Henry Parry Liddon(1829 - 1890) Part 2 - 1860 to 1890

Part 1 is contained in the November 2011 edition of the Chronicle, which, as a result of the process of adding the content of these magzines going back through time, has yet to be added.  However that magazine (November 2011) is next in line to be added.

Henry Liddon was Lewis Carroll’s friend and associate at Christ Church, Oxford from the early 1850’s until 1890 when Liddon died at Weston-super-Mare near Bristol. Lewis Carroll also accompanied Liddon on the journey Liddon made to Russia in 1867, ostensibly a holiday but in fact Liddon was sounding out the church leaders in Russia for the possibility of an amalgamation or at least a co-operation with the Anglican church. Despite their obvious differences in religious views, and Liddon’s courting of controversy, there was little conflict between them personably apart from some minor irritations on the trip to Russia.

Part 2 ~ Liddon after 1860

Liddon, as a second generation Tractarian, was not happy about the removal of the necessity to proceed to holy orders which was coming about by university reform. it had been a prerequisite of studying at Oxford      His failure to have his way at Cuddesdon College, leading to his resignation in 1859, had been a great disappointment to him. Oxford still did not admit dissenters and students (fellows) of Christ Church had to remain unmarried but the secularisation of Oxford was gathering pace by 1860. Liddon was out of step with this movement whether it be right or wrong as a policy.
Bishop Wilberforce, supported Liddon in 1859 but he realised that Cuddesdon would not be viable with Liddon in charge. In his letter to Wilberforce in February 1859 his choice as Principal, John Burgon, wrote in a letter to Wilberforce ‘Liddon’s resignation, believe me, was inevitable, I mean, the days of your college were numbered else.’  Liddon, under Principal Pott, had taken charge of the college and potential appointees for the post of principal were unwilling to accept the post unless Liddon was removed, Burgon being one who refused unless Liddon was dismissed. In the end Burgon did not accept the post because of financial considerations.  Liddon himself was pragmatic about his failure writing ‘my first great attempt at work in life has failed. This no doubt is good for my character.’ Pott had allowed Liddon too much freedom to do as he wished and other potential principals were not prepared to put up with a vice principal who was not second in command! Liddon likewise was not prepared to moderate his position and others, seeing him as tainted with Puseyism, were reluctant to work with him. Liddon left Cuddesdon at Easter 1859 and after considering going to India and being advised not to because of his health he was offered the post of vice Principal of St. Edmund’s Hall in Oxford, he went into residence there in early May 1859.

Liddon was second choice at St Edmund's Hall (see image) which was a small college dating back to the 13th century. the Rev. W. Bright previously turning down the post.   Liddon saw this post as a lifeline but not one that offered him much scope.  However, in this he was to be proved wrong, for after a period of reflection, he began giving lectures on 6th November 1859 and attendance steadily increased over the next few years until before he left the college in 1862 he was having to hold his lectures in the dining room to fit in everyone who wanted to attend. This was the period when he became established as a preacher, so much so that during 1860 he was invited to 42 other venues to preach as well as his work at St. Edmund's. (As it is connected to Lewis Carroll obviously it must be 42!) Despite his success he resigned the post in 1862, supposedly because of a serious illness, this was the same year that Lewis Carroll told the story of  ‘Alice.’ Liddon went back into residence at Christ Church where he was given rooms by virtue of his studentship there. He kept these rooms until his death twenty eight years later.

After his resignation from St. Edmund’s Hall Liddon continued to embroil himself in church politics. These situations are well documented in Johnson’s ‘Life & Letters of Henry Parry Liddon.’(1)  The controversies themselves appear almost irrelevant now, with the benefit of hindsight, but what occurred through them was that Liddon became influential in the church. His friendship with Hamilton, Bishop of Salisbury, (right) which started in 1859, flourished and he began to be a sought after confidant as well as a preacher. When Hamilton died in 1869 Liddon published a memoir on his life. (2) The day after the bishop’s funeral Liddon preached at a memorial service in Salisbury Cathedral. As was Liddon’s way, he raised several of the controversies in this sermon rather than just praise the bishop for his work in the diocese. (3)

Johnson in his book on Liddon, page 66/67, attempts to put the machinations of Liddon and his like minded associates as a struggle to unite the church. This may or may not be the situation but the case was thought to be highly flawed. The position Oxford held had been under attack long before Liddon’s time and it is difficult now to see any other outcome but the secularisation of the university and its freedom from the dictates of men such as Pusey. Liddon did however command respect and affection in the university and in the wider world. His work in the Oxford diocese and also in the Salisbury diocese, as Hamilton’s chaplain, showed that, despite the controversies he embroiled himself in, he had friends in high places.

