A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode
This working list considers some of the convert clergy from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who had links with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Clifton. The members of the first batch sought ordination as priests in the Roman Catholic Church whilst those in the second batch did not.
Please let me know of any corrections and additions that should be made: firstname.lastname@example.org
Edgar Edward Estcourt M.A. was born on 7th February 1816, a son of the Reverend Edmund William Estcourt and his wife Bertha Elizabeth nee Wyatt. Edgar’s father was Rector of Shipton Moyne and his grandfather was Thomas Estcourt, MP for Cricklade.
Edgar was at Exeter College, Oxford, and served his title in Cirencester. After his conversion, he was at Oscott College and ordained priest for the Birmingham Diocese on 18th September 1852. He was a Canon and Oeconomus of Birmingham and died on 17th April 1884.
Frederick Robert Neve D.D. was born in 1807 and was the first son of Frederick Neve of Eton. Frederick was studying at Eton in 1820. He matriculated on 19th May 1824 and studied at Oriel College, Oxford, BA 1828, MA 1833,
Before his conversion Edgar served as Vicar of Poole Keynes. He was a priest of Clifton Diocese, DD, and became Provost of Clifton. Frederick Neve died on 8th November 1886 at St Catherine’s Convent, Park Place, Clifton.
An article by Jill Bethell, first published in the Parish Magazine of the Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation, Woodchester:
At the end of the long line of Dominican crosses outside the western end of our church is the tomb of one of the more distinguished residents of our graveyard. Oddly, there is no mention of the Very Rev. Frederick Neve D.D. in any of the guides or histories of our church that I have seen.
He was born in Eton in 1806, went to Eton College and then to Oxford like his father before him. Like many Oxford graduates of the time he became a Church of England clergyman, and was for twelve years Rector of Poole Keynes. The Matriculation Register of the University of Oxford usually records the careers of clergymen in scrupulous detail, but in Neve’s case it just baldly states that he ‘seceded to Rome’.
He went to Rome to train and entered the Catholic priesthood in 1848. On his return to England he joined the mission at Clifton and later became one of the Canons at the Cathedral. He remained there until 1863 when he was appointed to the prestigious position of Rector at the Venerable English College in Rome. This was the acclaimed seminary at which priests for England and Wales had for centuries received education and training. Indeed he had studied there himself. His tenure there was remarkably short. There was a controversy at the time between reformers (such as John Henry Newman) who wanted to modernise the education of priests and increase the participation of laity, and the conservatives, most notably the Pope’s secretary, Monsignor George Talbot, another Englishman in Rome. Neve found himself being regarded as too close to the reformers and resigned in 1867.
On again returning to England, he became chaplain to a convent in Taunton before returning to Clifton as Provost of the Cathedral Chapter. When he died in 1886, he was given a ‘Solemn Pontifical Requiem’ in the Cathedral. The Tablet ends his obituary thus: ‘His remains were removed by train to Woodchester, to be interred in the cemetery attached to the Church of the Dominican Fathers, of which Order deceased was a tertiary.’
William Robert Brownlow D.D.
Born in Winslow in Buckinghamshire on 4th July 1830, William Robert Brownlow was the son of William Brownlow, the Rector of Wilmslow in Cheshire. He was educated at Rugby and then at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1852. He was ordained priest and served his title at Great Wyrley in Staffordshire before moving on to St Bartholomew´s, Moor Lane. From 1856 until 1859 William Robert Brownlow was a curate of John Frampton, Vicar of Tetbury in Gloucestershire. Earlier, between the years 1846 to 1852, Charles Fuge Lowder, the famous Anglo-Catholic priest, had been one of Frampton’s curates too. Brownlow served at St. John´s Parish in Torquay before being received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church in 1863. After further studies of theology at the English College in Rome he was ordained priest on 22nd December 1866 and appointed to Plymouth. He was consecrated as Bishop of Clifton on 1st May 1894 and died on 9th November 1901.
See Giles Mercer: ‘Convert, Scholar, Bishop’:
James Spencer Northcote M.A., D.D.
The Reverend Temple Hamilton Chase, Curate of Tetbury, married Elizabeth Cogan Northcote, sister of James Spencer Northcote (1820-1899), in 1844.
Northcote, born in 1821, was the second son of George Barons Northcote. In 1837 he won a scholarship to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he came under Newman’s influence. In 1841 he achieved his B.A. and, in the following year, married his cousin, Susannah Spencer Ruscombe Poole. He was ordained priest in 1844 and served his title in Ilfracombe, but when his wife was received into the Catholic Church in 1845, he resigned his office. In 1846 he was received at Prior Park where he continued as a master for some time. In the early 1850s he edited ‘The Rambler’ and later ‘The Clifton Tracts.’ In 1853 he became a widower which meant that he could now seek ordination in the Roman Catholic Church. On 29th July 1855, after studying in Rome, he was ordained priest and eventually became President of Oscott College in 1860 and Provost of Birmingham. Northcote was a friend of Dr Brownlow who had also been a Curate at Tetbury.
James Russell Madan M.A.
James Russell Madan, the second son of the Reverend George Madan, M.A., was born on 20th October 1841 at Cam Vicarage, Gloucestershire. The baptism took place at Cam (now Upper Cam) on 5th December 1841. James entered Crewkerne Grammar School, Somerset, in January 1852, and left as Head of the School at Midsummer 1857. For a year of that time (1855) he was a day-boy at Bishop’s College, Clifton, his father then being Vicar of Saint Mary Redcliffe, Bristol. In August 1857 James went to Marlborough College, Wiltshire, and from there he won a scholarship at Queen’s College, Oxford. He obtained a second in Classical Moderations and a third in Literae Humaniores (B.A. 1864; M.A. 1867). After taking Anglican Orders in 1865, and Priest in the following year, he became his father’s second Curate at Dursley, Gloucestershire. In 1867 James was appointed as Principal of the Warminster Mission House of Saint Boniface. James Madan resigned his post at Warminster in 1871 and was received into the Catholic Church by Bishop Clifford of Clifton on 24th December 1872 at the Clifton Pro-Cathedral.
