Festing, John Wogan (DNB12)

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FESTING, JOHN WOGAN (1837–1902), bishop of St. Albans, born at Brook House, Stourton, Somerset, on 13 Aug. 1837, was eldest son of Richard Grindall Posting by his wife Ehza, daughter of Edward Mammatt, of Ashby-de-la-Zouch. A younger brother, Major-General Edward Robert Festing (b. 1839), R.E., C.B., F.R.S., was director of the science museum, South Kensington (1893–1904). The family, descended from Michael Christian Festing [q. v.], the musician, was of German origin.

Educated at King's school, Bruton, and King's College school, London, Festing graduated B.A. from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1860 (D.D. jure dig. 1890) as twenty-second senior optime, and in the same year was ordained deacon, becoming priest in 1861. From 1800 to 1873 he was curate of Christ Church, Westminster. In 1873 he was appointed to the vicarage of St. Luke, Berwick Street, a poor parish close to Seven Dials, which had recently been visited by cholera. Festing increased his reputation here for pastoral diligence, and on 19 May 1878 John Jackson, bishop of London, collated him to the important vicarage of Christ Church, Albany Street. There the church schools, in which he was alwaj^s greatly interested, were a prominent feature of parish life, while the church itself was a recognised centre for the high church party, to which Festing adhered. He became rural dean of St. Pancras in 1887, and on 26 June 1888 prebendary of Brondesbury in St. Paul's Cathedral.

On 24 June 1890 Festing was consecrated bishop of St. Albans, succeeding Thomas Legh Claughton [q. v. Suppl. I], who had resigned but was retaining the use for life of the palace at Danbury. The choice of a parish priest of no fame for eloquence or erudition caused surprise. But Lord Salisbury, the prime minister, had asked both Henry Parry Liddon [q. v.], who had himself declined the see, and R. W. Church [q. v. Suppl. I], dean of St. Paul's, to suggest to him a man of parochial experience and zeal, and each independently suggested Festing. As bishop, Festing proved business-like, sympathetic towards hard work, and devout. While in private he urged obedience to the Prayer Book, his high church sympathies made him unwilling to hamper earnest clergy by coercive administration. His see embraced the counties of Essex and Hertfordshire; and he chose to reside at Endsleigh Street, London, W.C, near the chief railway terminal. He afterwards secured a second house at St. Albans. His chief interest lay in the industrial and residential expansion of metropolitan Essex. Zealous in the cause of foreign missions, he mainly devoted himself to the Universities Mission to Central Africa, at the inauguration of which in the Cambridge senate-house he was present on 1 Nov. 1859. He was its assistant honorary secretary (1863–1882), treasurer (1882–1890), vice-president (1890–1892), and president and chairman (1892–1902), and advised on all the details of the mission's development. Although no scholar, he was a studious reader, rising early each day for that purpose. He was fond of travel and skilful in water-colour drawing. He died unmarried at Endsleigh Street of angina pectoris on 28 Dec. 1902, and was buried at St. Albans. Choir-stalls were placed in his memory in St. Albans cathedral in 1903.

[The Times, 29 Dec. 1902; Guardian, 31 Dec. 1902; Record, 2 Jan, 1903; Central Africa (U.M.C.A. mag.), Feb. 1903.]

E. H. P.