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Right Reverend The Bishop of Brechin Alexander Penrose Forbes

The great central figure in the modern history of the Diocese of Brechin. He carried out his ministry in the Dundee slums, established new churches and was a tireless social reformer. A consistent supporter of the Albert Institute.

Subscription value in 1863:

£30.00

Relative to inflation up to 2020:

£3000

Relative to income compared to 2020:

£24000

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Personal details and history

Full name

Alexander Penrose Forbes

Date of birth

06-06-1817[1]

Place of birth

Edinburgh[1]

Gender

Male

Marital status

Single

Name of spouse

None

Children

None

Home address

7 Springfield Place, Dundee, c.1850.[2]
Burnhead House, Dundee, c.1853-1859.[3]
Castlehill House, Dundee, c.1861-1875.[4]

Age at death:

58[5]

Place of death:

Died in office, in Dundee[5]

Date of death:

08-10-1875[5]

Buried:

Vault, St Pauls Cathedral, Dundee 15-10-1875[6]

Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers

Religious affiliation

Scottish Episcopal Church[1]

Political affiliation

Unknown

Clubs / societies

The Oxford Movement - (a movement of High Church members of the Church of England which eventually developed into Anglo-Catholicism. The movement, whose original devotees were mostly associated with the University of Oxford, argued for the reinstatement of some older Christian traditions of faith and their inclusion into Anglican liturgy and theology):[7] Fine Art Exhibition Committee, British Association visit to Dundee, 1867: House visitor, Dundee Royal Infirmary, c.1853-1854:[8] Committee member, Dundee Model Lodging-House Association, c.1856-1868:[9] Director, Baldovan Asylum, c.1858-1875:[10] Committee member, Dundee Royal Infirmary, c.1864-1865:[11] Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Dundee, c.1864-1868:[12] Director, Albert Institute Ltd., c.1867-1875:[13] Member of Free Library Committee, Albert Institute, for the householders, c.1871-1872:[14] Member of the Free Library, Museum and Picture Gallery Committee, Albert Institute, c.1874-1875:[15] Prisoners' Aid Society:[15]

Public offices

Elected member, Dundee School Board, c.1873-1875.[16]

Related subscribers

Subscriber no.4 – George Armitstead – fellow member of Model Lodging-House Association.

Subscriber no.18 –  Edward Baxter – fellow member of Model Lodging-House Association.

Subscriber no.35 – W.E. Baxter – fellow member of Model Lodging-House Association.

Subscriber no.1 – Alexander Anderson – fellow member of Model Lodging-House Association.

Subscriber no.57 – William Collier – fellow member of Model Lodging-House Association.

Subscriber no.110 – John Jack jun. – fellow member of Model Lodging-House Association.

Subscriber no.126 – Alexander Low – fellow member of Model Lodging-House Association.

Subscriber no.156 – T. Weston Miln – fellow member of Model Lodging-House Association.

Subscriber no.199 – James Ramsay jr. – fellow member of Model Lodging-House Association.

Subscriber no.213 – John Sharp – fellow member of Model Lodging-House Association.

Subscriber no.241 – Rev Andrew Taylor – fellow member of Model Lodging-House Association.

Subscriber no.259 – Alexander Clayhills – fellow member of Model Lodging-House Association.

Subscriber no.260 – Lord Kinnaird – fellow member of Model Lodging-House Association.

Subscriber no.74 – Rev James Ewing – fellow member of Model Lodging-House Association.

Subscriber no.7 – Patrick Anderson – fellow member of Model Lodging-House Association.

Career and worklife

Occupation

Clergyman

Employment

Employee

Place of work

Diocese of Brechin Scottish Episcopal Church

Work address

Castlehill, 1 High Street, Dundee.[4]

Career to date:

Alexander Penrose was the second son of John Henry Forbes, Lord Medwyn, a judge of the court of session, and grandson of Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo. He studied first at the Edinburgh Academy, then for two years under the Rev. Thomas Dale, the poet, in Kent, passed one session at Glasgow University in 1833, and, having chosen the career of the Indian civil service, completed his studies with distinction at Haileybury College. In 1836, he went to Madras and secured early promotion but, in consequence of ill-health, he was obliged to return to England. He then entered Brasenose College, Oxford, where in 1841, he obtained the Boden Sanskrit scholarship and graduated in 1844. 'He was at Oxford during the early years of the movement known as Puseyism, and was powerfully influenced by association with Newman, Pusey and Keble. This led him to resign his lndian appointment. In 1844, he was ordained deacon and priest in the English Church, and held curacies at Aston, Rowant and St Thomas's, Oxford; but being naturally attracted to the Episcopal Church of his native land, 'then recovering from long depression', he removed in 1846 to Stonehaven, the chief town of Kincardineshire. The same year however, he was appointed to the vicarage of St Saviour's, Leeds, a church founded to 'preach and illustrate Tractarian principles.' In 1848, Forbes was called to succeed Bishop Moir in the see of Brechin. He removed the episcopal residence to Dundee, where he resided until his death, combining the pastoral charge of the congregation with the duties of the diocese. When he came to Dundee, the churchmen were accustomed, owing to their small numbers, to worship in a room over a bank. Through his energy, several churches were built and among them the pro-cathedral of St Paul's. He was prosecuted in the church courts for heresy, the accusation being founded on his primary charge, delivered and published in 1857, in which he set forth his views on the Eucharist. He made a powerful defence of the charge and was acquitted with 'a censure and an admonition.' Keble wrote in his defence and was present at his trial at Edinburgh. Forbes was a good scholar, a scientific theologian and a devoted worker and was much beloved.[1]

More information

St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral was built in 1853 to designs by Sir George Gilbert Scott, who would go on to be the architect of the Albert Institute. It has been described as “an episcopal stronghold clutched to the side of Dundee’s ancient castle rock, this superb Gothic revival church was built for the reforming Bishop Alexander Penrose Forbes. Hemmed in on most sides, the church soars skywards in a way that won support from the very beginning.”[17]

Bishop Forbes showed his continuing commitment to the Albert Institute by serving as one of its directors and on a number of its committees before his untimely death. He died at Dundee on 8 October 1875.[1][5]

Sources

  1. (1911) Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 10, p.657. New York: Sears Roebuck.
  2. Dundee Directory, 1850. Local Studies, Central Library, Dunde
  3. Dundee Directories, 1853-1859. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  4. Dundee Directories, 1861-1875. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  5. Statutory Registers. Dundee. Death. 8 October 1875. 282/3 466. ScotlandsPeople website.
  6. Dundee Courier, 16 April 1875. British Newspaper Archive website.
  7. Pusey House St Giles Oxford website.
  8. Dundee Directory, 1853-54. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  9. Dundee Directories, 1856-1868. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  10. Dundee Directories, 1858-1875. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  11. Dundee Directory, 1864-65. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  12. Dundee Directories, 1864-1868. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  13. Dundee Directories, 1867-1875. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  14. Dundee Directory, 1871-72. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  15. Dundee Directory, 1874-75. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  16. Dundee Directory, 1874-75. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  17. McKean, Charles and Walker, Davis. (1984) Dundee - An Illustrated Introduction. Edinburgh: Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland and Scottish Academic Press.

The information above about Alexander Penrose Forbes has been collated from a range of digital and hard copy sources. To the best of our knowledge it is correct but if you are relying on any information from our website for the purpose of your own research we would advise you to follow up the sources to your own satisfaction. If you are aware of an inaccuracy in our text please do not hesitate to notify us through our Contact page.