See ‘The Reverend James Russell Madan’ by Joan Gorham:
George Angus M.A.
George Angus was born in 1842 and baptised on 9th November 1842 at St Nicholas, Aberdeen. He was a son of John Angus and Katharine Mary (nee Forbes) of Aberdeen. His father was listed in the 1851 census return as ‘Advocate, Town Clerk of Aberdeen’. On 17th October 1863 George matriculated and studied at St Edmund’s Hall, Oxford, receiving his B.A. in 1866, He arrived in Prestbury, Gloucestershire, in 1866 but converted to Roman Catholicism in 1873.
On 6th January 1875 Angus wrote to Cheltenham Examiner about his conversion after the Vicar had been accused of leading his curate and some parishioners to Rome, through his teaching about Real Presence, Eucharistic Sacrifice, honour to Saints, confession and absolution, Prayers for the dead and Sacramental worship. Angus verified that he had all this well before he came to Prestbury.
In 1876 George was ordained priest. At the time of the 1881 census he was working in Kensington. He received his M.A. in 1882. At the time of the 1891 census he was living at Scores Presbytery in St Andrew’s. George Angus died on 17th March 1909 at St Andrew’s, Fife where it is claimed he was the first resident Roman Catholic priest since the Reformation. His tin church of St James was replaced in 1910 with a building designed by Reginald Fairlie.
George Case D.D.
With thanks to Derek McAuley for his considerable help with this.
George was baptised on 30th July 1823 at St George’s Liverpool. He was the eldest son of John Deane Case and his wife Annabella, Recorder of Liverpool. He matriculated at Brasenose College, Oxford, on 9th June 1841, at the age of 17; graduated B.A. (First Class in Mathematics) in 1845, and proceeded M.A., three years later. He was ordained in the Anglican Church and became Curate of All Saints’ Margaret Street.
The ‘Book of the Hibbert Trust’, page 96, quoting the Twenty-Fourth Report of the Trustees, June 1899, refers to his family origins as:
‘Mr Case was the eldest son of Mr John Deane Case (1786-1859), and grandson of Mr George Case, a gentleman of the old school, formerly well known and much respected in Liverpool, who was, with Mr William Roscoe and Mr William Rathbone, and others, one of a band of cultivated liberal friends who joined to institute the well-known Liverpool Athenaeum, of which he indeed was the first President.’
Alderman George Case (1747-1836), who was a merchant with an involvement in the slave-trade, became a Council Member and Treasurer of Liverpool in 1833.
In 1850 discussions concerning the rite of baptism which resulted in the so-called ‘Gorham Judgement,’ of the Privy Council, led to his leaving the Anglican communion and becoming a Roman Catholic. He studied for some time as a private student in Rome where he received his D.D. Having been ordained as a Roman Catholic priest, he tried his vocation with the Jesuits, entering their Noviciate at Roehampton but, lacking a vocation to the religious life, he instead took charge of St Mary’s Chelsea. Later he was working at the Pro Cathedral in Clifton before being appointed to St Peter’s Gloucester in 1864.
The first mention to him occurs on 17th November 1864 when he presided at a meeting called to consider the question of a memorial to his predecessor, Canon Leonard Calderbank, who had been responsible for commencing the rebuilding of the Church and the re-housing of the Catholic School. He had been a much loved figure in the City and was described by a free church minister as “a man of a peaceable and charitable spirit.”
When Mrs Frances Herbert, nee Canning, came of age she started to rebuild the church, giving £1,000 for that object. The building was designed by her cousin, Gilbert Blount, and Bishop Clifford blessed the start of the work on 26th May 1859. Using the site of the previous church and part of the garden of the priest’s house they were able to erect the chancel, lady chapel and sacristy together with two-thirds of the nave and aisles for the total cost of £2,500. This had been solemnly opened on 22nd March 1860 and the work then stopped. until Dr Case was appointed and he is chiefly remembered for extending and embellishing this Church.
J.N. Langston takes up the story in his typescript history of the parish:
‘In August 1867 Dr Case, with the bishop’s permission, had the old priest’s house, standing between the new church and the street taken down (when he went to live at Newland Villa), and completed the church as originally designed and as it now stands, by extending it to the street frontage. It has a total length of 101 feet, with a width of 39 feet 6 inches, and is 41 feet in height. The new portion included additions to the nave and aisles, incorporating the baptistery. with stone font approached by steps, and a choir gallery, fronted with columns of Devonshire marble, in which was placed a new two-manual organ with pedals, supplied by Williams of Cheltenham, at a cost of between £400 and £500, and said to be the then the largest instrument in Gloucester next to those at the Cathedral and Shire Hall. it remained in use until 1937. At the other end of the church one aisle was extended by a cloister leading to a new sacristy.
The chief part of the new work was the building of the tower and spire (159 feet high), which, it was said, “will vie with almost any church in the county in their delicate proportions and chaste beauty.’ The top stone and vane were fixed by Dr. Case on the evening of 3rd August 1868. To quote a newspaper report: ‘The style is the Decorated of the 14th century. Above the tower is an open lantern with double windows on either side, having marble shafts: rising from that is the elegant broached spire, crocketted to the first band, canopied, liberally ornamented, sculptured near the finial, containing four two-light windows, and surmounted by a weather-vane cross.’ Provision was made for bells in a ringing loft. The illuminated clock on the Eastern face, purchased from Evans, of Birmingham, was the gift of W. Vyner Ellis, Esq., a former Mayor of the City and one of the chief supporters of the Independent chapel in Southgate Street.
The whole frontage to the street is imposing: there are three niches with crocketted canopies, the largest (above two Trinity windows over the entrance porch at the base of the tower) containing a figure of our Saviour as the Good Shepherd, while the two others (under an elaborately-designed wheel window at the end of the nave) hold figures of St. Peter and St. Paul. All the windows it was hoped eventually to replace with stained glass.
