Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 50.djvu/58

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critically the sacred text, and mixed freely in general society. But he stood aloof from the rising evangelical party, of which he afterwards became a distinguished adherent. When, in 1807, Ryder was called upon to preach the sermon at the archdeacon's visitation at Leicester, he attacked the principles of the evangelicals as being at variance with the principles of the church of England. One of the most prominent leaders of the party, Thomas Robinson [q. v.], vicar of St. Mary's, Leicester, was present. In the following year (1808) it fell to Robinson's lot to preach at the archdeacon's visitation, but he declined the opportunity of replying to Ryder. Such magnanimity dispelled some of Ryder's prejudices, which were also mitigated by reading Richard Cecil's ‘Friendly Visit to the House of Mourning’ [see Cecil, Richard]. The death of a favourite sister in 1801 and of his father in 1803 further encouraged a change of view, and he was impressed by reading in 1809 or 1810 John Newton's ‘Cardiphonia’ and ‘Letters to a Nobleman.’ Very soon after he openly identified himself with the evangelicals, taking the chair at a Bible Society meeting at Leicester in 1811, and preaching Robinson's funeral sermon in 1813. In 1808 he was made a canon of Windsor, and was as zealous and active there as in all his ministerial spheres. He became ‘lecturer of St. George's,’ and in that capacity delivered sermons which made a great sensation. George III greatly admired his sermons, saying that ‘they reminded him of the divinity of former days.’ He took pains in examining and instructing in religious knowledge the choristers of St. George's Chapel, and strove to influence for good the military officers stationed around the court.

In 1812 Ryder was promoted to the deanery of Wells, to the dismay of the old-fashioned churchmen there. The discontent was not dispelled when he preached in Wells Cathedral on worldliness and formalism, and when he got an evening service introduced into the parish church, evening services being then regarded as sure signs of ‘methodism.’ He was in the habit, too, of preaching at the neighbouring churches, especially those of Mark and Wedmere, feeling an obligation to do so because part of the endowment of his deanery came from those places. He was also chiefly instrumental in establishing a national school, then quite a new institution, at Wells. He was now a neighbour of Hannah More [q. v.], who had made his acquaintance in 1811 at Yoxal Lodge, the residence of Thomas Gisborne, the noted evangelical, and had been much impressed by him. In 1815 Ryder received the offer of the bishopric of Gloucester, vacant by the translation of Bishop Huntingford to Hereford. There was much opposition to the appointment in high quarters, both civil and ecclesiastical, on account of his being ‘identified with a party;’ but his brother Dudley, first earl of Harrowby [q. v.], who was an influential member of the administration, pressed his claims, and the opposition was defeated. The clergy of the diocese were not disposed to welcome him warmly; but the prejudices, however, against him soon vanished, partly through his own attractive personality, and partly because the clergy found that he was a better scholar and divine than they had supposed, and that, though he was ‘a low churchman,’ he was thoroughly loyal to his church. He was a vigorous bishop. He rarely preached less than twice, often three times, on a Sunday, besides a weekly lecture which he held in one of the Gloucester churches; and on Sunday afternoons he used to examine and instruct the children in the Gloucester National School. In 1818 Hannah More wrote to the ‘Christian Observer:’ ‘The bishop of Gloucester has been almost the only visitor in my sick room. When I saw him he had confirmed some thousands, consecrated one church and two churchyards, and preached nine sermons within ten days.’ He established in 1816 the Gloucester Diocesan Society for the education of the poor, and the female penitentiary owed its existence largely to his exertions. Opposition to him as an evangelical did not entirely cease; at a public meeting on behalf of the Church Missionary Society at Bath in 1818, he was publicly rebuked by the archdeacon of Bath (Dr. Thomas) for taking the chair.

In 1824 Ryder was translated to the see of Lichfield. Here there was far greater scope for his energies. The population was very much larger, and the late bishop, Earl Cornwallis, had been incapacitated for some time from taking active part in diocesan work. It was no small advantage to Ryder that he was a member of one of the leading families in the county. ‘On coming to the diocese,’ writes Mr. Beresford, the diocesan historian, ‘he startled everybody by plunging into evangelistic work in all directions. … He worked on the old lines of the church of England in his attempt to recover the masses. He used the parochial system as the basis of his plan, and strove to find room for everybody in his parish church. After eight years of faithful labour, he could point to twenty new churches opened and ten in building.’ He was largely assisted by his friend, Archdeacon Hodson, with whose aid he organised