Le Fanu, Henry Frewen (1870–1946), anglican clergyman and primate of Australia (1935–46), was born 1 April 1870 in Dublin, one of the eight surviving children of William Richard Le Fanu (qv), civil engineer and commissioner of public works, of 59 Fitzwilliam Square North, and his wife Henrietta Victorine (d. 1899), daughter of Sir Matthew Barrington (qv), crown solicitor for Munster. He was educated at Haileybury School before entering Keble College, Oxford, where he studied modern history and graduated BA (1893). An accomplished sportsman, he was a member of the college boxing and rugby teams. Deciding on a career in the anglican church, he then attended Wells Theological College and was ordained in 1895. He was appointed curate at Poplar, east London (1895–9), and then resident chaplain to the bishop of Rochester (1899–1901). In 1901 he graduated MA and took up an appointment as chaplain to Guy's Hospital in London (1902–4).
In late 1904 the anglican hierarchy of Australia announced that the church there was desperately short of clergymen, and appealed to young priests to travel to the colony to fill the many vacancies. Le Fanu, realising that this relatively young branch of the anglican church offered great opportunities for a young clergyman, decided to go. He arrived in January 1905 in Australia, where he was appointed as archdeacon of Brisbane and later acted as sub-dean of St John's cathedral. On 21 September 1915 he was made coadjutor bishop, and in 1925 was made acting-dean of Perth. In 1929 he became the second archbishop of Perth, and soon showed himself to be an able church administrator.
He had held senior church appointments during the first world war and had now become bishop during the depths of the Australian depression, a financial depression exacerbated by severe drought. Inheriting a diocesan organisation that was still developing, he forged strong links with his parish clergy and the lay community while also engaging in ecumenical dialogue with other religious denominations. During this difficult period he was ably assisted by the Rev. Robert Henry Moore (1872–1964). As financial assistance from England dwindled due to the effects of the depression, he reformed the diocese's finances and also gave extra financial support to the overstretched parishes in the wheat-belt. Despite the fact that he instigated a policy of financial retrenchment, he still managed to find the funds to open new churches and schools, while also acquiring the Mount Hospital in Perth for the diocese in 1934. There was no theological college in his diocese and he encouraged young men to train for ordination at other colleges, many of them training at Adelaide before returning to the Perth diocese. Despite his efforts to make the diocese self-sufficient in terms of providing its own clergymen, he still had to recruit others during trips to England for the Lambeth conference (1930) and the coronation of George VI (1937).
It was largely due to his recognised ability as a church administrator that he was elected anglican primate of Australia in March 1935. In the following year (1936) he was awarded an honorary DD from Lambeth and was made a sub-prelate of the order of St John of Jerusalem. He became an extremely popular primate and, an advocate of economic and social reforms, constantly lobbied the Australian government on various issues. In 1937 he chaired the general synod and spoke on creating a sense of unity and independence in the anglican church in Australia. At the outbreak of the second world war he was appointed chaplain general of the Australian forces, but in 1941 sensibly relinquished this office to bishops in the Melbourne area, then the HQ area of the Australian forces. During the war many of his diocesan clergy left to work as chaplains to the forces, and by 1945 many of his parishes were again without clergymen. Despite seeing many of his interwar initiatives undone, he chaired the general synod in 1945 and enthusiastically called for a new programme of reconstruction. He was suffering from heart problems by this time, however, and his energy began to fail him. Refusing to retire, he died on 9 September 1946. An agreeable and deeply human churchman, he had provided strong and capable leadership during one of the most difficult periods in the history of the anglican church in Australia.
He married first (October 1904) Margery (‘Mary’) Annette (d. 1926), daughter of the Rev. John N. Dredge, vicar of Mautby, Norfolk; they had six children. He married secondly (July 1941) Winifred Maud Whiteley (d. 1979). A Le Fanu wing was later added to Wollaston College, Perth, where a portrait by Leon Hogan now hangs. Another portrait, also by Leon Hogan, hangs in St George's College, Perth. A large collection of his papers is held in the Perth diocesan archive.