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Finding an Archbishop: The Whigs and Richard Whately in 1831

  • David de Giustino (a1)


When they regained power at Westminster in November 1830, the Whigs were dedicated to reform without knowing exactly where to begin. For decades they had committed themselves to financial “retrenchment” and parliamentary reform and now they hoped to pacify an angry country by dealing with those two great issues. Indeed, their main objective was to restore public confidence in the constitution and to prevent a French-style revolution. But their approach to reform in 1830 was uncertain and unpromising. Their vague intentions can be partly explained by their lack of party organization and cohesion; in Parliament, Whigs served as individual opponents of Tory policies rather than as supporters of an alternative government. Factionalism among the Whigs had kept them out of office for more than a generation. Some Whigs were considered unpatriotic because they persisted in defending the ideals of the French Revolution. Still others were hostile to the notion of reform because they suspected that the Tories had already given the country as much reform as it could digest. For many Whigs, the extension of civil liberties to Dissenters (in 1828) and then to Roman Catholics (in 1829) was momentous enough. What the country now wanted was a sensible and flexible government which accommodated the spirit of the age by heeding public opinion. It is not surprising, therefore, that the new government in 1830 was really a coalition of liberals and moderates, and as Peter Mandler has remarked, it was a while before their potential was realized.



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1. Newbould, Ian, Whiggery and Reform, 1830–1841: The Politics of Government (Stanford, Calif., 1990), pp. 5659.

2. Mitchell, Austin, The Whigs in Opposition, 1815–1830 (Oxford, 1967), esp. chapters 1 and 2; Bentley, Michael, Politics without Democracy: Great Britain, 1815–1914 (Oxford, 1985), p. 27. See also Milton-Smith, John, “Earl Grey's Cabinet and the Objects of Parliamentary Reform,” The Historical Journal 15 (1972): 5863.

3. Bentley, , Politics Without Democracy, p. 73.

4. Mandler, Peter, Aristocratic Government in the Age of Reform: Whigs and Liberals, 1830–1852 (Oxford, 1990), p. 71.

5. Butler, J. R. M., The Passing of the Great Reform Bill (London, 1964), pp. 285–86. Butler confidently states that “if the twenty-one bishops who voted in the majority had listened to Grey's solemn appeals, the result would have been different.” R. A. Soloway reminds us, however, that the bishops were more divided than either the government or the public realized and that several were ready to change their votes. See his Prelates and People: Ecclesiastical Social Thought in England, 1783–1852 (London, 1969), pp. 243–47. Besides, if the twenty-one bishops voting against had joined their two colleagues voting for the bill, the result would have been 179 peers for the bill and 178 against. The practical value of a majority of one is questionable in either house.

6. Norman Gash refers to Whig attitudes toward Ireland during the reform bill struggle in Politics in the Age of Peel (London, 1953), pp. 6163. See also McDowell, R. B., Public Opinion and Government Policy in Ireland, 1801–1845 (London, 1952), pp. 142144, 147–150.

7. There are three major biographies of Whately. The first to appear was Fitzpatrick's, William JohnMemoirs of Richard Whately, 2 vols. (London, 1864). Whately's daughter Jane, Elizabeth published the Life and Correspondence of Richard Whately, 2 vols. (London, 1866). The most recent biography is Donald Harman Akenson's A Protestant in Purgatory, Archbishop Whately of Dublin, The Conference on British Studies biography series (new series) 2 (Hamden, Conn., 1981). Most monographs dealing with nineteenth-century church history mention Whately; the most succinct account of his career is to be found in the Dictionary of National Biography 20:13341340. The article identifies Whately as “an independent liberal,” enthusiastic teacher, pioneer of social science, a reformer of tertiary education and seminary training, an anti-evangelical, and a strong supporter of civil rights for Dissenters and Jews.

8. Akenson, , Protestant in Purgatory, p. 63.

9. The Elements of Logic, Comprising the Substance of the Article in the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana (London, 1826) saw a dozen more editions in Whately's lifetime; Elements of Rhetoric, 5th ed. (London, 1836); 7th ed. (London, 1846).

