Rev Edward Bowls Knottesford FORTESCUE M.A. 
- Born: 23 Apr 1816, Stoke By Nayland SFK
- Marriage (1): Frances Anne SPOONER  on 15 Nov 1838 in Elmdon WAR
- Marriage (2): Gertrude Martha ROBINS  on 17 Jul 1871 in St. Mary's, Bryanston Square LND
- Died: 18 Aug 1877, Holloway LND aged 61
- Buried: Kensal Green Cemetery.
Fortesque Edward Bowles (Knottesford), 1s, Francis of Stoke, co. Stafford, cler. Wadham Coll., matric. 5 June, 1834, aged 18; B.A. 1838; M.A. 1842; of Alveston, co. Warwick, curate of Billesley, co. Warwarck, dean of Perth Cathedral, died 1877
Oxford University Alumni, 1500-1886
Edward was nominated to the living, of Wilmcote by his father, it was an outlying village from Stratford, which had developed in the early 19th century around its cement quarries. Charles Corbett the local squire gave land for a church and school, St Andrews, Wilmcote, was consecrated on the 11th of November 1841. The school was completed in 1845.
Edward was a scholar of distinction and a priest of great commitment, he was a follower of the Oxford Movement (viewed by many as an ecclesiastical Trojan horse towards Roman Catholicism) and Wilmcote was probably the first church in England to revive the use of vestments, a choir was developed and a chanted Cathedral Service was introduced. This and the general tone of the services did not go down well with Charles Corbett, who regarded the high church practices a deterrent to the villagers of Wilmcote.
Extracts from an article by Nicholas Fogg 1991. Also published in Warwickshire History, volume 8, number 4.
The Bishops Letter to Mr Fortescue
Dec. 26th 1850
Revd & Dear Sir
I sincerely congratulate you upon your election to the Deanery of Perth, not only because I presume that that appointment is acceptable to yourself, but because I think that your "idiosyncrasy" renders you better fitted for a Cathedral than a parish church. When, however, I say this I do not mean in the least to disparage the zeal with which you have discharged your duties as a parochial minister. It is indeed on account of this zeal and of the good which I was sensible you were doing among your people that I have abstained from taking notice of your mode of performing divine service in your church, of which I could not approve. It has been stated to me that you have a cross on the communion table, and for several months in the year a large cross on the top of the Screen - That you make continual bowings and genuflexions at the communion table, and bowings to it when you leave the church. That you use the bidding prayers before sermon in lieu of a collect, and that the service is so lengthened by the chaunting etc. that when the Sacrament is administered it is found necessary to celebrate the communion service as early as Seven O'clock in winter as well as Summer. Now of all this I have not taken the least notice because I said to myself "After all, notwithstanding these […..?] he is doing much good. His diligence as a Village pastor is unwearied and most exemplary, and I will not run the risk of harming [?] his usefulness by interfering with his predilection [?] for external forms, however they may appear to me objectionable, as having a Romanistic tendency." I beg, however, that you will inform Mr Fagge that it must not be expected that the forbearance, which I have showed to you, will be extended to your successor.
Upon this point too of the nomination of your successor I have a word to say. Mr Corbett, who, as I am informed, gave the site of the church as well as the Parsonage House, informs me "That the subscriptions received by you (?) for building the Church were solicited and contributed on the express understanding that the patronage of St Andrews Wilmcote should be for ever in the Bishop of the diocese, it was also especially the condition under which my pecuniary contribution and gift of ground was based. Mr Fortescue is fully aware of this fact." Mr Corbett adds in another part of his letter "This question of the patronage being vested in your Lordship, as Bishop of the diocese, is one which it is quite impossible for me to concede." Now I am of opinion that Mr Corbett must be mistaken as to the patronage by law, since Wilmcote is legally only a chapel of ease to Aston Cantlow, and the nomination of a curate must therefore rest with the Vicar, but if it is true that the subscriptions were solicited & contributed upon the understanding that the Patronage was to be with the Bishop and that Mr Corbett gave the land upon that express understanding I leave it to your own sense of honor and that of Mr Fagge whether the nomination of a Curate should not be left to me. It is hardly necessary to add that as an object of patronage such an appointment would be entirely valueless to me, nor should I have mentioned the subject if I had not received a letter from Mr Corbett assuring me that the patronage of St Andrews Wilmcote always was intended to be vested and by the conveyance deed will be vested in me and urging me in the strongest terms to assert my right. As I said before I apprehend that Mr Corbett is mistaken in his law, but, however this may be, I feel sure that neither you, your father, or Mr Fagge would be guilty of the "mala fides" of exercising a legal right if the subscriptions were solicited and contributed upon a different understanding.
It is hardly necessary I should add that I shall have much pleasure in countersigning your testimonials and that you will leave my diocese with my blessing and with my best wishes for your health and happiness in your new sphere of duty.
I am - Revd. & Dear Sir,
Yours very faithfully
(signature indecipherable) Worcester
The Revd. E.B.K. Fortescue
P.S. I shall be glad to hear from you how far you agree with Mr Corbett as to the understanding upon which subscriptions were solicited & contributed.
Transcribed by Stanley Lapidge.
Edward Fortescue and the Bishop of Worcester
Note: it seems clear that this is in Edward Fortescue's handwriting, and that it relates to his correspondence with the Bishop of Worcester, but it is not actually a letter, as it lacks any address, date, salutation, or farewell. It may either be a preliminary draft for a letter, or else it may be Mr Fortescue's "file copy", to enable him to keep a record of what he had said to the Bishop.
The handwriting is extremely difficult; any especially difficult words, where the transcription can only be tentative, are shown in italics. Stanley Lapidge.
It has for more than 5 years been my practice to administer H.C. at 7. a.m. of every Sunday - this was not as your Lordship has been led to suppose, so much in consequence of the length of the service, as from a conviction that such an arrangement would tend more to the spiritual edification of my people than a midday celebration - a conviction which subsequent experience has fully confirmed. It will be interesting to your Lordship to know that no step which I have ever taken has been so universally satisfactory to my people - from the time of my making the change (without any increase of exertion on my part) the number of communicants at each celebration began steadily & at last largely to increase - on three days of each year (Easter - Whitsunday - & Christmas) & on two or three other Sundays of most years - I have in addition to the early Communion had a celebration at the more usual time. It has on these occasions been perfectly open to all the communicants to attend at either as their own inclination dictates. The result has been that while I have had from 30 to 45 at the first, there
has been (when any at all) never more than a quarter of that number at the second - & often (it occurred at Easter & Whitsunday of the same year) there have not been 3 persons desirous to communicate at the 2nd communion, so as to allow me to proceed with the service. On one occasion when all but one or two of my communicants were assembled - I left it to their own choice whether the hour for the weekly communion should be 7 or a later one - all were unanimous in desiring that it should be at the first time, making a spontaneous request that on Easter day it should be at 6.
It has always been my anxious endeavour that no predilection or partiality of my own should stand in the way of the devotion of others. On this ground I have in addition to 3 other services on a Sunday, read the Evening Prayer & preached a sermon on the evening of that day - this has not been a Choral service, but entirely a plain one. It has of course been a repetition sung (during the greater part of the year with only catechising and no sermon) in the afternoon - I fully anticipated when I commenced this additional service
that for many reasons it would be fully attended - the result is however that attendance has always been (with the exceptions listed1 below) very thin, while that in the afternoon has been the fullest of any - the proportion of attendance of adults in the two cases being about 7 to 1. I would add that when on 4 or 5 Sundays in the year, the Evening Service has been sung as well as in the afternoon the result has invariably been, that it has been as is [sic] even more fully attended than the previous one - this has been in no sense the result of any influence either direct or indirect of mine - I have not done any thing to induce any either to come to the one or to be absent from the other. I would mention that these facts are gathered from very accurate statistics - which I can submit to your Lordship - it having been my practice from the first to keep a record of the exact number of persons present at every service - it is also most striking to observe how much larger is the proportion of those in the congregation who take a part in the Psalms & responses2 when they are sung than when read.
Your Lordship may perhaps remember that 3 or 4 years ago when I had stated3 my pledge of endowing the church with
1 This word is indecipherable, but is certainly not "listed"; but some such word is required by the context.
2 The words which have been transcribed as "Psalms and responses" are represented by virtually indecipherable
abbreviations in the original, and "Psalms and responses" simply reflects the editor's conjecture as to what
Edward might be seeking to say to the Bishop at this point in his argument.
3 This word is also indecipherable, but is not "stated"; some such word is required by the context.
L1000 (the value of the endowments I offer is estimated at L1370) I explained fully to you the difficulty which had arisen as to the patronage. Mr Corbett is perfectly correct in his statement that I received contributions towards the building of the Chapel and also towards a [word indecipherable] portion of the endowment on the understanding that the patronage when separated from Aston should be given to the Bishop - and the then Patron & Incumbent consented to this arrangement - in the interval which necessarily ensued between the Consecration & the completion of the endowment - a new patron & a new Incumbent had succeeded to the previous ones -for completing the endowment [six words indecipherable] the original intention would at once be carried out - that I got all the documents & presented them to the necessary parties for their signature - I then found that both of them refused to give up their right on the grounds that they were in no sense responsible for the arrangements made by their Predecessors - My Father as the new Patron expressly insisting that his only reason for purchasing the advowson of Aston C was in order to preserve his connection between his family & Wilmcote.
that then as well as on subsequent occasions (as Mr Corbett is aware) I used every endeavour to overcome the objection but without success - I am sure that your Lordship will readily believe that there has never been anything which could approach to an understanding between myself & the opposing party - I have done my utmost to carry out the original design - but from what I have recently heard from both the Vicar & my father I apprehend they have not in the least altered their view of the subject - from the position of affairs Mr Corbett has thought it right (a position I do not in the least controvert) to refuse to convey the title of the house built almost entirely from my own private resources, till the original intention is carried out - and hence the House, yard etc are legally still in his possession - I think it right to add that the amount of money entrusted to me entirely [or perhaps strictly] on the understanding referred to was (as far as I can trust to my memory) inclusive of the value of the land given or proposed by Mr Corbett) at the outside L350 - the rest of that L3700 or thereabouts which I have expended at Wilmcote besides an annual outlay on the Church etc of from L80 to 100 for ten years was either - was either [sic] absolutely my own output without
any reservation into my hands to apply to any church purpose at Wilmcote according to my discretion and certainly all of it given on the understanding that the institution which I have had the privilege of founding shall in the main be carried on on the principles on which I have founded them.
Letter of Edward Bowles Knottesford Fortescue to the Bishop
Note: this letter is not in EBKF's own appalling handwriting, but is instead a handwritten transcript - in handwriting which I do not recognise - found in the archives at Warwick County Records Office.
My dear Lord,
I will endeavour to compress into as short compass as possible what it seems to me necessary to say in order to put you in possession of the whole facts of the case with reference to the Memorial lately presented to your Lordship. The Memorial is said to proceed from the "undersigned inhabitants." My Lord, it is a simple matter of fact to say that it did no such thing. It was prepared in London by Mr Corbett, and sent by him to his Agent to be signed. Mr Simms (his Agent) is a person of the greatest respectability, and a most faithful servant of his employers. Having entirely in his hands 3 farms, & 1 half of the Stone Works in the place, his influence is necessarily overwhelming. Like most other persons who have risen from a low station in life to be . . . . . [at this point the document is overwritten, and illegible.] He has always been opposed to what I have done in Wilmcote & for some time (tho' holding the office of Parish Clerk in another Church) has been a frequentor of the Dissenting meeting at Wilmcote in the [?].
The result of Mr Simms' being entrusted with the document is shown in the fact that as I shall presently show almost every respectable name attached to it not being that of a Dissentor is in his employ, or under his immediate influence. It proceeds to state that "very soon after Mr Fortescue's coming etc." From Mr Corbett's not being a resident at Wilmcote he did not know what every resident will be well aware of, that the services & arrangement of the Chapel have never in any material point been different from what they now are from the day of the Consecration. The only difference in the Chapel in the least degree involving the points complained of, are the Cross on the Altar, which was not given to the Chapel till soon after the Consecration, & the erection shortly previous to Christmas of a light screen, to be draped with evergreens, which has been year by year right up till the end of Easter & then taken away. The Service has been constantly intoned from the day it was so [?] in your Lordship's presence at the Consecration.
"Remonstrances" are spoken of, in such a manner as certainly to lead your Lordship naturally to conclude that such had been addressed to me more or less by the Parishioners. It is perfectly true that Mr Corbett has, on several occasions, expressed very strongly & with great courtesy & Christian feeling his objections to much which I have done but during the 11 years I have been at Wilmcote on no one occasion has such a feeling been expressed to me by one single person resident in the place, except on one occasion in the course of an ordinary conversation by Mr Simms.
The first particular mentioned is "intoning". I have only to recall your attention to the facts mentioned by me recently to your Lordship. No one from reading the document would believe that there was a Service every Sunday at Wilmcote in which not a single word was chanted. It was mainly in consequence of Mr Corbett's objections that this service was commenced by me 5 years ago. Your Lordship knows the result. It was by far, worse attended than the other services. The attendance of adults at the afternoon chanted service without sermon & at the evening unchanted service with sermon was in the proportion of 7 to 1, & this, I can most truly say without any influence of mine being exerted to produce this result. I would add that far the greater number of those attending at the Evening Service had been present at two or three of the previous Services. I would willingly on Sundays have had another Service of the same kind in the morning had I ever been asked to do so by any other of my communicants or other Church people, or had they shown any preference for the evening. It was the very reverse. The other Services being as I can show from Statistics attended by a larger proportion of the population than in almost any of the surrounding parishes, & the Evening being often almost empty, & never full except on those few occasions on which the Service was chanted, when in each case the numbers became equal to or even greater than those at the other Services. Your Lordship will best judge which service carried with it the sympathy of the people.
Of so utterly vague a charge as that of "repeated bowings & bendings of the knee" I can say nothing. The cross on the altar I have already spoken of. The Chancel was only parted by a screen during a portion of the year & then it was so light as not to obstruct the view, or hearing of any.
The part of the document I own I feel the most, (& I think here your Lordship will feel with me) is that about the early celebration. Let me recall the facts to your Lordship. On 3 fixed days of every year & practically in most years on 3 or 4 other Sundays, (far oftener that is than a few years ago in any of the surrounding churches) there was a second celebration in the middle of the day, it was left simply at the option of each of the communicants to attend at either. The result was that it was with great difficulty I could get 3 (the smallest number allowed by the Rubrics) to communicate at the 2nd celebration, (there having been from 20 to 40 at the first) and sometimes, I actually could not celebrate the 2nd time tho' ready to do so for want of 3 to communicate. I see on referring to my records that last Whit Sunday there were 31 at the first, & 6 at the 2nd of these 6, not one was a "labouring man". At Easter, 40 at the 1st 7 at the 2nd of whom one only was a "labouring man." At Whit Sunday 1849 25 at the 1st not enough at the 2nd. At Christmas '48, 21 at the 1st none at the 2nd. I might bring other instances, but my Lord, it was notorious, I had again & again said it, & acted upon it in the case of the sick, & others, that had any
(At this point the document breaks off.)
Provost Fortescue and Archbishop Tate married sisters. The Provost was a striking personality, physically and intellectually. A profound theologian of an unusual type, he was steeped in patristic and scholastic divinity. His effectiveness as a teacher was accompanied by certain eccentricities which his friends will want to find somewhat disconcerting. At a church at Oxford, the announcement that the Provost was to preach drew a large Sunday evening congregation the time for the sermon had already come, when he abruptly informed the astonished vicar that he had no sermon to deliver, that he had nothing to say, and that he had made up his mind not to preach stop Remonstrance proving ineffectual, the vicar took the Provost by the hand, gently, but firmly, conducted him to the pulpit, made him a bow, and left him there. Thus coerced, the preacher proceeded to deliver a discourse which nobody who heard it would have missed for a great deal.
Ref: Unsourced Cutting from the Liveing Archive.
Leamington Spa Courier
25 October 1856
Fr Fortescue's Sermon
St Peter's Chapel Bishopton
The Very Rev. the Provost of St. Ninian's Cathedral, Perth, (the Rev. E.B.K. Fortescue,) delivered a sermon on Sunday afternoon last, to one of the most numerous congregations that has ever been assembled within the walls of this sacred structure. This may be explained by stating the fact that, for some years, the Rev. gentleman was the clergyman of Wilmcote, a neighbouring village, where his ministration was so highly valued that many of his former flock came on Sunday to hear him. The sermon was in aid of the funds for maintaining a choir, and most eloquently did the Rev. advocate of its claims set forth the propriety of aiding the good cause. He took his text from the 99th Psalm, 9th verse - "O magnify the Lord our God, and worship him upon his holy hill; for the Lord our God is holy." The amount afterwards collected was L7 12s.6d., a larger sum than has ever been received at the Chapel on any previous occasion.
Transcribed by Stanley Lapidge.
Fr. Edward BK Fortescue
A Character Portrait
(written in connection with his time as Provost of Perth Cathedral)
Provost Fortescue, who was educated at Wadham College, Oxford, was at the time of his election as Dean [of Perth Cathedral] perpetual curate of Wilmcote in Worcestershire, near Stratford-on-Avon. He was a gentleman of refinement and of good family1 , married (since 1838) to Miss Frances Anne Spooner, daughter of the Archdeacon of Coventry, and sister to Mrs A.C. Tait [the wife of the Archbishop of Canterbury]. He was a man rather of feeling than of learning, but thoughtful and able; and one who exercised considerable influence, both by his preaching and his personal intercourse. He was, however, wholly unversed in Scottish affairs and ways of thought, and was in many things fanciful and unpractical, and deficient in some of the stronger qualities of character. The following description of his outward man, and his way of thinking and acting, will be read with interest2 .
1 He was son of the Rev. Francis Fortescue-Knottesford, Rector of Billesley, co. Warwick, and connected with the family of Lord Carlingford.