Besides the actual additions, considerable reconstruction work was undertaken inside the existing church. The chancel arch, springing from corbels resting on clustered marble columns, three on each side, was left untouched, but the chancel was divided from the nave by a rail of open stone work with marble columns and alabaster capping, with gates of brass. The roof was altered by the insertion of a moulded ceiling, with groined arches having carved terminations. The walls, rebuilt hollow to prevent dampness and permit of future fresco painting, have arcades consisting of four columns of Devonshire marble on each side, twelve inches in diameter, and the arches with their carved corbel-springers and capitals are very beautiful. Two dormer windows were inserted on each side, the dormers being carried upon marble columns with carved corbels and caps: the purpose being to admit more light to show up the present and future adornments. The floor was relaid with Minton’s encaustic tiles, and the Forest stone steps were altered.
The lady chapel, which had been rebuilt, was described as “a gem.” Its new reredos, a triptych of the Crowning of Our Lady, was purchased by Dr. Case at the Paris Exhibition.
In the body of the church, the aisles were relaid with encaustic tiles and widened to allow the easier progress of processions. A new stone pulpit having open panels, with columns and steps of Devonshire and Irish marbles, designed by Mr. Blount, and executed by Mr Farmer, was the gift of Miss Frances Canning, who also added largely to the stock of vestments and sacred vessels.
The ‘Gloucestershire Chronicle’ summed up the work as follows: ‘What we have described hints only at what is the fact – that whilst the general effect of the incomplete building was neat and simple, the undoubted appearance of the finished structure is extremely beautiful. The Roman Catholics of Gloucester may congratulate themselves upon having erected an exceedingly handsome ecclesiastical structure.’
According to reports, the amount expended on the completion of the church was, in round figures, £4.000. Towards this sum Dr. Case received several liberal contributions, the remainder coming out of his own private monies. It was only upon £1,300 of the remainder that he asked the congregation to pay interest as long as he was connected with the mission.
The completed church, being free from debt, was solemnly consecrated by Dr Clifford, Bishop of Clifton, on Thursday 8th October 1868 when admission was limited to ticket holders. The ‘Gloucester Journal’ in its issue of 10th October, printed an interesting and very detailed account of the ceremony, furnished by the Very Rev. Monsignor Bonomi, vicar-general. Pontifical High Mass followed. The ‘opening day’ was on Sunday, 11th October, when Pontifical High Mass was again celebrated by Dr. Clifford and the sermon preached by his cousin, Bishop Vaughan of Plymouth, in the presence of a very large congregation. At the evening service of Compline, Sermon and Benediction, it was only with great difficulty that the procession which concluded the service could pass through the dense crowd that filled both nave and aisles to overflowing. It was about this time that Dr Case was made a Canon of Clifton.’
Canon Case continued as Missionary Rector at Gloucester for some years. According to Monsignor Arthur Russell, he had been known as ‘Jewel Case’ when he was studying at Oxford and it was said that he possessed beautiful rings ‘which were always in evidence on Chapter days’.
On Whitsunday, 5th June 1870, during the discussions at the First Vatican Council on Papal Infallibility, Canon Case preached his notorious sermon at Gloucester, which he afterwards published under the title, ‘The Vatican Council and a duty of Catholics in regard to it’. His views were controversial and, although his bishop, Dr Clifford, had some sympathy with his thinking he was unable to save him and Case took retirement, resigning from Gloucester in early 1876 and from his canonry in December 1877. Initially, according to the Gloucester Journal, he intended to continue living in the Gloucester area but, during 1877, his library was sold by auction and he went to live at 76 Jermyn Street, London. After an operation he died in hospital on 18th May 1883, leaving an estate valued at over £22,000. He bequeathed in his will £100 to the Gloucester Infirmary and £300 to his trustees to be applied at their uncontrolled discretion ‘for the promotion of the innocent enjoyment and amusement of Sundays for and amongst those who are frequently called the lower orders of the people.’ The residue of his estate was left to the Hibbert Trust to form ‘The Case Fund.’
It appears that he had been on friendly terms with Rev Thomas Teggin, the Unitarian minister of the Barton Street Chapel in Gloucester and with Mr W. P. Price of Tibberton Court in the Forest of Dean, who was a Hibbert Trustee. On his removal to London Dr Case was on several occasions a guest at the dinners of the Trust and apparently met influential Unitarian leaders such as Rev Dr James Martineau, theologian and philosopher and Rev Dr Thomas Sadler, of Rosslyn Hill Chapel, Hampstead. It seems that it his interest in the principles of the Trust and the confidence he had in the Trustees that resulted in a substantial Legacy.
Derek McAuley has noted that W.P. Price was:
‘clearly an influential and wealthy businessman and MP (as were his son and grandson and many relatives of his wife). He was an “ardent” Unitarian and has a memorial window in the Chapel of Harris Manchester College Oxford donated by his wife, Margaret. He was President of the British and Foreign Unitarian Association; the highest position for a Unitarian in that period. He was Hibbert Trustee 1853 -1860 and 1862 – 1891. His son William Edwin was a Trustee 1884-1886 and grandson Morgan Philips 1911-1917.
By 1898 Case’s legacy to the Hibbert Trust amounted to £22,286 (equivalent to £2.9 million in 2019 values). His will refers to the ‘promotion of Free Thought and the search after Truth and of unfettered learning and frank utterance on matters connected with religion or with the nature and development and highest culture of man ….’
Dr Case was not alone in leaving the Roman Catholic Church to embrace Unitarianism. In 1870 Robert Rodolph Suffield (1821-1891) left the Dominicans to become a Unitarian Minister in Croydon and, six years later, Charles Hargrove (1840-1918) left the same Order to become the Unitarian Minister at the Mill Hill Chapel in Leeds. Arnold Harris Mathew, who had also spent time with the Dominicans, seems to have been moving in the same direction when he resigned from Clifton Diocese in 1889 but his life unfolded in very different direction.
Looking back at his generosity to the Catholic Mission in Gloucester, Dr Case seems to have spent between £4-5,000 on extending and embellishing St Peter’s Church as well as adding to the school, demolishing ‘a good priest’s house’ and then buying what was later described as ‘a miserable-looking little old-fashioned red-brick building’ where, it would seem, he housed his butler. However, he did receive some generous donations towards these projects. Without doubt, Case used some of his own money but of the last £1,300, he required that the congregation should pay him interest on the debt as long as he was attached to the mission.
