Henry Joseph Corbett Knight.

The diocese of Gibraltar; a sketch of its history, work and tasks online

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the residence of the English Government, and that

its jurisdiction extend to all the clergy of our Church

residing within the limits above specified. In this

city, through the munificence of Her Majesty the

Queen Dowager, a church is in course of erection, which,

when completed, will form a suitable cathedral."

There were, however, civil as well as ecclesiastical reasons

which led to Gibraltar being constituted the territorial diocese

and cathedral town of the Bishop, as there already existed a

Roman Catholic Bishop of Malta, who was acknowledged by

the English Government.

In view of much that follows the double purpose of the
promoters of the Bishopric calls for special attention. They
hoped that it would not only serve the spiritual life of our
own people, but would also prove to be an interpreter and
bond between our Church and the Churches of the East.

{4) The Letters Pate^it establisJiing the See of
Gibraltar, 1842

The Letters Patent establishing the See of Gibraltar are
dated August 21st, 1842. They establish the Bishopric on a


large scale, which Bishop Sandford thought " rather too
ambitious." * They recited that the Crown had received
representations that the Clergy and Laity of the communion
of the United Church of England and Ireland resident within
Gibraltar and Malta and in divers places within the islands
and countries situated in and around the Mediterranean were
from the divided state of Christendom and from other causes
destitute of the pastoral superintendence of local Bishops and
Ordinaries ; that they had been customarily subject to the
jurisdiction of the Bishop of London in subordination to the
metropolitical See of Canterbury, but owing to remoteness
from England, and increased and increasing number of clergy
and laity, both clergy and laity were exposed in matters
spiritual and ecclesiastical to grave detriment and incon-
venience ; that the Archbishops and Bishops who made the
representations had urged that these evils might in some
degree be remedied by the erection of a Bishop's See in
Gibraltar, and prayed the Crown by Royal authority to erect
and constitute the same.

In granting the prayer, the Letters Patent made the
following provisions : —

1. The Church of the Holy Trinity, Gibraltar, to be a

Cathedral Church and Bishop's See.

2. Gibraltar to be a city, and be called The City of


3. The City of Gibraltar and all territory comprised in

that possession, and its dependencies to be the Diocese
of the Bishop of Gibraltar, and to be called in all time
coming the Diocese of Gibraltar, with power of

4. Dr. Tomlinson to be consecrated Bishop for the new


5. The Bishop of Gibraltar to be a Body Corporate and

made a perpetual Corporation, known by the name of
the Lord Bishop of Gibraltar, capable of holding
property, pleading, etc., in all Courts, and having a
Corporate Seal.

* S., 1879, p. 25.


6. The Bishop of Gibraltar to be subject and subordinate

to the Metropolitical See of Canterbury and its Arch-
bishops as a Bishop of any See in the province of

7. The Bishop of Gibraltar to perform all functions
peculiar and appropriate to the office of Bishop in
the Cathedral and Diocese of Gibraltar and in all duly
consecrated churches and chapels in Malta and
dependencies thereof, especially in St. Paul's Church,

8. The Bishop of Gibraltar to appoint divers Diocesan

officers, who shall exercise only such and so much
jurisdiction as he shall commit to them.

9. The jurisdiction Spiritual and Ecclesiastical of the

Bishop of Gibraltar to be according to ecclesiastical
laws now in force in England.

10. The Bishop of Gibraltar to give institution to benefices
and grant licences to officiate ; to visit clergy with all
and all manner of jurisdiction power and coercion
ecclesiastical ; to administer such oaths as are accus-
tomed and by law may be administered according to
the Ecclesiastical Laws of England to exercise
discipline ; and may found and fill Canonries.

11. Governors, Judges and others, and Clergy to help
the Bishop of Gibraltar.

12. Appeal provided to the Archbishop of Canterbury
from judgments of the Bishop of Gibraltar.

1 3. For the resignation of the Bishop.

