Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fenn, Joseph Finch

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FENN, JOSEPH FINCH (1820–1884), honorary canon of Gloucester, son of the Rev. Joseph Fenn, minister of Blackheath Park Chapel, Kent, was born in 1820, and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. 1842, M.A. 1845, and B.D. 1877. He was ordained a deacon in 1845, and priest in the following year. In 1844 he had gained a fellowship of his college, which he held until 1847, when, on accepting the vicarage of Stotfold, Bedfordshire, he resigned. In 1860 he was appointed by the trustees to the perpetual curacy of Christ Church, Cheltenham, on the resignation of Archibald Boyd [q. v.]; in 1877 he became chaplain to the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, and in 1879 an honorary canon of Gloucester; and in 1880 he was elected one of the two proctors in convocation for the united diocese.

Though a good scholar and of very extensive reading, Fenn published little, devoting himself to his parochial duties, including the careful preparation of his sermons. Some of these, forming a volume entitled ‘Lenten Teachings, 1877–84,’ have been published since his death. He kept clear of the controversies dividing the church of England. He took an active share in all movements for the improvement of the young, and was the eloquent promoter of the free library system in Cheltenham. During the latter years of his life he was a strong adherent to the cause of total abstinence. He was generally regarded as an evangelical, but was not a party man. He supported the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel as heartily as the Church Missionary Society, and had a leaning to the old high church section. He declined an offer of the benefice of St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, in 1877, in compliance with the wishes of the Christ Church congregation. The church of St. Stephen, Tivoli, in the district of Christ Church, was erected mainly by his exertions to meet the wants of an increasing population, and he contributed liberally towards the undertaking. He was twice married, and has left issue. He died on 22 July 1884, and was buried in his family vault in the churchyard of Leckhampton, near Cheltenham. A large memorial brass has been erected in Christ Church.

[Graduati Cantabrigienses, 1846, p. 108; Cambridge University Calendars; Gloucestershire Notes and Queries, iii. 580.]

B. H. B.