Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Frederick Hervey 1730-1803 : Bishop of Derry 1768-1803 (The Earl Bishop)


One of the most eccentric and colourful prelates to have been made Bishop of Derry was Frederick Hervey. Born 1st August 1730, the third son of eight children from the marriage of Lord Hervey and Molly Lepel (of Ickworth, near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk), his penchant for building palatial country houses rather than for engaging in any moral crusade earned him the title of the "Edifying Bishop". Educated at Westminster School and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, he first showed leanings towards the Bar. But a change of heart on the part of his brother, William, from choosing a career in the church to one in the army appears to have made Frederick reconsider his future and plumb for an ecclesiastical career.


It was some time, however before Frederick acquired a "suitable" benefice as his only real chance for advancement lay through the patronage of his brother George, Lord Bristol, who became Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1766. The bishopric of Cloyne was the first to become available, and Hervey was duly consecrated on the 31st May 1767. Yet the new bishop was not satisfied for long as his real ambition had centred on the rich bishopric of Derry. Fortuitously for Hervey, the death of William Barnard of Derry came swiftly thereby fulfilling his aspiration and signalling in February 1768 the beginning of his remarkable thirty-five years episcopate in the northern diocese. Legend records that Hervey, reflecting his ever present sense of fun, was engaged in a game of leap-frog amongst friends (either at Cloyne or Dublin Castle) when news came of his translation. The bishop no doubt to great effect, halted proceedings by declaring, "I will jump no more. I have beaten you all, for Ihave jumped from Cloyne to Derry"


Hervey's playful antics and cosmopolitan image undoubtedly marked a break with tradition in the See of Derry. His skilful management of Derry's episcopal finances allowed him heavily to indulge his appetite for building grand country houses, acquiring Italian works of art and realizing an insatiable desire for a life of travel. Yet while such financial resources undoubtedly led to extravagance, the bishop nevertheless showed through his actions that a sense of duty and purpose also existed. On his arrival, for example, he conducted a diocesan visitation in an effort to ensure that care was taken for the welfare of his clergy. He established a superannuation fund, was keen to encourage the building of glebe houses and discountenanced the idea of appointing clergy to benefices from outside the diocese. The bishop also used his income for the building of roads, the development of agriculture, mining exploration, churches in the diocese, the building of a new bridge across the Foyle and in the erection of a new spire for St. Columb's Cathedral. Admittedly his greatest efforts went into the building of palatial houses to house his art treasures:

 
Downhill (with the Mussenden Temple)

    
the episcopal place and the "Casino" in Londonderry, Ballyscullion and at the ancestral home of Ickworth in Suffolk. Yet such artistic excesses had welcome economic consequences: Hervey became an important source of employment in each locality. Appreciation for the bishop in the diocese was not lacking either. He gained the freedom of the City of Londonderry, and after his death an obelisk to his memory was erected at Ickworth by all sections of the city's community. He was also remembered in the Siege Memorial Window in St. Columb's Cathedral alongside the Roman Catholic Bishop of Derry.



It was not only his flamboyant lifestyle and public acts of generosity which marked Hervey out from most of his Anglican peers, it was also his striking opposition to the penal laws, and his calls for religious toleration for Presbyterians and Roman Catholics. His popularity amongst these two groups was due in no small part to his efforts to incorporate them into the political nation. At a local level his enlightened thinking led him to help financially with the building of a number of Roman Catholic churches, notably the impressive St. Columb's (The Long Tower Church) in Londonderry to which he subscribed £200. The impetus behind the measure can be seen in a letter from  Rome (19th September 1778) and reflects a philosophy based on his knowledge of European affairs: "I have seen myself destined £1000 for our chapels in the diocese of Derry, having seen the excellent effect of a reciprocal toleration through all the great towns in Germany, and the bad effects of intolerance through all the great towns of Italy"


While Hervey consistently expressed his support for the rights of humanity, his efforts were also designed to secure political stability within Ireland. His suggestion, for example, that the Crown should endow the Roman Catholic and Presbyterian churches and appoint their clergy was a naive attempt at political control:

"The Crown should be the patron of all dissenters, seceders and schismatics whatever, and the Crown should either pay them or be the cause of their being paid, and then the Government would be certain that the people they appoint and the doctrines they would teach ... This would effectively tear up rebellion by the roots, for where the preacher would be appointed by the proper authority, and then be paid for preaching loyalty instead of disaffection; where the treasure is there would be the heart likewise"  

In a similar frame of mind, Hervey took the initiative in the search for a legal formula whereby Roman Catholics could swear allegiance to the Crown in the hope of binding them loyally to the state. Eventually in 1774 such an act was passed, but to Hervey's disappointment it failed to gain approval from Rome. Further efforts were made at the end of the 1770s. The bishop was particularly anxious about the latter. Writing in September 1779, he lobbied for a repeal of the Sacramental Test Act of 1704 (a measure which had been designed to ensure that members of the established church were appointed to public office) to offset their possible disaffection if such an invasion occurred:

"While all the regard I have for the Presbyterians, many of whom I know to be excellent men, yet I deem them much more dangerous at this crisis than the Papists. Their principles are truly republican amongst them and the pro-offer of independence, which will be instantly exhibited by the French, cannot fail to success amongst them ... The rights of humanity demand a general and unlimited toleration at all times. Policy peculiarly demands it at present. A reasonable indulgence to the Presbyterian and the Papist may save the Kingdom."

In 1780 the Test Act was finally removed from the statute book. Hervey's opposition to religious discrimination took on a more coherent and committed form, albeit for a limited period, when he became involved in the Volunteer Movement in the early 1780's. Ostensibly to defend from French invasion, the movement quickly became an important political pressure group influenced by events in America. Hervey was no doubt attracted to the whole idea of display and revelry but he was also genuine in his demand for reform of parliamentary representations and, in particular, his wish to extend the franchise to Roman Catholics. Becoming colonel of the Londonderry Corps of Volunteers, his contribution was to reach it's height at the Grand General Convention of Volunteers of all Ireland held firstly at the Royal Exchange and then at the Rotunda, Dublin in November 1783. Hervey's arrival in Dublin could hardly have been more ostentatious. His love of display was given full rein in an effort to influence the other delegates.

But in a tussle for the presidency of the convention Hervey lost out to the conservative Lord Charlemont.

James Caulfeild, 1st Earl of  Charlemont 1728-1799
He then hoped for an alliance with the great parliamentary orator Henry Flood in order to guide through what was hoped would be substantive reform. Yet again he was disappointed. Flood was to be no different from Charlemont. Both men saw what Hervey was espousing as a direct threat to the Protestant Ascendency of which they were a part. Moreover, the bishop's excitable nature did little to further any confidence they had in him. When an emasculated reform package was put together, Flood carried it for debate to the House of Commons in full Volunteer uniform only to have it contemptuously rejected. Reform of the kind which Hervey had in mind did not come until well into the nineteenth century. In the meantime, at attempted rebellion was to take place in 1798, an event which Hervey might well have foreseen. Having witnessed the demise of the noble principles of the French Revolution, he was convinced of the need to stern anarchy. After this brief fling of volunteering, the bishop never regained his interest in Irish politics. In 1800 he decided to vote by proxy for the Act of Union.