The Foreign Office Circular^ 1842

After Dr. Tomlinson's consecration, and before his instal-
lation at Gibraltar on Nov. 6, Lord Aberdeen, the Foreign
Secretary, issued on Oct. 20, 1842, a Circular to Her Majesty's
Ministers and Consuls in the States bordering on the Medi-
terranean. This Circular is of importance as indicating the
limits within which the Bishop of Gibraltar was to have
spiritual superintendence over members of the Anglican
Comniunion, and the nature thereof. It was addressed to


the Ambassadors in Constantinople and Paris ; the Ministers
at Athens, Florence, Naples, Turin, and Madrid ; the Consuls
at Alicante, Barcelona, Cadiz, Cartagena, Malaga ; Ancona,
Genoa, Leghorn, Messina, Naples, Nice, Palermo, Rome,*
Venice; Marseilles; Fiume, Trieste; Athens, Patras, Prevesa ;
Constantinople, the Dardanelles, Salonica, Smyrna ; Tripoli,
Tangier, Tunis ; and in the islands of Sardinia (Cagliari),
Corsica, Minorca (Mahon), Crete, Cyprus, and Syra.

After notifying the consecration of the Bishop, the
Circular proceeds : — " And it has been ordered by Her
Majesty's permission that the spiritual superintendence
hitherto exercised by the Bishop of London over the
Ministers and Congregations of the United Church of
England and Ireland in certain of the countries bordering on
the Mediterranean, including that country in which you
reside, shall henceforth devolve upon the Bishop of Gibraltar."
Such Ministers and Congregations are exhorted to pay a
dutiful obedience to the Bishop of Gibraltar in all spiritual
matters, and to give him all due support. If they fail to do
so they must be prepared to risk the advantage which they
derive from the countenance of H.M. Government. Ministers
and Congregations receiving pecuniary assistance from
Government will be expected and required to render such
obedience and to give such support as a condition of this aid
being continued.

Speaking summarily the Bishop, with his authority in
Gibraltar as the Diocese, and in Malta, was to exercise such
spiritual superintendence over Clergy and other members of
our Communion in Spain, S. France, Italy, part of Austria,
Greece, part of the Turkish Empire, N. Africa (West of
Tripoli), and the Islands of the Mediterranean as the Bishop
of London had previously exercised.

It will be observed that in these documents no reference

* A Copy of the Circular preserved in the Bishop's Register contains
" Rome." A note is appended to the efitect that its despatch to Rome
was disputed, and that " there is a proof that it never arrived there."
On the consequences of this dispute see M. Talbot Wilson, The History
of the English Church in Rome^ pp. 47, 54-58, 68 f., 88, 91. See also
infra^ p. 67 «,, 91 f., 114 «.


whatever is made to Government Chaplains, Chapels, or
Forces. From the first these have not been under the juris-
diction and superintendence of the Bishop of Gibraltar. For
the provision of ministrations to them the Admiralty and the
War Office are solely responsible. Neither Navy nor Army
chaplains have ever been licensed as chaplains by the Bishop
of Gibraltar : it is clearly impossible for him to be responsible
for all that is implied in the licensing of clergy in their case
without reducing his licence to the merest form or constituting
the Government Bishop-in-commission for the purpose. Nor
do these clergy minister in congregations or churches under
his Jurisdiction, save as visiting clergy or after his granting
them licence to do so. The government chapels, of both
garrisons and dockyards, are independent of the Bishop of
Gibraltar. If he ministers in them, it is on invitation, not as
Diocesan and Ordinary. The Bishops of Gibraltar have always
welcomed opportunities of serving the Forces of the Crown,
as these pages will testify, and as all in Gibraltar and Malta
know ; to do so is ever a peculiar privilege and delight. The
assistance of Navy and Army chaplains is often generously
given to the civil chaplains and gratefully received. But the
fact that the Bishop of Gibraltar neither has jurisdiction over
the Forces (or their chapels), nor is responsible for ministra-
tions to them wherever they may be within the geographical
limits of his Jurisdiction, needs plain recognition.

It is clear that certain inconveniences must arise from
these conditions, and indeed such have arisen, especially in
Malta ; but at present change is impossible, and all that is
needed is that they be dealt with considerately and equit-

Note on the legal aspect of the Bishopric of Gibraltar

as fou7tdcd

The following extract from Lord Halsbury's Encyclopcsdia of the
Laws of England (Vol. XI., pp. 483 f., Ecclesiastical Law, The Church
of England in the Colonies and India and elsewhere), presents the legal
position of the Bishopric as founded. " The ministrations of the Church

* See pp. 35 ; 50 f. ; 53 f- 5 66 ; 91 ; 93.


of England are not confined within the boundaries of England and Wales,
but may be extended throughout all the other dominions of the King and
on the high seas, and throughout foreign parts wherever persons reside,
whether subjects of the King or not, who are desirous that the Word of
God and the sacraments should be administered to them according to
the liturgy of that Church.

