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Norwich Heart, Heritage Economic & Regeneration Trust

Bishops of Norwich in the nineteenth century

Bishops Of Norwich in the 19th Century

'Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?' This question is the traditional code at a dinner party for when a diner wants to ask whoever has the decanter of port to pass it to them, it being rude to openly ask them to do so. If they are familiar with the code, they should pass the port but if not, they might answer, "no, I don't", to which the thirsty diner would knowingly reply, "well, he's a terribly nice chap but he never passed the port either." This etiquette arguably originated with Henry Bathurst, Bishop of Norwich from 1805-1837, who reportedly had a liking for the drink.

Charles Manners-Sutton (1755-1828) was the first Norwich bishop of the 19th century. He was born Charles Manners, the fourth son of Lord George Manners (1723-1783), who, in 1762, added Sutton to his surname after inheriting the estates of his grandfather, Robert Sutton.  Charles was educated at Charterhouse School and Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he gained a BA, followed by an MA in 1780.

Manners-Sutton had a rapid promotion through the church, firstly as a rector in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in1785, then dean of Peterborough in 1791, followed by his ordination as Bishop of Norwich in 1792. He was a popular and thorough prelate, being the first bishop to consistently conduct all his ordinations and confirmations in Norwich. After one of the latter, James Woodforde, a rector whose niece had been confirmed by the bishop, commented that 'Miss Woodforde (was) much pleased...with the Bishop's very agreeable and affable, as well as polite and sensible behaviour.' Manners-Sutton was also interested in current church matters, such as the organisation of baptism, schools, almshouses and tithing payments. He himself was criticized for excessive spending, despite the added revenue of the deaneries of Windsor and Wolverhampton, acquired in 1794 through the bishop's connections with George III and the royal family, with whom Manners-Sutton and his wife were good friends.

In 1805, Manners-Sutton was promoted to Archbishop of Canterbury, thanks to the intervention of the king, following the death of Archbishop Moore. His time as Archbishop saw Manners-Sutton play a crucial role in the advancement of the church and its place in society at a time of dramatic social reform. From 1809, as a member of the high-church group the Hackney Phalanx, he helped raise over £1 million towards the building of new churches to account for the rising population, through the establishment of the Incorporated Church Building Society and the passing of the Additional Churches Act of 1818. Manners-Sutton and the Hackney Phalanx also helped create several new groups that focussed on the church's mission, such as the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor, as well as rejuvenated existing ones like The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Manners-Sutton also contributed towards the funding of educational establishments, e.g. King's College, London and St. David's College, Lampeter.

Manners-Sutton married Mary Thoroton in1778, with whom he had ten daughters and two sons. The eldest, Charles, became Viscount Canterbury and the second was an Army Colonel. Charles Manners-Sutton the elder died in 1826 at Lambeth Palace and was buried at Addington church.

Henry Bathurst (1744-1837) was 61 when he began his bishopric, possibly the oldest a bishop has been at the start of their occupancy. He is remembered as the idlest of Norwich's bishops (his tenure has been dubbed the 'dead see').  Notoriously lazy and a poor administrator, Bathurst preferred playing the card game Whist and making extended visits to places such as Bath and Malvern, rather than taking care of the mundane duties of his post. 'They blame me for playing cards', he wrote in defence against criticism of his leisurely ways, 'but I can't see to read or write and I can see the spots on the cards, so I may without sin amuse myself in this way.' However, he was also as a gracious, liberal man and, in his own words, possibly 'the only liberal bishop'. He was famous for being the only bishop in the House of Lords to support the 1832 Reform Act.

A Doctor of Divinity, Bathurst was a man of letters. His own public writings are few, however, comprising of only a few sermons and a letter to William Wilberforce on reconciling Christianity and Politics.

Bathurst married a daughter of the dean of Kilfenora, with whom he had two sons, the eldest, also named Henry, recorded his father's life in "Memoirs of the late Dr. Henry Bathurst, Lord Bishop of Norwich, 1837". Bishop Bathurst died in office at the age of 91 in 1837, the only nonagenarian bishop of Norwich to date. He is buried in Malvern, one of his favourite holiday spots, and was commemorated with a statue by Sir Francis Chantrey, R.A, in the North Transept of Norwich Cathedral.

