The Times/1870/Obituary/Ashurst Turner Gilbert

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The Late Bishop of Chichester

The Right Rev. Ashurst Turner Gilbert, D.D., Lord Bishop of Chichester, died at the Episcopal Palace, Chichester, yesterday morning, at 5 30. His Lordship had been confined to his room during the past fortnight, partly from the inclemency of the weather and partly from old age, being in his 84th year. On Saturday last he was taken ill, and on Sunday fears were entertained respecting him. The cause of death we believe to have been paralysis of the lower bowels.

If the late Bishop Gilbert was not so distinguished a prelate, or one who will hereafter be found to have so lasting a mark on the Established Church, as the Blomfields, Sumners, and Phillpotts, who have been among his contemporaries and colleagues on the Episcopal Bench, at all events he was a man who did good hard work in his day, both at Oxford and in the southern diocese, which he administered actively and effectively for more than a quarter of a century.

The Right Rev. Ashurst Turner Gilbert was the son of a gentleman who at one time was a captain in the Marines, and was born in the neighbourhood of Portsmouth about the year 1785, though the exact date is not given or recorded. His father, Mr. Thomas Gilbert, is said to have been sprung of a respectable Devonshire family, and at the beginning of the present century is recorded as being of "Ratcliffe, in the county of Buckingham." He subsequently removed to Henley-on-Thames, where a monument to his memory is to be seen upon the wall of the parish church. Young Gilbert, after a few years of preparatory training, was sent, in January, 1800, to the Grammar School of Manchester, at that time under the late Rev. C. Lawson, of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, (a man who was by birth and principle a non-juror, and who never therefore, took priest's orders). Having remained at Manchester five years he was entered at Brasenose College, Oxford, where he went into residence with an Exhibition from his school. He took his Bachelor's degree in Michaelmas Term, 1803; and his name stood side by side with that of the late Sir Robert Peel in the first-class on the newly-established school of "Literæ Humaniores." He put on his Bachelor's gown in the following January, and a month or two later was nominated a Hulmian Exhibitioner of his College. Having subsequently been elected to a Fellowship at Brasenose, he took his M.A. degree in 1811, and occupied himself for several years as tutor of his College, acting also in 1816-17 and in 1817-18 as one of the public examiners in the classical schools.

On the somewhat sudden death of Dr. Frodsham Bodson, early in 1822, he was chose Principal of his College; and while holding that post he discharged the duties of Vice-Chancellor of his University for the customary space of four years, in 1836-40. On the death of Dr. Philip N. Shuttleworth he was presented to the See of Chichester by Sir Robert Peel, his old friend and contemporary at Oxford, and was consecrated in the chapel of Lambeth Palace on the 27th of February 1842. On quitting Oxford he was presented by the Fellows and graduate members of Brasenose with a handsome table service of place, in token of his zeal in watching over the interests of his College, and the courtesy and urbanity with which he had discharged the duties of his high position.

While still at Brasenose, and even more recently, after his elevation to the Bench, he took a lively interest in his old school in the north, which had sent him forth on his successful career at Oxford, and nothing gave him greater pleasure than attending its anniversary meetings. His fostering care as Bishop of Chichester was extended to Lancing College and the other education institutions connected with it which have sprung up at Hurstpierpoint and elsewhere in the country of Sussex. He was also much beloved by the parochial clergy of his diocese. Though his personal leaning was in the direction of the High Church opinions, he was averse from any approach to Romanism or Romanizing doings; and it will be remembered that in October, 1868, he interdicted Mr. Purchase from carrying on his ultra-Ritualistic services at St. James' Chapel, Brighton. Dr. Gilbert was not the author of any theological works, beyond a few sermons, pamphlets, and Charges.

Dr. Gilbert's fine tall figure and handsome face, white hair and dark eyes, will long be remembered by Oxford men; and his memory will be held in honour and affection in the diocese over which he so long presided. He married, on the 31st December, 1823, and Mary Anne, only child and heiress of the late Rev. R. Wintle, vicar of Culham, near Oxford, by whom he had a numerous family—two sons and nine daughters. Mrs. Gilbert died at the Palace, Chichester in December, 1863, and lies buried there. Dr. Gilbert was the 92d Bishop of Chichester; his diocese was coterminous with the county of Sussex, and he enjoyed the patronage of about 40 livings. The See is of the value of 4,200l.

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