Macrorie, William Kenneth (DNB12)

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MACRORIE, WILLIAM KENNETH (1831–1905), bishop of Maritzburg, born at Liverpool on 8 Feb. 1831, was eldest son of David Macrorie, a Liverpool physician, by his wife Sarah, daughter of John Barber. Admitted to Winchester in 1844, he matriculated at Brasenose College, Oxford, on 2 Feb. 1849. He graduated B.A. in 1852, and was elected to a senior Hulme exhibition at his college in 1854. On proceeding M.A. in 1855 he became a fellow or assistant-master at St. Peter's College, Radley. Ordained deacon in the same year and priest in 1857, he was successively curate of Deane (1858-60), and of Wingates, Lancashire (1860-1). In 1861 A. C. Tait, bishop of London, presented him to the rectory of Wapping, and in 1865 Hulme's trustees nominated him to the perpetual curacy of Accrington.

In January 1868 Robert Gray [q. v.], bishop of Cape Town, offered Macrorie the bishopric of the church in Natal. J. W. Colonso [q. v.] was still in Natal, having decUned to recognise his canonical deposition from the see, which had boon pronounced in 1863. Since that date Bishop Gray had made unsuccessful efforts to establish, in the colony, a new rival episcopate. After some hesitation Macrorie accepted the post, being the first colonial bishop not appointed by the crown. Since Colonso enjoyed a legal right to the title of bishop of Natal, Macrorie was designated bishop of Maritzburg. The government of Lord Derby disapproved the appointment and refused to grant the Queen's mandate for Macrorie's consecration in any place where the Act of Uniformity was in force. Archbishop Longley vetoed the ceremony in the province of Canterbury, and the Scottish bishops declined to take any part in the rite. Eventually Bishop Gray himself consecrated Macrorie at Cape Town on 25 Jan. 1869, regardless of a protest signed by 129 adherents of Colonso.

Macrorie's uncompromising high churchmanship tended to prolong the schism in the Natal church. He showed zeal and energy in the performance of his duties, and owed much influence to the financial support of the S.P.G. and the S.P.C.K., which had been withdrawn from Colonso. But his want of tact alienated moderate opinion, and his fierce denunciations of Colonso's supporters widened the prevailing breach. Archbishop Benson sought in vain to reconcile the contending parties. At length in June 1883, on the death of Colonso, Benson suggested to Macrorie the propriety either of resigning or of accepting the see of Bloemfontein. But Macrorie declined to entertain the 'cowardly thought.' Macrorie's difficulties diminished on the refusal of the archbishop to consecrate either George William Cox [q. v. Suppl. II] or William Ayerst [q. v. Suppl. II], whom the Colenso party, on their loader's death, elected to the bishopric of Natal. At length Macrorie resigned his see in 1891, and being appointed next year to a canonry in Ely Cathedral, served the diocese as assistant-bishop. He died at the College, Ely, on 24 Sept. 1905, and was buried in the cathedral close. In 1863 he married Agnes, youngest daughter of William Watflon of South Hill, Liverpool. In 1876 he was created hon. D.D. of Oxford and D.C.L. of the university of South Africa.

[The Times, 25 and 29 Sept. 1905; H. Paul, History of Modern England, 1905, iii. 185; Farrer, Life of Bishop Robert Gray, 1876; G. W. Cox, Life of J. W. Colenso, 1888. vol. ii.; A. T. Wirgman, Hist, of English Church and People in South Africa, 1895; Life of James Green, Dean of Maritzburg, 2 vols. 1909; Men and Women of the Time, 1899.]

G. S. W.