Although Liddon was a great traveller, both in England and abroad, he returned frequently to his sister’s house in Brislington, near Bristol which came to be regarded as the centre for the Liddon family. His sister, Annie, had married Richard Jenkins Poole King in 1852. King was a former mayor of Bristol and a rich merchant. Annie at nineteen was his second wife his first wife,Penelope, having died. Despite the age difference there is no hint of any strain in the relationship and Annie’s husband appeared to welcome prolonged visits by Annie’s relatives to Kensington House, their substantial home in Brislington.

It is also during this period that the Carroll diaries are less than informative about John Liddon. Henry’s younger brother John had been at Christ Church as a student and Lewis Carroll also referred to him by his surname alone as was the custom in those days. This has led to some references in the diaries themselves being wrongly attributed to Henry Liddon when they should be associated to John Liddon. John Liddon was a lawyer, clerk to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 10 Whitehall Place - it was he who went to the theatre with Lewis Carroll on several occasions not Henry Liddon who professed later on in life never to have entered a theatre since his ordination in 1852! (The final index in volume ten corrected these errors so readers wanting to do more research on John Liddon are advised to use the index in that volume.)

Henry’s next big challenge in the mid 1860’s came in the form of the Bampton Lectures in 1866. The Divinity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was the subject. The Bampton lectures were the result of a bequest from John Bampton and at first were a series of lectures delivered each year by a chosen lecturer - since the start of the 20th century they have occurred every two years. As was becoming an established pattern with Liddon, he was not the first choice as lecturer that year but Haddon, who had been chosen, had backed out because of ill health so Liddon was appointed in his place. The choice was made in the Spring of the year before the lectures were to be given but Haddon’s resignation didn’t come until the November, so on 8th November Liddon was writing to Bishop Hamilton in Salisbury:-

 ' I have nothing but the vaguest idea of my subject and of course have not written one line. But one must trust in God and set to work.’

 Liddon’s diary from November 1865 to March 1866 is full of his doubts as to how the lectures were progressing. On top of his own doubts he received letters from Burgon the vicar of St, Mary’s telling him not to make the lectures too long! On March 4th he gave the first lecture in St. Mary’s to a crowded church, his last lecture was on June 3rd 1866. If Lewis Carroll went to any of the lectures he did not record the fact in his diary. Despite the lectures being over Liddon had to labour again that summer, at Annie's house in Brislington, to get them ready for publication. It was not in fact until the end of May 1867 that the lectures were ready to go to the press and in was not until October 1867 that they were published.

The two events, straddled his trip to Russia with Lewis Carroll. The itinerary and chief purpose of this expedition, Lewis Carroll’s one and only trip abroad, was published in the Daresbury Chronicle for March 2010 Vol. 5. What is puzzling is Liddon’s choice of Lewis Carroll as a travelling partner.

Liddon had travelled abroad many times, often alone, yet on this trip he picked a travelling companion who he was fairly sure did not strictly share his religious views. This was exampled several times on the trip. Lewis Carroll was of course quite tolerant of the views of others so perhaps Liddon realised that there would be little friction from Lewis Carroll when he met with the patriarchs of the Russian church?

In his diary of the trip (4) Liddon mentions going to Nijni Novgorod (see image) saying ‘It is a peep at the East - the only one I have ever had in my life. For the first time, too, I came upon traces of the false Prophet . . .’     This intolerance was also exampled in the Bampton Lectures (5) where he again mentions ‘false prophet’ and comments upon the limited spread of Buddhism.

