his many arduous tasks. Addressing the newly-installed rector the bishop said he prayed God that it might be his lot to labor successfully in his new parish, and that the pleasure he felt that night in inducting him might be increased by the happy results achieved in the future. The Rev. E. H. Bleby read the final prayer of the ritual, the bishop pronouncing the benediction. During the ceremony the bishop’s licence, and the books, and keys of the church were handed to the new rector, the people’s warden (Mr. H. H. Butler) entrusting him with the emblems of office. It is interesting to note that Archdeacon Bussell was for many years rector of Christ Church here, and that Archdeacon Samwell for some time served as his curate.(“Chronicle”, Saturday 23 January 1909, page 13)
During his incumbency the acts of communion had been much in excess of the corresponding three months of the preceding year. He spoke very enthusiastically of the Christ Church Day School which has been established and which he visited three times a week to superintend religious instruction.
(“The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser”Friday 7 May 1909 p 2)
The Rev. Ed. Bleby, who has had charge of Christ Church here for the past 10 months or so, and is shortly leaving to take command of St. Pauls’ Church Adelaide, will be much missed by Strathalbyn people. During his residence here Mr. Bleby has made himself most popular with all who had the pleasure of making his acquaintance. As a clergyman his sterling qualities and undaunted courage make him a fitting person for that position, and members of the parish look up to him with high respect. The reverend gentleman lives up to what he preaches, and with Mrs. Bleby will carry away with them the best of good wishes for their future welfare. What is Strathalbyn’s loss will be St. Paul’s Church gain.