When Dr Case departed from St Peter’s, he left a financial mess for his successor, Canon Eustace Barron (1878-1894). The property that Case had bought on the site of the present Presbytery was valued at only £200. When Dr Case left St Peter’s the Bishop felt obliged to buy this small cottage off him for £500, which was far more than it was worth, and then added this sum, together with an existing mortgage of £300, to the Gloucester Mission debt.
Dr Case had, therefore, left Gloucester with a mortgage/debt of £800 which he apparently bound himself to pay off when he died. However, there was no deed signed for this sum so when he made his new will, six months before his death, his promise to the Gloucester Mission was broken and St Peter’s was lumbered with the full debt as well as the need to build a proper presbytery to replace the one that Case had demolished. In turn, this project necessitated the demolition of Case’s cottage – ‘a barn-like structure of red brick’ – so that the Presbytery – ‘a handsome ecclesiastical building in harmony with the (adjoining) sacred edifice’ – could be erected in 1880, at a cost upwards of £1.000.
Joseph Darlington M.A.
Joseph Darlington was born on 5th November, 1850; son of Ralph Darlington, of Southworth House, Wigan, Lancashire. He was educated at Rossall, Brasenose College, Oxford, where he gained his M.A. and, after his conversion, at the University of Louvain. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1874 and served as Curate of Dymock, Gloucestershire before being appointed as Rector of Thorndon, Eye, Suffolk, in 1876.
Joseph resigned his office and was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church in 1878. He became a member of the Society of Jesus in 1880; and was devoted to University Education in Ireland. He was a Gold Medallist in Mental Science, Royal University, 1887; Fellow and Examiner, 1890-1909; Dean of Faculty and Professor of Mental Science at University College, Dublin; Dean of Residence and Governor of the Catholic Medical School, 1890-1909. He founded St. Ignatius’ Hall, a residential hostel for Students, 1910, of which he was in charge till 1920; Editor of the Irish Monthly from 1920.
Henry Formby M.A.
Henry Formby was born in 1816 and educated at the Grammar School in Clitheroe before moving on to Charterhouse School in London. Henry was given a place at Brasenose, Oxford, where he took his M.A. Following his ordination he became Vicar of Ruardean in Gloucestershire, where, in 1843, he completed his first book, ‘A Visit to the East’. Henry showed an interest in ecclesiastical music producing ‘Parochial Psalmody Considered’ in 1845.
At this time, he was profoundly influenced by the Tractarians, and soon after his friend Newman became a Catholic in 1845, he decided to resign his living and was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. The reception of Formby and his curate, George Burder, took place on 24th January 1846, at St Mary’s College Oscott, where he continued studying Theology until his ordination to the priesthood on 18th September 1847. He was attached to St Chad’s in Birmingham for some years. Henry Formby died at Normanton Hall, Leicester, on 12 April 1884.
George Burder M.A.
George Burder was the grandson of the well-known Dissenter, the Rev. George Burder (1752-1832), publisher of the ‘Evangelical Magazine.’ George studied at Magdalen College, Oxford and then became curate in Ruardean. He was received into the Roman Catholic Church with his Vicar, Henry Formby, on January 24, 1846 at Oscott College. George was ordained a Roman Catholic priest and then entered Mount St Bernard Abbey in Leicestershire. George Bernard Burder became sub prior and then prior; he was elected abbot in October 1853 and blessed by Cardinal Wiseman in Rome. Abbot Bernard Burder translated several theological works from French. He remained in office for only five years, resigning on 22nd December 1858. He died on September 26, 1881.
Charles Henry Kennard M.A.
Charles was born on 14th October 1840, a son of John Pierse and Sophia Kennard of Walthamstow and he was baptised there on 2nd April 1841. Charles matriculated on 24th November 1859 and studied at University College, Oxford, gaining his B.A. in 1865 and M.A. in 1872. He was ordained as an Anglican priest and served at Newland, Worcestershire. He was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church and was studying at Oscott College from April 1870 until 1873. He was ordained at Oscott on 21st December 1872. At the time of the 1881 and 1891 censuses Charles Kennard was at Cannington Court in Somerset. On 24th October 1881 he laid the foundation stone of St Joseph’s Church in Bridgwater. Charles served as a Canon of Clifton and died 6th August 1920 at Westleigh, Burnham.
Littleton Powys M.A.
Littleton Powys, son of the author, John Cowper Powys in 1903. He was ordained an Anglican priest in 1927 and served as curate in Folkestone before being appointed as Principal of St. Stephen’s House, in Oxford, an Anglican theological college. He held this position for six years before becoming the Rector of a parish near Steyning. At the beginning of the Second World War Powys became a chaplain to the Forces but, in 1940, resigned. He was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church at St. John’s Church in Bath.
After spending four years studying for the Catholic priesthood at the Beda in Rome, Littleton became curate at St. John’s in Bath. He was given the new parish of Dursley where he arrived on Friday, 17th February 1950, but twenty months later, on Sunday 18th November 1951, he celebrated his last Sunday there and took up his new post at Peasedown St John. Eighteen months later he left Peasedown a sick man and died at St. Teresa’s Convent in Corston during February 1954, aged fifty-one years.
See St Dominic’s Dursley 1939-1989′:
Benjamin Fearnley Carlyle O.S.B.
Benjamin Fearnley Carlyle was born on 7th February 1874 and educated at Blundell’s School. In 1892, he commenced medical training at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London. Carlyle wished to see the Benedictine Life restored to the Anglican Church and by 1895 he had established a community of monks under his leadership. In 1904 he was ordained an Anglican priest by Bishop Grafton of Fond du Lac.
For a short period during the year 1897 the community settled at Little Guiting in Gloucestershire but eventually they were established on Caldey Island in 1906. On 3rd March 1913 Aelred Carlyle together with twenty-two other monks was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Aelred Carlyle was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest on 5th July 1914 at Maredsous and blessed as Abbot of Caldey on 18th October. He resigned this office in 1921 and died at Corston on 14th October 1955. The Caldey Community later moved to Prinknash Park in Gloucestershire.
Charles Henry Sharpe M.A.
