M'Caul, Alexander (DNB00)

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M'CAUL, ALEXANDER (1799–1863), divine, was born of protestant parents at Dublin, 16 May 1799. He was educated at a private school, and entering Trinity College, Dublin, 3 Oct. 1814, graduated B.A. 1819, and proceeded M.A. 1831; he was created D.D. in 1837. He was for some time tutor to the Earl of Rosse, but becoming interested in the Jews, was sent in 1821 to Poland as a missionary by the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews. He studied Hebrew and German at Warsaw, and at the close of 1822 went to St. Petersburg, where he was received by the czar, who took some interest in his work. Returning to England, he was ordained and served the curacy of Huntley, near Gloucester, where he became intimate with Samuel Roffey Maitland [q. v.] In 1823 he married and returned to Poland, living at Warsaw as head of the mission to the Jews and English chaplain until 1830. He was supported by the Grand Duke Constantine, but had disputes with the Lutheran congregations, and withdrew to Berlin, where he was befriended by Sir Henry Rose, the English ambassador, and by the crown prince of Prussia (afterwards Frederick William IV), who had known him at Warsaw. To recruit his health he visited Ireland, and returned for a short time to Poland in 1832. Deciding to settle in London, he took up his residence in Palestine Place, Cambridge Road; actively supported the London Society; assisted to found the Jews' Operatives Converts Institution, and in 1837 commenced the publication of ‘Old Paths,’ a weekly pamphlet on Jewish ritual, which continued for sixty weeks. In 1840 he was appointed principal of the Hebrew college founded by the London Society; and in the summer of 1841, through Frederick William IV of Prussia, he was offered the bishopric of Jerusalem, but declined it because he thought it would be better held by one who had been a Jew. His friend Michael Solomon Alexander [q. v.] preached his consecration sermon. In the same year he succeeded Alexander as professor of Hebrew and rabbinical literature at King's College, London. In 1846 he was also elected to the chair of divinity. In 1843 he was appointed rector of St. James's, Duke's Place, London, in 1845 became prebendary of St. Paul's, and in 1847 declined Archbishop Howley's offer of any one of the four new colonial bishoprics then founded. In 1850 he became rector of St. Magnus, St. Margaret, and St. Michael, Fish Street Hill. When the sittings of convocation were revived in 1852, M'Caul was elected proctor for the London clergy, and represented them till his death. At first strongly opposed to the revival of the ancient powers of convocation, he modified his views and worked very harmoniously with the high churchmen, opposing the relaxation of the subscription to the articles, and seconding Archdeacon Denison's motion for the appointment of a committee (of which he was afterwards a member) for the consideration of Colenso's works on the Old Testament. He died at St. Magnus' Rectory, London Bridge, on 13 Nov. 1863, and was buried at Ilford, Essex. He left several sons.

M'Caul published many single sermons and pamphlets. His chief works are: 1. A Hebrew Primer, London, 1844, 8vo. 2. ‘Warburtonian Lectures,’ 1st ser. 1846, 8vo; 2nd ser. 1852, 8vo. 3. ‘Rationalism, and the Divine Interpretation of Scripture,’ 1850, 12mo. 4. ‘Some Notes on the first Chapter of Genesis,’ 1861, 8vo; a criticism of certain passages in ‘Essays and Reviews.’ 5. ‘Testimonies to the Divine authority of the Holy Scriptures,’ 1862, post 8vo. 6. ‘An Examination of Bishop Colenso's Difficulties with regard to the Pentateuch,’ 1863–4, London 2 vols. 8vo.

[Memoir by J. B. M'Caul; Guardian, 18 Nov. 1863; Crockford's Clerical Directory, 1860.]

W. A. J. A.