In March 1866 Keble, one of the founder members of the Tractarian movement, died. Apart from being one of Liddon’s mentors and a close friend, the foundation of a college proposed in memory of his name was to cause Liddon some difficulties when in mid 1868 he was pressed by others to accept the leadership of the college. In the event he turned the post down and Keble College opened in 1870 with Rev. Edward Talbot, another Christ Church graduate, as  its warden.
The second edition of Liddon’s Bampton lectures came out in early 1868, this was a revised edition and lists Liddon’s posts as ‘Student of Christ Church, Prebendary of Salisbury and Chaplain to Lord Bishop of Salisbury’ the latter being Hamilton. The second edition (6) is a book of 500 pages and a look at the index will reveal the enormous amount of work involved in producing and revising this set of lectures and this shortly after returning from Russia with Lewis Carroll. It is this extensive research that probably led to Liddon being considered for a professorship at the university in a few years time.

In October 68 the death of Archbishop Longley occurred, Longley is shown right in a picture taken by Lewis Carroll.  Longley was succeeded as Archbishop by Archibald Campbell Tait.  This signalled the end of Lewis Carroll’s photographic sessions at Lambeth Palace but more importantly  also signalled a change in the church at a crucial time.  Longley had not been free of controversy during his time at the top but he possessed a calming personality that reduced the abrasive effects of any dissent. Obviously Lewis Carroll’s relationship with Tait, who was his former headmaster at Rugby, was quite different from that of Tait and Liddon. Lewis Carroll knew Mrs. Tait and he had known the Tait children and  would have seen the younger Tait daughters who had died of scarlet fever at Carlisle in 1856.
The loss of Keble was a grievous blow to Liddon but this was followed some years later by Bishop Hamilton dying on the 1st of August 1869 and then by Liddon’s father, Matthew Liddon the Arctic explorer, dying on his birthday 31st August 1869 aged 77. Liddon was to write in a letter to a friend ‘what a solemn August this has been beginning with the death of my dearest Father in Christ (Bishop Hamilton) and ending on the 31st in that of my dear father in the bonds of nature! May I have grace not wholly to miss the lesson!’ Also in early August the Daily News announced Liddon’s possible appointment to the see of Salisbury which was possibly the one advancement he may have accepted had it been offered to him, which it was not!

In 1870  Liddon was appointed to a canonry of St. Paul's. The cathedral, says his biographer Johnson, was in need of reform as it lay empty and unused for most of its time. Even the installation of a canon had been carried out in a perfunctory manner previously but Liddon fared somewhat better as his diary records:-

    April 27. - At the afternoon service I was installed as Canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral, according to the Sarum use. All the canons and the Dean were present.

Sarum of course refers to the way Salisbury Cathedral installed its canons.

On June 11th Liddon was appointed as Ireland Professor of Exegesis, the post being named after a former Dean of Westminster Abbey, John Ireland. Exegesis is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Bearing this in mind, and considering Liddon’s Bampton Lectures, the general opinion was that he was eminently suited for the task!  As was the custom when some preferment was given an Hon. D.C.L. was conferred and this happened in Liddon’s case on the 22nd June 1870. Lewis Carroll records the event in his diary which he wrote up on the 25th June:- ‘The chief events of the time were the honorary D.C.L. Given to Liddon (which was received with unbounded enthusiasm), (the groans and hisses given when Lowe  got his formed a great contrast to this), the opening of Keble College, when the Chancellor made and excellent speech, as also did Hardy, Liddon, Dr. Pusey, Bishop of Winchester, Shaw Stewart etc. I was fortunate enough, by Liddon’s intervention, to get the Chancellor’s children to photograph which may be worth detailing.’

The chancellor being Lord Salisbury  and the Bishop of Winchester being Samuel Wilberforce former Bishop of Oxford. He also records that Alice Liddell and her sister Lorina came over around the same time to be photographed, Alice looking very bored with the whole process in the resulting picture(see image).     This introduction by Liddon was to lead to Lewis Carroll being invited many times to Hatfield House.
Liddon was therefore very popular in Christ Church and although it may be thought to be strange, his position in influencing the church arose from his lack of demanding appointments from 1862 to 1870. The canonry of St. Paul's was to change that, his base was now 3 Amen Corner, St. Paul's although of course he kept his rooms at Christ Church through his studentship there.