   
As the years passed the Earl-Bishop (created Earl on the death of his brother, Augustus, in December 1779) spent more time touring the continent (a number of Bristol Hotels were established after his name). Indeed, he spent the remainder of his life, from 1791 onwards, outside Ireland. Unsurprisingly, such a lengthy leave of absence eventually incurred the justified criticism of his episcopal brothers. Yet time spent abroad could hardly ever have been dull. In his world he mixed  with such internationally renowned luminaries as Voltaire, Goethe and Benjamin Franklin. While equally significant were his flirtatious associations with notorious courtesans of the period as Lady Hamilton (Nelson's mistress and married to Hervey's school friend and later Ambassador at Naples, Sir William Hamilton) and Countess Lichtenau (mistress of Frederick William II of Prussia). In this respect, the Earl-Bishop's singularity led one historian to remark:

"Although there is no proof that impropriety of his conduct went beyond a highly unepiscopal freedom of language and heedlessness of decorum, the character of the ladies with whom his name was chiefly connected was of kind which gave probability to the grossest suggestions as to the nature of his liaisons"

Hervey's family life also suggests a rather unflattering picture. Having married at a young age against the wishes of both sets of families, his relationship with his wife steadily deteriorated until, in 1782, he finally left her. Furthermore, attempts to force his own son Frederick (the marriage produced four sons and three daughters), into an unsuitable marriage took little account of his wishes on the subject. Consequently, the general view concerning his Christian faith has understandably been somewhat sceptical, Countess Lichtenau stated that Hervey "professed no religion although he had strong innate principles" Yet John Wesley was generous enough to write "The Bishop is entirely easy and unaffected in his whole behaviour, exemplary in all parts of worship, plenteous in good works".

Frederick Hervey died from an attack of gout on a road outside Albano, Italy on the 8th of July 1803.


Sunday, 23 September 2012

William Barnard 1697-1768 : Bishop of Derry 1747-68



William Barnard was born in Clapham, Surrey circa 1697. He was educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating B.A. 1720; M.A. 1724; D.D. 1740. He was elected a fellow of the College in 1724 and two years later became Rector of Esher, Surrey, 1726-44. During this tenure he became acquainted with the Duke of Newcastle who made him his Chaplain, while in 1728 he was appointed Chaplain to the King. Barnard became Prebendary of Westminster, 1732-43; Vicar of St. Bride's, London, 1739-47; Dean of Rochester, 1743-3. In May 1744 he was appointed Bishop of Raphoe and three years later was translated to Derry on the 3rd March 1747.

Barnard, after returning to England on account of poor health, died in London on the 10th January 1768 and was buried at Westminster Abbey. He married Anne Stone, sister of his predecessor. Their eldest son later became Bishop of Limerick. William Barnard was responsible for the building of the Chapel of Ease and the Bishop's Palace in Londonderry. He published A Sermon preached before the Incorporated Society for Promoting English Protestant Schools in Ireland, Dublin 1752.


Thursday, 20 September 2012

George Stone 1708-1764 : Bishop of Derry 1745-7


George Stone was born in London circa 1708, son of an eminent banker. He was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford graduating B.A. 1729; M.A. 1732; D.D. 1740. Stone may first have thought about a career in the army, but in the end he took Holy Orders. He arrived in Ireland as Chaplain to his patron, the Duke of Dorset, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

Lionel Sackville, 1st Duke of Dorset 1688-1765
It was the beginning of his meteoric rise to power that took Stone to the top of the ecclesiastical ladder in Ireland: Dean of Ferns, August 1733; Dean of Derry, March 1734; Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin, August 1740; Bishop of Kildare (and Dean of Christ Church, Dublin), March 1743; Bishop of Derry, May 1745; Archbishop of Armagh, March 1747.

Stone was not yet forty years old when he became Archbishop of Armagh. His rapid success in gaining such preferment was largely due to his political and administrative connections. His brother, Andrew, was Private Secretary to the Duke of Newcastle, Secretary of State and later Prime Minister.

Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle 1693-1768

Access to such an influential English politician inevitably helped Stone to reach the dizzy heights of episcopal office. When the bishopric of Derry became vacant, for example, it was Newcastle himself who wrote to the Earl of Chesterfield, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, campaigning for Stone's translation to the northern diocese:

"My friend, the bishop of Kildare (Stone) will not discredit any station you may do the honour to place him in"

By rising through the church hierarchy, Stone was able to realize his considerable political ambitions. For it was politics rather than church affairs that dominated his thinking. His promotion to the primacy in March 1747 was therefore of great significance as it led to his appointment as Lord Justice. In this role he was able to exert a direct influence on government policy and patronage in Ireland. Yet his elevation to the episcopate, and in particular the primacy, was also a recognition of Stone's political importance. Since his arrival in the 1730s he had displayed an ability to cultivate support within the political arena. This was based on an impressive knowledge and understanding of the factional complexities of Irish parliamentary affairs. From the late 1740s to the early 1760s, his influence was to carry increasing weight. Consequently, no chief governor could afford to ignore Stone as his skill in managing the different parliamentary interests made him a very powerful and useful politician.

However, in playing the political power-broker, the Archbishop was not to be without enemies, and in the early 1750s he attracted a welter of criticism from discontented Irish grandees.

Henry Boyle, 1st Earl of Shannon 1682-1764
Henry Boyle (later  Earl of Shannon) and the Earl of Kildare both felt that Stone had become too politically powerful (at their expense) for the good of the country. While he was eventually to patch up his quarrel with Boyle, Kildare remained implacable.

James Fitzgerald, 1st Duke of Leinster 1722-1773, styled Lord Offlay until 1744 and known as the Earl of Kildare between 1744 and 1761 and as the Marquess of Kildare between 1761 and 1766.
In the earl's opinion, Stone was, and always would be, a man of insatiable greed: "he made use of his influence to invest himself with temporal power, and affected to be a second Wolsey in the state"

Stone died, unmarried, on the 19th December 1764 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. He is said to have given the domingo mahogany organ in St. Columb's Cathedral, the case of which can be seen in the west gallery.

Carew Reynell 1698-1745 : Bishop of Derry 1743-45



Carew Reynell was born in London in 1698. He was educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford where he was both a scholar and a fellow. He graduated B.A. 1715; M.A. 1719; B.D. and D.D. 1730. He became Chaplain to William Bradshaw, Bishop of Bristol, and was also appointed Chancellor of the Diocese. Reynell came to Ireland as Chaplain to the Lord Lieutenant, the Duke of Devonshire in 1737.

William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire 1720-1764
In 1739 he was promoted by the Lord Lieutenant to the See of Down and Connor and in May 1743 was translated to Derry. He died in January 1745.

Thomas Rundle 1688-1743 : Bishop of Derry 1735-43


Thomas Rundle, the son of a clergyman, was born at Milton Abbot, near Tavistock, Devonshire 1688. He was educated at Exeter College, Oxford and graduated B.C.L. in 1710. In 1712 Rundle became acquainted with William Whiston whose unorthodox (Arian) religious views had led to his banishment from Cambridge University where he had been professor. Nevertheless, Rundle himself became momentarily a "hearty and zealous member" of Whiston's "Society for Promoting Primitive Christianity" 

William Whiston 1667-1752

By 1717, however, his interest in this "temperate and abstemious a way of living" had waned and Rundle was now intent on taking Holy Orders. It drew a resentful response from Whiston: "you are going to leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness, and I will have nothing more to do with you".

