[From Brown's Directory, 1881/2]

 [Historical Chapter]

[New Bishop]

In January, 1875, the idea of forming a new bishopric, by annexing the Isle of Man to the district of Liverpool, was originated. On becoming known in the Island it excited general indignation, and, notwithstanding the attractive manner in which it was laid before the Tynwald Court by the Governor, and later of the efforts of the Insular clergy, the proposed union was rejected by the Legislature, and by the great body of the people, in the most decisive manner, Arising partly out of this scheme for uniting the lsle of Man ecclesiastically with Liverpool—a scheme which, had the Island adopted the Government proposals, would have largely increased the incomes of the poorer clergy at the expense of the revenues of the bishopric—and partly out of the dissatisfaction produced by the unpopular proceedings of the Bishop, a movement in favour of reducing the income of the see at its next voidance was originated, and found legislative expression in a measure (The Bishop’s Temporalities Bill) which had for its main object the reduction of the Bishop’s salary by at least £750 per annum. During the negotiations with the Imperial Government necessary to secure this object, Bishop Powys died, after a lingering illness, at Bournemouth, where he had been residing for a considerable time, 31st May, 1877. The Government reluctantly consented to the taking away of £500, but decidedly refused to agree to a greater reduction of the Bishop’s salary ; and, ignoring the wish of the Tynwald Court to send a deputation to London to discuss the question, the Rev. Rowley Hill, vicar of Sheffield, was appointed to the vacant see, 10th July. This cavalier treatment naturally increased the irritation of the Legislature, and caused considerable excitement in the country. On the 24th August, Canon Hill was consecrated by the Archbishop of York, and on the 28th, he was formally enthroned in St. Mary’s, Castletown. On the 22nd November, the Bishop’s Temporalities Bill was re-introduced into the House of Keys. In this Bill nominally £500 a year was with-drawn from the Bishop’s salary for the benefit of the poorer clergy; but this concession was reduced in various ways, until it was declared in the Keys that it was scarcely worth having the bill at all. On the 18th December it passed the Keys, amid general expressions of dissatisfaction, which was still further intensified by the readiness which Bishop Hill showed to fall in with a revival of the scheme for amalgamating Liverpool with the see of Man. This dissatisfaction found expression in the Tynwald Court on the 20th February, 1878, when the Bishop’s conduct was severely commented upon by the Legislature. About the middle of March, a circular, without a signature, but stated to have emanated from the Bishop, was extensively distributed throughout the Island. In this circular the suggested union with Liverpool was placed in its most favourable light, and Manx Churchmen were urged to support the scheme. On the 18th March, a conference of the Insular clergy was held at Bishop’s Court, at which the Bishop explained that, finding much spiritual destitution in his diocese, he had sought for a remedy ; and, finding none other, he had turned to the scheme for uniting Liverpool to the diocese. Not liking, however, in so serious a matter, to act on his own responsibility, he had invited them to meet together and discuss the scheme with him. An animated discussion followed the Bishop’s address, at the close of which a resolution in favour of the amalgamation scheme was adopted, with only six dissentients. On the 25th, a correspondence between the Governor and the Bishop was read to the Tynwald Court. The Bishop had written to the Governor, enclosing a copy of the resolution passed at Bishop’s Court for presentation to the Crown, and asking him " to take such steps as he might consider necessary to ascertain the mind of Churchmen on this important subject." In reply, the Governor declined to take any steps with this object, and reminded the Bishop of the position in which the question actually stood. In the discussion which, in spite of the Governor’s efforts to stop it, followed the reading of this correspondence, Mr. E. C. Farrant objected to this being considered a matter for " Churchmen ;" he looked upon it as a great public question. Mr. Christian said that, seeing the diocese was well-nigh unanimous against the amalgamation scheme, it was, to say the least, unwise for the Bishop to press the matter further. Amid great excitement, Mr. W. Farrant said that, if the question were re-opened, he would move an adverse resolution, of which he gave notice. Warned by this pronounced opposition to his scheme, the Bishop let it drop, and wisely sought other means of ameliorating the unsatisfactory condition of his diocese. In the short period which has elapsed since his appointment to the see, he has developed many of the qualities of a hard and self-denying worker. He preaches frequently in the various churches of his diocese. He holds frequent confirmation and other services. He is busily employed on plans for the rebuilding or restoring of the dilapidated parish churches ; and to raise funds for the purpose, he even engaged in a preaching tour throughout England. He is reorganizing his diocese, and has established a diocesan conference of the clergy and leading laity. Altogether he is a marked contrast to his predecessor, and bids fair to become as popular with his people as Bishop Powys was the opposite.


Back index next


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 1999