Compton, Alwyne Frederick (DNB12)
COMPTON, LORD ALWYNE FREDERICK (1825–1906), bishop of Ely, born at Castle Ashby on 18 July 1825, was fourth son of Spencer Joshua Alwyne Compton, second marquis of Northampton [q. v.], by his wife Margaret, daughter of Major-general Douglas Maclean Clephane of Torloisk. He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, whence he graduated as fourteenth wrangler in 1848. He was ordained deacon in 1850 and priest in 1851.
After serving as curate of Horsham he was appointed in 1852 by his brother, who had recently become third marquis, to the rectory of Castle Ashby, the chief family seat. He held this benefice for twenty-six years.
In 1857 he was elected one of the proctors in Convocation for the diocese of Peterborough, and was re-elected on four successive occasions till he became an ex-officio member of the Lower House, through his appointment in 1875 by William Connor Magee, bishop of Peterborough, to the archdeaconry of Oakham. From the first he took an active interest in the business of Convocation, and became after a few years one of its leading members, was elected prolocutor on 30 April 1880, and held the office for nearly six years. Meanwhile, on 11 Nov. 1878, Compton was nominated by Lord Beaconsfield to the deanery of Worcester. At Worcester he promoted the common good of the city and county, and entered into the friendliest relations with his neighbours of all classes. He also effected changes in the arrangements for the triennial musical festivals in the cathedral with a view to securing greater reverence in the performances. After seven years at Worcester he was appointed by Lord Salisbury to the see of Ely on the death of James Russell Woodford [q. v.]. He was consecrated on 2 Feb. 1886. In 1882 he had been made Lord High Almoner, and he retained this office till his death.
Lord Alwyne increasingly won the respect and affection both of the clergy and the laity of his diocese during his episcopate of nearly twenty years, by his unostentatious liberality, his frankness and indifference to mere popularity, his unaffected modesty, and his unflagging zeal and industry in his episcopal work. Although his sermons made no pretensions to oratory either in form or delivery, or to originality of thought, they were often impressive from their simplicity, directness, and sincerity.
In his theological views he was an old-fashioned high churchman. At his primary and second visitations he expressed disapproval of the practice of evening communions on the ground that it was a departure from the long-received custom of the Church. But there was no diminution in the cordiality of his relations with the incumbents, whom he sought vainly to persuade to discontinue the practice. He felt that men of an opposite school, whose views were more advanced than his own, had likewise a place in the Church of England, and he was ready to protect them fearlessly, so far as they seemed to him to be within their rights, at the same time as he discountenanced excesses in ritual.
Compton's chief intellectual interest outside his clerical duties lay in the study of architecture and archæology, and he was a good draughtsman, especially of the details of architecture. He rendered a valuable service to historical students by collecting all the documents connected with the see which had been stored in different places, and causing them to be arranged and catalogued by an expert, and publishing the catalogue. He finally placed them in a building, once the gaol of the bishops of Ely in the days when they had civil jurisdiction, which he turned into a diocesan registry and muniment rooms.
In July 1905, on the completion of his eightieth year, he resigned his see and settled at Canterbury. He died there on 4 April 1906, and was buried in the churchyard of St. Martin's, which his garden bordered.
On 28 Aug. 1850 he married Florence Caroline, eldest daughter of Robert Anderson, a Brighton clergyman, by Caroline Dorothea, daughter of John Shore, first Lord Teignmouth [q. v.]. He left no issue. A portrait painted in middle age by Edward Clifford belongs to his widow.
[Chronicles of the Lower House of Convocation, 1857–86; the bishop published his Charges in 1889, 1893, 1897, and 1903; The Times, 5 April 1906; Guardian, 11 April 1906; personal knowledge.]