Dale, Thomas Pelham (DNB01)

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DALE, THOMAS PELHAM (1821–1892), ritualistic divine, born in London in 1821, was the eldest son of Thomas Dale [q. v.], the evangelical vicar of St. Pancras, and subsequently dean of Rochester, who married in 1819 Emily Jane, daughter of J. M. Richardson, bookseller, of Cornhill. After education at King's College, London, he went up to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge (where his tutor was Colenso), in 1841; graduated B.A. (as twenty-fifth wrangler) in 1845, was made a fellow of his college, and proceeded M.A. in 1848. He was ordained deacon and priest in 1845 and 1846 by Bishop Sumner of Winchester, served as curate of Camden chapel, Camberwell, for two years, and in 1847 was appointed rector of St. Vedast's, Foster Lane, with St. Michael-le-Querne in the city of London. He was a diligent student and a considerable Hebrew scholar. From 1851 to 1856 he served as librarian of Sion College. His parochial duties were nominal, all the rate-paying parishioners being non-resident and not attending the church. In 1873, however, he commenced midday services in St. Vedast's, and introduced a number of ritualistic innovations, such as a mixed chalice which he held to be in accordance with primitive usage. This displeased the ratepayers and churchwardens, whom he had already ruffled by objecting to the expenditure of 30l. for an annual audit dinner out of the trust funds of the parish. In 1875, during their pastor's suspension, Mackonochie's congregation migrated from St. Alban's to St. Vedast's. In 1876 the church- wardens of the parish lodged a representation against Dale under the Public Worship Act. On 12 Nov. 1876 the bishop of London (Jackson) accompanied the inhibition which had been obtained from the Court of Arches, and insisted on taking over the services. Dale submitted for the time, but legal flaws were discovered in the case of the prosecution, and, amid much correspondence public and private, Dale renewed the services, ignored the citations, summonses, admonitions, inhibitions, and other documents with which he was plentifully served, and persisted in disregarding the law of the land. A fresh prosecution was commenced, and on 28 Oct. 1880, in his capacity as dean of arches, Lord Penzance pronounced Dale to be in contempt for officiating in defiance of a legal inhibition. He was accordingly signified to her majesty in chancery as contumacious, and was arrested by an officer of the court on 30 Oct., and lodged in Holloway gaol. He was let out on bail on Christmas Eve, and in January 1881 was entirely released by order of the lords justices, who held that the writ of inhibition was bad, in consequence of its issue not having been reported to the court of queen's bench. The case, which had excited extraordinary attention, and had been very unjustifiably protracted by those taking part in it, was thus brought to a fit termination. Dale's illegal resistance to the ordinary had been instigated by the English Church Union. The prosecution was abetted by the Church Association. Soon after his release Dale was presented by the patron, Charles Trollope Swan, to the rectory of Sausthorpe-cum-Aswardby in Lincolnshire, to which he was instituted on 21 April 1881. In this country parsonage Dale, who, though of an obstinate spirit, was by nature studious and devout, and had a most sincere hatred of publicity, resumed his Hebrew and scientific studies and his water-colour drawing, at which he was a proficient. Several of his drawings made on a foreign tour in 1882, at Padua and Venice, are reproduced in the 'Life' by his daughter. He died on 19 April, and was buried in Sausthorpe churchyard on 25 April 1892. His unassuming piety and devotion to his church had won the hearts of his country parishioners. By his wife (married in 1846), who survived him, Dale left several children. A brother, James Murray Dale (1822-1877), was author of 'The Clergyman's Legal Handbook' (1858), 'Church Extension Law' (1864), and 'Legal Ritual' (1871).

Pelham Dale was the author of:

  1. 'A Life's Motto, illustrated by Biographical Examples,' 1869 (studies of St. Augustine, St. Bernard, J. Wesley, J. Newton, Charles Simeon, Kirke White, Ed. Irving, and the missionaries, H. Martyn and Mackenzie).
  2. 'A Commentary on Ecclesiastes,' 1873: a translation and a paraphrase, the sense being sought by a microscopic attention to the grammar and phraseology of the author. Dale called himself 'homo unius libri,' and this as his opusculum.
  3. 'The S. Vedast Case: a Remonstrance addressed to all True Evangelicals,' 1881: a vigorous defence of ritual against what he called the 'Zwinglian section' of the church.

[Life and Letters of Thomas Pelham Dale, by his daughter, Helen Pelham Dale, with portraits, 2 vols. 1894; Guardian, 12 Feb. 1879, Sand 10 Nov. 1880; Church Times, 22 April 1892; Times, November and December 1880, passim; Church Review, 2 June 1876; Grier's Imprisonment of the Rev. T. P. Dale, 1882; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

T. S.