St. Paul's (left) in Liddon’s day dominated the scenery. The cause to change the ethos of the cathedral was a difficult one and met with opposition, as was to be expected. In July 1870 Liddon set off for a holiday on the continent, this time Lewis Carroll did not accompany him! The Franco Prussian war began while he was there and in a letter he compared Bismark to Napoleon. He urged patience with the changes at the cathedral saying to a friend that ‘an elephant may be taught to dance but the process is not a quick one.’  In 1872 he was in dispute with Tait, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and even went so far as to threaten to resign from the church. In February 1872, while at his sister’ Annie’s house in Brislington he wrote to his sister Louisa, who had come to live with him in London, that she might not have a home if matters were not resolved.  This would have been a blow for Louisa and her daughter Mary Ambrose, who was ten at the time. In the event things were resolved. And Liddon, although not happy, stayed on at St. Paul's.
In 1873 Liddon was abroad in France when the Bishop of Winchester, Samuel Wilberforce, fell from his horse and died instantly. Despite the circumstances of Liddon’s resignation from Cuddesdon in 1859 the two had remained associates and Liddon felt the loss greatly. Liddon was a great traveller and in 1873 he was in Le Mans when Wilberforce died. He wrote to his sister about the death of Wilberforce on July 24th saying ‘The Bishop of Winchester deserved and had my sincere affection, and I have always resented, as you know, the vulgar and false notions of the young men about town, as to his insincerity and the like.’  Obviously Liddon did not consider Wilberforce’s nickname of ‘Soapy Sam’ as being a true assessment of his friend’s worth or character.

Liddon’s success as a preacher was confirmed by what happened at St. Paul's. The building from being neglected became the scene of his lunch time sermons at which he commanded sometimes an audience of several thousand people. This was the time when he was away from Oxford for long periods and at a place where he could hold sway on his own account.
Throughout the 1870’s Liddon met Lewis Carroll on many occasions, mostly in Christ Church but also at Hatfield House and other places. On 5th June 1876 Lewis Carroll photographed Liddon in Oxford. In 1877 Lewis Carroll walked with John Liddon, Henry’s younger brother, and stayed for dinner at John’s house in Atterbury Road, Wimbledon. He also met John Liddon’s children at that time.

In June 1882 Lewis Carroll mentions Dr. Pusey (see image) and says he had not seen him before that time for probably two years.  In September 1882 Lewis Carroll writes in his diary ‘(Death of my dear old friend Dr. Pusey.) Liddon felt the death of Pusey much deeper than Lewis Carroll, Liddon had gone abroad in mid 1882 and he was in Turin when a telegram came informing him of Pusey sinking fast.  He set off to return to England but on September 18th while still in Paris on his way home he bought the ‘Standard’ at a kiosk and read in there an obituary for Pusey. By September 19th Liddon was in Calais and wrote in his diary ‘Now that dearest Dr. Pusey is gone, the world is for me no more the same world. The whole past is torn up by its roots. I feel the danger of disbelief in God and the Holy Ghost. He Who created and trained Dr. Pusey can train successors, if He wills.’ Pusey had been Liddon’s mentor since his student days and his death passed the unofficial leadership of the Tractarians over to Liddon at a time when he could well do without the responsibility. Pusey’s death however released Liddon from the strictures of his professorship. Liddon had suggested resigning previously but Pusey had talked him out of it. Now Pusey had gone and with Liddon having in mind to write up his ‘Life’ he quickly wrote his resignation on the 30th of September, a week after the funeral in Oxford. By the 5th of October Liddon was feeling depressed at the thought of the task he had taken on. His resignation from his professorship was announced on October 9th and advice came in from various sources including the Dean of St. Paul's, his friend Dean Church, who told him to model the work on Stanley's ‘Life of Arnold.’ (7)  Whether Liddon  took this advice is hard to fathom!
Pusey’s demise and the projected book of his life plus the memorial to Pusey, which was also mooted, dominated Liddon’s time for the rest of his life. He continued to travel aboard coming back from the continent in 1884 for the opening of Pusey House. Liddon’s mentions in Lewis Carroll’s diaries are few in the 1880’s, whether this is because he saw little of him or whether his being around more meant that he did not get special mention is hard to work out.
In 1885/6 Liddon made a tour of the Middle East with his sister Annie Poole King and one of her daughters, his niece Louisa. He should not have undertaken such a strenuous travel programme as his health was poor but he was a seasoned traveller and with family for company he had support. Annie had moved from Brislington by this time so the family base was now her new home, Standish House in Stonehouse near Gloucester and the first part of his holiday, which he took for health reasons ,was to stay at his sister’s house. It was then decided that for health reasons he needed to spend the winter and spring in Egypt and the Holy Land.