2 This and the notice of Canon Humble [not reproduced here] are from the pen of Provost T.I. Ball, of Cumbrae.
In dress Provost Fortescue was carefully clerical, but in old-fashioned style. Although not much, if at all, below the average height, he looked shorter from his habit of holding his head rather bent and forward. His face usually wore a grave and rather mysterious look, and he seemed sensitively to shrink from anything like a familiar gaze. If he did not like his company, or did not feel sure of it, Provost Fortescue used to adopt a somewhat donnish, reserved, enigmatical manner, and spoke little and (apparently) unwillingly. When at his ease, however, he could talk much and with great animation, and when it pleased him, in a select circle, freely to unbend, he was full of mirth, and could tell or enjoy a good story with the best. The Provost read very little, but thought a good deal. I do not know that he took, or pretended to take, much interest in things in general, though he enjoyed stories which illustrated the variations of human nature. Otherwise his tastes were exclusively ecclesiastical. Art he only cared for in any form so far as he thought it expressed correct ecclesiastical ideas. His theology was fundamentally that of the advanced High Church School. In his public teaching he was generally content to set forth clearly and plainly, and in the very striking manner which he could employ, the orthodox aspect of doctrine and practice. But in private talk or conference his great delight seemed to be as paradoxical as possible, and he seemed to take pleasure in bewildering his listeners by startling and apparently inconsistent statements. A favourite way of his was to maintain the tenability of the most ultra-Roman opinions on all subjects. This reckless manner of argument, which was with him (at all events for many years) only a wayward jeu d'esprit, sometimes had unhappy consequences. Sometimes, however, all his power of paradox was put forth to maintain the perfection of something Anglican which most men of his school would consider to be among reformanda. In his own house he could be a charming host, for behind all his waywardness and whimsical ways you could see the English gentleman; but he shrank (as I have said) from unsympathetic company. A man of this disposition was not made for fighting, and when ecclesiastical differences arose his inclination was to come to terms, or to look round for a loophole of escape. Even when not on harmonious terms with Bishop Wordsworth he was fond of saying, in his characteristic way, that there was something 'supernatural,' the effect of the divine charisma which a Bishop possesses, in that prelate's official utterances.
He continued to be Provost till 1871, but resigned that office in July of that year. Upon his resignation he married (as his second wife) a lady of the congregation (Miss Bobbins actually Robins), and both he and his wife simultaneously entered the Church of Rome, I believe in Belgium.
The circumstances of his leaving the communion of the Church in Scotland were such as to produce great discouragement to his friends, and especially to members of his congregation, by whom he was much beloved. They were necessarily followed by much sorrow to himself: for in the Roman communion he of course suddenly ceased to be recognised as a Priest, or to be able to consider himself as such, though his whole previous life had been involved in the habits of thought and action proper to that character. I have evidence, not exactly that he repented of what he had done, but that he was not contented with what he found in his new communion, and that he continued to take a strong and respectful interest in everything connected with the Anglican church.
Extracted by Stanley Lapidge from The episcopate of Charles Wordsworth, Bishop of St. Andrews, Dunkeld, and Dunblane 1853 - 1892; a memoir, together with some materials for forming a judgment on the great questions in the discussion of which he was concerned, by John Wordsworth, Bishop of Salisbury (Charles Wordsworth's nephew), published by Longmans, Green & Co., 1899, pages 45 - 48 (reproduced online at www.ibooksread.com/online_library1/John_Wordsworth/)
Stratford Herald 24th August 1877
It is with feelings of considerable regret that we announce in our obituary of to-day, the sudden death of the Rev. Edward Bowles Knottesford Fortescue who died at his residence, in London, on Saturday last. Mr Fortescue, it will be remembered, was the son of that venerable Father of the Anglican Church the Rev. Francis Fortescue Knottesford, of Alveston Manor, and Rector of Billesley, who died in harness full of years, and rich in the love and esteem of a very large and distinguished circle of friends, in 1859. Mr Fortescue's death must have been somewhat sudden, because only a few weeks ago he came to Alveston to recruit his health, returning to London apparently considerable [sic] benefited by the change. Mr Fortescue formerly held the office of Provost of the Cathedral at Perth, which he filled with singular ability and dignity until his retirement some few years since. Inheriting, as he did, many of the good qualities of his late father, it is no wonder that "troops of friends" will miss that kind face, full of love, honour, charity, and an unswerving regard for God's truth, while his great learning and piety, and edifying conduct through a long and useful life will keep his memory fresh in the minds of those he had left behind. A sorrowful widow and family are left to mourn an irreparable loss. R.I.P.
It seems that the author of this obituary knew next to nothing about Edward, except that he was Francis's son, and for a time he was Provost of Perth. There is no mention of the conversion to Roman Catholicism, and there is no mention of the church Edward founded at Wilmcote! S.L.
Church of the Sacred Heart, Holloway
Dirge for the Late Mr E B Knottesford Fortescue
The sudden death of this gentleman on Saturday cast a gloom over this district in which he had been so long known and respected. Mr Fortescue, who was M.A. of Oxford, and, before his conversion, had been Provost of S. Ninian's Cathedral, Perth, founded the grammar school at Holloway, of which he was Principal. The body was carried into the church on Wednesday evening when Vespers of the Dead were sung, and on Thursday morning, the early Masses having been said (corpora praesenti), the Office of the Dead (Matins and Lauds) were sung, after which a solemn Mass of Requiem, the celebrant being the Rev. W.I. Dolan, assisted by the Rev. E. Tilley and the Rev. C.J.M. Smith. Among the clergy present were Rev. C.J. Keens, Rev. R. Belaney, Rev. R. Tuke, and the Rev. Father Tondini. The coffin was of polished oak, with coped top covered with a brass cross the whole length of the coffin, with appropriate legend in Latin round the sides. The funeral cortgège [sic], consisting of the hearse and six mourning and as many private carriages, proceeded to S. Mary's Cemetery, Kensal Green, where the interment took place. Among the mourners were a number of the clergy of the Established Church.
The Tablet 25 August 1877.
Death of Mr Fortescue (M.A. Oxford)
After a protracted illness, broken by several short intervals of partial recovery, Mr Fortescue, to our deep regret takes his place this week in our obituary. On Saturday, the 18th, he breathed his last in the midst of his family. The few days before were days of severe illness. All that medical skill or domestic solicitude could do to conquer his disease proved of no avail. His hour was come, and with the fortitude of a saint and the meekness and resignation of a man prepared for it, he welcomed the call of his God and closed his eyes in peace. As his life and labours for the last few years were wholly devoted to the service of his Divine Master, his relatives and friends have only, in his death, to regret their own loss, and the loss, especially, to the work he was doing for the children under Father Dolan's pastoral care at Holloway. His loss will be felt and acknowledged beyond the limits of the little sphere in which he had humbly occupied himself for the last few years. The cause of Christian education against secular education, has lost in him a champion it can ill afford to lose in the country at this time. As regards himself, none who have known him can have a doubt that all loss in these respects is gain to him. His life has closed in the arms of that holy mother, the Catholic Church, and to doubt his gain would be to doubt his Redeemer's word and his Mother's love. The writer of these lines, one of the many to whom the departed was dear as a brother, and to whom his work was also dear, feels sure that any eulogy over his bier would be as offensive to his modesty as any praise had been to him when pursuing in silence and comparative retirement, the very admirable gratuitous work of charity in which he has terminated his career on earth. Let everyone who reads this say, "Requiescat in pace. May my last end be like his."
A memorial worthily perpetuating the memory of the late lamented Mr Knottesford-Fortescue would be the establishment upon a permanent footing - with his honoured name attached to it - of the excellent Grammar School established at Holloway under his direction, and over the interests of which, down to the very last, he presided so efficiently. We commend this suggestion very earnestly to the attention of those who have in remembrance all that this good Catholic laymen [sic] did in the interests of an enterprise the success of which he had so nearly at heart, and with a view to the advancement of which he laboured so long and so assiduously.
The Weekly Register 25 August 1877
1 September 1877
Death of the Rev E.B.K. Fortescue M.A.
The above clergyman; who died at Eden Grove, Holloway, last week, was a person of considerable importance, and at one time held a high position in the Church of England. About 2 years ago we called attention to the establishment of which the deceased gentleman was the head: a few words now in memoriam may not be out of place.
The Rev Edward Bowles Knottesford Fortescue formerly Dean of Perth Cathedral was one of the early members that promoted the ritualistic movement in the Church of England and subsequently seceded to the church of Rome. He belonged to one of the most ancient Warwickshire families, Alveston Manor House Warwickshire, being the ancestral residence. For the last five years he has resided at Holloway, and has endeared himself to all, both Catholics and Protestants, by his most amiable and Christian like walk. He laboured with much zeal in the Romish Church in connection with the Church of the Sacred Heart. He also established and personally supervised a grammar school.
The body was laid in state in the dining hall (back parlour)* Eden Grove, which was entirely draped in black, and great numbers of persons passed through on Sunday, offering up prayers for the repose of the soul of the deceased.
On Wednesday evening the body was carried into the Church of the Sacred Heart, preceded by priests and choristers chanting a solemn dirge. The body, enclosed in a most elaborate polished oak case with coped top, and massive gilt handles, surmounted with gilt cross, was placed on a bier in front of the high altar. A violet pall covered the coffin on which were placed numerous wreaths, Immortelles, and flowers. A special service was held on the occasion, which lasted late into the night.
The funeral took place on Thursday, and was carried out with all the pomp and ceremonial peculiar to the Romish Church. Previous to this the "Dies Irae" was performed by a full choir. The body was placed in an open car covered with a violet pall. A long array of funeral and private carriages followed, containing the friends and relatives, amongst whom were many persons of eminence both of the Church of England and of Rome. The body was interred at St Mary's Cemetery, Kensal-green. The funeral arrangements were entrusted to Mr Biggs, of 267 Holloway Road, and that being the case it is unnecessary to say that everything was correctly and intelligently done.
*Added in pen
The North Metropolitan Holloway and St Pancras Press.
Dirge for the Late E B Knottesford-Fortescue, M.A. OXON.
The rather sudden death of this gentleman at his residence, Rose Villa, Holloway, on Saturday last, threw quite a gloom over the district in which he had been so long known and respected. He was a convert, having been Provost of Perth. On his fixing his abode at Holloway, he established a grammar school there, of which he was principal.
The body was carried into the church on Wednesday evening when Vespers of the Dead were sung, and on Thursday a Solemn Requiem Mass was sung, preceeded [sic] by the Office of Matins and Lauds. The celebrant was the Rev. W.J. Dolan, the Rector of Holloway, assisted by the Rev. Fathers Tilley and C.J. Moncrief Smythe. Among the clergy present were the Rev. Fathers Keens (the founder of the church), Belaney, Tuke, and Tondini. The coffin was of polished oak with coped top, on which was a brass cross running the whole length with a Latin inscription round the border. The funeral cortêge, consisting of an open hearse, six mourning and as many private carriages, then proceeded to S. Mary's Cemetery Kensal Green, where the interment took place. Among the mourners were several clergymen of the Established Church - R.I.P.
The Late E B Knottesford-Fortescue M.A.
The lamented Mr Knottesford-Fortescue was the son of the Rev. Francis Knottesford-Fortescue, of Alveston Manor House, Stratford-on-Avon. He was born in 1816, and educated at Wadham College, Oxford, receiving from his father the old-fashioned High Church Anglican doctrines of the Caroline divines, to which he added the later development of the same doctrines, emanating from what is commonly known as the Tractarian Movement. After leaving Oxford he became intimate with the Wilberforces with Archdeacon (now Cardinal) Manning, with Dr Newman and all the other leading clergy of that day. He was ordained deacon in 1839, and received full orders in 1840 from Bishop Pepys of Worcester in his cathedral. He commenced his clerical work as curate to his father at the small parish of Billesly [sic], in Warwickshire. Mr Fortescue married in 1838 a daughter of the late Archdeacon Spooner, which marriage connected him with Dr Tait, Archbishop of Canterbury, the late Bishop of Oxford, and a large circle of well-known families. Much of the present revival of mediaeval customs in the Anglican Church originated in the church built him [sic] at Wilmcote, in Warwickshire, which was the first place - not being a cathedral or collegiate church - out of London in which the choir was vested in surplices, lights used during the celebration of the Communion, and a quasi-chasuble worn, since the general disuse of these practices in the English Church. He also originated the idea of clerical meetings and retreats, now so common; and Wilmcote became a recognised rendezvous for the High Church clergy of the day. In 1851 he was offered and accepted, the deanery of the newly-founded cathedral of S. Ninian's, at Perth, belonging to the Episcopal Church in Scotland. He then founded a collegiate school in connection with the cathedral. He became very well known as the spiritual director of a large number of clergy and others, both in England and Scotland, by which means his influence was widely extended. His position as an Anglican clergyman was very much shaken, firstly by the Vatican Council, and, secondly, by what he considered to be the growing insubordination to authority among the clergy of that school in the Establishment with which he was connected, in consequence of this he resigned his position at Perth in 1871, and was received into the Catholic Church during the same year. His first wife having died in 1868, in 1871 he married Miss Robins, and ultimately settled in Holloway, where he devoted himself to the work of the Church, having undertaken the management of a Grammar School, the choir of the church, and many other organizations connected with the Mission. As a speaker and preacher he was almost unequalled for his wonderful flow of language, his use of logic, and the beauty and refinement of his simile. During last winter he had a long and trying illness, extending over several months, from which he had apparently recovered, but the effects of which so undermined his constitution that he entered into his rest suddenly on August 18th, after a short illness. His loss will be felt as an abiding one, not only by his family, but also by a large and widely-spread circle of very warmly-attached friends. - R.I.P.
Mr Fortescue was the head of the eldest existing branch of the ancient Fortescue family, and a lineal descendent of Sir Adam de Forte, armour-bearer to William the Conquerer [sic]. This branch of the family settled in Warwickshire and Worcestershire after the War of the Roses, and still flourishes in that county.
The Weekly Register 1st Sept 1877.
Extracts from a sermon preached after Edward Knottesford Fortescue's Death
Sacred Heart of Jesus, Holloway.
On Sunday last the Rev. Father Belaney delivered the following touching discourse at the above church, his words towards the close of it having especial reference to the great loss which has occured [sic] to the mission through the death of the late lamented Mr Fortescue:-"No man can serve two masters. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon"-S. Matt. vi., 24. . . . . . "Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven," and you will find it. Asking to be received into it, its door will opened [sic] unto you. It is in it alone you can dwell in safety against the world's temptations. Possessed of that and possessed by that, all things will be yours, as well those required for your temporal as your spiritual and eternal life. So thought also, dear brethren, the happy man whose terrestrial body we committed to the earth three days ago. It was his first and last desire to seek the Kingdom of God and His justice. He did not search for it in vain, as no one can seek for it in prayer and humility of heart in vain. But when he found it, he did not attempt to serve or please two masters. The light from Heaven which fell upon his path, when he entered upon it, showed him that that could not be. And his entire life, since he took up his residence among you, has been a living lesson to you all, that you cannot, any more than he, serve God and Mammon. For the loss of that standing living testimony you may well grieve over his departure, not for him, but for yourselves and your children. For him we have no cause to mourn. The words of an inspired Apostle (S. James) may be set upon his tomb as a befitting epitaph:-"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to them that love Him." Like all who come into union with Christ, he has had his temptation to love the world, and the things which the world esteems, and loves, and worships. He has been, as the Apostle calls it, "tried." He was free to give his love and service to the world; and had it satisfied him to compete for its favours or honours, many of them might have fallen to his share. But the prize he sought, above all prizes, was a place, no matter however humble, in the vineyard of the Lord. Called into it at a later hour of the day, he entered upon the work, as you all know, with loving heartiness and zeal, which tell you unmistakably, who was the Master he had chosen to serve. So far as he can speak to you now in the example he has been to you for these few years past in devoting his time, and talents, and means to the promotion of piety and of Christian education in this mission, he still does. The grave has not taken him, nor can it corrupt or destroy in any way or degree, that immortal being who has lived so edifyingly, and laboured so lovingly in the service of his Divine spouse, the Church, during the time you had him among you. The period of trial and temptation assigned to him for the salvation of his soul being ended, we must regard him now as only gone from his work to his reward, to receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to them that love Him. While that gives you joy, and while it throws a light and a joy over griefs that must, in the inner and domestic circles of his relationships, be deeper and heavier than yours, it by no means follows that you are not to mourn over his removal from you. The interest he has taken in everything calculated to promote your moral and religious welfare, his love for your children, his efforts to improve them, the steady, and wise zeal he has manifested in making them love their clergy, their parents, and one another-the fruits of which you have many of you seen and reaped-all these things, justly and naturally will cause you not only for yourselves, but with those nearer and dearer ones who have lost the blessing of his presence, even while they feel and know that they do not lose the greater blessing of his undying love.
