Charles Hyde Brooke (1841-1926)
he only served briefly in this parish (as curate of St Matthew Pell Street
1886-90), Charles Hyde Brooke had a colourful life, ao his story is worth telling. He was born in
Leamington; his father, Charles Clement Brooke, was an army captain,
and his mother Eliza the daughter of Sir Edward Pryce Lloyd, first
Baron Mostyn, who owned estates in Flintshire and Wales.
mother, on her marriage, or reaching majority, was to have
£20,000 from these estates; but when she married in 1840
Lord Mostyn declared that no funds were available at that time (most of
the estate had been very profitably sold, but her interest later
passed into the hands of a bankrupt). In
1843 a compromise agreement was therefore made that on her death the
legacy would pass to
her infant son when he attained majority, and various
polls to this effect were executed. She died in 1845, and
in 1864 he initiated proceedings in the Court of Chancery, seeking to
set the compromise aside. The court held that the compromise must
stand, even though the covenant given had become worthless. Brooke
appealed successfully, arguing that material evidence and documents had
been withheld, and was given leave to take action to claim the legacy - but this was
cold comfort as no funds were available. There was talk of a further
appeal to the House of Lords, but this did not happen. Brooke v Lord Mostyn was fully reported in 2 De Gex, Jones & Smith's English Chancery Reports (1864) 373, in the Weekly Reporter XIII p115, and in the Law Journal Reports 1864 p65; the remarks of Turner LJ on the question of imputed fraud in trust law have been widely quoted as a precedent.
So he was one of the surprisingly large number of clergy associated with parish who went to law over a family trust!
Christian mission in Melanesia had begun with a visit in 1848 by George Augustus Selwyn,
first Bishop of New Zealand, with the first baptisms four years later.
He recommended the creation of a new diocese, and a schooner Southern Cross (the first of a series of flagship vessels) was provided by friends to serve the work, which John Coleridge Patteson, responding to Bishop Selwyn's call, undertook from 1855, becoming Bishop of Melanesia six years later.
Brooke - his court case over - also responded to the call, and sailed to Auckland in 1865 on the Southern Cross,
and worked for two years as a lay missionary in the central Solomon islands, where he trained
young men, moving to Anudha. He was ordained deacon in 1867,
licensed to Florida [Gela] Island - left is his house there - and priest in 1869, moving that year
to Norfolk Island. Right is a traditional Solomon Islands kiala, or canoe house.
Bishop Patteson wrote to his cousin, the novelist Charlotte Mary Yonge on Christmas Day 1867 [full text here]:
|My dear Cousin,
One line to you to-day of Christmas feelings and blessings. Indeed, you
are daily in my thoughts and prayers. You would have rejoiced could you
have seen us last Sunday or this morning at 7 A.M. Our fourteen
Melanesian Communicants so reverent, and (apparently) earnest. On
Sunday I ordained Mr. Palmer Priest, Mr. Atkin and Mr. Brooke Deacons.
The service was a solemn one, in the Norfolk Island Church, the people
joining heartily in the first ordination they had seen; Codrington’s
sermon excellent, the singing good and thoroughly congregational, and
the whole body of confirmed persons remaining to receive the Holy
Communion. Our own little Chapel is very well decorated (Codrington
again the leader) with fronds of tree-ferns, arums, and lilies;
‘Emmanuel, God amemina’ (with us), in large letters over the altar.
In 1871 Bishop Patteson [left] was martyred, on the island of Nakapu, mistaken
as a slave-trader when in fact he was visiting in an attempt to stamp
out the trade and establish peace after a recent attack. (He, together with a group of native martyrs a few years earlier, is
commemorated in the Anglican calendar on 20 September.) Hyde took part
in his funeral service, and on the anniversary of his death wrote a
memoir The Finished Course. Full historical transcripts of these events, and the early history of the mission, can be found here - including reports by Brooke from 1873 and 1873-4. From the start, indigenous ministry on the islands was strongly promoted; see here
for the Melanesian Mission today.