On Christmas Day 1885 he was in Khedival, Egypt and by the end of January 1886 in Luxor.  While in Egypt he was offered the Deanery of Worcester, which he declined, and by the time he arrived in Constantinople he received a telegram from the Dean of Edinburgh announcing that he had been elected Bishop of Edinburgh! He declined this post on the grounds that he was not a Scotsman. So despite his wish to have a restful holiday the telegraph lines and letters following him around brought stressful decisions to be made. His sister Annie wrote up the journey after Liddon died(8) In the preface Annie states that he would frequently explain that ‘the life of the ancient Egyptians all pointed one way: their monuments and literature alike show that they held the real business of this life to be a preparation for death. . . . What an example for us he would often say, one that can only fill us with humiliation and shame!’
Controversy dogged Liddon, even reaching as far as Queen Victoria who in early 1890 asked the Dean of Windsor to write to Liddon to say that despite the rumours  she was not vexed at him! In June 1890 he was at Cambridge receiving a L.L.D. Degree but looked ill - his health went downhill from then on.

In mid July he was at his sister’s house called Standish (lsee image)  in Stonehouse under the care of his brother Edward who was a doctor with a practice in Taunton. On 12th August Cardinal Newman died and Liddon felt the pain of this severely. Newman was Pusey’s friend but Liddon had met him and shared some of his views.
    On September the 5th he was moved from Standish to Weston-super-Mare and so replaced the views over the Severn valley from his room in Standish House for those down the Bristol channel to North Devon from his lodgings in Claremont Crescent. However, on Tuesday 9th of September he collapsed and died in Weston-super-Mare.    
Lewis Carroll was in Eastbourne at the time and noted in his diary for September 10th ‘I see by the papers that my dear old friend, Dr. Liddon, died yesterday. It is a heavy loss, to many friends, and to the whole English Church.’  The Times obituary for that day stated ‘We deeply regret to announce the death of Canon Liddon. With him the church of England loses her foremost preacher and the High Church party its most powerful champion.’
Liddon’s funeral was held in St. Paul’s on September 16th 1890, Lewis Carroll did not attend the funeral spending the day in Eastbourne with Isa Bowman who was an actress and one of his summer guests to his lodgings there.

he death was registered by his sister on the tenth of September, the certificate for cause of death read ‘gouty affection of the muscles of the neck’ he was just 61 years of age. Liddon never completed his ‘Life of Pusey’ he collected the material but it was left to others to publish the works after his death albeit giving credit mainly to Liddon who had carried out quite a lot of work in the eight years since Pusey’s death in 1882. 

His brother Edward, who he went through school with, erected a plaque in Colyton Church in commemoration of his father and his brother.

Apart from his tomb in St. Paul’s Liddon’s name is remembered there in Amen Corner ,where he resided for 20 years, by a plaque commemorating the building of some houses in 1879 (see image). Translated from the Latin it reads:-

‘These houses were built by Dean Richard Will. Church, Canons R. Gregory, H.P. Liddon, J.B. Lightfoot and Bish. P.C. Claughton for the glory of the high priest of our Lord Jesus Christ and for the use of the College of Minor Canons in St Paul’s Cathedral in London in the year of our Lord’s incarnation 1879.’

{The crossed swords at the top are a symbol of St Paul and DP = Deanery of St Paul’s.}

Liddon was an ardent traveller but his many trips abroad could not be counted as holidays as he visited churches and spoke to their leaders wherever he went. In Russia in 1867 Lewis Carroll enjoyed the change of scenery and compared Russia to Germany, Liddon’s mind however was on co-operation between churches. After his death Annie, his eldest sister, lived in Gloucestershire until her death in 1913. She moved from Standish House, where Liddon had spent his last few weeks of life, to Newark Park near Wotten-under-Edge. Her home continued to be the hub of the family. Her daughter Sarah who had married Edward Cartwright spent time there and her children considered their grandmother’s home to be their base.

