WM minister, born on 19 June 1854 at Ecclesfield, Sheffield, the son and grandson of WM ministers. He was educated at Woodhouse Grove School, Owen's College, Manchester (taking a London BA with prizes in classics and Greek Testament) and Headingley College. While Assistant Tutor at Headingley 1874-80, he took a London BSc. and came under the influence of the Governor, Benjamin Hellier, who became a life-long friend.
In 1887 he left for Australia to become Master of Queen's College in the University of Melbourne, the first Methodist theological college to be set up in Australia, a post he held until his retirement in 1928. He tackled the college's problems of uncompleted buildings and substantial debts. More importantly, he exercised a formative influence on generations of students and successfully countered Methodist misgivings about an alliance with a secular institution. He also fostered co-operation in theological training with the Baptists and Congregationalists. For the first 12 years his wife served as college matron. At Wesley Church, Melbourne he began a Sunday evening People's Service, whose dual emphasis on evangelism and social service led to the establishment of the Wesley Central Mission in 1893. His encouragement of drama and music and his liberal biblical scholarship, though combined with John Wesley's evangelical zeal, drew criticism in the Victorian Conference. He was a member of the University Council, chairman of the University Conservatorium of Music and a trustee of the Public Library and the National Gallery of Victoria. He was elected President of the Victoria-Tasmania Conference in 1906 and of the Australasian Conference 1923-26.
He gained a DLitt in 1918 for a thesis on Shakespeare, published as A Topographical Dictionary of the Works of Shakespeare and his fellow Dramatists. In 1928 he gave the Fernley Lecture on Israel's Debt to Egypt. Sugden Tower was built in his memory, but his chief memorial is the two-volumes edition of John Wesley's Standard Sermons (1921) which he edited. He also wrote a little book on Wesley's London (1932). He was an avid book collector and his extensive collection of first editions of Wesley's works was left to the college library.He died at Hawthorn, Melbourne on 22 July 1935.
'A fellow member [of the Melbourne Beefsteak Club] wrote: "No one has ever been found to suggest that he was a bad parson or a bad Methodist. At the same time he is a man of the world, a man of science, a musical enthusiast and a universal favourite." … Sugden was a big man, fair, fesh complexioned, with a charming smile. In later life he suffered arthritis of the hips and was confined to a wheel-chair. A member of the Metropolitan Golf Club, he was a keen follower of other sports, especially cricket.'
Australian Dictionary of Biography