" The State recognizes a duty to provide for religious ministrations to
those who are in the direct employment of the State, whether within or
without the realm, and while provision is made for the appointment of
ministers of other denominations where a sufficient number of members
of a particular denomination are serving to justify it, the provisions in
general made relate both in the Army and in the Navy and other services
to the appointment of ministers and the provision of ministrations of the
Church of England.

" Although there is no legal obligation on the State (excepting as above
mentioned in respect of its own servants), or on any officers or members
of the Church of England as such to provide for such ministrations
outside the boundaries of England and Wales, provision has been freely
made, not only by the State (including therein the Crown as representing
the Home Government and the Government of the particular locality
where it has independent powers), but also by officers and members of
the Church and by societies formed for the express purpose of providing
or assisting such ministrations wherever they maybe required or needed.*

* " The principal organizations engaged in providing for such minis-
trations are, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, founded in
1698 ; the Society fo: the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts,
founded in 1701 ; the Church Missionary Society, founded in 1799 ; the
Colonial and Continental Church Society, founded in 1823 ; and the
Colonial Bishoprics Council, constituted in 1841. The societies named
administer large funds, derived from voluntary subscriptions and endow-
ments, in providing and assisting the ministering of the Word of God
and the sacraments according to the liturgy of the Church of England,
and they take such precautions as are deemed necessary to secure that
their funds are administered for the purposes for which they have been
given for the benefit of the Church of England as by law established, or of
Churches forming branches of it, or, where the trusts permit of it, for the
benefit of churches in communion with the Church of England ; but
they do not directly interfere in the organization of churches or the
foundation of bishoprics or of dioceses, excepting so far as the provision
of funds and the taking of due precautions for the right application of
them are concerned.

" The Colonial Bishoprics Council, although constituted as a voluntary
association without any power as an association to give its decisions any
binding legal form, has undertaken the duty of applying funds for the
endowment of additional bishoprics in the colonies so as to provide for


By these means, as well as by the organised efforts of persons living in
the Colonies or abroad, provision has been and is being made for such

This position was affected later by the measure of 1872 ; see pp. 107 fif.

a systematic superintendence of the clergy and the administration of
those ordinances which are committed to the episcopal order, having due
regard to the insufficient provision which has been made for the spiritual
care of the members of the Church of England in the colonies and in
distant parts of the world. With these objects in view it promotes and
assists the formation, constitution, and endowment of those dioceses
which it considers to be most urgently needed, and by means of the
influence of the archbishops and bishops who compose it, and by invoking
the assistance of the prerogative rights of the Crown in some cases, and
of the colonial legislatures in other cases, it has succeeded in effectively
constituting many colonial archbishoprics and bishoprics on a vahd legal
basis and in fixing the boundaries of their provinces and dioceses.

" The procedure which was followed in the case of the creation of
bishoprics from the formation of the Council in 1841 until the year 1872 was
that the Council, having satisfied themselves that it would be expedient
to found a bishopric in a particular colony and that sufficient funds for
the due maintenance of a bishop were available, obtained the assent of
Her Majesty's Government and entered into an agreement with the
Crown through Her Majesty's ministers that a specified annual income
should be appropriated out of the Colonial Bishoprics Fund for the use of
such bishop, and Her Majesty thereupon granted her letters patent
purporting to create the diocese required, and then appointed some priest
to be consecrated as bishop of such diocese " {Natal (Bishop) v. Gladstone
(1866), L. R. 3 Eq. I, at p. 25).




A REALLY satisfactory account of the development of
the Diocese during the period 1842- 1873 is as yet im-
possible owing to the paucity of records. The Bishop's
Register, beside copies of documents relating to appointment
and enthronement, contains the scantiest entries.* No Con-
firmation Lists or Diaries which might have given first-hand
notes, or hints of schemes of organizing and working the
Diocese, have survived. Most of the information now avail-
able is drawn from (a) scattered notes in the pages of the
Colonial CJiurch Chronicle, issued 1 847-1 874 ; {b) Dr. G. E.
Biber's The English Church on the Continent, edn. 1846;!
{c) the Pastoral Letters of Bishop Sandford ; id) Records of
the S.P.G. A careful examination of records preserved
in the several chaplaincies will probably yield more, but has
yet to be made systematically. The Bishopric was started
without an official residence, or a Diocesan Office ; and to
this fact is due the loss of our earliest official records.