During his Oxford days, Rundle had become good friends with Edward Talbot, second son of Dr. William Talbot, then Bishop of Salisbury. The association proved fruitful and resulted in the bishop's patronage of the young cleric: Chaplain to Bishop Talbot, 1716;

The Right Reverend. Dr. William Talbot, Bishop of Oxford 1699-1715, Bishop of Salisbury 1715-1722, Bishop of Durham 1722-1730. His Majesty's Lord Lieutenant, County Durham 1722-1730. 

Vicar of Inglesham, Wiltshire, 1719; Rector of Poulshot, Wiltshire, 1720; Archdeacon of Wilts, 1720.

After the death of Edward in 1720, and on being translated to Durham, Bishop Talbot continued to promote the interests of Rundle: Prebendary of Durham Cathedral: Vicar of Sedgefield, 1722; Resident Chaplain to the Bishop, 1724-1730; Master of Sherborn Hospital, Durham, 1728.

In 1733 the See of Gloucester became vacant and Rundle was nominated, after the death of Bishop Talbot in 1730, by Talbot's other son, Charles, Lord Chancellor.

Charles Talbot, 1st Baron Talbot PC (1685-1737) Lord Chancellor of Great Britain 1733-1737 

His nomination, however, was opposed by the then Bishop of London, Edmund Gibson, who ostensibly suspected Rundle, given his erstwhile association with Whiston, of heterodox opinions. Rundle, to defend himself, explained in a letter to a friend:

"I am an open and talkative man, and not one of my acquaintances ever suspected my disbelief in the Christian religion .... I do not doubt but the Bishop of London thinks me a very bad man, and thinks in opposing me, he doth God and the church good service; but it is not me, but the phantom represented to him under my name, that he so vehemently opposes .... I only complain that he prefers a little tattle hear-say character, from men that have no intimacy with me."

The impasse, after some debate between contending parties, seems to have been resolved by Gloucester going to Martin Benson (a friend of Rundle's) while Rundle himself was promoted to the richer benefice of Derry. The Bishop of London was probably satisfied with this compromise as Rundle's connection with the Lord Chancellor could not be overlooked. Derry, after all, was in a different sphere of influence to that of Gloucester and thus could be more easily ignored by English Churchmen. The rejection from an English bishopric and his promotion to an Irish one, however, naturally excited objections from within the Irish Church itself and in particular from the Primate, Hugh Boulter.

The Most Reverend Hugh Boulter, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland. (1672-1742)
  
The Very Reverend Jonathan Swift,  Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.  (1667-1745)

Yet ironically it was Jonathan Swift who came to the defence of Rundle by penning a few satirical verses which touched on the recent controversy:

Make Rundle Bishop! fie for shame!
An Arian to usurp the name!
A Bishop in the Isle of Saints!
How will his Brethren make complaints!
Dare any of the mitred host
Confer on him the Holy Ghost?

Rundle a Bishop! well he may,
He's still a Christian more than they;
We know the subject of their quarrels,
The man has learning, sense and morals,

Objections to Rundle's appointment gradually abated and over time the bishop became well liked by churchmen and the literary elite alike. Swift became greatly impressed by Rundle as a conversationalist and wit, remaking to Alexander Pope "he is indeed worth all the rest you ever sent us ... His only fault is that he drinks no wine, and I drink nothing else." This was praise indeed since Swift was a committed opponent of English appointees to Irish Church benefices. He had now made one exception.

Rundle, who resided chiefly in Dublin, became noted for his "repeated acts of public munificence and private generosity, which gradually endeared him to the people of Ireland." The building of an episcopal residence in Dublin, for example, while costing a considerable sum. gave much needed work to local tradesmen. There is evidence that, though he did not wish to leave the English Church, he was nonetheless to find comfort in his Irish surroundings:

"My situation in Ireland is as agreeable to me as any possibly could be, remote from the early friendship of my life ... At Dublin, I enjoy the most delightful habitation, the finest landscape, and the mildest climate, that can be described or desired. I have a house there rather too elegant and magnificent , in the north of an easy Diocese, and a large revenue. I have about thirty-five beneficed clergymen under my care, and they are all regular, decent and neighbourly; each hath considerable and commendable general learning, but no one is eminent for any particular branch of knowledge. And I have rather more Curates, who are allowed by their Rectors such a Stipend, as hath, alas! tempted most of them to marry, and it is not uncommon to have Curates that are fathers of eight or ten children, without anything but an allowance of £40 a year to support them."

Rundle, who never married, died in Dublin on the 14th April 1743 and left his fortune of £20,000 to John Talbot, second son of The Lord Chancellor. 

Henry Downes 1667-1735 : Bishop of Derry 1727-35



Henry Downes was educated at New College, Oxford and graduated B.A. 1690, M.A. 1693/4. After three parishes in Northamptonshire, he became chaplain to George I and George II.

George I, by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Archtreasurer and Prince-Elector of the Holy Roman Empire, Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg.

George II, by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Archtreasurer and Prince-Elector of the Holy Roman Empire, Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg.

Downes held a number of bishoprics before his translation to Derry: Killala, 1717; Elphin, 1720; Meath 1724. Finally, in February 1727, Downes was translated to Derry.

A good friend of his predecessor, William Nicolson, Downes shared with him the distinction of being termed a "foreigner" (English bishops in charge of Irish Sees) by the resentful native born clergy. Not surprisingly therefore, Downes also came into Archbishop King's line of fire. On hearing that Downes had been hotly tipped to become Bishop of Elphin, the Archbishop, writing in April 1720, issued a familiar warning on the problem of non-residency:

"He (Downes) is very capable of doing good, if he will apply himself to it. The bishopric he has is about £900 per annum, besides a good mensal; and there is a tolerable house on it, in which his predecessor lived comfortably and hospitality, but he has not thought fit to imitate the example. If bishops take the course, that is much in practice, to fix in Dublin, and only make an excursion once in the year into their diocese, I am afraid the gentry and people of the country will not easily find out of what use they are; and to have a set of men looked on as useless, is, I am Afraid, a great temptation to lay them aside."

There were two reasons why Downes moved to Elphin. Firstly, the income was £500 per annum more than Killala. Secondly, it was also fifty miles nearer to the centre of social life in Ireland: Dublin. The diocese itself can hardly have been the attraction. Downes estimated that Roman Catholics outnumbered Protestants fifty to one. While the low number of clergy (twenty) was reflected in the acute shortage of clerical houses fit for habitation. Downes, himself, when he visited his diocese during a two month tour, lived in a "little hired cabin" as the episcopal residence was unfit for occupation. It was by the urging of Bishop Nicolson that Downes rebuilt it at the cost of £2000.

Downes' translation to the bishopric of Meath, an even richer see, was the result of his close connection with Bishop Nicolson, and is a good example of ecclesiastical jobbery within the established church of eighteenth century Ireland. He made no secret of his desire for this particular promotion and used Nicolson;s link with the Bishop of London to advance his claim. London, given his standing at the English Court, was thus able to mention Downes's name for the position.

