Dickinson, Hercules Henry (DNB12)

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DICKINSON, HERCULES HENRY (1827–1905), dean of the Chapel Royal, Dublin, youngest son of Charles Dickinson, afterwards bishop of Meath, by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Abraham Russell, of Limerick, was born at Dublin on 14 Sept. 1827. Two brothers, Charles and John Abraham, were in holy orders, and the eldest of his four sisters, Elizabeth, married John West, afterwards dean of St. Patrick's. Dickinson was educated at Dr. Flynn's school, Harcourt St., Dublin, and at Trinity College, Dublin, where he obtained a classical scholarship in 1848, graduating as senior moderator in logic and ethics in 1849. He was auditor of the College Historical Society in 1850, In the same year he gained Archbishop King's divinity prize, and the divinity testimonium (1st class) in 1851, when he was ordained deacon by his father's old friend, Archbishop Whately [q. v.], receiving priest's orders in 1852. Becoming curate of St. Ann's on his ordination, he was appointed by Whately vicar of this important parish in 1855, and ministered there for forty-seven years. Dickinson, who proceeded D.D. in 1866, was appointed dean of the Chapel Royal, Dublin, by the Crown in 1868. He entered the chapter of St. Patrick's cathedral as treasurer in 1869, on the nomination of Archbishop Trench [q. v.], and became precentor in 1876. He was elected to the chair of pastoral theology in Dublin University in 1894 by the Irish bishops a post for which his delight in the society of young men and his long pastoral experience specially qualified him. For many years he was a prominent figure in Dublin clerical life; and as examining chaplain to successive archbishops, as the most active supporter of the Association for Promoting Christian Knowledge, and as chairman of the Dublin Clerical Association, he rendered services of value to the church. He was also a member of the Representative Church Body; and at the annual meetings of the General Synod he was a frequent speaker, his ready and genial wit enlivening many debates. The dean was an ardent advocate of the temperance cause, and he served on the royal commission for licensing reform (1896-9). He was, besides, one of the commissioners of charitable donations and bequests, and few philanthropic enterprises in Dublin were carried on without his co-operation. As dean of the Chapel Royal he was also almoner to many viceroys. A pioneer in the movement for the higher education of women, he aided Archbiuhop Trench in the foundation in 1866 of Alexandra College, Dublin, of which he was warden for thirty-six years.

A disciple of Whately in theological matters, Dickinson was opposed to the tractarian movement, while he was a strong supporter of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel at a time when it was not popular in Ireland. Of fearless honesty, chivalrous spirit, and unfailing wit, he had friends among all classes. Failing health obliged him to resign his offices in 1902, when he retired from active life. He died in Dublin on 17 May 1905, and was buried in Mount Jerome cemetery. As a memorial of his pastoral work, three decorated panels have been placed in the chancel of St. Ann's Church, Dublin.

Dickinson married, 2 Oct. 1867, Mary, daughter of Dr. Evory Kennedy of Belgard, co. Dublin, by whom he had nine children, of whom five sons and a daughter survived him.

He was author of 'Lectures on the Book of Common Prayer' (1859), and 'Scripture and Science' (1879), besides occasional sermons and papers.

[Dublin University Calendars; obituary notices in Irish newspapers; personal knowledge.]

John Ossory.