John Egerton (bishop)

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John Egerton (30 November 1721 – 18 June 1787) was a Church of England bishop. He was consecrated Bishop of Bangor in 1756 (Welsh dioceses were part of the Church of England until 1920) and translated to Lichfield in 1768. He was translated again in 1771 to become Bishop of Durham, which see he held until his death in 1787.

Welsh language controversy[edit]

Main article: Thomas Bowles

In 1766 Egerton caused controversy by appointing a monoglot English priest, Dr Thomas Bowles, to the parish of St Beuno, Trefdraeth and its chapelry of St Cwyfan, Llangwyfan.[1][2] All but five of the parishioners spoke only Welsh, so the parishioners and churchwardens of Trefdraeth petitioned against Bowles' appointment, with the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion supporting and helping to fund their case.[1][2] The Court of Arches heard evidence in the case in May 1770 but did not hear the prosecution and defence arguments until January 1773.[1][2]

The prosecution argued that Bowles' inability to minister in Welsh contravened Article XXV of the Articles of Religion, the Act for the Translation of the Scriptures into Welsh 1563 and the Act of Uniformity 1662.[1] The defence argued that the prosecution would have to prove that Bowles was totally incapable of speaking any Welsh at all, and even if they did so Bowles had lawfully been granted the ecclesiastical freehold and therefore could not be deprived of it.[1]

The case was judged by Dean of Arches, George Hay. He agreed with the prosecution that only clergy who could speak Welsh should be appointed to Welsh-speaking parishes. However, he agreed with the defence that the case to deprive Bowles of the living had not been proved.[1] He therefore allowed Bowles remain in post, which he did until he died in November of that year.[1] Bowles was then replaced in the parish and chapelry with Richard Griffith, a priest who spoke Welsh.[1]

Family[edit]

Egerton was the eldest son of Henry Egerton, Bishop of Hereford, himself a younger son of the 3rd Earl of Bridgewater. Egerton served under his father as Dean of Hereford and was later Bishop of Bangor 1756–68, Bishop of Lichfield 1768–71 and Bishop of Durham from 1771 until his death in 1787. On 21 November 1748, he married his cousin, Lady Anne Grey, a daughter and coheiress of the 1st Duke of Kent. They had three children:

Lady Anne died in 1780, and on 31 March 1782, Egerton married Mary Boughton, a sister of Sir Edward Boughton. Egerton died in 1787 and the title Earl of Bridgewater (a subsidiary title of his childless cousin, the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater) later passed to his eldest son in 1803.

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

Church of England titles
Preceded by
Zachary Pearce
Bishop of Bangor
1756–68
Succeeded by
John Ewer
Preceded by
Frederick Cornwallis
Bishop of Lichfield
1768–71
Succeeded by
Brownlow North
Preceded by
Richard Trevor
Bishop of Durham
1771–87
Succeeded by
Thomas Thurlow