William Alexander (bishop)

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File:William Alexander Vanity Fair 21 November 1895.jpg
Bishop Alexander as caricatured by Spy (Leslie Ward) in Vanity Fair, November 1895

William Alexander (13 April 1824 – 12 September 1911) was an Irish cleric in the Church of Ireland.


He was born in Derry on the 13 April 1824, the third child of the Revd Robert Alexander. He was educated at Tonbridge School and Brasenose College, Oxford.

After holding several livings in Ireland he became Dean of Emly in 1864. Three years later he was made bishop of Derry and Raphoe, to which see he was nominated on 27 July and consecrated on 6 October 1867. He was the last bishop of Ireland to sit in the Westminster House of Lords before the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1871 by the Irish Church Act 1869. On 25 February 1896 he was translated to become the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.

He gave the Bampton Lectures in 1876. An eloquent preacher and the author of numerous theological works, including Primary Convictions, he is best known as a master of dignified and animated verse. His poems were collected in 1887 under the title of St Augustine's Holiday and other Poems.

His wife, Cecil Frances Alexander, wrote some tracts in connection with the Oxford Movement. She is known as the author of hymns such as Once in Royal David's City, All Things Bright and Beautiful and many other well known hymns. They both lived in Milltown House, Strabane. The house is now used as a school, Strabane Grammar School.

In March 1913, a stained glass window by James Powell and Sons was erected in memory of him in the east wall of the side chapel of St Columb's Cathedral, financed by public subscription. The lower panels depict Moses, King David, and Isaiah in reference to his qualities as leader, poet, and preacher. His closing words of his resignation speech in February 1911 are quoted at the bottom: "Not in wisdom of words, lest the Cross of Christ be made void" (1 Cor 1:17).[1][2]

References in literature

Bishop Alexander is mentioned as part of the procession in James Joyce's cyclops episode of Ulysses.

External links


  1. "The Late Archbishop and Mrs. Alexander: Memorial Windows in Derry Cathedral". Irish Times. Dublin. 22 March 1913. p. 10. Retrieved 2015-12-27. (Subscription required (help)).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Day, J. Godfrey F.; Patton, Henry E. (1932). The Cathedrals of the Church of Ireland. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. p. 36–37.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> The authors claim that William Alexander resigned in 1910. He resigned, however, actually on 1 February 1911, see Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I., eds. (2003). Handbook of British Chronology (3rd ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 380. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>