The Weekly Register, 1st September 1877
Obituary of Father E B Knottesford Fortescue
8th Sept, 1877
(Reprinting the Church Times Obituary)
The Church Times pays the following truthful and graceful tribute to a clergyman, who for many years was known and beloved here. His father, the Rev. F.F. Knottesford (which latter name he assumed on inheriting some property) resided at Alveston Manor for many years, and died there. The late Rev. Edward Bowles Knottesford Fortescue, when parish priest at Wilmcote, frequently came to this town, and was invariably a gladly welcomed visitor, either as a public speaker on lay occasion, or as a preacher. His quiet demeanour - his sincere but unobtrusive religious feeling, gained for him the very deepest regard from all classes. He married a daughter of the late Venerable Archdeacon Spooner. The rev. and loved deceased was the representative of the elder branch of the Fortescue family, who, we believe, will shortly be still closer allied to the county by receiving into it a member of a noble house. The article we gladly quote as conveying all that need be said. - "As we were preparing for publication yesterday week there was being celebrated a funeral in the North of London which, in consequence, much against our will for old acquaintance sake, we were unable to attend. It was that of the Very Rev. E.B.K. Fortescue, who was known to a large number of our readers as having been formerly Provost of St Ninian's Perth. We feel sure that a brief record of the work of one so well known, and so much beloved by all who knew him, will be acceptable. The deceased was the head of an old Midland County family of ancient lineage and high position, his landed estates being in Warwickshire. Earl Fortescue belongs to a junior branch. Mr Fortescue graduated at Oxford in 1838, and immediately after taking priest's orders he entered upon the sole charge of a small neglected hamlet called Wilmcote, near Stratford-on-Avon. Here he built a church, schools, and a parsonage-house, and at once set about the then arduous work of rendering Divine service in a manner somewhat more worthy of the honour of Him to whom it was offered than had hitherto been attempted in a country parish. So far as regards the High Church movement of our own times, Wilmcote was the first church, outside of London, in which a surpliced choir was introduced, and it was the first in England wherein lights and a special vestment for the altar service were adopted. While Mr Fortescue was at Wilmcote he revived several ecclesiastical customs which were then altogether unknown in the Church of England although they are familiar enough now. The completion of the church in 1842 was celebrated by a dedication festival, on which occasion a Clerical Retreat was held, and this was thenceforth established as an annual devotional gathering, and was attended from time to time by such men as Henry W. and Robert Isaac Wilberforce, H.E. Manning, C.H. Laprimaudaye, R. Seymour of Kinwarton, Dr. Hook, the present Bishop of Oxford, then vicar of Tardebigg, the late Bishop Feild of Newfoundland, and many others of the same type. To Mr Fortescue belongs also the credit of introducing the custom of holding periodical clerical meetings, which Mr Hawker of Morwenstowe two years later developed into ruridecanal synods. This was, therefore, the first step towards the restoration of that constitutional synodical action in the Church of England for which we are still contending. In 1851 Mr Fortescue accepted the deanery of the then newly-founded Cathedral of St. Ninian's, Perth, offered to him by Bishop Torry and the trustees. The constitutions of the new foundation, drawn up by himself in company with Canon Humble, Lord Glasgow, and Lord Forbes, were almost an exact reproduction of the mediaeval capitular system, being so framed as to form a balancing power to the authority of the diocesan, and these constitutions remained in force until the death of Bishop Torry. When Dr. Charles Wordsworth succeeded to the bishopric of St. Andrew's by giving his vote in his own favour, and thus obtaining a majority of one against his rival candidate, the present Primus, he refused to accept St. Ninian's as his cathedral church unless the constitutions were so altered as virtually to place everything in his own hands. Thus the corporation, instead of retaining its grand mediaeval and constitutional position, became a mere copy of the modern Ultramontane idea of a capitular body. The later years of Provost Fortescue's residence at Perth, after these mischievous changes, were in a great measure devoted to the giving of retreats, and to acting as spiritual director to the very large number of persons who applied to him for such assistance. As a preacher and public speaker, Mr Fortescue had, in his own line, few, if any equals, and probably no superior amongst the Anglican clergy. He was especially remarkable for fluency, and for the purity of his diction, as well as for his great power in the use of simile, and for the logical arrangement of his materials. In 1871 a crisis occurred in Mr Fortescue's religious life. The decrees of the Vatican Council being promulgated at a time when, from a variety of circumstances, he felt very severely his antagonistic position in relation to his own Bishop, acted with exceeding power upon a mind instinct with the strong idea of authority derived from the traditional Jacobite Toryism of his family. This caused him to resign his stall at Perth, and a year afterwards he felt it his duty to submit to Rome. Unlike most other converts, he retained to the last his intense interest in the work carried on by the Catholic school in the Church of England; but it is only just to say that this did not in the least affect his own belief in the propriety of the step which he himself had taken. As a Roman Catholic, he devoted himself to the cause of religious education, and endeavoured to graft the traditions of an English public school upon a seminary which he was the means of founding, and of which he acted as principal, in the north of London. His last illness was a short one, and on August 18, he fell quietly and peacefully asleep at the age of 61. R.I.P. As regards the funeral, humble as was the position which he occupied in his adopted communion as compared with that which he had previously held, so great was the love and respect felt for him that many Roman Catholic clergy who were present were heard to say that no such funeral had taken place in their church since Cardinal Wiseman was laid to rest." Leamington Spa Courier.,
Transcribed by Stanley Lapidge.
Edward Bowles Knottesford-Fortescue M.A.
When some two years since, I was conducted over the Catholic Grammar School in Edengrove, by Father Ignatius Dolan, of the Church of the Sacred Heart, and introduced to the High Master, I feared it would not be long before he entered that kingdom which is not of this world. There was a strange unearthly look about him which augured a speedy dissolution. The very reverend gentleman (now but a few hours in his grave) was a martyr to duty, duty in his case being to relinquish all hope of preferment in the Church of which he was an ordained minister, and to become a lay servant in the Roman Communion, working till death in our midst in the North of London as a schoolmaster.
The career of Edward Bowles Knottesford-Fortescue was, to say the least of it, eminently romantic. He was the possessor of the highest genius, and his guardians looked forward with honest pride and legitimate hope to his professional future. The descendant of one of the most ancient historical families, he had exceptional advantages for the cultivation of those gifts and graces which had been so profusely showered upon him, and on his ordination the hearts of all those of his kindred leaped for joy that another priest had been born into the Church. This was in the year 1840, his spiritual father, in an ordination sense, being the Bishop of Worcester (Dr. Robert James Carr). After a brilliant University career at Wadham College, Oxford, Mr Fortescue graduated B.A. and M.A. in 1838 and 1842 respectively, ultimately being appointed to the office of Provost of Perth (S. Ninian's Cathedral). For some years the very reverend dignitary laboured in this city [scilicet London], and a few of us may remember the stirring sermons, delivered when he was from time to time in England, at such churches as All Saints', Margaret Street (which another Islington celebrity - Canon Oakeley - founded), S. Paul's, Knightsbridge, and S. Barnabas, Pimlico. Indeed, like Dr Oakeley, Mr Knottesford-Fortescue had to encounter a good deal of Puritan persecution because of his "innovations", and his sermons were pronounced "sacramental in the extreme". In the end, however, the Provost yielded to the yearnings of his soul, for not finding either the full opportunity of exercising his devotions in his then Church, and not feeling certain about the priestly status of the Protestant clergy, he determined on joining the Western Communion as a lay member. This one act, most signally showed the absolute honesty of his purpose, and for this reason. If there was a man to be found who had what is called a sacerdotal mind, that man was Mr Fortescue. He had been educated in a dim religious light, with the Fathers for his school-masters to bring him to Christ:
"He was rocked in priestly cradle,
Monkish lore his Wisdom gave;
He has known both good and evil,
Now he lies in lowly grave."
Such a man, then, naturally longed for the priestly function, but owing to domestic relations and consequent responsibilities, he had to enter the Roman Church as a layman. Can the most bigoted doubt Mr Fortescue's purity of motive under these circumstances? He, with his mediaeval mind and passion for sacramental teaching, preferred to relinquish a high dignity as priest in what he deemed a doubtful Church, and to enter, as he said, the true fold as a humble server outside the altar rails. The consistency is unique. I lay some stress upon his change of position in the two Churches, as there are many men who tell us, rightly or wrongly, when they are explaining (as a rule gratuitously and unnecessarily) the reasons who "so and so turned to the Roman Faith" were that he seceded either to "gratify ambition", or to obtain a "red hat". But in Mr Fortescue's case there was all to lose and nothing to gain-at any rate as a priest.
When Father Dolan established the Catholic Grammar School in Eden-Grove, Mr Fortescue was prompt in offering his invaluable services, and I believe the priests of the Church of the Sacred Heart are unanimous in attributing the whole of the success of this seminary to the deceased gentleman. I some time back gave an outline of the educational work carried on there in the columns of your contemporary, the North Metropolitan and Holloway Press the result being that many, even Protestant families sent their children to Eden-Grove. The tariff for tuition considering the teaching staff and the subjects taught, is exceptionally reasonable and no wonder that so many of all shades of religious belief availed themselves of the Eden Grove almost university advantages. Mr Fortescue was always at his post, and, robed in his black academic gown, gave one the idea of the professor at an English alma mater. Noiseless and unostentatious he glided through the rooms of the schools, taking a keen delight in explaining "what was to be", if the establishment flourished. Like Arnold, he knew all about even the youngest learner committed to his charge, and each pupil felt he had a father as well as a teacher, in his head-master, who entered into his pastimes as well as his studies.
This article was printed in the booklet In Memory of the Very Rev. Edward Bowles Knottesford Fortescue, which was compiled by Major Edward Francis Fortescue in 1877, and of which a copy exists in the British Library (from which I have obtained a photocopy). It is very likely that the article was published in a local newspaper shortly after the death, but Major Fortescue's booklet does not identify the source. It would appear to have been written by a Roman Catholic who knew Edward well, and who fully appreciated how important his priestly vocation had been to him.
Above transcribed by Dr S Lapidge.
A plaque in Perth Cathedral reads:
In memory of
Edward Bowles Knottesford Fortescue
Of Alveston Manor Warwickshire
Sometime Provost of this Cathedral Church
Who entered into his rest
18th August 1877
This Tribute of Respect and Affection
Is placed by his friend
Blanche Countess of Kinnoull
Also in the Vestry is a bass relief of Edward.
For more information on the life of Edward Fortescue, Wilmcote Church and High Church Anglicanism in the 19thC read "Chanting and Chasubles" by Dr Stanley Lapidge. email@example.com This is a meticulously researched work arranged as an interesting and thoughtful read.
Extracts From "Chanting and Chasubles" a book on Fortescue and St Andrews Wilmcote.
By Dr Stan Lappidge 2014
INTRODUCING WILMCOTE'S FIRST PRIEST
Edward Bowles Knottesford Fortescue was born on the 23rd April 1816, in Stoke by Nayland, Suffolk. He was mostly brought up at Alveston Manor, in Stratford upon Avon, which his father inherited in about 1823. He was educated at home by his father: "[Francis] could not bear to send his last son to school, and desiring to keep him always near him, bought the Advowson of the living of Aston Cantlow."1 Given that Francis was prepared to teach his coachman Greek (or possibly Hebrew - see above, pages 10 - 11 ), no doubt he was perfectly capable of home-schooling Edward. We have a lovely description of Edward in his youth, as "a handsome boy in a broad white shirt collar bordered with a frill".2 He went up to Wadham College, Oxford, in 1834, graduated in 1838, and was ordained in 1839.
When Edward arrived in Oxford, the city was in the midst of a religious revolution. By tradition, the Oxford Movement began just a year before Edward's arrival, with John Keble's sermon on "National Apostasy", preached at St Mary the Virgin, Oxford, on the 14th July, 1833. Until this time, the Church of England was often, justifiably, referred to as "The Tory Party at Prayer". All too many of its vicars were primarily country gentlemen, with no true vocation as priests, and all too many church services were spiritually barren. The Oxford Movement set out to change all that. Keble and his colleagues wanted the Church to be a serious spiritual force, not merely part of the Establishment.3 Thus, the Movement emphasised the importance of the Eucharist, as the Church's principal act of worship, rather than Morning and Evening Prayer. In addition, the Movement's leaders looked back to the Church as it was before the Reformation, and discovered there much teaching, and much ritual, that they believed was of profound religious and spiritual value.4 And, in general, the Oxford Movement's priests were far more passionately devoted to their calling than most priests of the previous generation had been. As well as Keble, the Movement's principal leaders were Edward Pusey and John Henry Newman, who was then Vicar of St Mary the Virgin, the University Church.
The Oxford Movement was beginning to attract a great deal of attention as Edward arrived to begin his studies; but the college he joined was vehemently opposed to the whole movement.
1 W.H. Hutton, Highways and Byways, page 246.
2 Frederick Helmore, Memoir of the Rev. Thomas Helmore, M.A., London, J. Masters & Co. 78 New Bond Street, 1891, page 9.
3 In this connection, they stressed that the Church's authority did not come from the government, nor from the fact that it was the Established Church. Instead, they argued that the Church actually derived its authority from the Twelve Apostles; this authority had been passed down from one generation to the next, by virtue of the Apostolic Succession. This led to a profoundly ironic result. In principle, followers of the Oxford Movement knew that they ought to revere their bishops, because the bishops were the carriers of the Apostolic Succession, and represented the source of the church's authority; but in practice, since most of the Church's bishops disagreed violently with everything the Oxford Movement was doing, the Movement's followers usually did their best to ignore anything the bishops said!
4 This led to vehement controversy. The Movement's leaders felt that the Reformation had thrown the baby out with the bathwater: that there had certainly been corruptions in the pre-Reformation church which needed to be corrected, but that the Reformers had gone much too far, and rejected many things which were actually vital parts of the "one Holy, Catholick, and Apostolick Church", of which the Church of England is a part. Thus, the Oxford Movement tried to re-introduce into belief and worship many things which had not been seen in church since the time of King Edward the Sixth, and they did this because these things were a necessary part of the "Catholic" (that is, "Universal") Church. Their opponents disagreed passionately. They asserted that these things had been properly rejected at the Reformation, and that to bring them back into church now was simply a matter of copying the Roman Catholic Church, which they detested
In the 1830s, no college in Oxford was more hostile to the Oxford Movement, and the ideas of Pusey and Newman, than Wadham.5 "Wadham was the leading evangelical college and its warden [Dr B.P. Symons] the leading evangelical. Known as Big Ben, with a hearty, florid countenance, the warden was something of an autocrat in his college, headed the attack upon Tract XC 6. . . and had transferred his Sunday chapel to the precise time which prevented the undergraduates from attending Newman's sermons."7 Dr Symons' hostility to the Oxford Movement was heartily reciprocated: when he was due to became Vice-Chancellor of the University (the office was held in rotation by the heads of the various colleges), members of the Movement caused a scandal by trying to block his appointment. Edward might easily have attended a different college: his father Francis had attended The Queen's College, and Francis's closest friend, Dr Martin Routh, was the Principal of Magdalen. We do not know why Edward attended Wadham, rather than The Queen's College or Magdalen: but he certainly did not acquire his Anglo-Catholic churchmanship from his college!8
Edward was ordained shortly after his graduation, and about this time dedicated two fine chairs, with turquoise upholstery, to the church. When he came to Wilmcote, he brought the chairs with him. We have them still (currently, one is in the vestry, and the other in the organ loft). On the underside of the seats there is a dedication: "Given to God and the Church by Edward Bowles Knottesford-Fortescue the Feast of our Lord's Resurrection in the Year of our Salvation MDCCCXXXVIII ."
On the 15th November 1838 Edward married Frances Anne Spooner (often known to the family as "Fanny Anne"). Her father was William Spooner, who was Rector of Elmdon, in Warwickshire (near the present-day site of Birmingham Airport), and also the Archdeacon of Coventry. Frances's family was very well connected: her aunt, Barbara Spooner, was married to William Wilberforce, who had led the parliamentary campaign for the abolition of the slave trade. Edward was very close friends with two of Wilberforce's sons, Henry and Robert, who both became Church of England priests, but converted to Roman Catholicism during the 1850s. He was also acquainted with Wilberforce's son Samuel, who was bishop of Oxford for 24 years, and is now perhaps best known for losing a historic debate with Thomas Henry Huxley about Darwin's theory of evolution.
5 For its size, Wadham had fewer converts to Roman Catholicism than any other Oxford college - no doubt because of the college's strong evangelical tradition. The figures for the numbers of graduates of each college who converted to Rome may be found in John Shelton Reed, Glorious Battle: The Cultural Politics of Victorian Anglo-Catholicism , 1996, Vanderbilt University Press, reprinted 1998, Tufton Books (Church Union Publications), Faith House, 7 Tufton Street, London, Appendix 3, page 270.
6 For the scandal caused by the publication of Tract 90, which ultimately helped bring about John Henry Newman's conversion to Roman Catholicism, see Chapter II, note 14, on page 10 above.
7 Owen Chadwick, The Victorian Church , volume I, Adam & Charles Black, London, 1966, page 206.
8 Admittedly, there is another conceivable explanation of why Edward attended Wadham: he might have begun life as an Evangelical. David Newsome has noted, "It has long been observed that many of the most active supporters of the Oxford Movement were those who had been brought up in the Evangelical tradition; and that those who underwent one conversion were liable to undergo another and to end their spiritual wanderings in the Church of Rome" (David Newsome, The Parting of Friends: The Wilberforces and Henry Manning , John Murray, London, 1966, reprinted by Gracewing Publishing, Leominster, 1993, Preface, page ix). Newsome made this comment in relation to Robert and Henry Wilberforce, who were Edward's cousins by marriage, and who followed exactly this path. If this were true of Edward, it would mean that he attended Wadham because he had Evangelical sympathies himself, and was gradually won over to the ideals of the Oxford Movement. But so far as I can tell, this is simply not the case. We know a good deal about Francis's (rather unusual) beliefs and practices, and we can say that Edward simply did not come from an Evangelical background. And John Henry Newman's comments about Edward's background and development (below, page 31 ) make the same point.
So far as we know, Edward and Fanny Anne had the following children:
(1) Edward Francis Knottesford Fortescue, who was born on the 25th February, 1840, became a major in the Army, and served with distinction during the Indian Mutiny. He died on Whitsunday, 1886, leaving four children. He was the only one of Edward's sons who shared his passionate Anglo-Catholic convictions.9 Major Fortescue is buried at St Andrew's; his grave is prominently situated in front of the church's east window. Unfortunately, the gravestone is made of a very soft stone, which has weathered badly. Insofar as I can decipher the inscription, it reads as follows:
"In loving Memory of Major Edward F. Knottesford Fortescue J.P. Lord of the Manor of Alveston in this County and Chevalier of Justice in the Court of St John of Jerusalem Born Feb. 26th 1840 Died Whitsunday June 18 1886. A devout soldier of them that waited on him continually.10 Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and may light perpetual shine upon him . . . . And of Alicia Margaretta his wife Born 30 June 1838 Died 3 Aug 1933. Requiescat in pace."
Major Fortescue was the father of John Nicholas Knottesford-Fortescue, who was Parish Priest of Wilmcote from about 1921 to about 1946.
(2) Mary, who was born in about 1841, married George Augustus Macirone in 1870, and died in 1879. We do not know of any children. George Macirone was employed at the Admiralty, but in his free time, and after his retirement, he worked tirelessly for the Association for the Promotion of the Unity of Christendom, which tried, unsuccessfully, to forge links among the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox churches. While Mr Macirone was a student at Glasgow, he fell under Edward's influence (Edward was then Provost of Perth Cathedral), and no doubt the meeting with Edward's daughter followed from that.11
(3) John, who was born in about 1843, died unmarried during the early 1870s.12
9 Henry Jenner, in "George Knottesford Fortescue: A Memory", The Library, Third Series, volume 4, 1913, page 9, writes, "Provost Fortescue was a masterful man, very firmly convinced that his opinions were the only right ones, and his family were all expected to think and practise what he preached. I fear that all his sons except the eldest, who remained a convinced 'Anglo-Catholic' to the day of his death, were rather a disappointment to him in that respect . . . ."
