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Frederick Samuel Willoughby

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Frederick Samuel Willoughby
Auxiliary Bishop of St Pancras
F S Willoughby at consecration.jpg
Willoughby at the consecration of J. I. Wedgwood, 1916
ChurchOld Roman Catholic Church in Great Britain
Ordination1887 (in the Church of England)
1914 (conditional reordination)
by Arnold Mathew
Personal details
SpouseLouisa Telfer
  • Church of England priest
  • Academic administrator
  • Old Catholic bishop
Principal of St Chad's Hostel
In office
Preceded byNew creation
Succeeded byStephen Moulsdale

Frederick Samuel Willoughby (1862-1928) was a Church of England priest, academic administrator and later Old Catholic bishop. While vicar of Hooton Pagnell, he founded and was first principal of St Chad's Hostel, which survives as St Chad's College, Durham.

After accusations were made against him by parishioners at a later parish, he resigned his holy orders in the Church of England in 1914, and was accepted into the Old Roman Catholic Church in Great Britain, where he was consecrated as a bishop. Though he was expelled from that church the following year, he consecrated a number of others as bishops, including J. I. Wedgwood who went on to found the Liberal Catholic Church.

Church of England

Education and early ministry

He entered St Catherine's College, Cambridge in 1880, graduating BA in 1883, then trained for the ministry at Lichfield Theological College.[1]

He was ordained deacon in 1887 and priest in 1888, and served his first curacy at Worfield, in rural Shropshire.[2] During his time at Worfield, he joined the Society of the Holy Cross, a strongly Anglo-Catholic organisation.[2] He remained there until 1894, when he began a second curacy at St Paul's Church, Worcester. In Worcester he met Louisa Telfer, daughter of a prison chaplain, and the two were married.[2] They then moved to Parkgate, South Yorkshire, where Willoughby began a third curacy.[1]

Hooton Pagnell and St Chad's Hostel

St Chad's Hostel, Hooton Pagnell
St Chad's Hostel, Hooton Pagnell

In 1899, he became vicar of Hooton Pagnell near Doncaster, where in 1902 he founded St Chad's Hostel to prepare men of limited means for entry to theological college.[3] Initially he housed the students in his own vicarage, then in nearby houses and farms; then in 1903 the Lady of the Manor, Julia Warde-Aldam, funded a new building for the hostel, capable of accommodating 20 men.[3]

However, in 1904, he fell out with the hostel, at about the time it expanded its operations with the opening of St Chad's Hall at the University of Durham. Willoughby's vice-principal, Stephen Moulsdale, became principal of both the Durham hall and the Hooton Pagnell hostel, and relations between Willoughby and the hostel were poor - the Hooton Pagnell vice-principal, Sydney Richards, was forbidden to celebrate mass in the church, and the hostel used St Wilfrid's Church, Hickleton for its major services while Willoughby remained vicar.[3]

Stockton-on-Tees, accusations and relinquishment of orders

In 1906, Willoughby was appointed vicar of St John the Baptist, Stockton-on-Tees, where his Anglo-Catholic practices brought opposition from some parishioners. In 1914, accusations were brought by parishioners to Handley Moule, Bishop of Durham, that Willoughby had been involved in homosexual activity; he was asked to resign or face a full enquiry.[1] He opted to resign, and on 3 July 1914 submitted a writ of relinquishment of holy orders, with the writ recorded as being related to 'allegations of immorality (sexual assault of children) and embezzlement'.[4]

Old Catholic Church

Arnold Mathew
Arnold Mathew

Admission and consecration

Willoughby approached Arnold Mathew,[1] who had been consecrated in 1908 by the Old Catholic Church as a missionary bishop to Britain, though had by that point fallen out with the church for consecrating further bishops without their authorisation and had established himself as head of the Old Roman Catholic Church in Great Britain.[1] Willoughby was conditionally re-ordained into Mathew's church. Shortly afterwards an election for a new bishop was held among the clergy of the church, with Willoughby coming first and James Ingall Wedgwood second,[1] and on 28 October 1914 Willoughby was consecrated by Mathew, Bernard Mary Williams and John Briggs Seaton at the Royal Bell Hotel, Bromley, and given the title Auxiliary Bishop of St Pancras.[5]

Following his consecration, Willoughby published pamphlets entitled "The Conversion of Great Britain: What can the Ancient Catholic Church of England do?" with Mathew, and "The Ancient Catholic Church of England: Her Authority, Her Mission, Her Work, Her Appeal" alone.

Consecration of Wedgwood by Willoughby, King and Gauntlett, 13 Feb 1916
Consecration of Wedgwood by Willoughby, King and Gauntlett, 13 Feb 1916

Split from Mathew

However, in May 1915, John Bull magazine printed an article repeating allegations it had printed the previous June regarding Willoughby and the scandal which had led to his departure from Church of England ministry. When this was brought to Mathew's attention, he summoned a synod (which Willoughby declined to attend), after which Mathew expelled Willoughby from the ORCCGB.[6][1]

In September 1915, Willoughby consecrated Bernard Gauntlett and Robert King, both theosophists who were at the time part of the ORCCGB; then in 1916, Willoughby, Gauntlett and King consecrated J. I. Wedgwood, who shortly afterwards founded the Liberal Catholic Church. Willoughby did not join the LCC, but in a 1927 letter to the "Occult Review" defending their orders called himself 'the "Father' of their episcopate'.[1]

In November 1916 Willoughby consecrated Frederick James at the Theosophical Temple, Maida Vale.[1]

Later in his life Willoughby reconciled with the Roman Catholic Church;[1] though in July 1922 he consecrated James Bartholomew Banks who went on to found the Independent Catholic Church, later renamed The Old Catholic Orthodox Church (Apostolic Service Church).[1]

Further reading

  • Bishops at Large - P.F. Anson, London 1961
  • Episcopi Vagantes and the Anglican Communion - Henry R.T. Brandreth, London 1948
  • In the Shadow of Utrecht - Mar Georgius, Antwerp 1954


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Kersey, John (2017). Arnold Harris Mathew and the Old Catholic Movement in England 1908-52 (PDF). European-American University Press.
  2. ^ a b c Kitchenham, Paul (1999). Frederick Samuel Willoughby (1862-1928) Anglo-Catholic Champion, Old Catholic Bishop. Bexhill-on-Sea. ISBN 0953486206.
  3. ^ a b c "St Chad's Other Founder". The Chadsian (2018): 22–26.
  4. ^ "Durham Diocesan Records: Deeds of relinquishment of Holy Orders". Durham University Library Special Collections Catalogue. Durham University. 3 July 1914. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  5. ^ Bruk, Kurt J. (2005). War Bischof Arnold Harris Mathew ein Vaganten-Bischof?. Arcturus Verlag. ISBN 9783901489402.
  6. ^ Tillett, Gregory (1 Jan 2012). "Modern Western Magic and Theosophy". Aries. Brill. 12 (1). Retrieved 12 March 2019.
This page was last edited on 28 November 2020, at 20:42
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