10. Hamilton, T., “Richard Whately,” in Champions of Truth: Short Lives of Christian Leaders in Thought and Action, ed. Buckland, A. R. (London, 1904), p. 425; see also, “Le Marchant's Diary,” March 1831, in Three Early Nineteenth Century Diaries, ed. Aspinall, A. (London, 1952), p. 16.

11. Richard Whately to Mary Shepherd, 25 September 1831, quoted in E. J. Whately, Life and Correspondence, 1:110.

12. Fitzpatrick, , Memoirs, 1:72.

13. Ibid., 1:73.

14. Soloway, , Prelates, p. 12.

15. [Wade, John], The Black Book; or, Corruption Unmasked. Being an Account of Places, Pensions and Sinecures, the Revenues of the Clergy and Landed Aristocracy (London, 1820). There were two more anonymous editions, “enlarged and revised,” in 1831 and 1832.

16. D'Alton, John, The Memoirs of the Archbishops of Dublin (Dublin, 1838), p. 355.

17. The eighth edition was entitled, The Archbishop of Dublin's Charge, delivered to the Clergy of his Archdiocese, on the 24th of October, 1822…to which is added a Letter to His Grace, in consequence of unjust Animadversions against the Roman Catholic Religion…

18. Bowen, Desmond, The Protestant Crusade in Ireland, 1800–1870 (Montreal, 1978), pp. 8991.

19. Fitzpatrick, , Memoirs, 1:201.

20. Ibid., 1:76.

21. Stanley, Arthur P., Essays Chiefly on Questions of Church and State from 1850 to 1870 (London, 1870), p. 441.

22. Soloway, , Prelates, pp. 1213.

23. Fitzpatrick, , Memoirs, 1:76.

24. Mathieson, W. L., English Church Reform, 1815–1840 (London, 1923), p. 47.

25. Soloway, , Prelates, pp. 203204, 370.

26. Stanley, Arthur P., Memoirs of Edward and Catherine Stanley, edited by their Son… (London, 1879), p. 33. Unfortunately there is but one biography of the “tolerant bishop”: see Thistlethwayte, T., Memoirs and Correspondence of Dr. Henry Bathurst, Bishop of Norwich… (London, 1853).

27. But Grey was unable to refuse his own brother a bishopric. Edward Grey badgered the prime minister long enough to win appointment to the see of Hereford in 1832. Earl Grey was very reluctant to accede to the demands of his ineffectual brother and was later distressed to see the new bishop vote frequently with the Tories in the Lords.

28. Bowen, Desmond, The Idea of the Victorian Church: A Study of the Church of England, 1833–1889 (Montreal, 1968), p. 15.

29. Whately, Richard, Introductory Lectures on Political Economy, Delivered at Oxford in Easter Term, 1831 (London and Dublin, 18311832).

30. Akenson, , Protestant in Purgatory, p. 70.

31. “Le Marchant's Diary,” March 1831, p. 16.

32. Briggs, Asa, The Age of Improvement 1783–1867 (London, 1959), p. 237.

33. The Evidence of His Grace, the Archbishop of Dublin before the Select Committee of the House Lords, on the Stale of Ireland (Dublin, 1825), p. 31.

34. Thompson, Kenneth, Bureaucracy and Church Reform (Oxford, 1970), p. xvii.Brose, Olive comments that “utilitarianism, whether Bentham's or Paley's, was to be the basis of the Church's adaptation as an establishment to the Reform Era,” in Church and Parliament: The Reshaping of the Church of England, 1828–1860 (Stanford, 1959), p. 39. Whately's utilitarianism was essentially that of his admired Bishop Paley.

35. Whately, Richard, Charge to the Clergy (Dublin and London, 1834).

36. Mandler, , Aristocratic Government, p. 163.

37. Brent, Richard, Liberal Anglican Politics: Whiggery, Religion and Reform 1830–1841 (Oxford, 1987), pp. 139140.

38. Akenson, , Protestant in Purgatory, p. 133.

39. Minutes of Evidence taken before the Select Committee of the House of Lords appointed to inquire into the Collection and Payment of Tithes in Ireland…1831–1832, 22:101 (1832).