Charles Henry Sharpe was born in Richmond, Surrey, on 11th April 1858. He was the eldest son of John Charles Sharpe, a Banker, and his wife, Emma. Charles entered St Alban Hall, Oxford (annexed by Merton in 1881) and matriculated on 14th October 1879 aged 21. He was a Commoner of Hertford College in 1880, received his B.A. in 1883 and M.A. in 1887. Charles was ordained deacon in 1884 and priest 1885. He served his title on Isle of Wight, and then, in 1887, moved to St Mary’s, Southampton where he remained until 1890.
Charles had a yearning for the religious life but was not sure which route it would take. In his early ministry on the Isle of Wight as a result of what he termed a conversion experience as a Deacon, he realised that he had a wonderful gift of extempore speech and this developed in him a desire to work as an Evangelist in the mission field.
During a period as Acting Chaplain to the Forces Sharpe came into contact with the Cowley Fathers at Oxford and Aelred Carlyle, founder of the Caldey Community which eventually became the Prinknash Community. In 1894 Sharpe became one of four assistant Missioners at the Mission College in Gloucester, a position with which he is still credited in 1913 a year after he had started the More Hall Community of the Evangelist Brothers of the Common Life.
Charles Sharpe was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church in 1917 and thereafter worked tirelessly for the Catholic cause, although the latter years of his life were spent quietly in More Hall. He became a close friend of the abbot of Downside and of Bishop Burton of Clifton. The latter gave him minor orders after his conversion and allowed him to continue to be addressed as ‘Father Sharpe’. He died on 11th March 1932 at St Mary’s Hospital, Clifton.
See ‘Father Sharpe and the Seddons’:
George Dudley Ryder
George Dudley Ryder, third son of Dr Henry Ryder (1777-1836) and his wife, Sophia March Phillipps (1780-1862), was born on at Lutterworth Vicarge on 11th April 1810. His father had an illustrious ecclesiastical Career and became Dean of Wells, Bishop of Gloucester and later Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry. George was a brother of Sophia Ryder who became the first novice of the Order of the Good Shepherd in England and, for a time, she belonged to their convent at Arno’s Vale in Bristol. Both Sophy and George Ryder were first cousins, through their mother, of the famous convert, Ambrose Phillipps de Lisle, of Garendon Park and Grace Dieu.
George studied at Oxford, matriculating in 1828, and studying at Oriel where he was tutored by Richard Hurrell Froude and John Henry Newman. His academic career was not auspicious but he was ordained deacon by his father on 26th January 1834 and given the living of St Werburgh’s in Hanbury.
Foster: born Lutterworth Leics, 3rd s Henry, bishop of Lichfield and Coventry; ORIEL m 6/3/1828 aged 17; BA 1833, MA 1834, died 19/6/1880
!834 was a significant year for Ryder because, on 5th June, he married Sophia Lucy Sergeant (1814-1850), daughter John Sargeant, the Rector of Lavington, Sussex. Through this marriage he became a brother-in-law of Henry Manning and also of brothers, Robert and Samuel Wilberforce.
The story of the conversion of George Ryder is told in the biography of his sister, Sophy, ‘A Conversion and a Vocation’ and part of this narrative is included in my Thomas Meyrick blog:
Suffice to say that George’s wife was as delicate as her sisters, so George took her to the continent in 1845 in the hope that the warmer weather might improve her health. They were accompanied to Rome by his sister, Sophy Ryder, and his three eldest children. Their visit to the Holy See culminated in them being received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, on 5th May 1845, in the Palace of Cardinal Acton. Immediately, they announced from Italy that they had become Roman Catholic and, in so doing, George forfeited his living and his decision was met with displeasure from friends and members of the Ryder family. Ambrose Phillipps de Lisle stepped in and offered the Ryders his property, Grace Dieu Warren, and here they lived for many years and brought up their seven children. Three sons were to become Catholic priests and these included Henry Ignatius Dudley Ryder, who became the second Provost of the Birmingham Oratory; Charles Edward Ryder who served in Birmingham Diocese and Cyril Dudley Ryder who became an Oblate of St Charles. Their fourth son was Sir George Lisle Ryder K. C. B. (1838-1905).
John Moore Capes
John Moore Capes was baptised 20th November 1812 at St Mary Newington. He was a graduate of Oxford and took Anglican orders and then served his title at Shipton Moyne and Long Newton from 1839 to 1841. At Long Newnton, on 3rd July 1839, John Moore Capes of Shipton Moyne, married Bertha Wyatt, daughter of Alfred Wyatt Esq of Doughton. Their marriage was conducted by Edmund Estcourt, Vicar of Shipton Moyne and father of Edgar Estcourt.
On 18th April 1841 John Ambrose Edmund Capes, son of John Moore Capes and Bertha his wife was baptised at Shipton Moyne by his father John Moore Capes, wh was described in the Register as Curate. His final entry as Curate in Baptismal Register was 18th April 1841.
John Moore Capes moved on to Bridgwater where he erected, at his own expense, his Tractarian St John’s, said to be influenced by Salisbury Cathedral and one of the earliest ‘revival’ churches in the country. Sadly, it wasn’t given its planned spire as Capes left only months after the opening to become a Roman Catholic. Soon afterwards he built a small dual-purpose church-school, dedicated to St Joseph of Arimathaea to serve the Catholics of Bridgwater. I have a vague memory that Father Dominic Barberi referred, in a letter from Northfields, to a wealthy curate who was considering conversion and I presume this must be Capes.
An extract from John Moore Capes and The “Rambler”, 1848-1854 by Josef L. Altholz
‘Capes, a graduate of Oxford, had taken Anglican orders and received the living of St. John’s, Bridgwater. Here he spent virtually all of his ample fortune building and endowing a new church. He was not at first an adherent of the Tractarian movement, but found his own way to Rome. He was drawn to Roman Catholicism by a conviction of the absolute need for an infallible doctrinal authority, an infallibility which was claimed only by the Church of Rome. After a visit to Littlemore, where he found that Newman was moving in a similar direction, Capes was received into the Catholic Church at Oscott College on 27 July 1845, by Wiseman, who had become a bishop and was president of the college. Many of Capes’ parishioners, his wife, and his brother Frederick, soon followed his example. The latter, a proctor in the ecclesiastical courts, had to give up a practice of over £1,000 a year. J. M. Capes himself lost both his living and the £10,000 he had spent on his new church. The financial sacrifice of the two brothers was hailed by Newman as “the greatest thing that has been done in money matters” by converts (Newman to Dalgairns, 10 Dec. 1845, cited in Ward, I, 107).
