Dictionary of National Biography, 1927 supplement/Jayne, Francis John

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JAYNE, FRANCIS JOHN (1845–1921), bishop of Chester, the eldest son of John Jayne, J.P., colliery-owner, of Pant-y-bailea House, near Abergavenny, by his second wife, Elisabeth Haines, was born at Llanelly, Breconshire, 1 January 1845. He was educated at Rugby under Dr. Temple, where he carried off the gold medal, and, it is said, had no superior as a football player. From Rugby he went to Oxford as a scholar of Wadham College (1863), and had a distinguished career at the university. He gained first classes in classical moderations, in literae humaniores, and in law and modern history, the senior Hall-Houghton Greek Testament prize, and a fellowship at Jesus College (1868). He was appointed tutor of Keble College in 1871, Whitehall preacher in 1875, and select preacher at Oxford in 1884. Among Jayne's private pupils at Oxford were Randall Davidson (afterwards archbishop of Canterbury), E. A. Knox (afterwards bishop of Manchester), and Francis Chavasse (afterwards bishop of Liverpool). At Oxford, as at Rugby, he interested himself keenly in athletic sports and was in the front rank as an oarsman. Having been ordained deacon and priest in 1870, he became curate of St. Clement's, Oxford.

In 1879 Jayne was appointed principal of St. David's College, Lampeter. Under him the college was affiliated to Oxford and Cambridge, its curriculum was extended, the number of its students more than doubled, the college school established, and the Canterbury buildings erected. The revival of the Church in Wales during the subsequent forty-five years is largely due to the new life which Jayne infused into the college, where the majority of the clergy in Wales have been trained. At Lampeter he had the assistance as tutor and Welsh professor of John Owen, afterwards bishop of St. David's, who said of Jayne, ‘Personally I owe all to him, and I have always looked upon him as an ideal principal.’ Jayne left Lampeter in 1886 to become vicar of Leeds in succession to Dr. John Gott. He held that important living only two years and a half, but in that time he put the financial and other business of the parish into excellent order, and extended the work of the Church in various ways, especially among men. One who worked with him has recorded his recollection of his ‘wonderful personal courtesy’, which, however, was associated with ‘an impatience of any idleness or pettiness’.

A man of such gifts and so vigorous was marked out for high preferment, and at the comparatively early age of forty-four Jayne was nominated by Lord Salisbury to the see of Chester (1889). Under its two previous bishops, William Jacobson [q.v.], and William Stubbs [q.v.], both eminent scholars, the diocese of Chester had been ably organized and administered, and Jayne set himself to build zealously on the foundations which they had laid. Not only were his talents for administration exceptional, but he was a shrewd judge of men, with a rare insight into character, quick to see both sides of a question and to hit upon a happy adjustment. His energies and sympathies were far from being confined to the ordinary ecclesiastical routine. Nothing that concerned the general well-being of the people was without interest for him. His tact and decisiveness together with his clear, strong, musical voice and fine presence made him an admirable chairman on all public occasions, and he had the happy knack of saying something fresh and forcible on almost every subject. Though capable of impassioned oratory, as he showed on some occasions, his manner in public speech, whether in the pulpit or on the platform, was ordinarily quiet and restrained; to nothing was he more averse than to unguarded loquacity. His manner of life was of the simplest, and his dislike of self-parade perhaps prevented him from occupying a larger place in the public eye. Yet his hand was felt for good in every quarter, with the result that in an address to him signed by over 1,500 clergy and laity in 1917, he was alluded to as ‘the spiritual head of what is, perhaps, the most peaceful and orderly diocese in England’.

Jayne's scholarly instincts and balance of mind attached him closely to the principles and tenets of the Church of England as set forth in the Prayer Book and Articles and in the writings of her leading divines, and his teaching on those lines was in exact conformity with that of his two immediate predecessors. It was thought by some that he changed his ecclesiastical leanings during the later years of his episcopate. It would be truer to say that he ‘changed his front without changing his position’. His personal convictions remained unaltered, but he came to look with grave apprehension on developments of doctrine and ritual which were becoming more and more marked towards the close of his episcopate. In Convocation he was a conspicuous figure and his counsel there was much valued. Amongst other questions, he specially interested himself in the modification of the Church's use of the Quicunque Vult, and he was opposed to any change in the substance or structure of the Communion office.

Jayne's unremitting attention to his duties in the end quite overtaxed even his robust powers, and in May 1919 he resigned his see. He lived for two years longer in retirement at Oswestry in a condition of extreme weakness and helplessness, borne with cheerful courage and patience. He died 23 August 1921, and was buried at Bowdon in Cheshire.

Jayne married in 1872 Emily, eldest daughter of Watts John Garland, of Lisbon and Dorset. He had six sons and three daughters. It was his express wish that there should be no memorial of him, and he left nothing for posthumous publication. In 1910 he published an edition, with introduction and notes, of Richard Baxter's Self-Review; his other publications were Anglican Pronouncements upon Auricular Confession and Fasting Communion (1912) and some charges printed locally. Extracts from these have since been reprinted as an appendix to Anglican Essays, by various authors (1923).

[The Times, Manchester Guardian, and Yorkshire Post, 25 August 1921; Chester Diocesan Gazette, May 1919 and October 1921.]

W. L. P. C.