Pelham, John Thomas (DNB00)

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PELHAM, JOHN THOMAS, D.D. (1811–1894), bishop of Norwich, fourth son of Thomas, second earl of Chichester [q. v.], by Lady Mary Henrietta Juliana, eldest daughter of Francis Godolphin, fifth duke of Leeds, was born on 21 June 1811. He was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, where he matriculated on 5 June 1829, graduated B.A. in 1832, and proceeded M.A. and D.D. in 1857. He was ordained deacon by the bishop of London (Blomfield) in 1834, and placed in sole charge of the parish of Eastergate in the diocese of Chichester, where he laid the foundations of a lifelong friendship with Cardinal Manning; subsequently he was instituted on 23 May 1837 to the rectory of Bergh Apton, Norfolk, which he held until 1852. In 1847 he was made honorary canon of Norwich Cathedral, and chaplain to the queen, and in 1852 perpetual curate of Christ Church, Hampstead. In 1855, on the recommendation of Lord Palmerston, he was instituted to the crown living of St. Marylebone, Middlesex, and in 1857 was consecrated, on 30 April, to the see of Norwich, vacant by the resignation of Bishop Hinds. His preferment is understood to have been due to the influence of Lord Shaftesbury. The consecration ceremony was performed by Archbishop Sumner and Bishops Tait and Sumner. His episcopate lasted more than thirty-six years, a longer term than that of any of his predecessors, except Bishop Le Spencer [q. v.], who held the see from 1370 to 1406, and was rendered memorable by a marked revival of christian life and discipline. At once zealous and judicious, and an excellent organiser, Pelham was indefatigable in parochial visitation, and applied a gentle but effectual stimulus to the dormant energies of honorary canons and rural deans. He also provided by means of a diocesan church association for the building and restoration of churches, parsonages, and schools throughout the diocese, and in 1879 he instituted a diocesan conference which has met regularly from that date. Though a strong evangelical, he viewed the high-church movement without marked disfavour. He advocated the reform of convocation by the consolidation of the provinces of Canterbury and York, a readjustment of the proportion of ex officio to elected members, and an extension of the franchise to all licensed clergymen in priest's orders. He also formed a scheme for the augmentation of small benefices at the expense of episcopal emoluments. Early in 1893 Pelham resigned the see, and retired to Thorpe, a suburb of Norwich, where he died suddenly on 1 May 1894.

Pelham married, on 6 Nov. 1845, Henrietta (d. 31 Dec. 1893), second daughter of Thomas William Tatton of Wythenshawe Hall, Cheshire, by whom he left issue three sons and one daughter. His eldest son, Henry Francis Pelham, holds the chair of ancient history at Oxford.

[Foster's Peerage, Chichester; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Foster's Index Eccles.; Barker's Westminster School Register; Clergy List; Crockford's Clerical Directory, 1893; Eastern Daily Press, 4 Feb. 1893, memoir, with portrait, cf. Norwich Diocesan Calendar for 1894, p. 151; Times and Guardian, 2 May 1894; Ormerod's Cheshire (ed. Helsby), iii. 611.]

J. M. R.