As a married man, Capes was debarred from the priesthood. The struggling English Catholic body offered few openings for married “convert parsons”; Capes, more fortunate than most, found a position as professor of mathematics at Prior Park College, near Bath. Here, in 1846, he conceived the idea of founding a periodical in which he and other converts “should write for the present condition of the English mind, entering into all subjects of literary, philosophic and moral interest, treating them as a person would who believes Catholicism to be the only true religion” (Capes to Newman, 15 July 1846, Newman MSS). He secured the warm approval of Bishop Ullathorne, then Vicar Apostolic of the Western District, and proposed the plan to Newman. Newman approved the project, but pointed out a number of practical difficulties; for Newman’s replies, see Gasquet, xii-xiv. Eventually all difficulties were overcome, and Capes, with the assistance of a few friends, among whom was James Spencer Northcote, another convert clergyman at Prior Park, brought out the first number of a new weekly, the Rambler, on 1 January 1848.’
Capes settled at Summerwells in Woodchester in close proximity to the Dominican Fathers at the nearby Priory, together with fellow converts Henry Wilberforce, John Julius Plumer, Matthew Bridges (the convert hymnologist), Richard Hungerford Pollen and, of course, William Leigh of Woodchester Park. In later years Capes struggled with Papal Infallibility and for a time left the Roman Catholic Church.
John Julius Plumer M.A.
John Julius Plumer, born in 1813, was the fifth son of the Master of the Rolls, Thomas Plumer of Cannons, Middlesex. John Julius matriculated on 6th April 1832, aged 18, and studied at Baliol, Oxford. In 1836 he received his B.A. and in 1839 his M.A. He was ordained to the Anglican priesthood but was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church in 1846. He married his wife, Christina, nee Aird, (1834-1912) and they made their home at ‘The Hayes’, Windsoredge, Nailsworth. John Julius Plumer died in 1875.
Christina Plumer’s sister, Frances Mary Aird, became the second wife of the convert, Sir Richard Hungerford Pollen of Rodbourne, near Chippenham. The Pollens and Plumers were close and the widowed Lady Frances Mary Pollen, died at ‘The Hayes’ in 1932. Richard Hungerford Pollen was buried at the Priory Church at Woodchester and his memorial is an imposing tomb.
John Hungerford Pollen
John Hungerford Pollen, brother of Richard Hungerford Pollen of Rodbourne, was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford. He was ordained an Anglican priest in 1845, and served his title in Leeds. In 1852 he was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church and after that he specialised in the decorative arts.
His wife, Maria Margaret La Primaudaye, was born into a wealthy Huguenot family on 10 April 1838, the third child of the Revd Charles John La Primaudaye who was the curate of Archdeacon Henry Edward Manning at West Lavington. It was largely through his generosity that the church at West Lavington was rebuilt. However, Charles La Primaudaye and his family were received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church during 1851. Manning (La Primaudaye was his confessor as well as his curate) became a Roman Catholic very soon after. In 1854 Mrs La Primaudaye died.
It was in Rome that Maria’s father met John Hungerford Pollen and, as a result, Maria became engaged to him during the summer of 1854. John Pollen was seventeen years her senior. They married at Woodchester Priory on 18th September 1855. The Pollens initially settled in Dublin, where John Hungerford Pollen had been offered the professorship of fine arts at University College, having been introduced to Newman by his father-in-law, Charles La Primaudaye. Pollen worked with Newman on church architecture and decoration and he was responsible for the design of the University Church. He was Professor of Fine Arts at U.C.D. from 1855 to 1857.
John Hungerford Pollen died at 11 Pembridge Crescent, London, on 2nd December 1902.
Returning to Charles La Primaudaye, he and Robert Wilberforce both started on their way to the priesthood in Rome. They both helped Manning in the founding of the Oblates of St Charles. They intended to belong when they were ordained. Both died before ordination. La Primaudaye died in 1858 and is buried in the sanctuary of the Church of Santa Maria del Populo, in Rome, where his wife is also buried. Robert Wilberforce had died in 1857. He had been an archdeacon of the York diocese. He was the brother of Henry Wilberforce who, for the last years of his life lived at Chester House, Woodchester.
Henry William Wilberforce M.A.
Henry William Wilberforce was born on 22 Sep 1807. His father was Gerard Wilberforce, the youngest son of William Wilberforce. He studied law at Oxford and was a pupil of John Henry Newman, through whose influence he later took orders an Anglican priest. He was educated at Oriel College, Oxford (B.A. 1830, M.A. 1833), and he married on 24th July, 1834, Mary (died 27th January, 1878), second daughter and co-heiress (with her sister, Emily, wife of Bishop Samuel Wilberforce), of Rev. John Sargent, of Lavington, Sussex. Henry William Wilberforce served the Anglican Church from 1834 to 1850 and was Vicar of East Farleigh, Kent, from 1843-50.
During 1850 Henry was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church and, from 1865, was proprietor and editor of the Catholic Standard. Several other books were written by him. Henry Wilberforce and his family settled at Chester Hill House, Woodchester and it was here that he died on 23rd April 1873. Cardinal Newman preached at his funeral and his body was buried in the graveyard of Woodchester Priory Church.
‘Surprising Connections’ by Jane Bethell
Many of us know that the arch at Archway was built to celebrate the emancipation of slaves in 1833, but fewer know about the local connection to the family of William Wilberforce the anti- slavery campaigner and the family’s connection with Rome.