* The only entries are these. Of Bishop Tomlinson's episcopate ; of
the consecration of Burial-grounds at Gibraltar and Cadiz, 1842 ; of the
collation to a canonry of the Rev. T. Sleeman, 1853 ; of the ordination
of Dr. Alder at Gibraltar, 1853, and of his appointment to divers offices.
Of Bishop Trower's episcopate : of the confirmation of Dr. Alder in his
offices ; of the consecration of St. Mary Magdalene Church at Bournabat,
Whit Monday, 1864 ; of the consecration of a Burial-ground at Port St.
Mary, 1865 ; of the licence of the Rev. M. Powley, and of his collation
to a canonry, 1866. Of Bishop Harris' episcopate: of the confirmation
of Dr. Alder in his offices ; of the collation into Canonries of the Rev. W.
F. Addison and the Rev. H. Sidebotham, 1870.

t This edition is fuller and more accurate than that of 1845. The
1845 edition has no information about the Jurisdiction of the Bishop of




DR. GEORGE TOMLINSON was born in 1794. He was
a graduate of St. John's College, Cambridge, of which
College he was a Scholar 1823-1826. His selection as first
Bishop of Gibraltar was probably due to his wide outlook, his
connexion with the Society for Promoting Christian Know-
ledge (of which he was a secretary 183 1- 1842), and in
particular to his mission to the Patriarchs and Bishops of the
East in 1840 (see stipra, p. 41). He was consecrated in
Westminster Abbey on St. Bartholomew's Day (August 24),
1842, by the Bishop of London (Dr. Blomfield), assisted by
the Bishops of Winchester (Dr. Sumner), Rochester (Dr.
Murray), Chichester (Dr. Gilbert), and Bishop Coleridge. He
was installed at Gibraltar on November 6.

(i) Condition of Church life in the Diocese, 1842

It was indeed a strange and difficult charge which he was
called to rule, and it may be doubted whether he was as well
fitted to carry out as he was to plan work such as that of the
new Diocese.* In 1842 there were 30 clergy at work within
the limits of the jurisdiction prescribed.! But of these only
the civil chaplains at Gibraltar and Malta, and the Chaplains
at Trieste, Messina, Florence, Nice, Pisa, Athens, Constanti-
nople and Smyrna — ten or eleven in all — were known in 1846
to be under the Bishop of Gibraltar.^ The Government Chap-
lains at Gibraltar and Malta, Corfu and Cephalonia, numbering
probably in all eight or ten, held no episcopal licence, and

* C.Q.R., Jan., 1878, p. 359. t Anderson, III. p. 715.

X Biber, 1846, pp. 72 ff.



To/ace J>. st^

BISHOP TOMLINSON, 1842-1863 51

were not under the jurisdiction of the new Bishop. Five other
clergy were missionaries, three of them the C.M.S., and two
of the L J.S. and it is not known whether they were licensed
by Bishop Tomlinson. Of the remainder, the chaplains at
Genoa and Naples were under the Bishop of London, and
those at Rome and Turin with the civil chaplain at Corfu
oiBciated without episcopal licence.

Some idea of the clergy, chaplaincies, and congregations
may be drawn from the particulars furnished to Dr. Biber in
1 845- 1 846, The clergy were unsatisfactorily obtained, and
their maintenance was insufficient and precarious. "There
were without doubt," wrote Bishop Sandford of the days
before 1842, "many clergy who were bright exceptions, and
who strove both by their lives and teaching to uphold the
dignity of their office : but the prevailing character of Conti-
nental chaplains became a byword and a reproach to the
English Church." * A contributor to the Colonial Church
Chronicle said with regard to the period before 1844 that "the
ecclesiastical anomaly of the Church of England upon the
Continent was grievously aggravated by the lawless appoint-
ments made to many foreign chaplaincies and by the still
more lawless behaviour of some of the chaplains." f As an
example of this the case of the Rev. E. Whitby may be
quoted. This clergyman acted as chaplain at Nice from
1822 for about eight years apparently without either title or
nomination. If the report of the state of things prevailing in
N. and C. Europe made by the Rev. R. Burgess in 1850 after
investigation carried out at the request of the Bishop of
London, and the difficulties experienced by that Bishop for
many years subsequently, give any indication of the condition
of Church affairs in S. Europe which confronted Bishop
Tomlinson in 1842, it is to be feared that many officiating
clergy were unfit to be licensed, being either plausible adven-
turers or men burdened with debt or of scandalous life.J

There were churches permanently secured only at

* C.Q.R., Jan., 1878, p. 353. t C.C.C, 1864, p. 201.