The Right Reverend and The Right Honorable Edmund Gibson, Bishop of London 
  
As Downes himself related, "I believe his Grace's recommendation of me to Meath was no sooner received than approved". The same machinations were evident in Downes's preferment to the wealthy bishopric of Derry. He, like Nicolson, had a large family and had also suffered the recent bereavement of his wife. It would appear that the Primate, Hugh Boulter, on the eminent death of the Archbishop of Cashel, had chosen Nicolson to succeed him. Nicolson was reluctant to leave Derry but eventually agreed on the understanding that Downes would follow him north.

If Downes' habits remained unchanged when he was translated to Derry, then it was more than likely that he chiefly resided in Dublin. Nevertheless, a surviving visitation record of 1733 suggests that the northern diocese during his episcopate was kept in reasonable shape. In contrast to the Diocese of Elphin, there were thirty-five beneficed clergy in Derry together with twenty-two curates ministering to the parishioners. During the period, philosopher George Berkley had spent much of the time as Dean of Derry formulating plans (ultimately in vain) for a university in Bermuda. His cathedral, however, appears not to have suffered, The visitation found that "The Cathedral is a goodly substantial fabrick.... has a good steeple, a ring of bells, a good organ and everything necessary for the decent performance of Divine Service." Morning and evening services were conducted daily while on Sunday itself sermons were preached morning and afternoon. There were now five hundred communicants at great festivals compared to his predecessor's estimate of four hundred communicants at Christmas 1724.

Bishop Downes died on the 14th January 1735 and was buried in St. Mary's Church, Dublin. He established the clergymen's widows fund in the diocese and in his will left £20 to the poor of Derry. The bishop published a volume of sermons in 1708. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Wilson, Dean of Carlise by whom he had five sons and several daughters. His eldest son, Robert, later became Bishop of Raphoe.



  

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

William Nicolson 1655-1727 : Bishop of Derry 1718-27


William Nicolson, son of a clergyman, was born in Great Orton, Cumberland on the 3rd June 1655. He was educated at Queen's College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. in 1676. After a spell abroad in 1678, Nicolson returned to his alma mater to take up the post of fellow in the following year. In the same year he became chaplain to the them Bishop of Carlise, Edward Rainbow.

Bishop Edward Rainbow.

Under Rainbow's patronage, Nicolson was able to advance his ecclesiastical career in his native Cumberland. In 1681 he was appointed vicar of Torpenhow while a year later he became Rector of Great Salkeld and Archdeacon of Carlisle. Sixteen years later (April 1718) he was translated to the See of Derry.

The ascension of George I in 1714 and the emergence of the Whigs as the dominant party in eighteenth century British politics led to a desire to establish an episcopal bench of similar political complexion both in England and Ireland. William Nicolson's translation to Derry can therfore be seen as an example of this policy in action. For taken as a whole, Nicolson's Whig credentials were unquestioned. He had supported without demur the Glorious Revolution of 1688, had taken an active role in advancing Whig politics at a local level in his diocese, and equally important, was favourably disposed to the new Hanoverian rule. However, the bishop, while genuinely attached to his native diocese, had hoped to have received further preferment within the English church. Yet the prospect of a financially lucrative bishopric in Ireland was enough to overcome any lingering doubts. This he candidly admitted was his reason for moving to Derry. The bishop was now a widower and provision for his family of two sons and five daughters had therefore to be made. In short, his translation to Derry solved these financial concerns. Not only was he to benefit from a significant rise in episcopate income, but he was also to control most of the clerical patronage of the diocese. Thus it was hardly surprising that Nicolson would grant a number of benefices to his immediate family. His younger son John, for example, was given the profitable rectory of Donnaghmore and other benefices were given to his nephews, Joseph Rothery and James Nicolson, and son-in-laws, Mr Mauleverer and Thomas Benson. The bishop, however was unsuccessful in his attempt to procure the deanery of Derry for Benson which went to the Irish philosopher  George Berkeley. 

Bishop George Berkley (Bishop of Cloyne)

A predictable response came from Archbishop King who ruefully attacked Nicolson's nepotistic conduct and (the real purpose of his criticism) the policy of rewarding Englishmen with Irish sees:

"The bishops sent to us from England follow the same track in many instances. The Bishop of Derry (Nicolson) since his translation to that see, has given about £2000 in benefices to English friends and relations."

There can be little doubt that on his arrival in his diocese, Nicolson was shocked by the poverty of the Irish countryside and its people. It was a sharp contrast to the relative prosperity of his former diocese:

I saw no danger of loosing the little money I had, but was under the apprehension of being starv'd, having never beheld (even in Picardy, Westphalia, or Scotland) such dismal marks of hunger as appeared in the countenances of most of the poor creatures that I have met with on the road. The wretches ly in reeky sod-hovels, and have generally no more than a rag of coarse blanket to cover a small part of their nakedness.... These sorry slaves plow the ground to the very tops of their mountains, for the service of their lords: who spend (truly rack-rent) at London. A ridge or two of potatoes is all the poor tenant has for the support of himself, a wife and (commonly) ten or twelve bare leg'd children. To complete their misery, these animals are bigotted papists: and we frequently met them trudging to some ruin'd church or chapel, either to mass, a funeral or a wedding, with a priest in the same habit with themselves.

Poverty, however, was not the only aspect that made Nicolson regard his Irish diocese as different. He was also made quickly aware of the large nonconformist population within his jurisdiction. Indeed, the bishop had now to accustom himself to the fact that Anglicans were in the minority. Writing in the month after his arrival (July 1718), Nicolson estimated that Londonderry and its hinterland were inhabited by approximately 1600 families, half of whom were Presbyterian, while the other half were equally divided between Roman Catholics and Anglicans. The bishop recognised the strength of Presbyterianism and their as yet unofficial position in the state: "that their worship is only conniv'd at, but not legally tolerated". While he backed a limited act of toleration (similar to one in England) in 1719, much to the chagrin of Archbishop King, he was nevertheless implacably hostile to any move which would threaten Anglican hegemony of public office. In 1724 he had combined to defeat a proposal to legalize marriages conducted by dissenting ministers. Similarly, but with greater emphasis, he was antipathetic to any Roman Catholics whom he thought were corrupt and inherently disloyal.

Archbishop William Wake

Such a view was articulated to Archbishop Wake of Canterbury in relation to one,

most barbarous Rapparee; who is under sentence of condemnation for one of the most hellish Murders that I have ever heard of. This crime, in men of his possession, is High Treason by a late law in this Kingdome. Upon Saturday next, he is to be executed. His head will be placed (as great numbers are in every one of our Northern Counties) on the Roof of the Jayl; and his Quarters Gibbetted in several parts of the county. This fellow is, as of these Villains are, a papist; And several circumstances of his bloody fate are a Demonstration that he had been brought to believe that there was no more sin in killing an Heretick, than in knocking a Wolf on the head. Notwithstanding all our late Acts of Parliament, unlicensed priests swarm amongst us.

