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 at age 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 BISHOP'S 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.
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 BOWLS 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.)
LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER
25th 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 B.K. 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/)
OBITUARY OF FATHER E.B.KNOTTESFORD FORTESCUE
LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER,
8th SEPTEMBER, 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."
Transcribed by Stanley Lapidge.
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
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
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. firstname.lastname@example.org 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
Edward married Frances Anne SPOONER  [MRIN: 371015315], 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, baptised on 11 Sep 1818 in Elmdon WAR and died on 30 Oct 1868 in Perthshire Scotland.)
Edward next married Gertrude Martha ROBINS  [MRIN: 371015317], 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.)