A few years ago, when we could travel freely, my husband was honouring a long-standing promise to take me to Rome. We discovered there are only so many Renaissance and baroque churches you can take in a long weekend. We, like Mr Leigh, appreciate the elegance of Gothic architecture so we took refuge in what is billed as “Rome’s only Gothic church”, the basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, which is just a stone’s throw from the Pantheon. From the outside it looks just like any other church in Rome, quite unlike the Gothic cathedrals of England and Northern France, but inside it had clearly received a 19th century makeover in the fashionable neo-Gothic style. While wandering round and comparing the décor with that of the church Mr Leigh built, I accidentally stumbled over the grave of an Englishman – quite literally as he is buried in the floor of the church, just to the right of the altar. “I know who that is!” I exclaimed. I was so delighted that we completely missed the famous Michelangelo statue of Christ the Redeemer, just a few yards away.
The Englishman in question was Robert Isaac Wilberforce, the brother of Henry William Wilberforce who is buried in the graveyard at Woodchester. The brothers were two of sons of William Wilberforce, the anti-slavery campaigner. Both had been clergymen in the Church of England and members of what was known as the Oxford Movement which sought to bring back some of the traditional aspects of the church in England that had disappeared with the protestant reformation centuries before. Like many others of this movement, often prominent individuals like John Henry Newman, later to become Cardinal Newman, they converted to Catholicism. In Robert Isaac’s case, he was in Italy to prepare for his ordination as a Catholic priest when he died in 1857. I don’t know the full story of why he merited such a prestigious burial place, one that he shares with four Popes and Saint Catherine of Siena, but the fact that Robert was being mentored by the Dominican order and Santa Maria being a Dominican basilica clearly played a role.
Becoming a Catholic Priest was not a path open to Henry William Wilberforce. Robert was a widower when he set out to join the priesthood, but Henry was married and his wife was still alive. Henry had been vicar of East Farleigh in Kent when he converted in 1850 and gave up an income of £1,000 per year. This was a good salary by any of the standard comparisons. Going by retail price inflation, it would have been worth £80,000 today, and, going by wage inflation, it would have been the equivalent of a investment banker’s salary – enough to maintain a household with around seven servants. So it was not a course that he took lightly. (Newman, who had been Henry’s tutor at Oxford described him as “a fool for Christ’s sake”.) He became a journalist and was clearly not impoverished as in 1861 he lived in Kensington and was still able to run a household with four servants. In 1867 he moved to Woodchester where he lived in Chester Hill House and became a member of the parish and local society. He was already well acquainted with the Leigh family and, in 1864, in the company of William Leigh, he had witnessed what he described as a religious riot at a lecture given at the Nailsworth Subscription Rooms. He died in 1873, and the funeral brought a large gathering of influential Catholics to Woodchester and a short sermon was preached by no less than John Henry Newman. The funeral, like Mr Leigh’s, was the subject of a detailed report in the local papers. Henry is buried in the graveyard just below the east window.
But this was not the end of Woodchester’s Wilberforce connections, with various members of the family being buried here until quite recently. Perhaps the most interesting of the family is one of Henry’s sons, Arthur Henry Wilberforce. Arthur had been educated at Ushaw College and ordained as a deacon in the Catholic Church. In 1864 he had come to Woodchester to join the Dominican Order, becoming a priest and taking the name Father Bertrand Wilberforce. In 1869 he was assigned to take charge of the mission at Beeches Green in Stroud where he and his companions survived on a weekly collection of about 15 shillings (75 pence for younger readers) – quite a difference from his father’s £1,000 a year! However, according to his biography, he used to amuse his friends in later years with the explanation of how they managed: he “just bought what was wanted, and then sent in the bills to the Provincial!” The modern day equivalent would be putting it on the boss’s credit card. When Bertrand had first visited Woodchester he was immediately stuck by the Gothic splendour and traditional features, as well as the beauty of the surrounding countryside, and commented “Why this is more like a monastery than anything I have yet seen in England.” The Prior, Father Augustine Proctor, answered in a tone of severe reproof: “Sir ! It IS a monastery!” Father Bertrand became a distinguished member of the Order and travelled widely in the course of his work. He died in London in December 1904, but his body was returned to Woodchester for a funeral service performed by the head of the Dominican Order in England. His resting place is marked with a simple cross amongst those of the Dominican monks whose graves can be seen next to the footpath that connects the north and south porches of the church.
But I would hate to end this article on a sombre note, so I will briefly turn to an enchanting comment in Father Bertrand’s biography. Father Bertrand was notoriously unpunctual. This is excused by his biographer on the grounds that “His unpunctuality was less a moral fault than a mystical perfection.” Unfortunately, this is not an excuse many of us can get away with without prompting sniggering.
Thomas William Allies
Thomas William Allies was born on 12th February 1813. He was the only son of Rev Thomas Allies and his wife Frances. His father was Vicar of Wormington, Gloucestershire, and also at Midsomer Norton. Thomas was baptised at St James’ Church, Bristol on 10th March 1813. He was educated for a brief period at Bristol Grammar School before moving on to Eton, where he was the first winner of the Newcastle Scholarship in 1829. Thomas studied at Wadham, Oxford, where he was given a Fellowship in 1833. In 1840 he married Eliza Hall Newman.
In the same year as he was married Bishop Blomfield of London appointed Thomas as his examining chaplain and presented him to the rectory of Launton, near Bicester in Oxfordshire, which he resigned in 1850 when he became a Roman Catholic. Allies was appointed secretary to the Catholic Poor School Committee in 1853, a position which he held until 1890. He died on 17th June 1903.
Edward Healy Thompson
Edward Healy Thompson was born in 1813 at Oakham in Rutland. He was educated at Oakham School. Edward then studied at Emmanuel, Cambridge and after his ordination as an Anglican priest he served his title at Calne. From Calne he moved on to positions in Marylebone and Ramsgate before being received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church in 1846. Edward married Harriet Diana Calvert, daughter of Nicholson Calvert of Humsden, Hertfordshire. On her husband’s conversion Harriet was also received and like him she devoted herself to Catholic literary work.
In 1851, jointly with James Spencer Northcote, Edward undertook the editorship of the series of controversial pamphlets known as ‘The Clifton Tracts’. The rest of his life was devoted to religious The poet Francis Thompson was his nephew. The latter years of the lives of these prolific Catholic writers were spent at Cheltenham where Edward died on 21st May 1891 and Harriet on 21st August 1896.