10 This is a quotation from Acts, chapter 10, verse 7, and refers to one of the soldiers who attended the centurion Cornelius (who is converted to Christianity by Peter, later in the chapter). The quotation may also contain an echo of Hosea, chapter 12, verse 6, "Therefore, turn thou to thy God, keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually". Perhaps Major Fortescue had tried to live his life as one who "waited continually on the Lord".
11 There is an obituary notice of Mr Macirone in the Church Times for the 8th April, 1910, on page 477. Further information about the Association for the Promotion of the Unity of Christendom, and Edward's long connection with it, may be found below at page 111-112
12 Henry Jenner, "George Knottesford Fortescue: A Memory", page 9.
(4) Laurence was born on the 17th August, 1845, and died on the 26th August, 1924. The census record for 1871 indicates that on the 2nd April, 1871 he was a Lieutenant in the Royal Marines, on the Retired List. By 1912 he was the Assistant Comptroller of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.13 He is buried in St Andrew's Churchyard, and his gravestone reads "Laurence Knottesford Fortescue C.M.G., T.S.O. Born 17th August 1845. Died 26th January 1924."
(5) George was born in October 1847, and died on the 26th October, 1912. He had a very distinguished career at the British Museum, and eventually rose to be Keeper of the Reading Room. We have a long profile of him written by his closest friend, Henry Jenner, who worked with him at the British Museum.14 Mr Jenner also knew Edward well in his later years, and his description of Edward appears below, at page ............
(6) Vincent was born on the 15th November, 1849, and died on the 5th February, 1932. He appears to have received a B.A. and M.A. from Emanuel College, Cambridge, and became a Church of England priest. In 1886 he was the Rector of Bubbenhall (south of Coventry), and by 1913 he was Canon of St Michael's, Coventry, and Rector of Corley, Warwickshire.15
(7)Finally, Edward and Fanny did have another son, Charles Ninian, born on the 11th May, 1855; but this child clearly died very young.16
An honourable mention should here be given to Edward's sister-in-law, Fanny Anne's youngest sister Catharine, who helped out enthusiastically in the early years of St Andrew's. The Church Times describes Edward's influence on her:
Catharine . . . , the youngest daughter of Archdeacon Spooner, a distinguished Evangelical clergyman . . . was born at Elmdon Parsonage, Warwickshire, on December 9, 1819. Other family intermarriages made her the near kinswoman of the Wilberforces, and between the two influences her naturally devout and ardent mind received at first a strong Protestant bias . . . . But while she was still very young, she was brought under an influence which changed the direction of her thoughts, and moulded her spiritual life thenceforward, that of her brother-in-law, Edward Bowles Knottesford-Fortescue, afterwards so well known as Provost of St Ninian's Cathedral, Perth. An interesting letter from his sister gives much insight into the effect which his teaching and example had upon Catharine Spooner's inner life, and tells how they gave that definiteness and backbone to her belief, that permanently higher aim, which she had, as she was conscious, previously lacked . . . . 17
The following anecdote speaks volumes about Edward's deeply serious faith, and his influence upon Catharine:
13 Details of the census entry are at www.thekingscandlesticks.com <http://www.thekingscandlesticks.com> , under the entry for Laurence Fortescue (no. 14689); the statement about Laurence's later position with the RCMP is taken from Henry Jenner's article (cited above), page 9.
14 "George Knottesford Fortescue: A Memory", The Library, Third Series, volume 4, 1913, pages 1 - 45.
15 The details of Vincent's position in 1886 come from the obituary of Major Edward Fortescue, in the Church Times for the 2nd July, 1886, page 511, column 3, and the information about 1913 comes from Henry Jenner's profile of George Fortescue, cited above.
16 The website www.myheritage.com <http://www.myheritage.com> has details of the birth certificate. The birth is also mentioned in Francis Knottesford's letter of the 14th May, 1855 to his niece Catherine Liveing, but the letter seems to imply that the baby was in poor health (the text is not easy to read!). It seems that Charles Ninian died in 1858, but I have not obtained details of the death certificate. Both the text of Francis's letter, and the small amount of information we have about Charles Ninian, may be found at the website www.thekingscandlesticks.com <http://www.thekingscandlesticks.com> .
17 The Church Times, 19th September, 1879, page 576.
"the influence exercised over . . . [Catharine] by a brother-in-law, Edward Fortescue, was precisely of the description to fascinate the mind and imagination of young girls. She described to me the manner in which Good Friday had been passed . . . under his direction. The day had been spent in fasting and prayer, in the solemn endeavour to realise the scenes of that terrible day in Jerusalem; and when the hours of darkness came, as they were alone in their rooms, there was an awful silence, broken at intervals by his deep voice through their open doors pronouncing the words of the dying Saviour on the Cross, this lasting through the three hours of agony He hung upon it. The effect produced upon the nerves and feelings of young girls may be imagined, and with Catharine it was lasting . . . ."18
And from the same source we have this description, by Edward's sister, of how energetically Edward threw himself into his mission at Wilmcote, and how eagerly Catharine helped him:
"The arrangements made for [Edward] on his marriage in 1838 provided him with less work and more ease than he felt to be consistent with the duties of his new calling, when he took Holy Orders in 1839, and he soon after, by permission of the Bishop, devoted himself with extraordinary energy to a sort of mission labour in a neighbouring hamlet, - some four miles from his home, which had been miserably neglected - where he worked laboriously at considerable personal sacrifice of means, time, and strength, preparing the people to accept Church ordinances, and getting a church, school, and parsonage built, to secure for them permanently the means of grace and instruction . . . becoming his [Edward's] frequent companion and assistant in his work at Wilmcote, [Catharine] saw in his self-sacrificing devotedness a model she admired for the active service of God, and for a time I believe she had a desire to make his mode of life her example - which was becoming more and more exclusive, and of increasing severity. On occasions of extra work, which detained him till an inconvenient hour for return, or found him too exhausted to do so, he obtained the loan of some rooms in an unused farm-house, where sometimes his wife or sisters would remain with him. On one such occasion, when we were there together, the accommodation was a cold attic with the barest possible furniture, and I believe some potatoes or other farm-store in one corner of it."19
And again, after the church was finished:
"Catharine watched the building of this church, from its commencement to its consecration, with the greatest interest, and many happy visits she afterwards paid at Wilmcote, when her sister, with her husband and family, went to reside there. I think it was at this little church that she first learned to estimate at their true value, and to enter into the spirit of the morning and evening daily service of the Church." 20
Catharine often said that there was a time when no life would have seemed more appealing to her than becoming village schoolmistress in Wilmcote, and helping Edward in his mission.21 In the event, her life took a very different turn. On the 22nd June, 1843, she married Dr Archibald Campbell Tait. Tait was then Headmaster of Rugby School (in succession to Dr Arnold). In subsequent years he became Dean of Carlisle, then Bishop of London, and then, in 1868, Archbishop of Canterbury: so that Catharine became an Archbishop's wife rather than a schoolmistress, and Edward and the Archbishop were brothers-in-law. In the course of my researches I have come across unflattering comments about Archbishop Tait, who was no friend of Edward's form of churchmanship; but I have never encountered anything but the highest praise for the loveliness and goodness of Catharine Tait.
18 William Benham, Catharine and Craufurd Tait , pages 212 - 13. The source of the anecdote was the Archbishop's sister, Lady Wake, who is named on page 211, and who states that she received the account from Catharine herself.
19 William Benham, Catharine and Craufurd Tait, pages 217 - 219.
20 William Benham, Catharine and Craufurd Tait, page 208.
21 William Benham, Catharine and Craufurd Tait, page 5.
As a result of all his exertions, Edward's health collapsed. We first learn of this in a letter from Fanny Anne's cousin, and Edward's friend, Henry Wilberforce, to John Henry Newman, dated the 8th August, 1844:
"My dear Fortescue is I think near his rest which he never has taken, and I think never would have taken, here. It is strange indeed, he has just been here-on Friday the 19th we preached in London he seemed to me as well as usual but I fear extensive disease in the head , and knows that he will often [be] insensible-but I had never heard him cough or suspected that there was any danger for his lungs, he [sic] reached home Saturday, and seemed quite well. Next day he did duty-the Monday he was ill as the enclosed letter tells you. They say he is rather better, but I believe there is no idea of his recovery-and the infrequent accounts I had had make me think his end is near. A few weeks is as much as I expect-let me have the letter against [sic] and remember my poor Fanny."22
And Newman himself writes to his sister in similar terms, on the 13th August, 1844:
"We have been made very sad by the sudden hopeless state of a person probably you never heard of-Mr Fortescue, a clergyman who married William Spooner's sister, and a great friend of Henry Wilberforce . . . He is suddenly found to be dying of consumption, his left lung being almost gone. They speak as if a few weeks would bring matters to a close."
But contrary to expectations, Edward did recover. It seems that he spent most of the winter of 1844 - 45 at St Leonards, in Sussex, and by mid-April he was able to go and visit Henry Wilberforce, at East Farleigh, in Kent. On the 15th April, 1845, Newman's close friend Elizabeth Bowden writes to Newman as follows:
"The Fortescues went on Friday to East Farleigh-he was wonderfully improved in looks and strength-more than I should have expected in the time. He was hoping to go home in about 6 weeks, and was much disappointed at Dr. Duke's telling him at last that he must not think of returning to his parish for months yet-but it is no wonder after such an illness."23
Edward and Fanny Anne's son Laurence was born on the 17th August, 1845, and it is clear that Edward was back in Wilmcote at least by early October of that year.24 During Edward's absence, services had almost certainly been taken by Edward's brother-in-law, Francis Jackson, who often served as "honorary curate". Edward lived for another 32 years after this very serious illness, but his health was always fragile.
Edward remained as Wilmcote's parish priest until the end of 1850, but then left to become Dean of the newly-founded St Ninian's Cathedral, in Perth, Scotland. His adventures at Perth, and afterwards, are recounted later.
22 This is presumably Edward's wife Fanny Anne, who was Wilberforce's cousin by marriage.
23 The above quotations about Edward's illness are taken from volume 10 of The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman , in 32 volumes, prepared under the auspices of the Birmingham Oratory, and published in part by Nelsons, of London, and in part by Oxford University Press.
24 A letter from Edward's father Francis, to his niece Mrs C.M. Liveing, and dated the 9th October, 1845, refers to the imminent baptism ceremony, at St Andrew's. The text of the letter is available at the website www.thekingscandlesticks.com
Everything I have read about Edward's time at Wilmcote indicates that he was an utterly dedicated parish priest, who did everything he could to help the people of the village. He received the very highest praise, often even from those who disagreed passionately with him about his churchmanship. First, there is John Henry Newman, writing during Edward's desperate illness: "He has had most wonderful influence on his neighbourhood, more than any one in the Church, I suppose."25 Next, there is the Squire of Wilmcote, Charles Corbett, who disagreed violently with Edward on questions of ritual, but clearly felt the warmest admiration for him personally:
"Every visit I make to Wilmcote increases my interest both in the Church & it's [sic] Minister. In the church the poor man sees his best inheritance where a few years ago he looked only on a blank soil; & he beholds a Pastor devoting indefatigable service to a village flock, tho' fitted by deep piety & superior talents for any station in the Church."26
"Since you are able to trace the hand of Providence so clearly in the call you have received to such honourable preferment [to Perth Cathedral], I may safely congratulate you on the subject & say, as I have always thought, that there is no preferment in the Church which your character & attainments might not adorn."27
The Bishop of Worcester also disagreed on matters of ritual, but tolerated Edward, because he was such a good pastor. The Bishop always tried to overlook Edward's ritual eccentricities, " . . . because I said to myself 'After all, notwithstanding these [word indecipherable] he is doing much good. His diligence as a Village pastor is unwearied and most exemplary, and I will not run the risk of harming his usefulness by interfering with his predilection for external forms, however they may appear to me objectionable . . . .'"!28 Given how much the Bishop disapproved of Edward's ideas about liturgy, the fact that he decided not to interfere suggests that he had the highest respect for Edward personally!
Wilmcote's first priest was an utterly remarkable and admirable personality.
25 Letter to Newman's sister, Jemima Mozley, dated the 13th August, 1844.
26 Mr Corbett's letter to Edward, 13th November, 1849. The original is at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
27 Mr Corbett's letter to Edward, 27th December, 1850. The original is again at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
28 Letter from the Bishop of Worcester, Henry Pepys, to Edward, 26th December, 1850. The original is held at the Warwick County Record Office, under reference DR 505/16/2.
EDWARD'S LATER CAREER
On the 7th January, 1851, Edward was elected Dean of the newly-founded St Ninian's Cathedral, in Perth, Scotland; shortly thereafter he left Wilmcote. St Ninian's belongs to the Scottish Episcopal Church, which is part of the world-wide Anglican Communion. In 1853, Edward became Provost of the Cathedral, rather than Dean, and he was thereafter known (and, indeed, very well-known) as the Very Reverend Provost Fortescue.
We have an interesting character portrait of Edward during his years at Perth. This is taken from a biography of his bishop, Charles Wordsworth, with whom he was often in conflict:
"Provost Fortescue, who was educated at Wadham College, Oxford, was at the time of his election as Dean perpetual curate of Wilmcote in Worcestershire, near Stratford-on-Avon. He was a gentleman of refinement and of good family . . . married (since 1838) to Miss Frances Anne Spooner, daughter of the Archdeacon of Coventry, and sister to Mrs A.C. Tait [the wife of the Archbishop of Canterbury]. He was a man rather of feeling than of learning, but thoughtful and able; and one who exercised considerable influence, both by his preaching and his personal intercourse. He was, however, wholly unversed in Scottish affairs and ways of thought, and was in many things fanciful and unpractical, and deficient in some of the stronger qualities of character. The following description of his outward man, and his way of thinking and acting, will be read with interest.
"In dress Provost Fortescue was carefully clerical, but in old-fashioned style. Although not much, if at all, below the average height, he looked shorter from his habit of holding his head rather bent and forward. His face usually wore a grave and rather mysterious look, and he seemed sensitively to shrink from anything like a familiar gaze. If he did not like his company, or did not feel sure of it, Provost Fortescue used to adopt a somewhat donnish, reserved, enigmatical manner, and spoke little and (apparently) unwillingly. When at his ease, however, he could talk much and with great animation, and when it pleased him, in a select circle, freely to unbend, he was full of mirth, and could tell or enjoy a good story with the best. The Provost read very little, but thought a good deal. I do not know that he took, or pretended to take, much interest in things in general, though he enjoyed stories which illustrated the variations of human nature. Otherwise his tastes were exclusively ecclesiastical. Art he only cared for in any form so far as he thought it expressed correct ecclesiastical ideas. His theology was fundamentally that of the advanced High Church School. In his public teaching he was generally content to set forth clearly and plainly, and in the very striking manner which he could employ, the orthodox aspect of doctrine and practice. But in private talk or conference his great delight seemed to be as paradoxical as possible, and he seemed to take pleasure in bewildering his listeners by startling and apparently inconsistent statements. A favourite way of his was to maintain the tenability of the most ultra-Roman opinions on all subjects. This reckless manner of argument, which was with him (at all events for many years) only a wayward jeu d'esprit, sometimes had unhappy consequences. Sometimes, however, all his power of paradox was put forth to maintain the perfection of something Anglican which most men of his school would consider to be among reformanda [that is, things which needed to be changed]. In his own house he could be a charming host, for behind all his waywardness and whimsical ways you could see the English gentleman; but he shrank (as I have said) from unsympathetic company. A man of this disposition was not made for fighting, and when ecclesiastical differences arose his inclination was to come to terms, or to look round for a loophole of escape. Even when not on harmonious terms with Bishop Wordsworth he was fond of saying, in his characteristic way, that there was something 'supernatural,' the effect of the divine charisma which a Bishop possesses, in that prelate's official utterances.
"He continued to be Provost till 1871, but resigned that office in July of that year. Upon his resignation he married (as his second wife) a lady of the congregation (Miss Robbins) . . . ." 1
In order to understand Edward's position at Perth, we must understand a little about the newly-founded cathedral's history. There is an excellent summary of this on the cathedral's website, and I have taken much of the following information from that source.2
When the Perth cathedral project was first proposed, in the 1840s, the predominant Scottish church was the Church of Scotland, which is Presbyterian. The Scottish Episcopal Church was then, and is now, the church of a small minority. According to an 1844 survey, the established Church of Scotland had 4,744 supporters in Perth, and the Episcopalian Church had 163. Perth Cathedral was, thus, not built to provide for an existing congregation which had outgrown its current home - there scarcely was any existing congregation. Instead, building the cathedral was an act of faith - its founders hoped that if they built a fine new cathedral, then people would flock to it. In effect, building Perth Cathedral was a missionary act.
The prime movers were the Hon. George Frederick Boyle (then aged 22, and who later became the 6th Earl of Glasgow) and Horace Courtney Forbes (then aged 18), the son of the 19th Lord Forbes. Both Boyle and Forbes had recently been at university in Oxford, and were full of enthusiasm for the ideas of the Oxford Movement: and they hoped to bring these ideas north of the border. It was Lord Forbes' money, and the zeal of the two young men, which drove the project forward. The other local gentry gave it next to no financial support.3 To summarise, then: there was no pre-existing congregation for the Cathedral; next to no money was raised in Perth to help build it; and the Cathedral was to embody the ideals of a purely English movement. The project has justifiably been called "Colonial Cathedral Building where no congregation had previously existed."4
The initial proposal was merely to build a substantial new church in Perth; but soon it was agreed that it should become the cathedral of the Diocese of St Andrew's, Dunkeld and Dunblane.
1 John Wordsworth, The Episcopate of Charles Wordsworth, Bishop of St. Andrews, Dunkeld, and Dunblane 1853 - 1892; a memoir, together with some materials for forming a judgment on the great questions in the discussion of which he was concerned , Longmans, Green & Co, London, 1899, pages 46 - 48. John Wordsworth, the Bishop of Salisbury, was the nephew of Edward's bishop and adversary (Charles Wordsworth), but appears to have attempted to obtain an impartial account of Edward's character; he states that his portrait is "from the pen of Provost T.I. Ball, of Cumbrae."
