Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Emery, William

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EMERY, WILLIAM (1825–1910), arch-deacon of Ely, born in St. Martin's Lane, London, on 2 Feb. 1825, was son of William Emery of Hungerford Market, feltmaker and Master of the Feltmakers' Company in 1848, who married Mary Ann Thompson. He was the first boy to enter, in 1837, the new City of London School, then erected on the site of Honey Lane Market in accordance with a reformed scheme for employing the ancient charity of John Carpenter [q. v.]. At the school he was a favourite pupil of the headmaster, G. F. W. Mortimer [q. v.], and was the first holder of the newly founded 'Times' scholarship [see Walter, John, 1776-1847]. Admitted at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, on 29 March 1843, he was elected Mawson scholar in May 1844; was fifth wrangler in 1847, graduating B.A., and proceeding M.A. in 1850 and B.D. in 1858. In March 1847 he became fellow of Corpus, retaining his fellowship till 1865; he was dean of the college (1853-5); bursar 1855-60; and tutor, along with E. H. Perowne [q. v. Suppl. II] (1855-65). He was made honorary fellow in 1905. Ordained deacon in 1849 and priest in 1853, he never confined himself to academic concerns. Among his interests in Cambridge was the volunteer movement. At a meeting in his college rooms on 2 May 1859, 'a volunteer corps for the university, town and county of Cambridge' was set on foot. In 1859, too, he helped to form in Cambridge a branch affiliated to the central Church Defence Institution. In October 1861 the Cambridge committee invited individual church-men and the secretaries of church defence associations to join in a Church Congress on the pattern of ' annual meetings of societies for the advancement of science, archæology, &c.' (cf. Preface to First Report, p. iii). The first Church Congress met in the hall of King's College, Cambridge (27-29 Nov. 1861), when Emery was senior proctor, the chair being taken by the archdeacon of Ely, Francis France. Emery spoke on free seats in church, on diocesan associations for increasing the endowment of poor benefices, and on church rates. He became permanent secretary of the Church Congress in 1869, and with the exception of the meeting in Dublin in 1867 was present at every congress from the first to the forty-seventh at Great Yarmouth in 1907, being the most familiar feature and the chief organiser of every meeting. In 1864 Lord Palmerston nominated him to the archdeaconry of Ely, and he became residentiary canon of Ely in 1870. As archdeacon, he soon organised a diocesan conference, the first in the country, remaining its honorary secretary till 1906. In 1881, when the institution had spread widely, he helped to establish a central council of diocesan conferences, of which he was honorary secretary till 1906. He was also instrumental in founding the Hunstanton Convalescent Home (of which he was chairman 1872-1908) and the Church Schools Company for the promotion of the religious secondary education of the middle classes (of which he was chairman 1883-1903).

Owing to failing powers he resigned his archdeaconry in 1907. He retained his canonry till his death at the college, Ely, on 14 Dec. 1910. He was buried in the precincts of Ely Cathedral. On 6 July 1865, at St. John's, Stratford, London, he married Fanny Maria, eldest daughter of Sir Antonio Brady [q. v.]. He had six children, of whom two daughters and three sons survive.

Emery was a man of affairs, energetic and tactful, rather than a teacher. The Church Congress is his monument. Among his publications were his charges on 'Church Organisation and Efficient Ministry' (1866), and on 'The New Church Rate Act' (1869), and a popular explanation of the 'Free Education Act, 1891.'

[The Times, 15 Dec. 1910; Guardian, 16 Dec. 1910; Record, 16 Dec. 1910; Reports (annual) of Church Congresses, especially 1861 and 1910; the latter contains good portrait.]

E. H. P.