George Anthony Denison - Encyclopedia




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GEORGE ANTHONY DENISON (1805-1896), English churchman, brother of John Evelyn Denison (1800-1873; speaker of the House of Commons 1857-1872; Viscount Ossington), was born at Ossington, Notts, on the 11th of December 1805, and educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. In 1828 he was elected fellow of Oriel; and after a few years there as a tutor, during which he was ordained and acted as curate at Cuddesdon, he became rector of Broadwindsor, Dorset (1838). He became a prebendary of Sarum in 1841 and of Wells in 1849. In 1851 he was preferred to the valuable living of East Brent, Somerset, and in the same year was made archdeacon of Taunton. For many years Archdeacon Denison represented the extreme High Tory party not only in politics but in the Church, regarding all "progressive" movements in education or theology as abomination, and vehemently repudiating the "higher criticism" from the days of Essays and Reviews (1860) to those of Lux Mundi (1890). In 1853 he resigned his position as examining chaplain to the bishop of Bath and Wells owing to his pronounced eucharistic views. A suit on the complaint of a neighbouring clergyman ensued and after various complications Denison was condemned by the archbishops' court at Bath (1856); but on appeal the court of Arches and the privy council quashed this judgment on a technical plea. The result was to make Denison a keen champion of the ritualistic school. He edited The Church and State Review (1862-1865). Secular state education and the "conscience clause" were anathema to him. Until the end of his life he remained a protagonist in theological controversy and a keen fighter against latitudinarianism and liberalism; but the sharpest religious or political differences never broke his personal friendships and his Christian charity. Among other things for which he will be remembered was his origination of harvest festivals. He died on the 21st of March 1896.

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