Annie’s daughter Sarah had two boys, William Henry and Edward Rogers Cartwright, who perhaps inheriting the Liddon lust for travel, went to Canada in the early 1900’s.  In early 1912 they booked passage on the Titanic, the brothers and two or three friends. In the event Edward was called back to Canada early so when the news of the Titanic’s sinking arrived in Canada he naturally thought his brother and friends might have been lost. It was late summer before he found that his brother had become engaged to be married so had cancelled his passage on the ill fated liner. However, one of their friends did die in the disaster. (9)  Both the Cartwright sons fought in the first world war. Edward later gained the C.B.E. in the second world war when he was working as Chief Engineer for Shell Oil.
After her uncle's death, Mary Ambrose and her mother Louisa lived for a while on the Isle of Wight. In 1909 Mary married her cousin Matthew Liddon, son of Matthew Liddon, Henry Parry Liddon’s youngest brother, so she became a Liddon! Annie’s daughters continued to live in the house at Newark Park, Mary organised a hospital in WW1 for which she received the M.B.E. Mary died in 1923, Louisa, who had accompanied her mother and uncle to the Holy Land in 1886, died in 1938 and Alice Annie King, died in 1949. All are buried, along with their mother and brother Thomas in the churchyard at Ozleworth near to Wotten-under-Edge in Gloucestershire. Edward Rogers Cartwright retired from Shell Oil and wrote his memoir in 1964, he lived in Beaminster, Devon, until his death in 1975. Newark Park in Gloucestershire now belongs to the National Trust so can be visited by anyone with an interest in the Liddon/Poole King family.

Notes and further reading.

It was not my intention to debate the theological issues surrounding Henry Parry Liddon merely to show that these differences existed and how they effected Liddon’s life and times. For those wishing to look deeper into these issues Liddon’s biographers, all qualified theologians, should be consulted.

‘Life and Letters of Henry Parry Liddon D.D. By J.O. Johnson M.A. Longmans 1904.
‘The Life and Work of Henry Parry Liddon’ Michael Chandler Gracewing 2000.
‘Ambassadors of Christ’ Mark Chapman. 2004.

All these biographers had links to Cuddesdon College where Liddon was Vice principal in the 1850’s.

Other reading.

‘Life of E.B. Pusey, D.D.’ by H.P.Liddon D.D. D.C.L. Longmans.
‘Liddon’s Bampton Lectures 1866.’ Longmans. 1868.
‘Church and People 1789 - 1889’  S.C. Carpenter D.D.  S.PC.K. 1933.
‘Life of Bishop Wilberforce’ by A.R.Ashwell 3 vols. Murray  1880.
‘Advent in St. Paul’s’ H.P.Liddon. Longmans 1889.
‘The Secret History of the Oxford Movement.’ By Walter Walsh. Swan Sonnenschien 1899.
‘Sermons by the Rev. H.P.Liddon, D.D., D.C.L.’ Sawn Sonnenschein. 1890 .
‘Mrs. Poole King and family of Standish House and Newark Park.’ Shirley Dicker and Keith Wright. Stonehouse Historical Society 2012.

Keith Wright


1. ‘Life & Letters of Henry Parry Liddon DD’  1904 Longmans Green and Co. London.

2. ‘Walter Kerr Hamilton Bishop of Salisbury’ a memoir by H.P.Liddon MA 1869 Rivingtons.

3. ‘Life in Death’ a sermon by H.P.Liddon 1869 Rivingtons.

4. The Russian Journal II edited by Morton Cohen. LCSNA 1979.

5. Bampton Lectures 2nd edition - H.P.Liddon Rivingtons 1868

6. Bampton Lectures 2nd edition - H.P.Liddon Rivingtons 1868

7. Life of Dr. Arnold Dean Stanley Published by J. Murray 1844

8. Dr. Liddon’s Tour of Egypt and Palestine in 1886. Annie Poole King. Longmans 1891.

9. ‘A Late Summer’ Edward R. Cartwright Caravel Press, 1964