Ryan, Vincent William (DNB00)

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RYAN, VINCENT WILLIAM (1816–1888), first Anglican bishop of the Mauritius, son of John Ryan of the 82nd regiment, by his wife Harriett, daughter of Pierre Gauvain, judge, of Alderney, was born in Cork Barracks on 18 Dec. 1816, and within three years went with his parents to the Mauritius. On their return to England he was educated at Gosport. He entered Magdalen Hall (afterwards Hertford College), Oxford, in 1838, and graduated B.A. in 1841, M.A. 1848, and D.D. 1853. Taking holy orders, he went as curate to St. Anne's parish, Alderney, of which he became incumbent in 1842. In 1847 he became curate of Edge Hill, near Liverpool, and vice-president of the Liverpool Collegiate Institute. He moved to the principalship of the Church of England Metropolitan Training Institution at Highbury, London, on 1 July 1850. In 1854 he was nominated bishop of Mauritius, a post for which his familiarity with the French language specially adapted him. He sailed for Mauritius on 15 March 1855, and landed at Port Louis on 12 June.

Ryan found only two clergymen in Port Louis and a missionary in the country districts, but there were signs of awakening interest of which he took full advantage. On 8 Jan. 1856 he consecrated a new church at Mahébourg. Later in the year (11 Oct.) he started on his first visit to the Seychelles Islands, which were included in his diocese. In 1859 he visited them again, and consecrated the new church at Mahé. To the schools all over his diocese he gave particular attention, and interested himself in the Hindu population.

In June 1860 Ryan visited England to raise further funds for his missionary work. On 12 July 1862 he went, in H.M.S. Gorgon, with the special commissioner to Madagascar, with a view to establishing a new mission to that island. He visited the capital and the scene of the massacres of the Christians, and returned to Mauritius in indifferent health. In October 1862 he revisited Seychelles after the hurricane of that year. He paid a second visit to England in the spring of 1863. In 1867 he finally left Mauritius.

After holding for four months the archdeaconry of Suffolk, Ryan became rector of St. Nicholas, Guildford, and commissary of Winchester. In May 1870 he was transferred to the vicarage of Bradford, Yorkshire, where his ministration was marked by a great development of the parish work. He was rural dean from 1870 to 1876, and in 1875 became archdeacon of Craven and commissary to the bishop of Ripon. In 1872 he went on a special mission to the Mauritius. In August 1880 Ryan became vicar of St. Peter's, Bournemouth, and in 1881 rector of Middleham, whence he removed in 1883 to the rectory of Stanhope in Durham. He died at Stanhope on 11 Jan. 1888.

Ryan married Elizabeth Dowse, daughter of Charles Atkins of Romford, Hampshire, and left two sons, who both took holy orders, and one daughter.

He held pronounced evangelical views, and had notable power of organisation. He was the author of:

  1. ‘Lectures on Amos,’ London, 1850.
  2. ‘The Communion of Saints: a Series of Sermons,’ London, 1854.
  3. ‘Mauritius and Madagascar,’ extracts from his journals, London, 1864.

[Crockford's Clerical Directory, 1887; Colonial Church Chronicle, 1854–62; Mauritius and Madagascar, London, 1864; A Memorial Sketch, by W. M. Egglestone, Stanhope, 1889.]

C. A. H.