The Names of Bishops (Silly Season post 1)
Tim Stibbs, Warden of Dalton Ellis Hall, tells the story of how, when he first arrived in Manchester, the Rector of St Chrysostom’s was James Wardle Harpur, and the churchwardens were David Percival Smith and Simon Tatton Brown. Goodness, he thought, to hold office in that church you must have to have a double barreled name!
I was reminded of this while reading the witty novel of the 1930’s High Rising by Angela Thirkell. Amy, is talking to her friend Laura about bishops, and says:
“Have you noticed another thing about the higher clergy, Laura? They always have suitable Christian names. The guardian angel of the Church of England makes men who are going to be bishops be christened Talbot Devereux, or Cyril Cyprian, and then, of course, they are bound to rise.”
Times and fashions change, and current Church of England bishops don’t quite seem to have Christian names of the form Amy has in mind. But did they really have such names in the 1930’s?
Let’s see, and judge for ourselves. Here are the first names of a randomly chosen set of ten diocesan bishops at the time Angela Thirkell’s book was first published (1933)
St Clair George Alfred (Bishop Donaldson of Salisbury), Herbert Hensley (Bishop Henson of Durham), Frederick Cyril Nugent (Bishop Hicks of Lincoln), Bertram (Bishop Pollock of Norwich), Albert Augustus (Bishop David of Liverpool), Cyril Forster (Bishop Garbett of Winchester), George Kennedy Allen (Bishop Bell of Chichester), St John Basil Wynne (Bishop Wilson of Bath and Wells), Frederick Sumpter Guy (Bishop Warman of Manchester), James Buchanan (Bishop Seaton of Wakefield – great uncle of the current worthy organist of St Chrysostom’s).
One can’t help thinking dear Amy had a point…
PS And on the names of Anglo Catholic clergy click here