The English government's choice of Nicolson as bishop of Derry was indicated early in his episcopate when the issue of independence of the Irish legislature became a heated and pressing issue. The question arose in 1719 over the jurisdiction of the Irish House of Lords in regard to the now famous land case, Sherlock versus Annesley. Colonial nationalist sensitivities were upset when English Lords became involved in the dispute by over-turning the decisions already reached in Ireland. As a member of the Irish House of Lords and a proponent of the supremacy of their English counterparts, Nicolson was active against the moves of Archbishop King and others who were forcing the issue of independence of the Irish legislature. Yet despite their efforts to proclaim the rights of the Irish Parliament as they saw them, the British Government was in no mood for compromise. King's colonial nationalism was answered by the British Parliament's 1720 Act declaring its full power and authority to make laws for Ireland. Nicolson's opposition to Irish interests on this particular point did nothing to endear him to his adopted country. Yet by May 1720 the bishop sensed that most of the native criticism of his conduct and those of his fellow English Bishops had begun to abate: "We are happily growing into one band of Good Fellowship, not withstanding the little Ruffle that has happen'd from your Dependency-Act (British Parliament's 1720 Act); which is somewhat hard of Digestion, and occasions many a squirting look at us poor Foreigners"

George  By the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Archtreasurer and Prince-Elector of the Holy Roman Empire, Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg


 Outside the parliamentary arena, Nicolson proved faithful to the duties which were required of him. In particular, the bishop took to heart the express wish of  George I that he should reside in Derry. With the exception of one visit to England together with the discharge of his parliamentary duties (he was a leading exponent of an act to encourage clerical residency and acted predictably against a bill to reduce episcopal revenues), he made a point of concentrating on diocesan affairs. The spiritual and material well-being of the diocese (at least in Nicolson's opinion) appears to have shown a marked improvement from the previous century. The bishop proudly reported during his annual visitation in June 1719 he had witnessed the "Appearance of fifty of the best and richest clergy, clergy that are in anyone diocese in this Kingdome". Two months later Nicolson's own concern to see that the church was fulfilling it's mission led him to conduct a parochial visitation to the more inaccessible regions of his diocese "where no Bishop has been since the year 1693 (William King's time of vitiation). Encouraging signs of progress could also be seen in the numbers of those receiving communion in St. Columb's Cathedral. At Easter 1724 there had been over three hundred communicants when, according to Nicolson "five years ago 74 was reckon'd a vast number". Similarly, the following Christmas, the bishop related, had attracted approximately four hundred communicants compared to William King's average Christmas estimate of one hundred when he was bishop. As an Englishman who had been castigated by Archbishop King for receiving an Irish bishopric when native clergymen  where ignored, Nicolson's activities supplied a suitable riposte.

An intellectually industrious man, particularly at the beginning of his career, Nicolson was best known for his work on The English, Scottish, and Irish Historical Libraries, which consisted of a critical bibliography of each of their histories. According to Sir James Ware, however, "he fell into many errors in his last work (Irish), for want of sufficient acquaintance with the Irish manuscripts and language". His interest as an antiquarian led him to build manuscript rooms near his palace in Londonderry for the preservation of diocesan records. In January 1727 he was translated to the archbishopric of Cashel, but died at Derry on the 14th February of the same year and was buried in the Cathedral.       



Monday, 17 September 2012

St. George Ashe 1658-1718 : Bishop of Derry 1717-1718


St. George Ashe was born in County Roscommon and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He became a fellow of the College in 1679 and then professor of Mathematics. During the political unrest of James II reign, he left Ireland and became Chaplain and Secretary to Lord Paget, Ambassador to William III at the Court of Vienna. He returned to Ireland and became Provost of the College in 1692. At Trinity, Ashe together with William Molyneux were prominent members of the Dublin Philosophical Society which had been established in the early 1680's. It was a forum were new ideas and especially those which reflected the growth of natural science and philosophy could be debated and discussed. In 1686, for instance, Ashe read a paper to the Society outlining his invention of a new solid fuel which consisted of a combination of clay and coal dust. In addition, Ashe became a college tutor to Jonathan Swift at Trinity. It proved to be the beginning of a lifelong friendship, and the academic is to have married Swift and Hester Johnson (Stella) when he was Bishop of Clogher.

Ashe was to hold three bishoprics during his lifetime:
Cloyne, 1695;Clogher,1697, where he spent £900 on improving the episcopal palace and lands;
Derry, 1717. He had been offered the archbishopric of Tuam on the death of John Vesey in 1716, but refused on account of his inadequate income. Archbishop King censured him for his absenteeism when he was Bishop of Clogher. Writing in September 1714, the Archbishop urged him to reform his ways:

"Your friends murmur at your deserting them, and your enemies excuse their negligence by your absence; and the common enemies of the church conclude that bishops are not necessary, since they can be so long spared. I, therefore, entreat you to think of coming home as soon as possible."

Ashe died in Dublin on the 27th February 1718 and left his mathematical books to Trinity College, Dublin. Joseph Addison, the Whig secretary of state, commiserated with Swift over the death of Ashe. He was a man, Addison remarked, "who has scare left behind him his equal in humanity, agreeable conversation, and all kinds of learning".


John Hartstronge 1654-1717 : Bishop of Derry 1714-1717



John Hartstonge was the third son of Sir Standish Hartstronge, (a Baron of the Exchequer in Ireland) and was born on the 1st December 1654 at Catton near Norwich. Educated at Trinity College, Dublin, he graduated B.A. 1677. He continued his studies at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, graduating M.A. 1680 and later became a fellow. Hartstronge also spent a year at Glasgow University. In 1681 he was appointed Chaplain to the First Duke of Ormonde (then the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland) until his death in 1688. He continued in the same capacity with the Second Duke and accompanied him in his campaign in Flanders. It was under his patronage that he received his subsequent preferments. In June 1684 he became Archdeacon of Limerick and was subsequently attained by King James' Irish Parliament of 1689, under the name of Henry Hartstronge. After the Williamite victory, the King, at the instigation of Ormonde, promoted Hartsronge to the bishopric of Ossory in April 1693. In March 1714 he was translated to Derry. He died in Dublin on the 30th January 1717. 

Charles Hickman 1648-1713 : Bishop of Derry 1703-1713


Charles Hickman, a native of Northamptonshire, was born in 1648. A King's Scholar of Westminster School in 1665, he proceeded to Christ Church, Oxford in 1667 and graduated B.A. 1671, M.A. 1674, B.D. 1684, D.D. 1685. Hickman, before his advancement to Derry held the following appointments:
Rector of St. Ebbs, Oxford; Chaplain to the Duke of Southampton; Chaplain to Lord Chandois (Ambassador to Constantinople), 1680; Domestic Chaplain to the Earl of Rochester (Lord Lieutenant of Ireland 1703-04), 1684; Chaplain in ordinary to William III, 1690; Lecturer at St. James', Westminster 1692; Rector of Hogs-Norton, Leicestershire; Chaplain to Queen Anne; Rector of Farnham Royal, Buckinghamshire, 1698-1703. It was therefore by Rochester's patronage as Lord Lieutenant that Hickman was promoted to the See of Derry in June 1703.

Hickman appears to have resided chiefly in England and consequently left himself open to justified criticism from his predecessor, William King, who was now Archbishop of Dublin. King, a staunch defender of the "Irish Interest", was a consistent opponent of giving Irish benefices to Englishmen, especially absentee ones:

We have, by great application, augmented our bishopriks; and now they are become valuable, we are told we must not expect any of them. We have likewise, by several contrivances, made some benefices valuable; and these, being mostly either in the lord lieutenant or bishops, or in patrons who live in England, we are like to have the least share in them: As to those clergymen being sent from England, I believe it will not be pleaded that they are the brightest, generally speaking: though I confess, to my observation, they seem notably dexterous and industrious to make money for their wives and children. Thus the See of Derry was served by Dr. Hickman, my successor, who entirely rooted up and destroyed a large flourishing wood, which I with care and cost had planted whilst at Londonderry. 