Henry Willis Probyn-Nevins
Henry Willis Probyn Nevins was born on 5th September 1847 at Miningsby, Horncastle, Lincolnshire where his father, William Nevins was Rector. In 1861 the family was living at 8 Berkeley Street, Cheltenham, near to St John’s Church. Henry was in the Civil Service from 1866 until 1870 and during the following year he was made an Anglican deacon.
At the time of the 1871 census Henry was listed as a Clerk in Holy Orders at Titchfield in Hampshire. On 1st August 1872 he married Fanny Lavie, nee Jones, at St Nicholas, Brighton. Fanny was the daughter of George Haines Jones, M.D., of Ashling House, Hamphire, J.P., D.L.
Cambridge Chronicle and Journal 10 August 1872 – Marriages – August 1st at St Nicholas, Brighton, Arthur Wagner, Chancellor of the Diocese and Vicar of St. Paul’s, assisted the Rev. William Nevins, Rector of Miningsbye, the Rev. Willis Nevins, to Fanny Lavie, widow of the late Major Henry Lavie, of Elmshurst, Fareham.
Henry and Fanny settled in Cheltenham and, in 1877, he wrote – ‘Driven to Rome by an Ex-Anglican Clergyman’. At the time of the 1881 census they were living at Oxford Parade, Cheltenham and he was described as a clergyman without cure of souls. In 1891 he was living with his wife and step-daughter at 52 Banbury Road, Oxford. Henry died on 12th January 1896 at 8 Oxford Parade, Cheltenham. During his years in Cheltenham Henry became embroiled in difficult correspondence some of which is deposited in the Clifton Diocesan Archives. One of his more controversial tracts bears the provocative title, ‘Can a Canonised Saint be in Hell?’
Jonathan Henry Woodward
Jonathan Henry Woodward was born in 1805 in County Cavan. He was the son of Henry Woodward. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and was ordained to the Anglican Priesthood. On 6th June 1839 he married Olivia Fanny Cunningham (1813-1901) at Littlebredy in Dorset. By this time, he was the Incumbent of St James’s Church in the Horsefair, Bristol. Jonathan and Olivia had eight children.
On 6th November 1850 Woodward invited Dr Pusey to preach at St James. There was unease at the time over the Restoration of the Hierarchy and the Bishop of Bristol was apprehensive about the visit but, in the event, Pusey was well received. By May 1851 Jonathan Woodward and two of his curates had been received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
On the night of the 1851 census the family was staying at Littlebredy and Woodward was described as Incumbent of St James’s in Bristol. At the time of the 1871 census Jonathan and his family were living in Kensington.
Jonathan died on 28th March 1879 at 4 Wellington Terrace, Folkestone, and he was described in the probate records as a ‘Gentleman’.
James was born in about 1823, the second son of James Orr of Holywood, Down. He was at Rugby and matriculated on 18th November 1841, aged eighteen, and studied at Oriel College Oxford. He was serving as Curate at St James’s Church in Bristol when, in 1851, with his Vicar, Jonathan Woodward, and his fellow curate, J. Henn, they were received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
Henn was serving as Curate at St James’s Church in Bristol when, in 1851, with his Vicar, Jonathan Woodward, and his fellow curate, James Orr, they were received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
Richard James Dyne Godley
Richard James Dyne Godley was baptised on 15th February 1850 at St Mary’s Southampton. He was admitted to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, on 18th September 1873 and matriculated during Lent of the following year. His B.A. followed in 1877 and he was ordained an Anglican priest in 1878, serving his title at Morval in Cornwall until 1879. Richard then moved to Moordown in Hampshire for his second curacy and then from 1881-3 he was Curate at the Church of St John the Baptist at Bathwick, in Bath. At this point Richard was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. His working life was spent as a teacher of Classics, first at a Catholic College in Aldermaston and then at Woolhampton in Berkshire.
(?) Frederick Mills Raymond Barker M.A.
Frederick Mills Raymond Barker was the second son of Charles Raymond Barker. He studied at Oriel and matriculated, at the age of eighteen, on 6th February 1834. He received his B.A. in 1837 and M.A. in 1840.
A younger brother of Charles Raymond Barker, first Vicar of Oakridge, Frederick became Vicar of Sandford in Oxfordshire where he held the living from 1843 until 1851. In the 1851 Census he was living with Dr Pusey, the Regius Professor of Hebrew, at Christ Church, Oxford, where he is described as a relative and a clergyman with no cure of souls. Also living in the house were Pusey’s son Phillip, aged 20; his daughter Mary aged 17, Mary Brine, a Sister of Mercy, aged 38 and born in Ireland.
On 16th July 1853 Dr Pusey joined in Holy Matrimony his nephew, Frederick Raymond Barker, and Elizabeth at the Church built by Newman at Littlemore. The bride, Elizabeth Hacket, was an accomplished Musician. The newly-weds seem to have lived at Beaumont Street, Oxford after their marriage and then they purchased Bisley Manor, in 1854, where they were still living in 1863. Whilst continuing to own their Bisley property, the family moved to Brighton where they were living first in Western Terrace and then at two addresses in Montpelier Villas.
The couple had four children who survived into adulthood, namely, Mary who was baptised at Christchurch, Oxford, in 1854, Edward, Charles and Catharine who was baptised at Bisley by Thomas Keble in 1863. An infant, Edward, was baptised in 1856 at Merton College and buried from there in the following year. The marriage was not a happy one and ended in a legal separation in 1872. The husband was a violent man and assaulted and traumatised his wife and daughters.
Elizabeth Raymond Barker was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church together with her two sons and one of her daughters. The question arises as to whether Frederick Raymond Barker, himself, became a Roman Catholic. Unlike his wife and three children he is not mentioned in ‘Converts to Rome’ by W. Gordon-Gorman which is probably significant. However, it seems unlikely that Charles would be allowed to receive an education at Stonyhurst if his father, an Anglican clergyman, had not made the step. It is possible, of course, that he was received and then returned to the Anglican fold.
For more information see ‘The Raymond-Barkers and the building of the Catholic Chapel of St Mary of the Angels, Bisley: