Alexander Dallas (priest)

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Rev. Alexander Robert Charles Dallas (29 March 1791 – 12 December 1869) was an author, Church of England minister and Rector of Wonston in Hampshire from 1828 to 1869, a member of the family that descended from James Dallas Rosshire in Scotland.

He was born on the 29th of March, 1791 in Colchester, the son of a Barrister, the Jamaican born Robert Charles Dallas (1754–1824). His grandfather, Dr. Robert Charles Dallas (1710–1769), was a doctor who amassed a fortune in Jamaica.

Prior to taking his religious orders, Dallas had been a supplies officer in Wellington’s army during the Napoleonic wars in Spain. He was present at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.[1]

He entered the Middle Temple studying Law in 1819 (he was not called to the bar), and then Worcester College, Oxford; he was awarded an MA. He was ordained a deacon and then a priest in the Church of England in 1821 and curate of Radley.

At Morden in Surrey on the 4th of May 1818 Rev. Dallas married Mary Anne Ferguson (widow of James Edge) by whom he had five children. He began his mission to Ireland in 1843 and he famously established the controversial Irish Church Missions to Roman Catholics on the 28th of March 1849, which set up a number of Churches, schools, missions and orphanages. Officially he held the post Honorary Secretary of the Irish Church Missions. The Irish church missions was seen as proselytising during the Irish Famine, and for being Soupers. In the west of Ireland particularly Galway his evangelistic zeal and aggressive approach caused much conflict in the community. He moved for a while to Castlekirke on Lough Corrib where he set up a school. He had his sermons translated from English to the Irish Language for the native population.[2] Rev. Dallas and the ICM entered into partnership with The Irish Society for promoting the scriptural education and religious instruction of the Irish-speaking population chiefly through the medium of their own language. In the west, Rev. Dallas' anti-catholic tirades caused much bitterness within The Irish Society, with the Dublin University branch opposing the alliance.

One of his supporters in Dublin was Mrs Ellen Smyly the noted philanthropist in the nineteenth century in Dublin who had set up schools and homes in Dublin, The Smyly Homes. His friends included many prominent Irish Protestants including members of the Guinness family.

His attitudes and inspiration for his missions could have been due to his belief in Premillennialism or Millennialism, and the famine was a portent. Also that the practice of Catholicism was responsible for poverty and disorder.[3]

His first wife Ann Mary died in 1847, and he married his second wife, Anne Biscoe, in 1849.[4]

He died on the 12th of December 1869 in Wonston and is buried there in the churchyard. There is a monument to his memory in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin and in a church in Clifden, Connemara in Ireland,[5] there is a commemoration regarding his efforts with the Irish Church Mission, with the inscription laboured prayerfully for the salvation of the perishing Roman Catholics of Ireland.

Following his death his wife published a memoir to him.[6]

Famous Relatives[edit]

He was the nephew of US Treasury Secretary Alexander J. Dallas) and was the first cousin of the US Senator and vice president George M. Dallas. His Father was related by marriage to Lord Byron and a friend of his, Alexander compiled a book of recollections and correspondence with his father and Lord Byron.


  • The Pastors Assistant by Rev Alexander Dallas
  • The Cottagers Guide to the New Testament by Alexander Dallas
  • Pastoral superintendence; its motive, its detail and its support By Alexander Robert Charles Dallas
  • Felix Alvarez; or, Manners in Spain By Alexander Robert Charles Dallas
  • The Point of Hope in Ireland's present crisis by the Rev. Alexander Dallas, M.A.,(Rector of Wonston, Hants.), James Nesbit and Co, 1849.
  • The banner of the truth in Ireland: monthly information concerning Irish Church Missions to the Roman Catholics. By Society for Irish Church Missions to the Roman Catholics 1852.
  • Recollections of the life of Lord Byron By Robert Charles Dallas, Alexander Robert Charles Dallas.


  1. ^ Founding and history of Irish Church Missions (1849-69) Alexander Dallas (1791-1869), ICM Website
  2. ^ A History of Protestant Irish Speakers
  3. ^ Tourism, landscape, and the Irish character: British travel writers in pre-famine Ireland By W. H. A. Williams
  4. ^ Wonston
  5. ^ Rev. Alexander Dallas 1791-1869 Irish Church Missions By Mary Kyne, Oughterard culture and Heritage group.
  6. ^ Incidents in the life and ministry of the Rev. Alex. R.C. Dallas, by Anne B. Dallas, James Nesbit and Co, 1872.