Hickman married Anne Burgoyne in April 1703, by whom he had one daughter. He died in London on the 28th November 1713 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

William King 1650-1729 : Bishop of Derry 1691-1703

William King was born in the town of Antrim on the 1st May 1650, the son of James King who migrated from Aberdeenshire to escape adhering to the Solemn League and Covenant in the period 1639-49. After a somewhat slow start his formal education began at the age of twelve when he attended a Latin school in Dungannon, County Tyrone (now known as the Royal School, Dungannon). At the age of sixteen he entered Trinity College, Dublin and, reflecting the poverty of his background, was admitted as a sizar (a student receiving an allowance from the college). Trinity, as King noted in his autobiography, was to have a powerful effect on him for it was here that the future Bishop of Derry began to receive serious religious instruction. In particular he singled out his tutor, John Christian, as having imparted unto him "a true sense of religion". This influence undoubtedly moulded King into following a career in the Church. He had been chosen to be a servant of Christ and was ordained Deacon by Bishop Robert Mossom of Derry 1671.

After failing to win a fellowship, King fortunately came to the attention of John Parker, Archbishop of Tuam. Under his patronage, the young cleric, after obtaining a prebend, became Provost of Tuam in October 1676. Although he later regretted neglecting his studies in this intellectual backwater., it was not long before he enjoyed a more favourable appointment. It was Parker's translation to the See of Dublin in 1678 that transformed King's career and introduced him to the centre of church government in Ireland. At Dublin, he collated the chancellorship of St. Patrick's with the annexed Parish of St. Werburgh's. It appears that shortly after becoming chancellor he became involved in a curious dispute with Dean Worth over the right of the Dean to visit independently of the chapter. In a controversy that smacks of a personality clash or a difference of opinion on church policy, King,

"Protested against the visitation of the Dean, and asserted that he had no right to hold any such, without the consent of the Chapter"

The Chancellor, however, was to loose in the judgement of the case (1681) and was punished by being required to build a number of stalls in the chapter house.

Controversy was a defining feature of King's career as he proved to be a staunch defender of the Church of Ireland against its critics. In 1687, for example, King was moved to attack the actions of another Dean. Peter Manby, formerly Dean of Derry, had converted to the Roman Church in 1686. In outlining his own decisions for the change, Manby published The Considerations which obliged Peter Manby to embrace the Catholic Religion. The former Dean argued that the Reformation had been imposed on the nation by a handful of people and singled out Archbishop Cranmer for particular criticism. His aim was to "show the unwarrantableness of all the changes that they (the Protestant Reformers) made in religion. This drew a reply from King in his Answer to the Considerations which, by contarst, argued that Manby's desertion was based on more ulterior motives. In King's opinion, his defection had been the result of his failure to procure a bishopric from the Primate. Given the pro-Catholic policies of James II and his Lord Deputy in Ireland, the Earl of Tyrconnell, Manby (so the argument went) had therby sought advancement in the Roman Tradition. In addition, King cited Manby's temporal interest in keeping the profits of the deanery after his desertion and furthermore, he collected the views of those who knew Manby:

"the most conclude, that it was little grain of worldly advantage that turned the scale for your new church" The debate continued and developed into an intense pamphlet war between the contending sides over a wide ranging topics such as the Reformation in England, defining the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and the validity of the Anglican order. As each side maintained its uncompromising position, the end result inevitably proved inconclusive. However the controversy was not solely confined to the two parties. The line of argument adopted by King was also to sour relations with the Presbyterian community, for, in defending his own faith, he was to exclude dissenters from the Catholic church.

The church which King defended did not only come under attack from an isolated and disaffected cleric. Shortly afterwards, the very political and religious settlement which King upheld was to be shaken to its foundations. The political upheavals of the 1680s placed the Church of Ireland in an unenviable position. Catholic resurgence under James II and the Earl of Tyrconnell, were clearly unwelcome by churchman and Protestant layman alike. To support the King and his policies meant the undermining of their own position yet to oppose him meant ignoring the 1660 Restoration Settlement of Divine Kingship with its doctrine of non-resistance. The dilemma of supporting King James was brought into sharper focus when, after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, he began his fight back in Ireland as the way to reclaim his throne. Undoubtley King shared the same moral apprehension as the rest of his co-religionists. Yet by mid 1689 he appears, after many anxious meditations, to have thrown in his lot with the House of Orange. King pointed to James' Patriot Parliament (the Roman Catholic Assembly which aimed to overturn Protestant hegemony in Ireland, May-July 1689) as the defining moment in transferring his allegiance  to William. In view of his previous support for the doctrine of non-resistance, King gave a scrupulously worded explanation:

"I doubted no longer but that it was lawful for me and others to accept that deliverance, which providence brought by the Prince of Orange, now the acknowledged King of England and Scotland, and to submit myself to him as King and liberator, epically since neither by action, nor writing had I contributed anything to depose King James, or to promote him, Prince of Orange to the crown"

During this turbulent period, King had assumed jurisdiction in the diocese of Dublin following the withdrawal of Archbishop Marsh in February 1688. A year later he became Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin (February 1689). His position as leader of the Protestant community in the capital led to his imprisonment at the hands of the Jacobites on two separate occasions. However, he used his incarceration to good effect as it was in prison where he pieced together his best-seller: The state of the Protestants of Ireland under the late King Jame's Government (published in 1691). Although giving a systematic account of the recent past its real purpose was to vindicate the transference of loyalty from James to William by Irish Protestants. The change of allegiance, King argued, was not an act of rebellion as the decision reached had been one based purely on self-preservation: "it is lawful for one Prince to interpose between another Prince and his subjects when he uses them cruelly, or endeavours to enslave or destroy them"

William's victory at the Battle of the Boyne put an end to King's suffering and, as Dean of St. Patrick's, he was given the opportunity to preach at the thanksgiving service 16th November 1690. Using as the text, Psalm 107.2. Let them give thanks whom the Lord hath redeemed, and Delivered from the hand of the enemy, the sermon suggested that a providential role had been played by Irish Protestants in the recent crisis similar in experience to the Israelites escaping from their Babylonian captivity. Thus a European conspiracy aimed at their destruction had been thwarted by the "over-ruling Providence of God"

The Williamite victory not only secured King's liberty, however. His role in maintaining the Protestant influence in Dublin as well as supporting the new political order inevitably led to further ecclesiastical preferment. In December 1690, after some lobbying, he was appointed to the bishopric of Derry and consecrated in the following January. The appointment  provided a challenge to his reforming instincts as the diocese had suffered greatly from the ravages of war.


In the month of March following I went to Derry, and applied myself with the greatest possible industry to regulating the See, then much  disordered and neglected. I found the land almost desolate, country houses and dwellings burnt: on an inquiry being made I ascertained that there were in the Diocese of Derry, before the troubles, about 250,000 head of cattle, there were left after the siege was raised, about 300; out of 460,000 horses 2 horses remained lame and wounded, with 7 sheep, and 2 pigs, but no fowl, whence the miserable state of that province was sufficiently manifest.