2 The Cathedral's website is at www.perthcathedral.co.uk <http://www.perthcathedral.co.uk> , and "A Detailed History 1847 - 1914" is located at <http://www.perthcathedral.co.uk/history/a-detailed-history-1847-1914/> . I have consulted three further sources: the biography of Bishop Charles Wordsworth, referred to above; Nigel Yates, Anglican Ritualism in Victorian Britain 1830 - 1910 , Oxford University Press, 1999, pages 127 - 136; and Revd. George T.S. Farquhar, The Episcopal History of Perth, 1689 - 1894, James H. Jackson, 20 High Street, Perth, 1895.
3 In "A Detailed History 1847 - 1914", on the Cathedral's website, there are some details of the fund-raising for the cathedral, which was by subscription. Of the initial amount of £3,510, which had been pledged by 1847, over £2,000 came from the Boyle and Forbes families, and no more than £242 represented local contributions. By 1850 the total had risen to £5,751, but "there were no significant local contributions."
4 The quotation in the text is from "A Detailed History 1847 - 1914". In support of this contention, Nigel Yates writes, "There seems little doubt that there was clear collusion between Boyle and Torry [that is, the Bishop] to create an advanced Tractarian establishment in the diocese and for it to be a cathedral. Torry had made the first move in this direction when he invited J.C. Chambers, another early member of the Society of the Holy Cross and the future author of "The Priest in Absolution", to establish a new mission in Perth in 1846, even though the town already had an Episcopal church: Anglican Ritualism , page 130. To some extent, the building of St Ninian's was an attempt to introduce a very new type of church, and worship, to Scotland.
The Bishop of St Andrew's, Patrick Torry (who was then 85 years old) was delighted, and was an eager supporter of the whole project. Accordingly a committee was set up to oversee construction, and William Butterfield was appointed as architect. Construction proceeded quickly, and the first phase of the cathedral - the east end, consisting of the sanctuary, the chancel, and one bay of the nave - was completed in 1850 and dedicated on the 10th December 1850. During the consecration service, a formal letter from the Bishop was read out, confirming that St Ninian's was to be the cathedral of "the United Dioceses", and appointing the first canons of the cathedral. The cathedral's statutes (in effect, its constitution) were signed on the 6th January, 1851, and on the 7th January Edward was elected Dean.
There is a letter of Edward's father, Francis, to his close friend Dr Martin Routh, the President of Magdalen College, Oxford, confirming that Edward had obtained the position owing to "the powerful recommendations of Lord Forbes and the Honourable Mr Boyle, Banker and Heir to the Earl of Glasgow" (that is, the two principal movers of the whole project), and also thanks to his being wealthy enough that he might not require remuneration!5
Edward was not the first choice for Perth. Instead, the founders of the Cathedral first offered the position to a certain Mr Kenrick,6 and then to the well-known hymn writer and translator, John Mason Neale (who was responsible for "Good Christian Men, Rejoice!" and "Good King Wenceslas", as well as translations of many ancient and mediaeval hymns from Latin and Greek). Neale was then the Warden of an almshouse at East Grinstead, in Sussex, and in 1854 helped to found St Margaret's Convent, at East Grinstead.7 He seems to have refused the offer of Perth partly because of his weak health, but also because of his attachment to the Church of England and his work at East Grinstead.
5 I have not seen this letter, and do not know where it is now located. It is referred to in a biography of one of Edward's sons, The Latin Clerk. The Life, Work and Travels of Adrian Fortescue, by Fr Aidan Nichol, OP, The Lutterworth Press, Cambridge, 2011, page 11. Fr Nichol confirms that he has not seen the letter, either (despite checking with the Archivist of Magdalen College!), but instead found a reference to it in J.R. McCarthy's book Adrian Fortescue, Cleric of the Roman Rite. A Biography , East Cleveland, Ohio, 1999. From what Fr Nichol says in his book, Mr McCarthy's 1999 book contains no detailed references, and does not state the location of Francis's letter, but instead refers to the documentation in Mr McCarthy's unpublished 1972 dissertation from Case Western University, Cleveland, Ohio. I have seen neither Mr McCarthy's dissertation nor his book. But Dr Routh certainly was one of Francis's closest friends - indeed, he was his confessor: Francis might very well have written to Dr Routh about Edward's appointment to Perth.
Edward may have been offered the position because he was wealthy enough not to need a salary, but he did in fact receive one: L200 per year, from the Hon. G.F. Boyle, increased to L350 per year in 1869, although these payments were not actually secured - instead, they depended on Mr Boyle being willing to continue them (John Wordsworth, The Episcopate of Charles Wordsworth , page 127, note 1.)
6 Wordsworth, The Episcopate of Charles Wordsworth , page 45.
7 Nigel Yates, in Anglican Ritualism, page 131, refers to a letter of Neale's which includes the words, "If I came, I should of course come as a missionary . . . to preach anywhere and everywhere . . . that, I am sure, is the only way to convert Scotland. But, if I were to do this effectively, I should be dead in a year, and that without any advantage gained." There is a detailed treatment of Neale's decision in "All for Love: John Mason Neale and the Perth Deanery Refusal," by Leon Litvack. I have found this article online at www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/churchman/101-01_036.pdf <http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/churchman/101-01_036.pdf> and also at www.churchsociety.org/churchman/documents/Cman_101_1_litvack.pdf <http://www.churchsociety.org/churchman/documents/Cman_101_1_litvack.pdf> .
We do not know how Edward came to be offered the position, after Neale's refusal. He cannot have known Lord Forbes or Mr Boyle, the two principal promoters of the cathedral, when he was at Oxford - they were much younger than him. He may have been recommended by William Butterfield, who was architect of the cathedral. Whether or not Butterfield helped build St Andrew's, he certainly designed Wilmcote School and The Old Vicarage, which were built just a few years later: by the time these projects were completed, Butterfield and Edward must have known each other well.
Edward's time at Perth was troubled. Like his problems with the patronage at Wilmcote, his experiences as Provost at St Ninian's sound like something out of Barchester Towers .
At first, Edward's bishop was Patrick Torry, an enthusiastic supporter of the whole Cathedral project: they probably worked well together. But even from the beginning there were problems. First, no one had any clear idea of exactly what the cathedral was for: as Nigel Yates has written, " . . . neither Boyle nor Torry had given any serious thought to what [the cathedral's] constitution ought to be . . . Initially the cathedral seems to have had no real relationship with the diocese at all . . . "8 The other clergy in the diocese refused to accept this - and so in 1851, at their synod, they set up a committee to investigate the constitutional position of the cathedral. They also provided that, until the cathedral's status was sorted out, Edward - the Dean of the Cathedral - would not be a voting member of the synod.9 This proved crucially important, because it was the synod which chose the next bishop.
Bishop Torry, who was extremely elderly, died (still in office) on the 3rd October, 1852. At the synod to elect a new bishop, Charles Wordsworth, an old-fashioned High Churchman with no sympathy at all for the Oxford Movement or liturgical innovations, was elected as the new bishop.10
8 Nigel Yates, Anglican Ritualism , page 132.
9 Nigel Yates, Anglican Ritualism , page 133.
10 The election was highly controversial. At the time, Wordsworth was Warden of Trinity College, Glenalmond, in Perthshire, and a member of the synod which was to choose the new bishop. As he was one of the candidates, he initially took no part in the voting; but when the votes were evenly split, eight for Wordsworth and eight for the Bishop of Moray, he ultimately, and after some hesitation, cast a deciding vote for himself. The election had to be repeated, because of a procedural irregularity; but the result was the same the second time. Each time Edward was present at the synod, and claimed the right to vote, but was refused. Wordsworth's biographer comments that the manner of his uncle's election "had naturally a certain influence on his after life and relations with some of the clergy of the Diocese, and with others" (John Wordsworth, The Episcopate of Charles Wordsworth, page 6). The biography also notes, on page 8, that a synod held about 10 years later decided that a clerical elector would no longer be able to vote for himself.
If Edward had been allowed to vote, the result might have been very different, and Edward's subsequent career might have been much easier.11 Bishop Wordsworth made it clear that he was not prepared to be enthroned at St Ninian's unless the cathedral's constitution was changed. The diocesan synod accepted Wordsworth's proposed changes on the 6th April, 1853 (not, perhaps, surprisingly, the main change was to place the cathedral's clergy under the ultimate authority of the bishop), and from that date onwards St Ninian's was formally accepted as cathedral of the diocese.12 Once this had been done, Edward's title was changed from Dean to Provost,13 and he was finally admitted as a full member of synod, so that he could vote on future occasions.14
Even after these changes had been made, peace did not break out. As one scholar has commented: "St Ninian's Cathedral . . . was destined to a long period of trouble and strife that would have blasted the hopes of men less sanguine than Lord Forbes and G.F. Boyle" [the originators of the scheme]. . . . The bishop was too ambitious a man either to appreciate the principles of the Oxford Movement or to sympathise with its spirit, even though he had known Pusey and Manning in his early days . . . as bishop [he] set his face like a flint against the ceremonial, which, in deference to the bishop, had been already considerably reduced from the original standard. In 1856 the bishop withdrew his sanction even of the eastward position at the celebration of the Eucharist and at last placed the cathedral under his episcopal displeasure by refusing to have anything to do with it for nearly thirty years."15 The bishop's hostility certainly made Edward's time at Perth more difficult than it would otherwise have been.
There were periods of relative tranquillity. On the 9th May, 1854, Edward's father Francis wrote to his niece, "Every thing is going on well at Perth. They have now a very large school, which was inspected a short time ago & highly estimated. . . He has been much engaged of late; during Lent he preached a course of weekly lectures on the St. John's Gospel, which were numerously attended. The B[isho]p. also preached several times. He is very often at Perth, & has bought a house there. Their choir is enlarged & the services since Easter have been particularly fine . . . (they have the Hallelujah chorus every Sunday after service in the afternoon) ." Again, on the 8th April, 1857, "Edward has been with the Bishop to a consecration of a new church at Bridge of Allan, a beautiful place near Stirling . . . ." But then, on the 15th April, 1858, Francis writes "The dissensions in Scotland far exceed those in our own church & what will be the end, no one can foresee . . . dear Edward's health is much better than usual, notwithstanding his great trials & labours. He has the whole congregation with him amounting to 600, including two or three great lairds."16
Edward's ritualistic tendencies were clear from the services, and liturgy, which he set up at St Ninian's: "on Sundays and festivals Holy Communion at 8 a.m. (plain), Matins, Litany and Holy Communion at 11 a.m. (choral), Evensong at 2.30 p.m. or 3 p.m. (plain), and 7 p.m. (choral); on weekdays Matins at 7.30 a.m. (plain) and 10 a.m. (choral), Evensong at 7 p.m. (choral)".17 Another writer comments, "The ritual included lights [that is, candles], vestments, unleavened bread and apparently incense, curiously enough the black gown was worn in preaching at the afternoon service, probably in imitation of English university churches."18 However the congregation responded to all this, Edward clearly encountered problems with other clergy. Nigel Yates comments, "The principal opposition to St Ninian's came not from the bishop but from his clergy . . . . At a special synod in 1853 . . . the cathedral clergy were dismissed as 'Romanisers'."19
11 The Birmingham Gazette, for the 11th October, 1852, reports that Edward was actually to be nominated as bishop himself; but if anyone did nominate him, the matter was taken no further.
12 This brief summary is taken from Chapter II of "Perth Cathedral: A Detailed History, 1847 - 1914". The cathedral's statutes were changed again, after Bishop Wordsworth's death - his changes clearly did not enjoy universal support. Chapter III of the "Detailed History" comments "Wilkinson [the new bishop] announced that he hoped to revise the cathedral statutes and make the cathedral the real centre of the diocese"; and the changes are also referred to in an article in the Church Times, 2nd August, 1901, page 122. Tellingly, one of the chapters in Farquhar's The Episcopal History of Perth, which deals with the stormy episcopate of Bishop Wordsworth, bears the revealing title "How the Thirty Years' War Raged, 1856 - 1886".
13 This was a perfectly sensible change: for the diocese already had another Dean - Bishop Torry's son John. From this point onwards Edward was usually referred to as "Provost Fortescue".
14 Nigel Yates, Anglican Ritualism , page 133.
15 William Perry, The Oxford Movement in Scotland , Cambridge University Press, 1933, pages 54 - 55.
16 Transcriptions of Francis's letters may be found at the website www.thekingscandlesticks.com <http://www.thekingscandlesticks.com> , under the entry for Francis Fortescue Knottesford.
17 Nigel Yates, Anglican Ritualism , page 131.
18 Perry, The Oxford Movement in Scotland, page 54.
19 Nigel Yates, Anglican Ritualism , page 133.
In retrospect, it seems clear that Edward's appointment at Perth, and the whole idea of importing the Oxford Movement, elaborate English rituals, and English churchmanship, into the alien soil of Scotland, were not a success. One historian, at the end of the nineteenth century, phrases this tactfully: "We indeed, who know the subsequent history, and are in a position to be wise after the event, may be permitted to doubt whether a refined and emotional Englishman, very little versed in Scotch affairs, and whose leading interest was Ritual, was the most suitable appointment that could have been made at that particular time . . . it might have been useful to have had at least one Scotchman on the [Cathedral] chapter . . . ."20 More recently, Gavin White is very much more scathing: "From 1851 the Provost was E.B.K. Fortescue and his ritual, considered Puseyite, aroused local derision; the children followed the cathedral clergy shouting 'Pussy, Pussy', and mewing like cats."21
Edward disagreed with Bishop Wordsworth over more than liturgy. Both men were devoted to church unity, and longed for the reunion of the Scottish Episcopal Church with other churches. But they wanted to re-unite with totally different churches. Bishop Wordsworth wanted to woo the established Church of Scotland, which is Presbyterian; with Edward, it was the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches. These churches are at opposite ends of a spectrum. The Presbyterian Church wanted nothing to do with bishops; but for the Roman and Orthodox churches, and for the Oxford Movement in general, bishops were essential, as the crucial proof of their churches' authority - for them, their bishops derived their authority from the Apostles themselves.22 Because the churches they wanted to unite with were so far apart, success for Wordsworth would have meant failure for Edward, and vice versa.23
Edward's efforts to promote unity concerned the ill-fated Association for the Promotion of the Unity of Christendom ("APUC"), which strove to achieve reconciliation and union among the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Orthodox Church.24
20 Revd. George T.S. Farquhar, The Episcopal History of Perth, 1689 - 1894 , page 310.
21 Gavin White, The Scottish Episcopal Church: A New History , published by the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church, 1998, chapter 6.
22 This is the doctrine of Apostolic Succession: under this doctrine, spiritual authority was given by Christ himself to his apostles, who then transmitted that authority to their successors, usually by the laying-on of hands, and so on down the generations. Thus, for example, the Roman Catholic Church asserts that the Pope's authority is ultimately derived from Christ's commission to St Peter. The Oxford Movement believed that the Church of England was a true, valid church, whose authority could be traced back to the Apostles themselves, through one bishop consecrating another in an unbroken chain stretching from the Apostles right up to the present. The Movement thus found itself in the curious position of considering bishops absolutely essential in theory, for weighty theological reasons, but often disagreeing violently with individual bishops in practice!)
23 Wordsworth's disapproval of Edward's liturgical tastes accords with his eagerness to foster links with the Presbyterian Church of Scotland (which disapproved of elaborate ritual). Wordsworth's biographer has written, ". . . when the practical question was raised, by what steps and through what means reunion was to be effected, two answers arose . . . The primary necessity of all was to prevent the capture of the Scottish Episcopal Church by a party, especially by a party manned by Englishmen and controlled from England. The duty forced upon him, as he supposed . . . was to prevent the Church from drifting into a mere Donatising sect (as he sometimes thought of it), very narrow, and at the same time high and arrogant . . . . " (Wordsworth, The Episcopate of Charles Wordsworth , page 37). In effect, Bishop Wordsworth opposed Anglo-Catholic liturgy, such as Edward offered, for fear that it would lead the Anglican Church further away from the Presbyterians.
24 There are treatments of the APUC in Mark D. Chapman, "The Fantasy of Reunion: The Rise and Fall of the Association for the Promotion of the Unity of Christendom", The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Cambridge University Press, volume 58, issue 1, January 2007, pages 49 - 74, and Vincent Alan McClelland, "Corporate Reunion: a Nineteenth-Century Dilemma", Theological Studies, 1982, volume 43, number 1, pages 3 - 29. The papers of the APUC are in the library of Pusey House, Oxford.
Edward was not a prime mover of this association, but he acted as chairman of the inaugural meeting, on the 8th September, 1857, and was chosen as the Association's President.25 He remained President at least until March 1870, a short time before he resigned his position at St Ninian's, in 1871.26
It was never intended that the APUC should be active in worldly terms. Instead, the association's purpose was simply "to unite in a bond of intercessory prayer members both of the clergy and laity of the Roman Catholic, Greek and Anglican Communions." Lay members' only obligation was to say a short prayer for unity, and the "Our Father", each day; priests who were members were also to celebrate the "Holy Sacrifice" for the sake of unity once every three months.27
The APUC flourished in its early years: within a year it had 675 members, and by 1864 it had 7,330.28 But in September 1864 the Roman Catholic Church condemned it, and it never recovered from the blow. The letter of condemnation asserted that the Church of England could not properly be called "Catholic" at all, but was instead "heretical"; and it asked Roman Catholic bishops not to allow the faithful "to be induced by heretics [that is, Anglicans!] to enter this association with the same heretics [Anglicans] and schismatics" [that is, members of the Orthodox church!]. It went on to claim that the association's aims were "utterly subversive of the divine constitution of the church". After this, most of the APUC's Roman Catholic members withdrew from the association. Ironically, one of the English Roman Catholics who was most closely involved in condemning the APUC was Edward's old friend Henry Manning, formerly Archdeacon of Chichester, who converted to Roman Catholicism in 1851, became Archbishop of Westminster in 1865, and was made a Cardinal in 1875.29
During these years, Edward became distinguished as a nationally well-known preacher and speaker. We have a full report of a speech he gave in 1869, on the third anniversary of the dedication of one of the most famous of the Anglo-Catholic "slum churches", St Peter's, London Docks:
The Rev. Provost Fortescue preached a marvellous sermon from 2 Sam. i. 23, which he applied to the apostles SS Peter and Paul . . . At the conclusion of the service luncheon was served in the schoolroom . . . . Mr Bevan proposed the toast of the Preachers, which was responded to by the Rev. Provost Fortescue, who, in his introductory remarks, expressed a desire not to fall into the temptation which he said was so common at those gatherings, of speaking too well of one another. It happened that circumstances had so put it into his power to be able to visit that particular parish very frequently, and that enabled him to refute certain disparaging statements that had been made to him concerning St Peter's, and which affirmed that the results of that work were not such as might have been expected. Because of those statements he was anxious to give his own experience. He presumed he was speaking not to the inhabitants of the district but to those who had simply given their sympathies and alms. Within the last twelve months he had been enabled to make himself intimately acquainted with the particular distinctive characteristics of the well-known London churches, and the conclusion had been forced upon him by his own experience that where there was what was called "extreme" ritual, there was the greatest devotion apparent in the congregation.
