Gayer, Arthur Edward (DNB00)

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GAYER, ARTHUR EDWARD (1801–1877), ecclesiastical commissioner for Ireland, born on 6 July 1801 near Newcastle-under-Lyne, Staffordshire, was the eldest son of Edward Echlin Gayer, major 67th regiment, by his wife, Frances Christina, only daughter of Conway Richard Dobbs, M.P., of Castle Dobbs, Carrickfergus (Vivian, Visitations of Cornwall, ed. 1887, p. 173). He was educated at a private school near Moneymore, co. Londonderry, and subsequently at Durham and Bath grammar schools. In October 1818 he entered Trinity College, Dublin, obtained honours in both science and classics, and went out B.A. in 1823, proceeding LL.B. and LL.D. in 1830 (Dublin Graduates, 1591–1868, p. 217). He was called to the Irish bar in Trinity term 1827, after studying in Lincoln's Inn, and was admitted an advocate in the ecclesiastical and admiralty courts in 1830. In November 1844 he was called within the bar as queen's counsel, and was appointed chancellor and vicar-general of the diocese of Ossory in 1848, of Meath in January 1851, and of Cashel, Emly, Waterford, and Lismore in June 1851. In March 1857 he stood a stiffly contested election for the university of Dublin, when, after a five days' poll, he was defeated by Anthony Lefroy, eldest son of Chief-justice Lefroy. On 8 June 1859 he was chosen one of the ecclesiastical commissioners for Ireland, which office he held, together with his three vicar-generalships, until the disestablishment of the Irish church in July 1869. He wrote some pamphlets upon disestablishment, one of which, ‘Fallacies and Fictions relating to the Irish Church Establishment exposed,’ 8vo, Dublin, 1868, reached a twelfth edition.

Gayer was for twenty-five years honorary secretary of the Dingle and Ventry Mission Association, which he had helped to found. He was one of the honorary secretaries of the Hibernian Temperance Society for many years (during two of which he gratuitously edited the ‘Irish Temperance Gazette’), and afterwards of the Italian Church Reformation Fund. He was also one of the founders of the Night Asylum for the Houseless Poor in Dublin, and of the protestant reformatory schools. In 1851 he helped to start in Dublin the ‘Catholic Layman,’ which discussed, in what was doubtless meant to be a ‘mild and candid spirit,’ all the leading points of difference between the churches of England and Rome. He was for several years the sole editor, but received able assistance from some of the most eminent divines in the Irish church. This periodical, in its seventh year of publication, reached a circulation of sixteen thousand copies, and was discontinued only because of the editor's failing health. It was subsequently issued with a supplement, containing a general index and analytical digest, in 8 vols., with Gayer's name on the title-page, 4to, Dublin, 1862. In 1859 Gayer was presented with a piece of plate of the value of five hundred guineas ‘by his fellow-labourers and other friends of truth,’ in testimony of his editorial ability. Besides some lectures, mostly delivered before the Dublin Young Men's Christian Association, Gayer was author of: 1. ‘Memoirs of the Family of Gayer. Compiled from authentic sources exclusively for private distribution among friends and relatives,’ 8vo, Westminster, 1870. 2. ‘Papal Infallibility and Supremacy tried by Ecclesiastical History, Scripture, and Reason,’ 8vo, London, 1877.

He died on 12 Jan. 1877, leaving issue by two marriages.

[A. E. Gayer's Memoirs of Family of Gayer.]

G. G.