Unusual names of the Anglo Catholic clergy

(Silly season post 2)

In the 1930s novel High Rising by Angela Thirkell, Laura and Amy are talking about the names of clergy. (See previous blog on the names of bishops). Laura remarks “It’s just as peculiar in the Roman Catholic Church. If you see announcements of preachers outside the Oratory they are called Monsignor Cuthbert Bede Wilkinson, or Dom Boniface Chrysostom Butts.” (Lovely to see there a sighting of ‘Chrysostom’)

Well, rather than looking at RC clergy names we thought we’d look at Anglo Catholic clergy of the past and see what unusual ones we find there. In the higher layers of Anglo Catholicism we often find the unusual and the exotic, and sure enough the names of some of the clergy contribute to this.

In a previous blog we mentioned Fr Peter Eugene Blagdon-Gamlen, famous for his guide to Anglo Catholic churches, The Church Travellers Directory (online version here). The Anglo Catholic History Society has recently published a biography of the splendidly named Henry Joy Fynes-Clinton, former Rector of St Magnus the Martyr, London, and a leading Anglo Papalist. A lovely story relates that Fr Fynes-Clinton went to see the Bishop of London who said to him “Take a chair Clinton” to which he replied “Its Fynes-Clinton.” “In that case” said the Bishop “take two.”

pjimage (2)

From left to right, Frs Henry Joy Fynes-Clinton, Percy Maryon Wilson, Desmond Morse Boycott, Arthur Tooth, Wilmot Lushington Vyvyan

Fr Gonville Aubie ffrench-Beytagh had a notable ministry in South African and later as Vicar of St Vedast, in the City of London. He was a sought after spiritual guide. Fr John Brabazon Brabazon-Lowther, of Shrigley Park, Cheshire was an Anglo Catholic priest and later an Archbishop of ‘The Ancient Catholic Church.’ (And yes the Brabazon is repeated). Fr Desmond Morse-Boycott was well known for ‘Fr Desmond’s Window’ which regularly appeared in the Church Times. Further back in Anglo Catholic history we have: Fr Edward Bowles Knottesford-Fortescue, first priest at Wilmcote and son of Revd Francis Fortescue-Knottesford (yes the names are reversed.)

The list almost seems endless, and includes appropriate, even amusing surnames, for example; Fr Tabernacle, Fr Christmas, Fr Page-Turner, Fr Pickles, Fr Careful, Fr Tooth, Fr Churchyard, Fr Challis, Fr Precious and Fr Blood.

Novelists have picked up the theme too – Fr Hugh Chantry-Pigg, is the comic priest in Rose Macaulay’s Towers of Trebizond. There is, of course Oscar Wilde’s Canon Chasuble, and Barbara Pymm invented Father Marius Lovejoy Ransome.

There is evidence that some clergy wishing to ascend to the higher levels of Anglo Catholicism may have developed their names (or had that done for them). Fr Edwards of Prestbury changed his name to Fr Baghot de la Bere. Fr Hope Patten of Walsingham fame was in earlier life Alfred Patten. Fr Kitkat, former Vicar of St Benedict, Ardwick added the name de Winton immediately before Kitkat to his five sons’ names, who subsequently identified themselves as having the surname ‘de Winton Kitcat.’

Of course it is easy, and can be fun, to pick out unusual names, and unusual names were not confined to Anglo Catholic clergy. However, it does seem that Laura’s remarks about the RC clergy may have some resonance in the Anglo Catholicism of her time too.

Now… if you were a novelist what name would you create for an Anglo Catholic priest? (And perhaps we could update from Angela Thirkell’s day by adding women Anglo Catholic clergy to the list) Do put your answer as a comment below, – or by clicking here – please)

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About stchrysostoms

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26 Responses to Unusual names of the Anglo Catholic clergy

  1. Bruce Bridgewood says:

    The Very Reverend Osprey ddutch-Thrasher, Dean of Truro ..

