Dickinson, Charles (DNB00)

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DICKINSON, CHARLES (1792–1842), bishop of Meath, was born in Cork in August 1792, being the son (the youngest but one of sixteen children) of a respectable citizen, whose father, an English gentleman from Cumberland, had in early life settled in that city. His mother, whose maiden name was Austen, was of an old family in the same part of Ireland. He was a precocious child, and his readiness at arithmetical calculation when only five or six years old was surprising. He entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1810, under the tutorship of the Rev. Dr. Meredith. Here he had some able competitors in his class, which was called ‘All the Talents,’ especially Hercules Henry Graves, son of Dr. Graves, fellow of the college, and subsequently regius professor of divinity and dean of Ardagh, and James Thomas O'Brien, subsequently a fellow, and bishop of Ossory, Ferns, and Leighlin. In 1813 Dickinson was elected a scholar, and about the same time he began to take a leading part in the College Historical Society. He graduated B.A. in 1815, and was awarded the gold medal for distinguished answering at every examination during his undergraduate course. He became M.A. in 1820, and B.D. and D.D. in 1834. In 1817 he stood for a fellowship unsuccessfully. A marriage engagement prevented him from again competing. In 1818 he entered into holy orders, and became curate of Castleknock, near Dublin, and in the following year was appointed assistant chaplain of the Magdalen Asylum, Dublin. In April 1820 he married Elizabeth, daughter of Abraham Russell of Limerick, and sister of his friend and class-fellow, the late Archdeacon Russell, by whom he had a numerous family. In the same year he succeeded to the chaplaincy of the Magdalen Asylum, which, however, he resigned after a few months. In 1822 he accepted the offer of the chaplaincy of the Female Orphan House, Dublin. In 1832, while he held this chaplaincy, he first attracted the special notice of Archbishop Whately. The archbishop was frequently present at the lessons given by Dickinson in the asylum. Dickinson became one of the archbishop's chaplains, as assistant to Dr. Hinds; and early in 1833, on Hinds's retirement, became domestic chaplain and secretary. In July 1833 the archbishop collated him to the vicarage of St. Anne's, Dublin, which he held with the chaplaincy. He was intimately associated with Whately till 1840. In October of that year he was promoted to the bishopric of Meath, and on 27 Dec. he was consecrated in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin. He set about his new duties zealously, but fell ill of typhus fever, and died 12 July 1842. There is a monument in Ardbraccan churchyard, co. Meath, where he is buried, and an inscription in St. Anne's Church, Dublin.

A memoir by his son-in-law, John West, D.D., has been published, with a selection from his sermons and tracts. It includes: ‘Ten Sermons;’ ‘Fragment of a Charge intended to have been delivered on 12 July 1842;’ ‘Pastoral Epistle from his Holiness the Pope to some Members of the University of Oxford,’ 4th ed. London, 1836; ‘Observations on Ecclesiastical Legislature and Church Reform,’ Dublin, 1833; ‘An Appeal in behalf of Church Government,’ London, 1840; ‘Correspondence with the Rev. Maurice James respecting Church Endowments,’ 1833; ‘Conversation with two Disciples of Mr. Irving,’ 1836; and ‘Letter to two Roman Catholic Bishops [Murray and Doyle] on the subject of the Hohenlohe Miracles,’ Dublin, 1823. He was author likewise of the following: ‘Obituary Notice of Alexander Knox, Esq.,’ in the ‘Christian Examiner’ (July 1831), xi. 562–4; and ‘Vindication of a Memorial respecting Church Property in Ireland,’ &c., Dublin, 1836.

[Remains of Bishop Dickinson, with a Biographical Sketch by John West, D.D., London, 1845; Dublin University Calendars; Todd's Catalogue of Dublin Graduates, 155; Cotton's Fasti Ecclesiæ Hibernicæ, iii. 125, v. 223; Blacker's Contributions towards a proposed Bibliotheca Hibernica, No. vi., in the Irish Ecclesiastical Gazette (April 1876), xviii. 115.]

B. H. B.