The following is an excerpt from Citizens with the Saints, authored by Lyman Harding, © 1994 Diocesan Synod of Fredericton.
Bishop Coadjutor (1881-1892)
Second Bishop of Fredericton (1892 - 1907)
Hollingworth Tully Kingdon, John Medley's hand-picked successor, had spent some eleven years standing in the shadow of the aged metropolitan. He was often excluded from the full exercise of his office—largely, in Kingdon's own view, as a result of the interference of Mrs. Medley, who was so jealous of her husband's prerogatives that Kingdon was to describe her as "a regular Mrs. Proudie with a vengeance". During her husband's declining years, Margaret Medley had denied Kingdon access to diocesan correspondence and, it appears, attempted to administer the diocese with no reference whatever to the coadjutor. For a man described as possessing "marked executive ability" who insisted that "...all the business of the Church must be transacted in legal and business-like methods", this situation must have seemed intolerable. Reference has already been made to the troubled relationship between the Medleys and Bishop Kingdon. Kingdon had discouraged attempts to force Medley's resignation, as "...the attempt would only make my position more unbearable, as it would increase the suspicious jealousy which exists." Consequently, he wrote to his friend Bishop Blyth of Jerusalem, "I am afraid that the Church is not thriving here so well as I hoped, or so well as I could wish—it is terribly uphill work."
Never, it appears, a generally popular figure, aloof and scholarly, Kingdon's position was a difficult one. As the writer of his obituary in the Canadian Churchman was to comment:
Succeeding a man who, by virtue of his long incumbency and his rare personal gifts, had acquired an influence over his people, certainly never equalled, and possibly never approached by any other Canadian bishop, he found little room to "spread " himself. In the very nature of things, it was virtually impossible that any newcomer could take Bishop Medley's place.... It is, therefore, all to the credit and honour of his successor that he won for himself the place of affection and esteem which he occupied at the time of his death...
It was, then, against this background that Bishop Kingdon was enthroned as diocesan bishop on November 23, 1892, by Sub-Dean Alexander, acting on the mandate of the acting metropolitan, Dr. Lewis, Bishop of Ontario, and in the presence of Bishop Neeley of Maine.
Born in London on April 16, 1835, Kingdon was graduated in 1858 from Trinity College, Cambridge, where he gained a reputation as a brilliant scholar, taking his M.A. in 1861. He then attended Cuddesdon Theological College, where the famous H.P. Liddon was vice-principal. It was on the recommendation of Liddon and R.W. Church, dean of St. Paul's and historian of the Oxford Movement, that Bishop Medley chose Kingdon as his coadjutor. Admitted to the diaconate by Bishop Samuel Wilberforce of Oxford in 1859, and made priest by the bishop of Salisbury in 1860, Kingdon subsequently served as assistant curate at St. Andrew's, Well Street, London, a well known Tractarian parish, vice-principal of Salisbury Theological College, and vicar of Good Easter, Essex. With such impeccable Tractarian credentials, it is small wonder that Medley's choice fell upon him, despite the fact that he had never met Kingdon.
The Canadian Churchman described Kingdon as a "scholar Bishop", and questioned whether "...in his own line he had his equal on this side of the Atlantic...". In 1873, he had published a lengthy and learned study entitled Fasting Communion and, during his years as coadjutor, wrote a series of articles for the Kingston Deanery Magazine, later collected and published as Misreadings in Holy Scripture. His God Incarnate, the Bishop Paddock Lectures delivered at the General Theological Seminary in New York, has been called "A Milestone in Canadian Theology" by Dr. E.R. Fairweather, whose 1958 article in the Canadian Journal of Theology characterizes Kingdon's work as:
...akin...in many ways to the developing "liberal Catholicism" of Gore and others. Like the "liberal Catholics", Kingdon showed a healthy respect for scientific and historical facts and a healthy horror of committing faith to obscurantism. ...All things considered, he is a theologian to be remembered with respect—and even to be read, with attention and appreciation.
Bishop Kingdon's extensive library was bequeathed to Trinity Church, Saint John, where it remained until 1985 when it was turned over to the University of King's College, Halifax, where its valuable contents could be kept under properly controlled conditions. Trinity Church retains a magnificent fifteenth century illuminated Missal, once used by the Augustinian Friars.
Bishop Kingdon's scholarship and executive ability were put to good use by the entire church in Canada. Kingdon chaired a committee of Provincial Synod on divorce and remarriage established in 1889 and, as a result, published a small book on this subject in 1892. Active in the events leading to the formation of General Synod in 1893, he was convenor of the Committee on Constitution, Order of Proceedings and Rules of Order, and served on three standing committees, including that on Doctrine, Worship and Discipline. In 1902, Bishop Kingdon was asked to convene a committee on an appendix to the prayer book, and the appendix, largely his work, was printed in 1903. Although ejected by the General Synod of 1905, many of his proposals found their way into the 1918 Book of Common Prayer.