  2. Ian Duncan says:

    Somewhere in New Zealand we had Canon Ball

  3. Kate Charles says:

    In my 1993 novel ‘Appointed to Die’, I had Canon Arthur Brydges-Ffrench.

  4. Mark Parry says:

    Cosmo Pouncey was a much loved if rather eccentric vicar if Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, UK in the 1970s

  5. James Morgan says:

    I don’t know how rarefied an Anglo-Catholic he was but I always liked Fr. Sabine Baring-Gould!

  6. Andrew says:

    Fr Gonville Aubie ffrench-Beytagh when seeing his then bishop of London was told “Take a chair Beytagh” to which he replied “It’s ffrench-Beytagh” “Better take two” said the bishop!

  7. Fr Thomas Myers says:

    The Rev’d Fr Rhétorius Blister
    The Rt Rev’d Veritas Toogood
    Archdeacon Marcel Backwood-Smythe
    Deacon Archibald Prout Leghorn

  8. Ian says:

    Canon Brian Dominic Frederick Titus Brindley assumed the second and fourth of his Christian names. On becoming a Roman Catholic he added Leo

    • Fr John Joyce says:

      Fr Brian took Dominic at his confirmation and Titus at his priestly ordination and Leo at his reception into the Roman Church [in honour of the 13th Bishop of Rome who had taken that name!]

  9. FitzFitzgerald says:

    Rod Strange …perfect !

  10. Frank Cranmer says:

    My all-time favourite was the Revd Clifford Leofric Purdey Bishop (who, his obituarist noted, was ‘more conversably known as Jim’. He was Bishop of Malmesbury from 1962 to 1973.

  11. keibat says:

    Fr Watts-Watt in William Golding’s novel Free Fall

  12. Is Bloomer amusing enough? Thomas Bloomer, Bishop of Carlisle 1946-1966,
    Succeeded by Bishop Bulley.
    The Archdeacon at the time was Charles Euston Nurse, a bachelor, who was heard in the electricity shop in Carlisle asking for a kettle so that he could boil an egg. Honest.
    And soon after one of the residentiary canons was Canon Batty.
    None of these was a card carrying anglocatholic though.

  13. Charles Read says:

    After Arthur tooth was released from jail (having been sent down for liturgical irregularities – oh if only we could still do that…), Vanity Fair (I think) ran the headline ‘Tooth extracted from gaol’.

  14. Pingback: Law and religion round-up – 4th September | Law & Religion UK

  15. Janet Fife says:

    It’s hard to beat The Very Reverend and Honourable Oliver William Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, who used to be Dean of Lincoln. Don’t know if he was Anglo Catholic, though. High society if not High Church!

  16. Susan Saucedo Sica says:

    Not Aglo Catholic but my father’s family kept the custom of naming their sons after saints and feast days. He was born in the octave of the Feast of the Epiphany and named Melchior Gaspar Balthazar Saucedo, Became Bishop of Western Mexico.

  17. For our computer age?
    Fr Pixell – Revd C H V Pixell

  18. Anna James, from Pusey House, offers a few extras:
    “Amongst nominative determinists, the Hall collection can offer Frs. Chanter, Godsell, Chaplain and Deacon. But I think the Rev’d Ernest Rich Grimes missed his true vocation when he failed to break into the urban music scene.”

  19. frdougal says:

    When i was a student in Aberdeen in the 1980’s, the Rector of St James’s Holburn Junction was Canon Michael Paternoster

  20. Clair says:

    One of my favourite Father Ted episodes is when Mrs Doyle is trying to to guess the visiting (as it turns out, an imposter) priest’s name!

  21. megere33 says:

    How about the Lady Abbesses? And it is not that far away from the truth–those religious we see at royal functions are ordained priests. How about a Lady Abbess in full Abbatial Pontificals who are also assistants at the Pontifical Throne with the Right of Cappa Magna! (Of course that is very Roman. Do you think Justin will institute Assistants at the Primatial Throne with the right of pontificals?)

  22. Sid holt says:

    Fr. Transire-Tiberum

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