25 Chapman, "The Fantasy of Reunion", pages 59 - 60.
26 An appeal for St Joseph's College Fund, in the Church Times for the 4th March, 1870, page 100, lists as one of its patrons "The Very Rev. E.B. Knottesford-Fortescue, M.A., Provost of St Ninian's, Perth, President A.P.U.C."
27 Chapman, "The Fantasy of Reunion", pages 60 - 61, quoting from the circular which the association published when it was first founded.
28 Chapman, "The Fantasy of Reunion", page 62.
29 Details of the condemnation may be found in Chapman, "The Fantasy of Reunion", pages 64 - 72.
A certain friend of his had visited St Peter's at the late celebration, and had come back extremely dissatisfied with the attendance of the congregation and the number of communicants. Now he protested in the very strongest manner against strangers going to the late celebration and taking them as a guage [sic] or test of the work at St Peter's, or of any other church of a similar character. He, for his part, did not care at all for the late celebration. (Cheers). He had enjoyed the great privilege of frequently assisting in the early Celebrations of that church, and it so happened that he was present at that service on the very day on which his friend was present at the late one, and he was enabled to state, as a positive fact, that he had never administered the Blessed Sacrament to so many hands that bore upon them the indications of hard manual labour, as at St Peter's. (Cheers.) He had lately been visiting St John Baptist, Frome - (cheers) and had seen that great church full down to the bottom at the 8 o'clock service; and at St Peter's it was often fuller at 8 than at 11 o'clock. Those two churches were pre-eminent in "extreme ritual", but they were also pre-eminent in winning great masses of people, and, what was more, in retaining them. The rev. speaker concluded a lengthened discourse by severely commenting upon the practice in general of priests communicating at the altars of churches upon their annual festivals, strongly urging how stringently incumbent it was upon every priest to celebrate at their own altars. (Loud cheers.)30
Even after all his troubles at Perth, and despite Bishop Wordsworth's strong disapproval, Edward was still a passionate exponent of "extreme" ritual, and also of the early celebration of communion, which he had advocated so strongly during his time at Wilmcote ( see above, page 37 ).
We have a further character portrait of Edward at this time. This comes from his son George's best friend. George was born in 1847, and ultimately became Keeper of the Printed Books at the British Museum. After his death, in 1912, his friend and colleague Henry Jenner wrote a long appreciation of him.31 These extracts from it give a very clear picture of Edward:
"[Edward] was a very remarkable man, of fine presence, with a striking face, and delightfully courteous manners of somewhat old-fashioned type. When at Oxford he had come under the influence of the Tracts for the Times, which had then not long begun, and these ideas, sown upon ground already prepared by Catholic family tradition, only three generations off, bore plentiful fruit, and made him a very advanced High Churchman. Like most of the advanced churchmen of the period, he was an extreme Tory in his political views . . . Provost Fortescue was a masterful man, very firmly convinced that his opinions were the only right ones, and his family were all expected to think and practise what he preached. I fear that all his sons except the eldest, who remained a convinced 'Anglo-Catholic' to the day of his death, were rather a disappointment to him in that respect . . . [George] had a story of how he was turned back from Confirmation in disgrace, having been caught reading a very inappropriate novel in bed on the morning when he should have received that Sacrament, which evidently interested him but little. This and other incidents of the same sort, provoked by a well-meant but apparently very injudicious treatment, caused strained relations between the boy and his father, who treated him with a good deal of sternness and severity, and seemed to look upon him as the black sheep of the family. Happily, during the last few years of his father's life they were on the most cordial of terms, and thoroughly appreciated each other . . . I knew his father very well during his later years. He died in 1877. He had married as his second wife in 1870 Gertrude, daughter of the Rev. Saunderson Robins, vicar of St. Peter's in Thanet, an old acquaintance of my own parents . . . He was a most agreeable and interesting man, full of humour and of varied information, especially on ecclesiastical subjects, and an excellent talker. As an Anglican he had been a fine preacher, and was a considerable leader of the extreme Catholic school, and especially of those who desired re-union. He was the first President (I am not sure of the exact title) of the Association for Promoting the Unity of Christendom, which was founded, I think, in about 1859, and of which his son-in-law, George Macirone, was later for many years secretary."
Edward's life changed drastically in 1868. His wife of nearly 30 years, Fanny Anne, died on the 30th October, 1868, at the age of 50. In July, 1871, Edward resigned from his position as Provost of St Ninian's, and remarried; and the next year both Edward and his new wife converted to Roman Catholicism.
Fanny Anne had probably been ill for some time before her death. Henry Jenner has written, "I have an indistinct memory of her coming two or three times to see her sons at school, a fair-haired lady with a gentle face, and a very devout manner in church. I think she was an invalid for some time before her death, and her health prevented her from living at Perth."32 Fanny Anne certainly spent some of her time at Perth, and she died there; but she probably did spend a good deal of her time at Edward's family home, at Alveston Manor.
31 The Church Times, 2nd July, 1869, page 262.
32 Henry Jenner, "George Knottesford Fortescue: A Memory". The passages cited are taken from pages 8 - 12 of this article.
Edward's second wife, Gertrude Mary (or possibly Martha) Robins, was the daughter of the Reverend Sanderson Robins, vicar of St Peter's, Isle of Thanet, and was related to the eighth Earl of Thanet (whose estate she inherited). At least initially, she was drawn to the monastic life. For a time, she was prioress of a Benedictine sisterhood "founded by the distinctly unbalanced Father Ignatius of Llanthony, otherwise Joseph Leycester Lyne".33 Thereafter she moved to a Scottish Episcopal sisterhood, the Community of St Mary and St John, also known as the Scottish Society of Reparation.34 This community appears to have been founded in Perth, in 1870; and Edward was its Warden. Gertrude and Edward may well have met through Gertrude attending the services at St Ninian's.35
They were married at St Mary's, Bryanston Square, London, on the 17th July, 1871. Edward was then 55 years old, and Gertrude about 32. They had three children: Clara Mary Katherine Fortescue, who was born about 1873; Adrian Henry Fortescue, born on the 14th January, 1874, and Gertrude Raphael Fortescue, born in 1875. We know little about Clara and Gertrude; but Adrian grew up to become a Roman Catholic priest, and an extremely learned scholar, who published numerous books on Catholic liturgy and on the Eastern churches. His book The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described , first published in about 1917, is still in print, in its fifteenth edition.
32 Henry Jenner, "George Knottesford Fortescue: A Memory," pages 10 - 11.
33 The comment is from Aidan Nichol, OP, The Latin Clerk , page 13. It would be easy to find many other references to the eccentricities of Fr Ignatius.
34 Membership of this community need not have involved any lifetime vow of celibacy on Gertrude's part. It appears that the community "consisted of two Orders, the first Order being Sisters under life vows in the Community of St Mary and St John, and the Third Order persons living in the world, either married or single, who desired to be associated with the Society and share its work of Reparation." (David Bertie, editor, Scottish Episcopal Clergy, 1689 - 2000 , T & T Clark Ltd, 2000, page 666.)
35 Most of the above information about Gertrude's life before her marriage is taken from Aidan Nichol, OP, The Latin Clerk , pages 13 - 14. Bishop Wordsworth's biographer writes of Edward "Upon his resignation [from the office of Provost] he married . . . a lady of the congregation (Miss Robbins) . . . ", from which it seems probable that Gertrude worshipped at St Ninian's (Bishop John Wordsworth, The Episcopate of Charles Wordsworth , page 48.)
We do not know exactly when Edward gave up his position at Perth; but The Guardian , for the 19th July, 1871 (page 865) writes "In reference to a statement that the Provost of St Ninian's, Perth, has resigned, information has reached us that it is owing to a change of creed and condition." Edward and Gertrude were received into the Roman Catholic Church on the 30th March 1872, possibly in Belgium.36
After his conversion, Edward could no longer act as a priest - there was then no possibility at all of a married Anglican clergyman being re-ordained into the Catholic church. Instead, Edward became Principal of a school in Holloway, north London, and also taught Latin and Greek there. He worshipped at the Dominican Priory of Our Lady of the Rosary and Saint Dominic, in Southampton Road, Haverstock Hill, north London. After a brief illness, he passed away, at the age of 61, on the 18th August, 1877. The Dominican Priory gave him a very elaborate funeral service - Solemn Vespers of the Dead, Matins of the Dead, and a High Mass - and he was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.37 His obituary notice comments on his funeral: "Humble as was the position which he occupied in his adopted communion as compared with that which he had previously held, so great was the love and respect felt for him that many Roman Catholic clergy who were present were heard to say that no such funeral had taken place in their church since Cardinal Wiseman was laid to rest."38
We do not know whether Edward regretted his decision to leave the Church of England; he certainly retained a very strong interest in it. Thus, there is this comment in his obituary:
"Unlike most other converts, he retained to the last his intense interest in the work carried on by the Catholic school in the Church of England; but it is only just to say that this did not in the least affect his own belief in the propriety of the step which he himself had taken."39
Rather similarly, Bishop Wordsworth's biographer writes as follows:
" The circumstances of his leaving the communion of the Church in Scotland were such as to produce great discouragement to his friends, and especially to members of his congregation, by whom he was much beloved. They were necessarily followed by much sorrow to himself: for in the Roman communion he of course suddenly ceased to be recognised as a Priest, or to be able to consider himself as such, though his whole previous life had been involved in the habits of thought and action proper to that character. I have evidence, not exactly that he repented of what he had done, but that he was not contented with what he found in his new communion, and that he continued to take a strong and respectful interest in everything connected with the Anglican church."40
And, finally, his son George's closest friend reveals that Edward still considered himself a priest, whether his new church recognised the fact or not:
"He had, of course, to behave as a layman, but he always dressed in black, and I think he had considerable doubts about the invalidity of his Anglican Orders . . . He used to have his letters addressed 'Mr. Fortescue', and refused to assume ' Esq.,' as many clerical converts have done. I remember that when his son George was married, the bridegroom and his 'best man', myself, consulted about the filling up of the register, and, wishing to do what he would like, though we were both Anglicans, we decided that it would be best to describe him as 'gentleman'. To this, when he saw it, he objected strongly, saying that 'Clerk in Holy Orders' was his proper designation by which, I think, he meant more than that it was still his legal title. He used to read the Epistle at Mass, which, of course, can be done by a layman . . . though it is very unusual now, so much so that I never met with any other instance."41
36 The date is given in a footnote to the Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman , volume 25, page 363, in a comment on a letter from Newman to Edward's cousin Henry Wilberforce. The reference to Belgium comes from the character portrait of Edward in Wordsworth, The Episcopate of Charles Wordsworth , page 48.
37 The above information about Edward's life as a Catholic is taken from Aidan Nichol OP, The Latin Clerk , page 13.
38 The Leamington Spa Courier, 8th September, 1877, page 7. The Courier states that this obituary is reprinted from the Church Times, although I did not locate it when I was searching in the Church Times's archives.
39 Leamington Spa Courier, 8th September, 1877, pages 6 - 7.
40 John Wordsworth, The Episcopate of Charles Wordsworth , page 48.
41 Henry Jenner, "George Knottesford Fortescue: A Memory", pages 11 - 12.
Edward had thought seriously about converting to Roman Catholicism during 1844 and 1845, but then decided against it. What changed his mind, and finally made him take the plunge in 1872?
The evidence that Edward considered conversion in 1844 - 45 comes from the letters of John Henry Newman. This evidence is cited above, on pages 48 - 49 , but is worth repeating here . Thus, on the 27th April, 1845, Newman writes "Oakeley has come suddenly . . . St John says, what cannot be doubted, that he is going very fast [the context of the letter shows that this means, "going very fast towards the Roman Catholic church"!]. Also they both say that Fortescue is much shaken. If one did not too well fear it was one's own doing, it would be a comfort, as being a confirmation, to hear of such things."42 On the 20th December, 1845, Newman wrote, "Fortescue is the sole remaining now of those for whom we kept the Novena"43, and on the 13th December, 1846, in a letter to Edward's friend and cousin Henry Wilberforce, Newman writes "The report here is that Fortescue is near moving."44 Finally, on the 2nd July, 1848, after Newman's dearest friend Ambrose St John had paid a visit to Edward, Newman wrote to St John, saying "By your waspish letter I suppose you are sulky at not having converted Fortescue"!45
Thus, during the years 1844 - 1845 Edward was thinking about converting to Rome, and in 1848 Ambrose St John actively urged him to do so. Very many of Edward's friends and acquaintances in the Oxford Movement did convert around this time - including initially Newman himself, Frederick Oakeley, and many other priests, and then a few years later Edward's cousins Henry and Robert Wilberforce, and also Henry Manning.46 Edward decided not to join them. We do not know his reasons. I think that Edward felt very strongly called to be a priest; if he had converted he would have lost his vocation, because he was married, and the Roman Catholic Church did not then accept married priests under any circumstances.47
42 Letters and Diaries , volume 10, page 643.
43 So far as I can tell from the context, the Novena was a series of prayers, offered for the conversion of a number of Church of England priests to Roman Catholicism; Letters and Diaries , volume 11.
44 Letters and Diaries, volume 11.
45 Letters and Diaries, volume 12, page 231. Of course, St John would have had no reason to be sulky, unless he had had cause to think that Edward was actually open to being converted.
46 There is an excellent study of the lives of Robert and Henry Wilberforce, and the steps which led them, and also their brother-in-law Henry Manning, to convert to Roman Catholicism, in David Newsome's The Parting of Friends: The Wilberforces and Henry Manning.
47 When Henry Wilberforce, who was also married, converted, he had to give up the priesthood, and instead became secretary of the Catholic Defence Association, in Ireland; he later became a publisher. Manning and Robert Wilberforce were both widowers, and were therefore free to seek re-ordination as Catholic priests (Manning became Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster; sadly, Robert Wilberforce died while he was preparing for his re-ordination).
He may also have felt that his father Francis would have been profoundly distressed by his conversion - Francis was very far from being a slavish follower of Newman and the other Oxford Movement leaders who defected to Rome.48
During the years after 1848, Edward's affinity to the Roman Catholic Church continued, and indeed became well known. When Gerard Manley Hopkins was an Oxford undergraduate, wondering whether he should defect to Rome, he wrote in his Journals, "Note that if ever I should leave the English Church the fact of Provost Fortescue is to be got over."49 By this Hopkins seems to mean that if Edward could stick with the Church of England, despite his longing for Rome, then surely Hopkins could do so as well. Edward had become a figurehead for all those who felt that they belonged in the Roman Catholic church but persevered in the Church of England. In the event, they both converted: Hopkins ultimately became a Jesuit priest, and one of the greatest poets of the Victorian age.
By 1872 many things had changed, and perhaps the factors which deterred Edward from converting in 1848 no longer applied. Francis had passed away in 1859, and Fanny Anne in 1868: so Edward no longer needed to worry about how his conversion might affect either of them. And Edward had spent nearly twenty frustrating years at Perth, where his bishop consistently tried to hinder his ministry: Edward may have had enough of clerical infighting. And he knew that life was going to get worse, not better, for ritualist, Anglo-Catholic priests in England: for by now his brother-in-law had become Archbishop of Canterbury.
Archibald Tait was married to Fanny Anne's youngest sister, Catharine Spooner; he had been successively Headmaster of Rugby School (in succession to Thomas Arnold), Dean of Carlisle, and Bishop of London, and in 1868 he was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. We do not know how Edward and his brother-in-law got on personally, although Tait was a loving uncle to Edward's children;50 but Tait's churchmanship was profoundly opposed to Edward's. He had virtually no sympathy for ritualism, and was ultimately prepared to see "ritual excesses" dealt with, and punished, in court. He was largely responsible for the Public Worship Regulation Act 1874, under which, some years later, five Anglo-Catholic priests were sent to prison, on the grounds of contempt of court, for the way they conducted their services. Edward may well have felt that ritualist priests, such as he was himself, had no happy future in the Church of England.
All of these factors together probably influenced Edward's ultimate decision, and he and Gertrude converted together in 1872.51
48 And no doubt Edward would also have needed to consider how his actions might affect Fanny Anne.
49 The Notebooks and Papers of Gerard Manley Hopkins, , page 52, for October 1865, cited in K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar, Gerard Manley Hopkins: The Man and the Poet , Oxford University Press, 1948, pages 24 - 25.
50 Henry Jenner, in "George Knottesford Fortescue: A Memory", page 10, writes that "the influence of this great man, who was almost like another father to his wife's nephews, who were all exceedingly fond of him, never left George Fortescue to the end of his life. . . the pleasantest memories of his boyhood were of the days spent at London House or Fulham Palace with the Taits, of both of whom he was very fond and whose influence on him was strongly for good". And Edward's father Francis Knottesford, in his letter of the 8th April, 1857 to his niece Catherine Liveing, describes how Bishop Tait had arranged for Edward's eldest son, Edward Francis, to receive a good appointment in the Indian Army. Francis writes, "The Bishop seems very fond of him, & spoke highly of him in a letter to me." The text of this letter is reproduced at the website www.thekingscandlesticks.com , under the long entry for Francis
51 Fr Aidan Nichol, OP, in The Latin Clerk , page 12, argues that Edward's "change of religious allegiance had been prompted by the ringing clarity of the teaching on Church authority offered by the First Vatican Council (1869 - 1870) which defined the universal jurisdiction and doctrinal infallibility of the pope." I cannot comment on movements in the Roman Catholic Church which might have made conversion more appealing to
WHY WAS ST ANDREW'S (Wilmcote) BUILT?