California and Scotland
In 1874 Brooke fled the Mission after criticism of scandalous behaviour with young men, though no ecclesiastical disability was attached;
Robert Codrington, head of the mission school, reported that this dated back to his
time on Florida Island, though Bishop Patteson was ignorant of it, and
was an extraordinary inconsistency since Hyde was popular and effective. He went to the missionary diocese of
California, where he was licensed from 1875-77; as Codrington later
wrote, there will not be the same
danger of offence as in the Colonies, and the Bishop is well able to
calculate the extent of it ... the main cause to us was to keep away
scandal ... [a] weight of anxiety [is] lifted from the Mission. His
bishop in California, William Ingaham Kip, was satisfied, and asked for a formal transfer from
Melanesia; but instead Brooke went to Scotland, as chaplain
to the bishop of Argyle and the Isles from 1877-79,
followed by curacies at All Saints mission in Glasgow and St James
Springburn from 1878-1883.
London, Montgomeryshire, Norfolk and back to London
to London, Brooke was curate of St Matthew Upper Clapton before his
time at St Matthew Pell Street from 1886-90 (living at 13 Princes Square). From
1890-99 he was incumbent of the small village of Criggion, Montgomeryshire
(in the diocese of Hereford - patron Valentine Whitley Vickers, a Staffordshire JP). After a few years back in London, living
in Teddington, he moved to Norfolk, living at the Old Rectory in Scale,
holding licences but no appointment in either diocese. From
1910 to his death he lodged at various addresses in Pimlico.
Brooke was the author of Percy Pomo, the Autobiography of a South Sea Islander (Griffith & Farran 1881) of which a reviewer said The
story represents native character and missionary work apart from the
unrealities of the conventional misionary meeting, and affords correct
information regarding native religion, language, names, and customs,
together with many criticisms of the weak points of our civilisation. It sold widely, and went into a second edition. He also wrote Dick Darley’s
School Days – a Study of Boy Life (Alexander & Shepheard 1890). One review said A
capital book for boys, full of healthy excitement and interest; likely
to prove a favourite. We can say but very little for the illustrations.
A cheaper edition was produced by Ellis & Keene in 1902: [it] cannot
be commended for its print, but the story has plenty of go, and has by
this time some value as a document concerning East London. It would be interesting to know more about this book!
In more scholarly mode, he translated a number of French sermons and other works, old and new, including:
In 1923/4 his extended Reminiscences were published in the Southern Cross Log. On
17 November 1926 The Times reported
his death at the age of 85, with no living relatives. He
had been rowing on the Serpentine in Hyde Park three weeks previously.
An obituary of 1 April 1927 in the Southern Cross Log spoke of his
'chequered life' and mentioned his fund-raising speaking for the National Society.
- two volumes in a Great French Preacher series (1897) - (1) for Lent & Holy Week and (2) for Advent & Christmas, with sermons by Louis Bourdaloue (Jesuit, 1632-1704), Joseph de la Fontaine de la Boissière (priest of the Oratory, d.1732, leaving six volumes of sermons), Alexandre Vinet (a Swiss protestant preacher, 1797-1847) and Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (bishop, 1627-1704)
Bourdaloue's sermon 'The Conversion of Mary Magdalene' (1897), a series of extracts from his writings relating to various difficulties and duties of home life, oddly entitled Home Thrusts (1899), and his Religion & Morals (1900)
- de la Boissière's 'Three Scenes from our Lord's Passion for Good Friday' (1902), and his 1738 work on Peace (1900)
- André Godard's 1901 book Christian Positivism (1911, from the 5th edition) - this term has been variously used, but according to a contemporary review M. Godard invites those incroyants
who are in good faith to follow him along the path which he calls
Christian Positivism. The time has come (he says) for a return to the
way pointed out by Joseph de Maistre [1753-1821, a key figure in the Counter-Enlightenment] and Père Gratry [1805-72, a philosopher who initially resisted papal infallibility but eventually signed up to it], and to turn back against naturalism its own artillery of the
sciences. We must employ extensively the inductive method, seek in
experience those moral laws which are the foundation of
spiritualism, call attention to their independent parallelism with the
laws of general physiology; investigate certain supra-normal phenomena which have been alleged as incompatible with dogma but in reality confirm it recognize that all psychological and moral laws find only in Christianity their
sufficient explanation, their plenitude and harmony; prove from history
that there has never been more than one religion of which all other
theogonies are but corrupted forms.
- Virgin Birth & Natural Law (1921)
to St Matthew Pell Street
| Back to History