King's description was clearly an exaggeration but there was no denying that the region had suffered severe hardship. However it was the standard of his clergy which preoccupied him most. In 1691 for example, he found only ten clergy in the diocese were resident in their benefices and of these nine were pluralists:

But the clergy were badly off; little or nothing was returned by benefices to their possessors; many were non-resident, beneficed elsewhere, who served their parishes by curates; those warned to provide curates replied that the incomes did not suffice to support a curate, and permitted me, if I wished, to sequestrate their benefices for the curate's use.

In an effort to alleviate the problems of non-residency and pluralism the bishop demanded that his clergy should either resign their benefices or else provide for a curate. Such a strict enforcement of ecclesiastical discipline won him few clerical friends: "This business indeed", King was to write "excited no little odium against me amongst the clergy" Many of the reforms called for by King and other reform minded bishops of the period came up against similar opposition. It was not only those clerics guilty of holding pluralities who were against such initiatives, but also those within parliament itself who had a vested interest in maintaining such irregularities as lay impropriations. The predominance of the use of patronage and private interest in the appointment of the church's personnel also hampered the reformers from realizing their ideals. Consequently, King was forced to rely ultimately on his own efforts in seeking to improve spiritual standards within his jurisdiction.

Despite the magnitude of the task, there appeared to be some evidence of progress. In the bishop's visitation of 1693 twenty-eight beneficed clergy were now recorded in his diocese. King also suggested that headway had been made in the reconstruction of churches, helped in part by financial support from the crown:

In ecclesiastical visitations, I exhorted the parishioners not to allow those that were falling into decay to go to utter ruin, as that would be the cause some time of great expense to themselves, which a small expenditure could now prevent; and partly by persuasions, partly by bearing some portion of the expense, I got all the churches repaired and seven which....... I took care should be rebuilt.

Educational matters came within episcopal reach too. For example he endeavoured to ensure, albeit for a limited period, that the school in Londonderry was adequately funded by The Irish Society. Furthermore he promoted the teaching of Irish at Trinity College, Dublin and provided Irish speaking clergymen to a group of Scottish Highlanders who had settled in Donegal.

While the bishop obviously placed a high priority on internally reforming the established church, he was concious that it faced external problems as well. During his episcopate, King was confronted by a large nonconformist population in his diocese. Their sheer numbers and the confident assertion of their faith
provided a direct challenge to the established church. To a reform minded bishop such as king this nonconformity could not be ignored. In the beginning he had urged his clergy to hold discourses with Presbyterians in an effort to win them over. In practise, however, such persuasive action appears to have been mainly carried out by King himself during parish visitations.

By 1693 the bishop's views on the subject seem to have been sufficiently distilled to adopt another approach. IN that year King was moved to write a pamphlet entitled A Discourse concerning the inventions of Men in the Worship of God in which he argued "that only the Anglican mode of worshipping God was conformable to Scripture, but theirs (Presbyterian) not only was to the contrary thereto".  What the bishop was aiming for was to show Presbyterians the error of their ways and in the process hoped his reasoning would pave the way to their eventual conformity. Its main effect was to unleash a polemical debate between himself and Joseph Boyse on behalf of the Presbyterians. Boyse, who had written Some Impartial Reflections on D.Manby's Considerations, and Mr. King's Answer in 1687, replied in his Remarks on the Discourse following up with a Vindication of his Remarks. A Robert Craghead, Presbyterian minister in Londonderry also contributed to the nonconformist cause. In return, King was to continue with two Admonitions to the Dissenting Inhabitants of Derry. The debate centred predictably over differences between the two denominations in the use of music during services, forms of prayer, bodily worship, use of scripture, and the place of communion in the service. King believed that by forcing Presbyterians to defend the validity of their faith, he had undermined their confidence in debate and had successfully driven some to doubt their previously held convictions. Joseph Boyse, on the other hand, though differently: "Tis rare to find these publick debates so manag'd, as not to widen differences rather then compose'em and heighten rather than allay the animosities of the contending parties.


Bishop King also came into conflict with the Presbyterian dominated Londonderry Corporation who were to support the Irish Society's claim over certain lands and fishing rights which the bishop contented. This lengthy legal dispute, the origin of which went back to the episcopates of Bishop Montgomery and Bishop Bramhall, brought into focus the question of were the right of appeal actually rested. In 1697 the Irish House of Lords had found in favour of King, but in the following year the Irish Society appealed to the English Lords who declared that their Irish counterparts had not been entitled to make a judgement on the case. A compromise was later found in 1704, but the implications of the English ruling were not to be lost on those Irish Patriots who supported parliamentary independence, least of all King. Thereafter he continued to espouse colonial nationalist sentiment by leading the agitation against other cases involving similar questions of jurisdiction. For example, the constitutional dispute provoked by another land case, Sherlock v Annesley as well the controversy over "Wood's Halfpence". In March 1703 King became Archbishop of Dublin where he also campaigned with characteristic gusto to improve the material and spiritual well-being of the Church. He continued to keep a close interest in the internal affairs of his former diocese by comparing his successors' activities with the high standards that he had set. King, like Swift, opposed the practice of giving English clerics benefices within the Irish church. His claim to the primacy on two occasions, 1713 and 1724, was ignored in favour of English appointees. He gained a European reputation as a philosopher with his Die Origine Mali in 1702 which was to centre on the problem of reconciling the existence of evil with the presence of a benign God. He died, unmarried, on the 8th of May 1729 and left his property to charity. 

Friday, 7 September 2012

George Walker 1645-1690 : Bishop of Derry Designate 1690


George Walker's early years are obscure, but he is thought to have been born around 1645. He matriculated at Trinity College, Dublin in 1662 and later took Holy Orders. In 1669 he was appointed to the parishes of Lissan and Desertlyn, diocese of Armagh. Five years later he became Rector of Donoughmore, near Dungannon, County Tyrone. It was here he was to remain until the outbreak of political unrest caused by the contending Williamite and Jacobite forces. With the shutting of the gates of Londonderry against the approaching Catholic regiment in December 1688, Walker raised a regiment in defence of a possible massacre of Protestants. Its first engagement in combat was around Clady and Lifford in mid-April, about 15 miles upstream from Derry. The Williamite forces suffered a rout and so anxious were the inhabitants of Derry to safeguard their own position that Walker found himself locked out of the city for a period of time in the ensuing retreat. The Governor of the city, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Lunday, was heavily criticized for his lack of leadership in the debacle. In his judgement the Jacobite forces against them, he had decided on the futility of holding out, opting instead for a negotiated surrender. His defeatism, in the face of rising internal opposition to his command, made his position untenable. He was deposed and forced to flee. In his place the soldiers and citizens elected Major Henry Baker and Walker as joint Governors.


The Siege of Derry, which was to last for 105 days, gave George Walker as Governor a central role in the city's defence. His stirring sermons based on a wholehearted trust in God's ultimate providence undoubtedly kept spirits from sinking within the city walls. In its aftermath he rose to fame and was feted in England and Scotland. Oxford and Cambridge awarded him honorary degrees, he was given the thanks of the House of Commons, and the Irish Society gave a banquet in his honour. Most significant was William III's promise of the bishopric of Derry when it became vacant. In June 1690 the absentee Bishop Hopkins died leaving the path clear for Walker's appointment. Fate, however, decided otherwise as he was to be killed in action the following July during the Battle of the Boyne. He was buried where he fell, but thirteen years later  his supposed body was removed, at the request of his widow, to the parish of Donoughmore. In 1862 a window was erected in his memory in St Columb's Cathedral. In addition, a memorial pillar crowned with a statue of him was erected on the city walls in 1826. In 1973 it was blown up by Republican terrorists.