In contrast to his predecessor, Edward Stanley (1779-1849), bishop from 1837-1849, was an excellent administrator and very active prelate who took steps to get the diocesan house in order, despite much resistance, following Bathurst's leisurely tenure. He did this by removing ineffective clergy, holding more regular ordinations and confirmations, as well as proper school inspections. Indeed, Stanley held a great interest in education and was keen on the teaching of secular subjects. Subjects that interested him included Astronomy and Natural History, he himself wrote two volumes of A History of Birds - a major contribution to natural science.

Stanley was born in London in 1779, the second son of Sir John Stanley, 6th Baronet of Alderley, Cheshire and was educated at St. John's, Cambridge. He was first ordained in 1802 as the Rector of Alderley, becoming bishop of Norwich in 1837. Stanley was a lively and humane pastor, well known for putting on entertainments for his guests. He was also a Whig and an able reformer, deemed a 'good man' by his peers. Despite this, Bishop Stanley was not known to have drawn up a consistent reform plan and was said to be a rigid pragmatist in his decisions. When Dean George Pellew (1828-66) objected to the placing of a cross on the Cathedral's exterior, the bishop ardently responded, 'Never be ashamed of the cross, Mr Dean, never be ashamed of the cross.'

Edward Stanley died on a trip to Scotland in 1849 and is buried in the nave of Norwich Cathedral, where there is a slab and a memorial window, created by George Hedgeland in 1854, to commemorate him.  Ipswich Museum (of which he was an original patron) now houses an oil portrait of him. Henrietta Maria Stanley, the bishop's niece, wrote at the time of his death, 'a kinder and better man never lived...people will do justice to his enlarged philanthropy and universal charity.'

Samuel Hinds (1793-1872) was bishop from 1849-1857. Born in Barbados, Hinds was educated at Charterhouse, then Queen's College, Oxford, where he graduated in 1815 with a second-class BA. Known to be a missionary with the Society for the Conversion of Negroes, he was ordained in 1822, at first becoming appointed as domestic chaplain to Richard Whately, Archbishop of Dublin in 1831. After returning to England due to illness in 1834, Hinds became vicar of Yardley, Hertfordshire until 1843, when he was appointed vicar of the united parishes of Castleknock, Clonsilla and Mullahidart in the diocese of Dublin, at the same time resuming his position as one of Archbishop Whately's chaplains.

In 1846, Hinds became first chaplain to the lord lieutenant of Ireland; he left Castleknock and Ireland altogether to become dean of Carlisle in 1848. On the death of Edward Stanley in 1849, Hinds became Bishop of Norwich. A year later, he chaired the royal commission on Oxford University and was noted for his competence and liberal credentials. His commission's report of 1852 gave the university a chance for a historical turning point, of which the institution failed to take full advantage.

Hinds married twice throughout his life. His first wife died in 1834 and in 1856, he married Sarah Emily, who survived him. He was also a prolific writer of sermons, poems and articles on various subjects, e.g. The Three Temples of The One True God Contrasted (1830) and Introduction To Logic (1837).

The Rt. Rev. Hon. John Thomas Pelham (1811-1894) was in office 1857-1893. He was the third son of Thomas Pelham, 2nd Earl of Chichester. He married Henrietta Tatton in 1845 and they had three children, Henry, John and Sidney, Henry became a Professor and the others followed their father into church ministry.

Pelham, who was also a Doctor of Divinity, objected to the Church Congress of 1865 (for reasons unknown), as well as the use of Hymns Ancient and Modern in the cathedral. He was also known to be a 'zealous evangelical' and fervent builder of ecclesiastical buildings and schools, who ordered the rebuilding of various parts of the cathedral, such as the Bishop's chapel. He died in 1894, aged 82 and his Gothic-style tomb lies in the cathedral's north transept.

John Sheepshanks (1834-1910) was ordained in 1857, holding incumbencies as a curate in Leeds and a chaplain in Colombia, before returning to England and posts in Yorkshire and Liverpool. By the time he took up the Norwich bishopric in 1893, Sheepshanks had also experienced many adventures around the world in places such as the West Indies, America, China and Siberia, all chronicled in his book A Bishop In The Rough (1908). In the book's preface, Sheepshanks makes plain his heart for missionary work when he writes, 'Zeal for the conversion of the heathen is the thermometer of love for Christ.' His travels also led him to spend several years in the Canadian wilderness, fostering ascetic tastes and a dislike of luxury. He was also the noted author of more ecclesiastically inclined works like Confirmation and Unction of the Sick (1889). When Sheepshanks reached the end of his tenure in 1910, he was one of the first Anglican bishops of the 20th century.

Mark Sims

September 2009