Two crucial factors led to the building of St Andrew's, in 1841: an urgent social need, and a very devout, wealthy man with a newly-ordained son looking for a church.
The urgent social need was that, in the words of one writer, Wilmcote in the 1830s was "a sink of iniquity". The quarries had always been the main source of employment in Wilmcote. But "The [quarry] industry was transformed by the opening of the Birmingham - Stratford canal in 1816. In addition to the quarries, two lime and cement works were opened at Wilmcote at this time".1 This greatly increased the need for labourers, and the influx of labourers brought trouble.
"W.L.B.", whose letter to the Church Times is quoted above, and who coined the wonderful phrase "a sink of iniquity", comments that before St Andrew's was built the village "was the resort on Sundays of roughs from the surrounding country for prize fighting, dog fighting etc."2 Another writer states that the opening of the cement works more than doubled the population, and adds, "The place was in a sad state. On a Saturday the quarry hands would get in a cask of ale and sit down to finish it, thus damning their souls and ruining their families at the same time."3 And our first priest's sister asserts that the people of Wilmcote ". . . had been, through negligence, almost severed from Church communion, and given up to dissent of a bad kind. This had made them great professors of religion, but had so little influenced their morals that the magistrates were wont to condemn the hamlet as the worst they had to deal with."4 And the Leamington Courier , for the 28th August 1852, gives details of "The Wilmcote Affray". This involved a rencontre [sic] between two parties of English and Irish labourers, in which one man, Thomas Bonill, was very seriously injured, and later died. According to the Courier , the victim described the attack as follows: "I am a stone-mason, working for Richard Greaves, Wilmcote. On Saturday night, the 31st July, about twelve o'clock, I heard a noise near my own house. On looking to see the cause of it, I found a party of Irish collected together making a great disturbance. One of the Irish stepped up behind me, and gave me a violent blow on my head, with some instrument which rendered me senseless. . . I did nothing to provoke them to strike me; I have been confined to my bed ever since; my right side is paralysed from the effects of the blow." A further witness, William Collett, stated, "I saw Thomas Conlon strike Bonill with a bean-hoe on the head; he held the implement up with both hands, and struck him with great force . . . ." Conlon was originally convicted of grievous bodily harm, and sentenced to 18 months' hard labour; but after Thomas Bonill died of his injuries, he was committed to trial on a further charge of manslaughter.5
1 VCH, A History of the County of Warwick, 1945, Volume 3, page 35.
2 See above, pages [3 - 4]). WLB calls himself the "friend and factotum" of the late Edward Fortescue, Wilmcote's first priest, and confirms that he was living at the Vicarage in 1848 - 49..
3 W.H. Hutton, Highways and Byways in Shakespeare's Country , MacMillan & Co. Ltd., St. Martin's Street, London: first edition 1914, first pocket edition 1926, page 246. Mr Hutton had clearly been in contact with the family of Francis Fortescue Knottesford, who helped found St Andrew's, and he presumably derived his information about Wilmcote from that source.
4 This passage is taken from a long letter written by the sister of Edward Fortescue, which is quoted in The Revd. William Benham, B.D., Catharine and Craufurd Tait, wife and son of Archibald Campbell Archbishop of Canterbury, A Memoir, edited at the request of the Archbishop, London, MacMillan & Co, 1879, page 223. There was a Dissenting Chapel in Wilmcote when St Andrew's was founded, but any villagers who wanted to attend a Church of England church needed to go to Aston Cantlow or Billesley.
5 Details of Conlon's original conviction, and of the later charge of manslaughter, are found in the Stamford Mercury for the 17th June, 1853, although the Mercury names the accused as "Connell", and the victim as "Bonhill". It is possible that the victim's actual surname was Bonehill, and that he was part of the well-known Wilmcote family of that name. Both Thomas and William Bonehill had been choristers at St Andrew's (see below, page 42 ).
There was thus some reason for the description of Wilmcote as a "sink of iniquity"; but what made matters even worse, for many faithful adherents of the Established Church, was that it was a sink of iniquity with a Congregational Chapel. During the early 19th century relations between the Church of England and the various dissenting churches were not cordial; and many in the Church of England probably felt that having a dissenting chapel in the village was even worse than having no place of worship at all - the dissenting chapel (with a school attached to it!) might actually lead people astray! Thus, on the 17th February 1840 the squire of Wilmcote, Mr C.H. Corbett, wrote to the Revd. Francis Knottesford (who was then the Rector of Billesley and Patron of Aston Cantlow, and who was instrumental in the founding of St Andrew's), in these terms:
"Having received the enclosed application for aid on behalf of a day school which has been founded at the Dissenting Chapel at Wilmcote, it has occurred to me to ask you . . . . whether it might not be practicable to introduce a school into the village on the plans of the National School Society.6 Being conscientiously attached to the Church of England, & having long witnessed the evils resulting from the dissemination of dissenting principles, I am exceedingly averse to be instrumental in their support in any quarter. At the same time if the ground in this instance is wholly unoccupied by the friends of the Church, & likely to remain so, it is certainly better that the poor village children should receive the elements of Christian instruction from Dissenters than that they should remain in utter ignorance, provided the teaching be as faithfully & honestly carried on, as a system, involving so many objections, will admit of . . . ."7
As soon as the Dissenting Chapel set up a school, Mr Corbett wanted the Church of England to do the same, for fear of what the village children would be taught by the Dissenters! He would only support a school at the Dissenting Chapel, if there was no prospect of the Church of England founding its own school in the village. Happily, the Church of England rose to the challenge. We have an 1840 letter from Edward Fortescue, Wilmcote's first priest, and the son of the Revd. Francis Knottesford, to the Bishop of Worcester, asking for permission to set up a Church of England school:
"An application is most earnestly made to the Worcester Diocesan Board of Education for aid towards the foundation and support of a School in the Hamlet of Wilmcote in the Parish of Aston Cantlow & Deanery of Warwick.
"The circumstances of the case are as follows. Wilmcote is situated at a distance of two miles and a quarter from the Parish Church & contains population of about 500 souls. There has never been a School in connexion with the Church in the place while within the last 3 years a School has been established in connexion with the British & Foreign School Society which consists of 47 children in the weekly & upwards of 60 in the Sunday School who are in the habit of attending a Meeting House in the place. . . . "8
6 The full title of this society was the "National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church (Great Britain)", so that it was by definition a Church of England society.
7 The original of this letter is held at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
8 The original of this application is also held at the Birthplace Trust. The letter itself is not dated; but the numbers "1840" have been written at the top of the letter, in a different handwriting. It may be that this date was added to the letter when it was incorporated into the scrapbook where it is now preserved.
The fact that there was a Congregational Chapel in Wilmcote, with a school attached to it, certainly influenced both the squire, Mr Corbett, and also Edward Fortescue and his father in their desire to have a Church of England church and school in the village. Far from thinking that there was no need for a Church of England presence in the village, since the chapel could cater for the needs of the people, they must have feared that the chapel would corrupt them!9
Thus, Wilmcote did need a church; and the devout, wealthy man, who spent much of his fortune on building St Andrew's, was the Reverend Francis Fortescue Knottesford.10 His son, Edward Bowles Knottesford Fortescue, became Wilmcote's first priest. These two men are central to this story; and from now on, for convenience, I will mostly refer to them simply as "Francis" and "Edward".
Francis was born in April, 1771, in Suffolk, and was originally named Francis Fortescue. He attended Eton and The Queen's College, Oxford, and graduated in 1793; shortly thereafter he was ordained as a priest, and originally held a curacy in Hadleigh, in Suffolk. In 1806 he became priest of Stoke by Nayland, in Suffolk; and we have this description of him, from the daughter of the priest who succeeded him in the village:11
" In 1806 the Rev F. F. Knottesford became curate (of Stoke-by-Nayland) and lived in the curate's house. He married Maria Downing, aunt to Mrs Liveing, of Nayland. Mrs Howard (née Liveing12) writes of Mr Knottesford:- 'Uncle Knottesford identified himself with the early Evangelicals because he felt the spiritual life of the Church was in them.
9 One modern scholar has claimed that before St Andrew's was built the village was a "stronghold of nonconformity": but in saying this, he may simply be relying on the fact that the village had a chapel, but not a church (Aidan Nichols OP, The Latin Clerk: The Life, Work and Travels of Adrian Fortescue , The Lutterworth Press, Cambridge, 2011, page 11. Adrian Fortescue was the son of Edward Fortescue and grandson of Francis Knottesford; he became a Roman Catholic priest, and a very learned student of Roman Catholic liturgy).
10 I have relied on three principal sources for the life of Francis Knottesford:
(a) W.H. Hutton, Highways and Byways, pages 206 - 208, and 246 - 249 (Mr Hutton clearly derived much of his information from Francis's family);
(b) An excellent article by Nicholas Fogg, "The Fortescues of Alveston Manor: Catholic Revival and Practical Idealism", in Warwickshire History, Volume VIII, no. 4, Winter 1991 - 92, pages 102 - 117; and
(c) A collection of fourteen of Francis's own letters, to his niece Mrs Catherine Liveing and her husband, which may be found, along with further helpful information about Francis and his family, at the admirable genealogical website www.thekingscandlesticks.com <http://www.thekingscandlesticks.com> , under entry no. 7076, for "Knottesford, Francis Fortescue (Rev)".
11 This passage is taken from Frances H. Torlesse, Bygone Days , Harrison & Sons, 45 Pall Mall, London, 1914, pages 18 - 19. Frances Torlesse was the daughter of the Revd. Charles Martin Torlesse, who was the parish priest of Stoke by Nayland from 1823 (when Francis left the village) until his death, at the age of 86, on the 12th July, 1881. My information about Revd. Torlesse and his daughter comes from their entries in the admirable and informative website www.thekingscandlesticks.com , which also contains the text of Bygone Days .
12 Anna Maria Liveing, the daughter of Dr Edward Liveing and Catherine Mary Liveing (née Downing), married William Howard on the 15th November 1860. Catherine was Francis's niece by marriage, and the recipient of all but one of the series of fourteen letters from Francis which are mentioned above. (Technically, therefore, Francis was Mrs Howard's great-uncle, not her uncle.) Much information about the Liveing family, together with a transcription of Francis's letters to Catherine Liveing, may be found at www.thekingscandlesticks.com
He had a natural taste for all that was beautiful in Church architecture, music, etc; and I have heard him chant the Psalms for the day to his own accompaniment on the Harpsichord. He was a good classical scholar and also a student of Divinity. It was said of him (by Archbishop Tait, I think)13 that he lived so much in study with the Non-Jurors that he imbibed their views. Whether or not, he was a truly devout and good man, and I have heard him say what a grief it was to him when Tract 90 was published14, he having previously built his hopes on the Oxford Movement as doing just what was wanted in the English Church, but he could never go with them further. Of course he had peculiarities, i.e. he taught his coachman Greek, and he always gave to Beggars for fear of sending one needy person away. His handwriting was so minute that he wrote with a Crow-quill;15 he was extremely shortsighted.'
"Mr Knottesford left Stoke in 1823 . . . . ."
When Francis was still relatively young, his father's cousin died and left him Alveston Manor and its considerable estate, near Stratford upon Avon, on condition that he adopted that cousin's surname "Knottesford". Francis accepted the gift, and thereafter was known as Francis Knottesford (but his son Edward refused to change his surname: he used "Knottesford" as a middle name only, and thus bore the full name Edward Bowles Knottesford Fortescue!). Francis moved to Alveston Manor some time after his mother's death, in June, 1822, and in 1823 "a sense of duty made him accept the cure of Billesley, a parish then consisting of five houses and a tiny Queen Anne church with enormously thick whitewashed walls . . . ."16 Francis remained Rector of Billesley until his death in 1859.
We have some anecdotes about Francis which help to give some idea of his personality. The loveliest of them is this:
"Francis must have been a thoughtful, precocious child. On his sixth birthday a servant found him trying to burn some of his toys, and when she exclaimed in dismay he replied, 'I must; it's my birthday and I am putting away childish things.'17
And this is how he carried out his duties at Billesley:
"The arrangement for the Sunday services was curious. On Sundays at Alveston the family coach came across to the front door. The clergy and the whole household found places in it or outside, and drove six miles to Billesley, where morning service took place at 11 o'clock: usually, no doubt, the curate took the service and the rector preached. "After morning service" (says my kind informant) "my great grandfather and his family retired to one of the pews for dinner. The footman laid the cloth on a seat - the pew contained a firegrate - and the cold dinner, brought over in the coach, was set out. The rector, with the noble English tradition of observing the Sunday rest for his servants so far as possible, for a long time refused hospitality on Sunday. He would give no, or at least the minimum of, trouble to any servants on Sunday. He subsequently yielded so far as to accept the use of a parlour from a friend leading to an adjacent garden. After dinner the children retired to the churchyard to play, the rector rested in the pew, the servants elsewhere finished the dinner. At 3 o'clock came evening prayers and sermon, after which the whole family mounted the coach and drove six miles home."18
13 Francis knew Archbishop Tait: for Archibald Tait and Francis's son Edward married sisters. Edward married Frances Anne Spooner, and Mr Tait (who was then headmaster of Rugby School) later married the youngest sister, Catharine; they were daughters of the Revd. William Spooner, who was Rector of Elmdon, in Warwickshire, and also Archdeacon of Coventry.
14 The Tracts for the Times were a series of theological essays published from 1833 onwards by John Henry Newman, John Keble, Edward Pusey, and others, setting out the leading ideas of the Oxford Movement. Many of the tracts were at least moderately well received, but Tract 90, written by Newman, caused a crisis both for the Oxford Movement and also for Newman personally. In Tract 90 Newman argued that there was nothing in the Thirty-Nine Articles (which were traditionally the definitive statement of the beliefs of the Church of England) which was irreconcilable with the beliefs of the Roman Catholic church, so long as the Articles were interpreted in a sufficiently imaginative way. Newman's argument met with very widespread hostility, to such an extent that Newman had to consider his own position in the Church of England. In due course he resigned his position as Vicar of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford (the university church) and then finally converted to Roman Catholicism.
15 I can confirm, however, that Francis's handwriting is not nearly as illegible as his son's!
16 Hutton, Highways and Byways, page 246.
17 Hutton, Highways and Byways , page 206.
18 Hutton, Highways and Byways , page 249.
We learn about Francis's private devotions:
"On both sides of the house [Alveston Manor] are glass conservatories. Up and down these the old gentleman, so tradition in the family says, used to pace reciting the 119th Psalm. This would lead us to suppose that he said at least the small hours and perhaps the whole daily office of the breviary in Latin. His confessor was Dr Routh, the long-lived president of Magdalen College, Oxford . . . he is one of the proofs that confession never really died out in the Church of England."19
There is also this description:
"It was my first meeting with old Mr Knottesford. How could I describe him - his odd appearance, his great learning, his delight in his library, his love of music, his great piety? I cannot: I can only say that the whole tone and character of the place and of its inmates remind me of some pages in Pepys's Diary."
And the following comment explains and supplements this description:
"Several notices of [Mr Knottesford] which have reached us show him to have been as eccentric as he was good. In his knee breeches and coat of antique cut he must have looked like a Rip van Winkle of the early days of George III. He taught his coachman the Hebrew language. His opinions were derived from the nonjurors, whose works he had studied and admired for years in secret, before he suddenly found that opinions which he scarcely dared mention in public were ushered into an unexpected popularity by the Oxford Tracts."20
Francis's faith also shines clearly through his letters, as in this consolation to his niece, upon the death of her husband:
"'He is a Father of the fatherless, & defender of the cause of the widow.' 'Leave thy fatherless children (to my care) & let thy widows trust in me.' Such are the gracious declarations of Him, who is full of mercy & loving-kindness; who doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men; & who, tho' he may sometimes see fit to chasten his own dear servants, yet will never leave them nor forsake them. To this gracious & almighty Being I must commend you, my very dear niece, for He is the Father of Mercies & the God of all consolation; & from Him alone can substantial comfort flow under such a bereavement as that you are now called to experience. Miserable comforters are we all, when compared with Him whose consolations are neither few nor small: who can speak to the heart, & apply with certain effect a suitable medicine for every wound; for He hath said, I kill & I make alive, I wound & I heal21. He will be Husband, Father, Friend, yea all in all to them who cast their care upon Him, seeing He careth for them."22
Francis knew about the needs of Wilmcote, because he was the Rector of the neighbouring hamlet of Billesley. He had the funds to provide a church, and indeed a school, for Wilmcote, through his inheritance of the Alveston Manor estate; and if he built a church in Wilmcote, he would also provide a fulfilling vocation for his son Edward, who had just been ordained.
19 Hutton, Highways and Byways , page 207.
20 William Benham, Catharine and Craufurd Tait, pages 206 - 07. As explained above ( note 13 ) Edward and the Archbishop were brothers-in-law, and thus there is a modest amount of information about Edward and his family in the above book, which was published as a memorial to the Archbishop's wife and only son. The second part of the book, from which the quotations are taken, was compiled by Benham from "a vast mass of letters and papers", which were supplied to him by Archbishop Tait. The first quotation above comes from a letter from Catharine's unnamed cousin, who was very close to the Spooner family; the second quotation is a footnote to the first, and appears to have been added by Revd. Benham.
21 Deuteronomy, chapter 32, verse 39.
22 Extract from a letter to Mrs Catherine Liveing dated the 14th March 1843, printed in www.thekingscandlesticks.com.
"Chanting and Chasubles" by Stanley Lapidge 2014.
