Alexander Forbes (bishop of Brechin)

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The Right Reverend
Alexander Forbes
Bishop of Brechin
Alexander Forbes (Brechin).jpg
ChurchScottish Episcopal Church
In office1847-1875
PredecessorDavid Moir
SuccessorHugh Jermyn
by Richard Bagot
Consecration28 October 1847
by William Skinner
Personal details
Born(1817-06-16)16 June 1817
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died8 October 1875(1875-10-08) (aged 58)
Dundee, Scotland
BuriedSt Paul's Cathedral, Dundee
SpouseEleanor Wemyss

Alexander Penrose Forbes (16 June 1817 – 8 October 1875), a Scottish Episcopalian divine, he was born at Edinburgh. A leading cleric in the whiggish Church of England in Scotland, he was Bishop of Brechin from 1847 until his death in 1875.


He was the second son of John Hay Forbes, Lord Medwyn, a judge of the court of session, and grandson of Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo. He studied first at the Edinburgh Academy, then for two years under the Rev. Thomas Dale, the poet, in Kent, passed one session at Glasgow University in 1831 and, having chosen the career of the Indian civil service, completed his studies with distinction at Haileybury College. In 1836 he went to Madras and secured early promotion, but in consequence of ill-health he was obliged to return to England. He then entered Brasenose College, Oxford, where in 1841 he, obtained the Boden Sanskrit scholarship, and graduated in 1844.[1]

He was at Oxford during the early years of the movement known as Tractarianism, and was powerfully influenced by association with John Henry Newman, Edward Bouverie Pusey and John Keble. This led him to resign his Indian appointment. In 1844 he was ordained deacon and priest in the Church of England, and held curacies at Aston Rowant and St Thomas's, Oxford; but being naturally attracted to the Episcopal Church of his native land, then recovering from long depression, he removed in 1846 to Stonehaven, the chief town of Kincardineshire. The same year, however, he was appointed to the vicarage of St Saviours, Leeds, a church founded to preach and illustrate Tractarian principles.[1]

On 28 October 1847 Forbes was consecrated to succeed Bishop Moir in the see of Brechin; he removed the episcopal residence to Dundee, where he resided till his death, combining the pastoral charge of the congregation with the duties of the see. When he came to Dundee the churchmen were accustomed owing to their small numbers to worship in a room over a bank. Through his energy several churches were built, and among them the pro-cathedral of St Paul's.[1]

He was prosecuted in the church courts for heresy, the accusation being founded on his primary charge, delivered and published in 1857, fit which he set forth his views on the Eucharist. He made a powerful defence of the charge, and was acquitted with a censure and an admonition. Keble wrote in his defence, and was present at his trial at Edinburgh. Forbes was a good scholar, a scientific theologian and a devoted worker, and was much beloved. He died at Dundee on 8 October 1875.[1]

Forbes' younger brother George Hay Forbes was also a member of the Episcopalian clergy, patristics scholar and editor. Bishop Forbes' correspondence is held by Archive Services at the University of Dundee as part of the Brechin Diocesan Library Manuscripts Collection.[2][3] This collection includes correspondence with William Gladstone.[4]

St Drostan's Episcopal Church in Tarfside, Glen Esk was built in 1879 in memory of Bishop Forbes.[5][6]

Principal works[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Forbes, Alexander Penrose". Encyclopædia Britannica. 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 636.
  2. ^ "University of Dundee Archives Services Online Catalogue Correspondence of Alexander Penrose Forbes". University of Dundee. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  3. ^ "University of Dundee Archives Services the Collections". University of Dundee. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  4. ^ "General Election Special 2: Political leaders in the Archives". Archives, Records and Artefacts at the University of Dundee. University of Dundee. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  5. ^ "BrMS 11 Records of Tarfside Episcopal Church, Lochlee". Archive Services Online Catalogue. University of Dundee. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
  6. ^ "The church & its history". St Drostan’s Church & Lodge. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
Secondary sources
  • Mackey, Bishop Forbes, a Memoir

External links[edit]

Religious titles
Preceded by
David Moir
Bishop of Brechin
1847 – 1875
Succeeded by
Hugh Jermyn