At the diocesan level, much of Bishop Kingdon's work was that of financial and legal consolidation. Steps were taken to insure the proper management of glebe lands, a chancellor for the diocese was appointed and improvements made in the operation of church corporations and other church organizations, including the amalgamation of the Diocesan Church Society with synod. The Incapacitated Clergy Fund was greatly increased, and the Widows and Orphans' Fund established. The golden jubilee of the diocese was observed in 1895, with a special service on St. Barnabas' Day, June 11, the erection of the Bishop Medley effigy in the Cathedral, and the setting up of the Bishop Medley Memorial Canonry Fund. An event of great significance for the future of the diocese was the establishment in 1903 of what was then called "the Women's Auxiliary to the M.S.C.C.", now Anglican Church Women.
The Cathedral did not escape the bishop's careful attention. Bishop Medley had always served as his own dean, but in April of 1895, the Very Rev. Francis Partridge was brought by Kingdon from Halifax as first Dean of Fredericton. The immediate cause of this change was the crisis precipitated by sub-dean Finlow Alexander, "...a man of amiable disposition and kindly manners who had been at the Cathedral for nineteen years..." becoming a Roman Catholic. Such an appointment was necessary, Kingdon wrote "...to keep up the services at the Cathedral, and yet enable the Bishop (who has hitherto been answerable for the services at the Cathedral) to do work which was necessary in the Diocese." Dean Partridge, whose family is the subject of a fictionalized biographical series, including Chaplet of Grace and The Penningtons, written by his son Basil, had been ordained by Bishop Medley, and served in the diocese as rector of Rothesay and secretary of synod. The administration of the Cathedral was formalized in an act of the Legislature incorporating the Bishop and Chapter in 1898. It was also on Bishop Kingdon's initiative that a strong room was installed in the Cathedral.
Finance was an ongoing problem. The decline of business which followed Confederation, felt particularly in Saint John, and the consequent outmigration came at the same time as reductions in grants from the S.P.G. Bishop Kingdon was at great pains to point out the need to the S.P.G., which he felt had been misled to some extent by "the sanguine character of the reports" submitted by Bishop Medley. These had led the S.P.G. "..to action which would cripple our work."
In the ten years between 1881 and 1891 the Church Members in New Brunswick diminished by 3,700; the better class of Church folk have been moving away to neighbourhoods where there is a greater hope of progress. In the meantime new settlers, poor people come into the nine millions of unsettled acres and the Church cannot reach them. The Church has lost in the past by not following up the new settlements and now we cannot follow them.
Nevertheless, new missions were being opened, and churches built on the Tobique, the Miramichi and the Kennebecasis, and the diocese was supporting missionary work in other areas.
In his 1945 account of Kingdon's episcopate, Canon Mansel Shewen, long the rector of the parish of Sussex and the senior active priest of the diocese, who had been ordained by Kingdon, recalled the bishop as being "of a most dignified appearance...every inch a bishop... [and] quick and resolute of will":
He loved an argument and respected you more when you stood your ground and gave back a quick and like answer. If he should give a quick question, he was always ready to take a quick retort.
He was of an athletic turn of mind and knew how to make good use of Boxing Gloves like our good Canon Daniel. ...I can see him now coming down King Street or along Charlotte with his broad panama hat and umbrella; greeting his friends and people with them both.
He loved his clergy, especially the young men, to whom he was both a Father in God, and a father as well. The younger men loved him as such. I owe to him more than words can express; I learned much from the Bishop. The Bishop's strong character, and deep spiritual life, his patience and understanding did much to shape my life.
Bishop Kingdon remained a bachelor until 1890, when he married the widowed Anna Beverley March, daughter of Lt.-Col. Beverley Robinson. One daughter, Anna or Nancy (later Mrs. Alban Sturdee of Saint John and Montreal) was born to them. Canon Shewen remarks that:
This marriage made a most happy and hospitable home for the Bishop and his guests. I recall with most pleasant memories many visits at Bishopscote which his Lordship and Mrs. Kingdon, a gracious hostess, her two daughters Constance and Violet March, Nancy Kingdon and Mrs. Kingdon's mother, Mrs. Robinson, a sweet and gentle old lady, did everything possible to welcome and entertain their guests.
It was in 1906 that Bishop Kingdon's declining health caused him to call for the election of coadjutor. Unlike Kingdon, John Andrew Richardson spent less than a year in that office, for on October 11, 1907, Hollingworth Tully Kingdon passed to his eternal rest. He was buried by his coadjutor and Bishop Worrell of Nova Scotia on October 15 "in the Church Yard of the Little Stone Church of St. John, so dear to his heart, at Douglas (Nashwaaksis)" Virtually all the clergy of the diocese and a large congregation filled Christ Church Cathedral for the funeral services.
No one was in a better position to evaluate Bishop Kingdon's contributions to the life of the Diocese of Fredericton than his successor:
The more I enter upon the heritage that he laid down, the more fully I recognize and revere the thoroughness and value of his work. To mention only one point, amongst many to which reference might be made: rarely I suppose has any Bishop done so much to inculcate into his Clergy, and to stamp upon his Diocese, a real respect and reverence for law and order. In this and many other ways, Bishop Kingdon left permanent results behind him.