X C.C.C, 1850, May, p. 435 ; 1862, p. 107.


Gibraltar, Malta, Trieste and Athens. Of these only the
first was consecrated, and the consecration of that seems open
to question. Elsewhere services were held in rooms or
buildings of most diverse character, and great difficulty was
frequently found in obtaining even these. The furniture for
worship was mean to a degree. On everything connected
with Church life the Hanoverian blight rested as heavily as
on English parishes. Many communities were indifferent
and apathetic. State aid and control had deadened interest
and life. Congregations and churches were regulated not
by Church membership, but by money qualifications. A
charge for admission to service was sometimes made on those
who were not recognized members of the congregation.
Coherence between congregation and congregation there was
none : they were " deficient in one essential characteristic of
all true Church life, viz. membership with one another, and
with that body at home from which they were offshoots." *
Baptism was ordinarily ministered privately. Confirmation
was unknown.

But there were some things which encouraged. The
Holy Communion was in most chaplaincies celebrated once
a month and on the Great Festivals. At Rome there was a
weekly Celebration, and daily during Passion Week. Dr.
Biber records that one-third of the congregations were
communicants. Pastoral intercourse was general. In 1844-
1845 the congregations at Rome, Athens, Nice and Valletta
contributed £^7 to the funds of S.P.G.f The spirit of
the colonies was really religious, and there was genuine attach-
ment to the Church of England. All congregations con-
sidered themselves episcopal, though there was in truth little
that was episcopal in them.

A Bishop's presence was desired chiefly that he might
minister Confirmation, but episcopal authority and discipline
were unknown and even undesired. In spite of the F.O.
circular of 1842 the Archbishop of Canterbury found it
necessary in 1850 to issue a Circular Pastoral Letter to the
Clergy and Congregations of the Church of England and
Ireland under the spiritual superintendence of the Bishop of

* Biber (1846), p. 18. t Biber (1846), pp. 72, ff-

BISHOP TOMLINSON, 1842-1863 53

Gibraltar. After reciting that doubts had arisen as to the
Bishop's jurisdiction and the obedience due to him in
countries not subject to Her Majesty, and referring to the
Foreign Office Circular of 1842, the Archbishop declared that
the Clergy and congregations in the aforesaid countries were
bound in conscience to pay the same obedience to the Bishop
of Gibraltar as was due to a Diocesan Bishop in England.*
This Pastoral Letter implies that in some chaplaincies and
congregations the new Bishop's authority was questioned, and
that he experienced difficulty in obtaining due recognition
and support. A letter of 1854 speaks of "coarse and un-
looked for obstructions put in the Bishop's way by those of
whom better things might have been expected," and of his
failure to secure more than two or three additional clergy.t

It is somewhat hard to realize the position in which the
congregations and chaplaincies stood with regard to the civil
and religious law of the land, excepting in the Levant and
the East. There the old traditions of the Levant Company
had secured liberty and ease. But in the Roman Catholic
countries much was most trying as to marriage and burial,
and in particular as to securing places of worship, and an
adequate degree of religious liberty. The restrictions placed
by the different governments as to both worship and the
character of places of worship (which will appear more fully
in later pages) accounted in large measure for the meanness
of our churches and church-rooms. And it must be added
that while the general acceptance and use of the term
"Protestant" by members of our Church abroad greatly
affected their own idea of their Church and compromised its
claim and dignity, it also disposed the finest and most truly
religious element of the peoples among whom they dwelt to
identify the Church of England with movements which they
regarded as intrusive, revolutionary, aiming at the disruption
of their own Church, and too often plainly irreligious and
subversive of all spiritual order.

* This account of the Pastoral of 1850 is taken from a MS. of Bishop
CoUins. It has not been possible to consult a copy of the document

Online LibraryHenry Joseph Corbett KnightThe diocese of Gibraltar; a sketch of its history, work and tasks → online text (page 6 of 26)