1. Census: England, 7 Jun 1841, Manor House Alveston WAR. Edward is recorded as aged 25 a clergyman not born WAR
2. Census: Scotland, 1851, 29 Athol St Perth PER. Edward is recorded as aged 34 M.A. Oxon Dean of the Cathedral born England
3. Census: Scotland, 1861, 24 Kinnoull St Perth PER. Edward is recorded as head of house married aged 44 a clergyman born England
4. Census: Scotland, 1871, 60 Athole St Perth PER. Edward is recorded as head of house aged 54 a Clerk in Holy Orders born England
5. Letter from Edward Francis K Fortescue to: his brother Laurence in Canada, concerning their fathers illness & death, 1 Sep 1877, 20 St Georges Sq N.W. London.
20 S George's Square, N.W.
September 1, 1877
My dear L.,
On Saturday, August 4, at 11 a.m., I had some business with our dear father, and met him in Lincoln's Inn Fields. Mr Russell, who had been his man of business since the time he came of age, remarked how wonderfully well he was looking, and how completely he seemed to have recovered from his long and severe illness; indeed I thought as he came along the side of Lincoln's Inn, swinging his stick in his hand, and with his hat on the back of his head, that I had never seen him looking so young, or so well, yet, that very time, a fortnight after, he entered into his rest. After leaving me he went up to the Dominican Priory, at Haverstock Hill, it was their Fête Day, and they had a luncheon after service, at which he met several old friends. He afterwards paid several visits, and did not return home till late in the evening. He went out to Communion next morning; and took his usual place in the choir, and (as he was accustomed to do,) read the Epistle at the High Mass. After the Offertory, feeling ill, he got up quietly, bowing to the Altar, and went out of the Church; a curious farewell to the earthly worship he had always so loved. Next time he joined in the worship of God he was within the Veil, and understood, in its entirety the meaning of worship of Him Whom he had lived to honor.
The next day was the August Bank Holiday, and the Transfiguration. I had remained at home, and was doing little odds and ends of things for the children: at luncheon I received a Post Card from Mrs Fortescue, written that morning, saying, "Your father is very unwell, there is nothing to be alarmed about, come and see him as soon as you can."
I went over and found Mr May, who had attended my father with great care and skill during his long illness, and our own doctor, Mr Lawrence, in the house. They both assured me that there was no cause for alarm, although the day before, and that morning they had been uneasy about him, as he was suffering from a stoppage in the bowels which they had not yet overcome, but from which they anticipated no danger. I went upstairs and found our father in bed, he said he had been suffering a good deal of pain, and was evidently nervous about himself, as indeed he always was when ill, he spoke about his will, and said that we, meaning M and myself, his Executors, would find his "papers all straight now." I turned the conversation off, not thinking it good for him to talk in that sort of way, and said, "I don't think there is any reason to talk about that now, you are not nearly so ill as you were in the winter." He said, "Perhaps not, one never knows;" that was the only conversation I had with him about himself or his illness until the day before he died.
I saw him every day twice that week, except Wednesday, and that day once; at times he seemed in great pain, but he was generally able to talk, and liked to be talked to. I told him the news of the war, in which he was always intensely interested, and about the trial of the Detectives; both these topics seemed to amuse him, but he did not talk much himself.
On Sunday I remained with him nearly all day, and when I went home A1. remembers my saying to her, Oh, he is all right now, but C2. is the one to be anxious about. I saw him alone for the last time on Friday evening, the 17th of August, I went there after a meeting of the Charity Organisation Committee, and found that Father Tondini, a Barnabite, the Founder of a Society lately formed among Roman Catholics, to pray for the restoration of visible unity among Christians, had been sitting with him for some time talking to him on the subject. My Father was most interested in all that Father Tondini had to say, and as the priest went away he said to him "the subject we have been talking about is the one I have had nearest and dearest to my heart, and for which I have prayed more than for anything else during the whole of my life." Strange indeed that the last conversation he had with any one on earth should have been on this subject3.
I went into him when Father Tondini left, and we talked a little about him. I asked my father if he, Father Tondini, really understood our position, (meaning those in the Church of England who longed for reunion.) He said, "It is wonderful to me how well he understands it, and he is able, as a foreigner, to take a line that no English Roman could do in the matter." I don't remember our talking about anything else, except his saying that he felt very weak; I kissed him when I went away and he said, "Thank you so very much for coming so often," those were the last words he ever said to me.
My wife then saw him for a few minutes and talked to him about our children, and about Father Tondini's Society, his mind was evidently very full of it, and she wished him good-bye for the last time, she was very much struck by the way in which he turned round and looked at her for a minute evidently as if he meant to say something but then did not. On the Sunday before, and on the morning of this very day, he had seen his sister Mrs S. and during the week he had constantly seen M.M. and G. As well as Father Dolan and two or three other friends.
On Saturday morning I again stayed at home and a little before twelve as I was making some toys for the children, I saw a boy with a telegram coming up to the house, and without the wildest idea of what it was to be I went to the door, took the telegram but did not open it for a few moments having something else in my hands. When I opened it I found it was from one of the servants at Holloway. "Come over at once, Master is gone." You may imagine what a shock it was. A4. had gone out with her Sister-in-Law who was staying with us. I rushed out of the house to get a cab, and found just outside Mr N. S. one of the clergy of our church, and an old acquaintance. I showed him the telegram and begged him to break it to A., which he did in a most kind and feeling way. When I reached Holloway, I went upstairs and found Mrs Fortescue, sitting in the morning-room by herself in a sort of dazed state, quite calm and not in the least realizing what had happened. She told me that about eleven, the doctor had seen him and gone out of the room for a minute or two. My father sat up in bed with her help, before lying down again he seemed to faint, she called in the doctor, who poured some brandy down his throat; while she was holding his hand she thought she felt a slight pressure, in a minute or two the doctor said, "it's too late it is all over." His soul had gone to God, and his end was peace. The one thing he had always feared, and had often talked about was a struggling and lingering death. I remember so well during his last illness his saying with tears in his eyes, "I wonder what the end will be like, I know it must be very painful, with such a strong constitution as mine the struggle must be very long, severe and painful. I dread that far more than death itself." God had heard his prayer, and had taken him to Himself without pain and without a struggle. What the actual cause of his death was we hardly know. In some form or other it was caused by great weakness and exhaustion brought on by the illness he was then suffering from acting on a constitution weakened by long previous confinement to bed. It does not seem to me to be useful or necessary to dwell on the immediate causes of his death.
I went into the room where he was lying on his bed his hands folded on his breast, he looked twenty years younger than when I had seen him yesterday with a half-smile on his face which went off in the course of the day.
I knew very well what he would wish to be done and as far as possible followed the course he himself had taken at my Grandfather's death. He was carried down into the Library, which was hung with black, and there he lay on one of the oak tables that had been made for the Library at Wilmcote, there he lay with candles burning and flowers round him, watched by his sons and daughters, wife and friends, until he was carried into the Church. M. and her husband, G. and his wife, and V. were constantly there during that week, and day and night people in the neighbourhood, members of the congregation, and others came to pay their last respects to him and to say a few prayers by his side. It is utterly impossible to describe how much feeling was shown not only by the clergy and those with whom he had been brought into personal contact, but also by many who had known him only by sight and name.
Mass were [sic] said in the church for him every day and some of us said the office for the dead in the house morning and evening. I firmly believe the respect that was shown to him and the way in which he was treated from the moment of his death till he was laid in the grave, was exactly in every particular what he himself would have wished to have been done, and what, had he given the most minute directions, he would have desired himself, and knowing so well as I did his feelings and wishes on this subject it is my earnest endeavour that such should be the case.
On Wednesday evening, at 8 o'clock, he was carried into the Church, the Choir came up through the garden to the house, and preceding the coffin to the Church, singing the cxxx Psalm. The Choir was hung with black, in the middle of which his Coffin was laid on a bier, covered with a beautiful violet pall, with the words round it, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, for they rest from their labours." Then solemn Vespers for the Dead was chanted, and there he lay all night long watched by G.A.M., and others who offered their services for this purpose, and among whom was a working man who had formerly been one of the Cathedral congregation at Perth, who, as he went away, said to G.A.M., "I should like to stay all night, but have to be at work at 5 o'clock to-morrow morning, he's in heaven to-night, Sir, I wish I had the same opportunity." Next morning the relations and friends who had been asked to the funeral met in the house or the Church, at 9 a.m. We all walked to the Church, the immediate relations had chairs placed for them in front of the Choir railing, the places behind being reserved for the other mourners. Matins for the Dead was then sung. Often as I have heard and said them I never before realized the wonderful beauty of the Psalms in this Office, so full of meaning, each finishing with the constantly recurring prayer, "Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him." Matins was followed by a beautifully and carefully sung High Mass, with its wonderful Gospel, or [sic] the raising of Lazarus, which was followed by the Absolution Service, concluding with these words, "Go forth in peace O Christian soul", a fitting dismissal from the earthly Church.
The coffin was of oak, with a large brass cross on the coped lid, with the inscription at the foot, and round the edge, in brass raised letters, the text "Magnificentiam gloriae sanctitatis tuae loquetur, et mirabilia tua narrabunt," the Latin version of "As for me I will be talking of Thy worship, Thy glory, Thy praise, and wondrous works." - Psalm lxiv. 5.
Two Anglican and two Roman Clergy were the pall bearers, both of the Anglican Members of the Society of which he was so long President, one of the Romans the founder of the Society of Prayer for a like object, and the other an old friend of Wilmcote days. At the end of the service in the Church the coffin, still covered with its violet pall, was placed in an open hearse which carried him, followed by the mourners, to the beautiful Roman Catholic S. Mary's Cemetery, at Kensal Green.
I should have had considerable difficulty as to the place where he would lie, had it not been for a conversation I had had with him during his former illness on that very subject in which he said that had things been different he would have been buried either at Perth, Wilmcote, or Cookhill, but as it was he thought Kensal Green would be the natural place. Strangely enough for him it was a thing he cared comparatively little about, which has often surprised me very much, as it did not seem to fit in with his mind on matters of this kind. The Deposition Service was said round the grave, which includes, as every one knows, the "Benedictus", and to me certainly a new and magnificent light was thrown on the Song of Zacharias, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for He hath visited and redeemed his servant." And there we left his body waiting for the resurrection of the Just.
I have here given the account of my dear Father's last illness and his loss from my own point of view, only, if I have mentioned myself too much, it is only because I have given a personal narrative, but I can only repeat what we must feel, our deep sense of gratitude to his widow for her unwearied care of him during his long and severe illnesses; nor have I told of her grief, as that seemed to me a subject too sacred to enter upon, and it is for this reason only I have not made her a more prominent figure in this account.
The following Paragraphs from various newspapers relating to our dear Father I have had reprinted, not because any of them are strictly accurate, but because as a tribute to his memory the accounts given seem to me to be worthy of preservation.
20 S. George's Square, N.W.
September 1, 1877.
1. This must be Major Fortescue's wife Alicia (my note).
2. His little daughter who was seriously ill for two or three days. (author's note)
3. From its foundation, in 1857, till 1871 he was president of the Association for Promoting Unity of Christendom. (author's note)
4. Major Fortescue's wife Alicia (my note).
This document has been transcribed from the pamphlet "In Memory of the Very Rev. Edward Bowles Knottesford Fortescue", which was privately printed in London, in 1877, by Edward Francis Knottesford Fortescue. A copy of the pamphlet is held by the British Library, under System Number 001273663 and Shelfmark 4903.b.64.(2.). The transcription was made by Stanley Lapidge.
6. Edward Bowles Knottesford Fortescue: Will, 19 Jul 1877.
WILL OF EDWARD BOWLES KNOTTESFORD FORTESCUE
19 July 1877
In the name of God, Amen.
I the Reverend Edward Bowles Knottesford Fortescue of no. 52 Eden Grove Holloway confessing and declaring that I die in communion with the Catholic church and commending my soul to God and my body to be buried with such honors as befit my rank and station Do hereby revoke all Wills Codicils and testamentary dispositions heretofore made by me and declare this to be my last Will and Testament
I bequeath all plate linen china books printed pictures curiosities household furniture jewels trinkets and ornaments of the person of which I was possessed prior to my marriage with my present wife Gertrude Martha Knottesford Fortescue (other than and except the furniture and fittings in my Oratory and my picture of Mr Joseph Foster Barham and the manuscripts and printed documents contained in what are known as my two deals) to my son Edward Francis Knottesford Fortescue for his absolute benefit subject nevertheless to the proviso that my said wife shall have the use and enjoyment of the said effects hereinbefore bequeathed during the period of two years from my death if she shall so long live and shall continue to reside in my house in Eden Grove aforesaid
And I bequeath such of the furniture and fittings of the said oratory and also of the said manuscripts and printed documents in my said two deals respectively as I was possessed of before my said marriage Unto my daughter Mary the wife of George Augustus Macirone Esquire for her sole and separate use and benefit independently of him his debts control and engagements
I bequeath all plate linen china books prints pictures curiosities household furniture jewels trinkets and ornaments of the person of which I have become possessed since my said marriage and also the said picture of the said Joseph Foster Barham and such of the said manuscripts and printed documents in my said two deals and of the said furniture and fittings in my said oratory respectively as I have become possessed of since my said marriage unto my said wife absolutely
I bequeath the pecuniary legacies following (that is to say) To my said son the sum of Ten Pounds
To dear Sister Mary Bruce
in remembrance of the great kindness shown to me for so many years at Perth the sum of Nineteen pounds nineteen shillings
To my servants Margaret Mitcher and Phoebe Seaver as a small token of my sense of their unremitting devotion to my family the sum of Ten pounds each
I devise and bequeath (subject to the payment of my debts funeral and testamentary expenses and the pecuniary legacies bequeathed hereby or by any Codicil hereto) all my real estate and all the residue of my personal estate not hereinbefore specifically bequeathed unto my said Wife her heirs executors administrators and assigns respectively according to the respective natures and tenures thereof respectively
I devise all the hereditaments which at my death shall be vested in me for an estate of inheritance or for an estate pur auter vie which would devolve on my heirs upon any trust or by way of mortgage and of which I shall at my death have power to dispose by Will unto my said son Edward Francis Knottesford Fortescue and my said son-in-law George Augustus Macirone and their heirs upon the trusts and subject to the equity of redemption which at my death shall be subsisting or capable of taking effect therein respectively but the money secured on such mortgages shall be taken as part of my personal estate
I nominate and appoint my said son and my said son-in-law Executors of this my Will and I appoint them and my said Wife Guardians of my infant children during their respective minorities And I declare that my said Executors shall have the fullest power of determining what articles of property pass under any specific bequest contained in this my Will or any Codicil hereto
In witness whereof I the said Edward Bowles Knottesford Fortescue the testator have to this my last Will and Testament set my hand this twentieth day of March in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and seventy seven
Edw[ar]d B. Knottesford Fortescue
Signed and Declared by the said Edward Bowles Knottesford Fortescue the testator as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us both being present at the same time who in his presence at his request and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses:
James W. Russell 2 Bedford Row London Sol[icito]r.
P.J. George Clerk to Messrs Iliffe Russell & Iliffe 2 Bedford Row London Sol[icito]rs.
This is a Codicil to the last Will and Testament of me The Reverend Edward Bowles Knottesford Fortescue of No. 52 Eden Grove Holloway in the County of Middlesex which Will bears date the twentieth day of March One thousand eight hundred and seventy seven
I bequeath all portraits belonging to me of members of the families of myself or of my late Father and Mother and also my Silver Tankard with an inscription to the effect that it was given by Charles II to Henry Bishop unto my son Edward Francis Knottesford Fortescue and my son-in-law George Augustus Macirone their executors administrators and assigns Upon such trusts as shall as nearly as the rules of law and equity will permit correspond with and be similar to the uses for life and in tail in and by certain Indentures of Resettlement and Marriage Settlement dated respectively the twenty-second day of April One thousand eight hundred and sixty two and the seventeenth day of November One thousand eight hundred and seventy limited and declared of and concerning a certain freehold estate situate in the
County of Warwick and called The Alveston Manor Estate thereby assured or as near thereto as the deaths of parties and other circumstances will admit provided nevertheless that the same chattels and premises shall not vest absolutely in any person tenant in tail male or tenant in tail by purchase under the limitations in the said Indentures of Resettlement and Marriage Settlement respectively contained who shall die under the age of twenty one years but on the decease of such person shall devolve as if they had been freehold hereditaments and settled accordingly and in all other respects I confirm my said Will
In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this nineteenth day of July in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and seventy-seven
Signed by the said Edward Bowles Knottesford Fortescue as and for a Codicil to his last Will and Testament in the presence of us who in his presence at his request and in the presence of each other all being present at the same time have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses
James W. Russell 2 Bedford Row London Sol[icito]r
Thornton Toogood his Clerk.
Proved at London with a Codicil 8th September 1877 by the Oath of Edward Francis Knottesford Fortescue the son and George Augustus Macirone Esquire the Executors to whom Adm[inistrati]on was granted.
Transcribed by Dr Stanley Lapidge - 2018
Rev Edward Bowles Knottesford.
8 September 1877.
The Will with a Codicil of the Rev Edward Bowles Knottesford Fortescue late of 52 Eden-grove Holloway in the County of Middlesex Clerk who died 18 August 1877 at 52 Eden-grove was proved at the Principal Registry by Edward Francis Knottesford Fortescue of 20 St George's-square Regents Park in the County of Middlesex a Captain on Half-Pay in her Majesty's Army the son and George Augustus Macirone of the Admiralty Whitehall in the said County Esq the Executors. Effects under L5000. Resworn June 1878 under L6000.
Rerf: National Probate Calendar 1858-1966
Edward married Frances Anne SPOONER  [MRIN: 5207], daughter of Ven Archdeacon William SPOONER of Elmdon War  and Unknown, on 15 Nov 1838 in Elmdon WAR. (Frances Anne SPOONER  was born on 11 Aug 1818 in Elmdon WAR, christened on 11 Sep 1818 in Elmdon WAR and died on 30 Oct 1868 in Perthshire Scotland.)
Edward next married Gertrude Martha ROBINS  [MRIN: 5209], daughter of Rev Sanderson ROBINS of Thanet KEN  and Caroline Gertrude FOSTER-BARHAM , on 17 Jul 1871 in St. Mary's, Bryanston Square LND. (Gertrude Martha ROBINS  was born about 1839 in LND MDX and died on 3 Dec 1886 in Boulogne-sur-Mer France.)