The Times/1923/Obituary/John Octavius Johnston
Biographer of Pusey and Liddon.
Canon J. O. Johnson, Canon and Chancellor of Lincoln Cathedral, who died yesterday, aged 71, was a man who exercised no small influence in the Church of England, partly by his books and partly by his work in training ordination candidates.
John Octavius Johnston, was the youngest son of Rev. George Johnston, and was born at Barnstaple on November 1, 1852. He was sent to Barnstaple Grammar School, and went up to Keble College, Oxford, of which afterwards became a member of the Council. At that time the college was but newly founded, and was being guided through its early years by its first Warden, Dr. E. S. Talbot, afterwards, and till recently, Bishop of Winchester. Johnston obtained a second in Lit. Hum. in 1878, and a first in Theology in 1879, and the Senior Greek Testament prize in 1880. He was ordained to the curacy of Kidlington in 1879, but in 1881 became Principal of St. Stephen's House, Oxford, where men were prepared for ordination. From 1885 to 1895 he was at Merton College as chaplain and theological tutor, being also vicar of All Saints, Oxford. For part of the time he was an examiner in the School of Theology, and in 1880 he began his service as examining chaplain to the successive Bishops of Oxford—Dr. Stubbs, Dr. Paget, and Dr. Gore. In 1895 he was appointed Principal of Cuddesdon Theological College and vicar of Cuddesdon. He remained there for eighteen years, and during that time a large number of ordination candidates benefited by his instruction and influence. He was also proctor in Convocation, an honorary Cannon of Christ Church, and showed is interest in the Church abroad by becoming examining chaplain to the Bishop of Lebombo (Dr. Smyth), and later on commissary of the Bishop of Calcutta (Dr. Lefroy). In 1913 Bishop Hicks made him Canon and Chancellor of Lincoln, and in 1920 Bishop Hick's successor, Bishop Swayne, made him an examining chaplain.
As a writer Canon Johnston will be remembered chiefly for his work in completing the monumental life of Pusey, the preparation of which practically killed Liddon. When Liddon died in 1890 he left three volumes substantially complete, and these Johnston issued, with the Rev. R. J. Wilson, in 1893-4. The fourth volume, issued in 1897, was the joint work of Johnston and the Rev. W. E. Newbolt. Johnston was himself entrusted with the life and letters of Liddon, and when the book came out in 1904, it was seen that he had avoided the mistake of over-elaboration which had characterized the life of Pusey. With every allowance for the difference between the two subjects, there can be little doubt that Johnston's single volume of 400 pages, a model of discretion and self-suppression on his part, was a more successful tribute. Johnston was also the joint editor, with the Rev. F. H. Woods, of "Three Anti-Pelagian Treatises of St. Augustine" (1887); and he issued in 1898 "Spiritual Letters of Dr. Pusey." He leaves a widow, with two sons and a daughter.
The funeral will be at Cuddesdon on Friday at 12.15, and there will be a service in Lincoln Cathedral to-morrow at 10.45.