Walker was also to publish A True Account of the Siege of Londonderry (1689) in which he was to portray himself as a heroic figure in the whole affair. It was thus criticized for its egotistical tone. In particular, it provoked sustained criticism from Presbyterians who felt that he had underplayed their part during the siege. In his defence, Walker was quickly forced to follow up with A Vindication. The Revd John Mackenzie, who was Walker's regimental chaplain, carried the Presbyterian argument to the militant cleric in his Narrative. Despite taking issue on a number of valid points, his critiqued suffered from an overtly personal attack on Walker's character.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

George Chadwick 1840-1923: Bishop of Derry and Raphoe 1896-1916


George Chadwick was born in Youghal, County Cork on the 10th October 1840, son of Hutchison Chadwick, chief accountant of the Great Southern and Western Railway of Ireland. Educated at Wesley College and Trinity College, Dublin, Chadwick graduated B.A. 1862, M.A. 1867, B.D. 1876, D.D. 1877. He honed his skills as a debater and preacher in the College's Historical Society and was elected auditor in 1862, winning gold medals for oratory and English composition. The obituary article of the Londonderry Sentinel states:

"He was one of the leaders of a group of undergraduates remarkable for their high moral tone, their abstinence from coarse wordy pleasures, and their determination to make religion their guide in life"

Chadwick subsequently became curate of St. Anne's, Belfast, 1865-70; rector of St. James, Belfast, 1870-73; rector of Armagh, 1873-96; prebendary of Tynan (Armagh diocese) 1875-85; treasurer of Armagh Cathedral, 1885-6; dean of Armagh 1886-96; Donnellan lecturer in 1878-9; select preacher at Oxford University 1888-9. He was elected by the diocesan synod of Armagh on the 18th February 1896 as "ad interim Bishop of Armagh" on the vacancy of the primacy and under the constitution, when William Alexander was elected by the house of bishops to the primacy, he succeeded to the See of Derry. He was enthroned in Derry Cathedral on 28th March 1896.

George Chadwick, like his predecessor, was regarded as one of the ablest men in the Church of Ireland of his day. His literary gifts, together with an ability to get the point across forcefully, made him in the words of his friend, Primate D'Arcy,

"A speaker of great distinction and power, with a style which was quite his own"

To D'Arcy, however, it was not in carefully prepared speeches,

"Which seemed to result in over-elaboration",

but in ordinary conversation and impromptu debate where Chadwick's talents were noted. Similarly, his successor Joseph Peacocke saw Chadwick as a master of terse, epigrammatic speech. The annual General Synod provided the ideal platform for hid debating talents:

"As a preacher and platform speaker the late Bishop was in the first rank; but it was in debate that his power was so signally displayed... Both in his Protestantism and in his Politics his order of mind coincided with the famous motto of his episcopal city. He was not a man to make surrenders; nor was he a man that any controversialist could touch with impunity" (C.F.D'Arcy, The Adventures of a Bishop, London, 1934, p.142)

The period after disestablishment (1870-1900) saw a gradual reorganization of the church's resources which reflected its new financial responsibilities. The number of clergy working in Derry diocese had declined by 10% while in Raphoe it was down by 12%. In 1870 the united diocese had thirty-four curates. By 1904 this figure had been reduced to eighteen. The bishop was sympathetic to the difficulties faced by those clergy who worked in isolated parts of the diocese epically in areas suffering from emigration and where intellectual stimulus was lacking. Yet he was also noted as a strict administrator of his diocese. Chadwick continued:

"I have learned with surprise that even serious structural alterations have been made in some of our churches without my consent, still more without s faculty" (Londonderry Sentinel., 28th October. 1909.)

He thus exhorted the clergy to familiarize themselves with the church's constitutional law to avoid such mistakes in the future.

It had become evident by the latter half of the nineteenth century that "ritualism" or "romanising tendencies" had become a significant element in the Church of England. Although the movement did not have much influence in Ireland (due to the traditionally low nature of Irish Anglicanism), Chadwick, early in his episcopate, nonetheless felt moved to defend the church's position from what he saw as an unqualified attack from within his own diocese. He thus stated:

"My service is delightful, anything like demonstrative and elaborate ritual affects me as in literature a parody does. For me to be a Ritualist is impossible and absurd." (Londonderry Sentinel., 6th October. 1898.)
  
He insisted that the church's critics look at its canons to realize its position was doctrinally low. Although he respected the position of traditional high churchmen, he nonetheless reaffirmed that the Church of Ireland was "safe against ritualistic innovation"

The preoccupation over such matters reflected a growing polarization in the community at large as the nineteenth century progressed. Differences between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism were becoming more sharply defined. On the question of church unity, for example, Chadwick saw no movements towards harmony with Rome until she disavowed such contentious points of doctrine as her infallibility. The bishop also took exception to the promulgation of the 1908 papal decree, Ne Temere, which required the non-Roman Catholic partner in a mixed marriage to consent to the bringing up of their children in the Roman tradition. By contrast he was keen to promote unity with other Reformed Churches which was as much for political reasons as spiritual:

"It is a small thing, in this Ireland of intrigue and faction, of desperate surrenders to expendiency by unscrupulous politicians, that in public affairs we should only have half the influence we might well exert, if only we were a homogeneous force? And yet this political weakness is but an index of our spiritual enfeeblement from the same cause."  (Londonderry Sentinel., 6th October. 1898.)

Chadwick's episcopate covered a crucial period of Irish history which witnessed a further hardening of Unionist and Nationalist sentiment. Political unity amongst Protestants was essential if they were to withstand the challenge posed by the Third Home Rule Bill of 1912. Unionist's principle objection to the establishment of Home Rule was the fear engendered by being a Protestant minority in an Ireland where three-quarters of the population were Roman Catholic. To Ulster Unionists the belief that Home Rule would effectively signal a policy of discrimination against them, and end the prosperity which they had enjoyed under the Union, was the fear uppermost in their minds. The bishop was a convinced Unionist and was one of the 471,414 persons who signed the Ulster Covenant in 1912. It was pledge by the Unionists of Ulster to support "all means which may be found necessary to defeat the present conspiracy to set up a Home Rule Parliament in Ireland". Chadwick subsequently wrote:

"I never in my life saw anything like Ulster Day (the day the covenant was signed). The churches were filled; and when emptied the multitude did not even cheer: there was only one grim and fixed determination on a thousand faces, to live as freemen or to die. They simply signed. (Londonderry Sentinel., 12th October. 1912. )



Chadwick believed that the north had a right to defend itself by force which had been implicitly stated in the covenant, and he addressed a meeting of churchmen in the Albert Hall, London on the subject. Although the outbreak of the Great War suspended the bill from becoming operational , the constitutional crisis of the period 1912-1914 had effectively demonstrated the mutually exclusive demands of Ulster Unionism and Irish Nationalism.

The Bishop published a number of works:

Christ bearing witness to Himself, 1879
As He that Serveth, 1880
My Emotional Life, 1882
Pilate's Gift and other sermons, 1896
Aids to Belief, 1899
Poems, Chiefly Scared, 1900
The Intellect and the Heart, 1905

The Bishop resigned on medical advice in 1916 and went to live in Dublin.