40. Report from the Select Committee on the Plan of Education in Ireland; together with the Minutes of Evidence…1837, 9:450 (1837).

41. Fitzpatrick, , Memoirs, 1:86, quoting from Brougham's letter of 2 November 1863.

42. Brougham thought the book was the edition of Whately's, Bampton Lectures on the Use and Abuse of Party Feeling in Matters of Religion (Oxford, 1822). Another account suggests that the book was the Errors of Romanism Traced to Their Origin in Human Nature (London, 1830).

43. Grey to Whately, 17 September 1831, Grey Papers, Durham University Library [GPDUL].

44. Whately, E. J., Life and Correspondence, 1:97.

45. Whately to Grey, 16 September 1831, GPDUL.

46. Whately to Copleston, 28 September 1831. Quoted in Whately, E. J., Life and Correspondence, 1:112.

47. Whately to Hawkins, 25 July 1837. Quoted in Whately, E. J., Life and Correspondence, 1:378.

48. Grey to Whately, 17 September 1831, GPDUL.

49. Brose, , Church and Parliament, p. 38.

50. Whately, E. J., Life and Correspondence, 2:122, quoting Mrs. Arnold's letter, 9 March 1847.

51. Mandler, , Aristocratic Government, p. 162.

52. Whately to Hawkins, 18 March 1832. Whately Papers, Box 2, p. 188, Oriel College Oxford [WPOCO].

53. Fitzpatrick, , Memoirs, 1:88.

54. Tuckwell, W., Pre-Tractarian Oxford: A Reminiscence of the Oriel “Noetics” (London, 1909), pp. 7172.

55. Hansard, vol. 11 (3rd ser.), p. 607, 22 03 1832.

56. Ibid., p. 621.

57. Copleston to Hawkins, 7 October 1831, WPOCO, 4:386.

58. White, Blanco, repeating Whately's opinion in a letter to Hawkins, 22 September 1832, WPOCO, 4:564.

59. Copleston to Hawkins, 7 October 1831, WPOCO, 4:386.

60. Address of the Clergy of the Archdiocese of Dublin, to His Grace the Archbishop, on the Subject of Spiritual Education, with His Grace's Reply (Dublin, 1832), p. 8.

61. Ibid., p. 7.

62. Meacham, Standish, Lord Bishop: The Life of Samuel Wilberforce (Cambridge, Mass., 1970), p. 73.

63. Fitzpatrick, , Memoir, 1:123.

64. Ibid., pp. 92–94.

65. Whately to Hawkins, 18 March 1832, WPOCO, 2:188.

66. Memorials of the Dean and Chapter of St. Patrick's, Dublin, and of the Clergy of the Diocese of Derry to His Grace the Archbishop of Dublin, with His Grace's Replies… (London, 1832), p. 6. In the same message, Whately assured them that he would “never give in to Rome.”

67. Soloway, , Prelates, pp. 116117.

68. Akenson, , Protestant in Purgatory, p. 115.

69. Thompson, , Bureaucracy and Church Reform, p. xvii.

70. Mill, J. S. to Gustave d'Eichthal, 6 December 1831, in the Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, ed. Mineka, Francis E. (Toronto, Ont., 1963), 22:92.

71. Newman always claimed to respect Whately's influence in his education. But their friendship came to an end when Whately demonstrated his support of the government's plan to reduce the number of Anglican bishropics in Ireland as a timely reform.

72. Newbould, , Whiggery and Reform, p. 134.

73. Stephenson, Alan, The Rise and Decline of English Modernism (London, 1984), p. 41.

74. Letters on the Church by an Episcopalian (London, 1826), pp. 8990, 190.

75. Akenson, , Protestant in Purgatory, p. 94.

76. Newman, Bertram, Lord Melbourne (London, 1930), p. 194.

77. Brent, , Liberal Anglican Politics, p. 180.

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