Heath, Christopher (DNB00)

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HEATH, CHRISTOPHER (1802–1876), minister of the catholic apostolic church, Gordon Square, London, was born in London on 26 March 1802. His grandfather, Benjamin Heath, was a velvet manufacturer at Birmingham. His father, John Heath, was a surgeon in the navy, who, after being present in Lord Howe's action of 1 June 1794, left the sea service and practised at 69 Hatton Garden as a surgeon dentist. The son, Christopher, entered St. Paul's School, London, 1 Nov. 1813; in 1817 became a pupil under his father, and eventually succeeded to his profession. He was brought up in the church of England, but being attracted by the preaching of Edward Irving at the Caledonian Chapel, Cross Street, Hatton Garden, became a member of his congregation there in May 1832. He removed with Irving when he took his congregation to Newman Street Hall on 24 Oct. 1832, and was called to be an elder of the church. Some time after Irving's death (3 June 1835) Heath was appointed to succeed him as angel or minister of the congregation, being ordained by John Bate Cardale [q. v.], the apostle. Upon this he gave up his profession, and moved to 14 Newman Street, adjoining the church. In course of time, finding that the Newman Street Hall was small and inconvenient, in conjunction with his deacons he obtained plans from Raphael Brandon for an early English building in Gordon Square. Of this he laid the first stone in 1851, and it was opened on Christmas-eve 1853, being at that time probably the most beautiful ecclesiastical building erected in England since the Reformation. The west end of the church was, however, never finished, owing to want of funds. Here he and his congregation continued to be the central point in London of the catholic apostolic church (commonly called the Irvingite church). He paid official visits to the branch churches in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, and Denmark. But his main work was in London, where, besides the care of his large flock, he had much responsibility as a trustee and administrator of church funds. He was a man of great energy and industry, and much trusted for his firmness, tact, and patience. He died of congestion of the lungs at 3 Byng Place, Gordon Square, on 1 Nov. 1876. On 20 Nov. 1827 he married Eliza, daughter of James Barclay; she died at 40 Gordon Square, on 3 July 1884, aged 78; by her he had a large family. Of his sons, Christopher Heath was a well-known surgeon in London.

[Gardiner's St. Paul's School, 1884, p. 247; Miller's Irvingism, 1878, i. 152, 268, 318; A Narrative of the Proceedings of Mr. C. Heath v. Joseph Amesbury, 1849; information from James Heath, esq., Birmingham.]

G. C. B.