Denison, Edward (1801-1854) (DNB00)

DENISON, EDWARD, the elder (1801–1854), bishop of Salisbury, was born at 34 Harley Street, London, on 13 March 1801. His father, John Wilkinson, a merchant in London, was first cousin of William Denison of Kirkgate, Leeds, who left him the bulk of his large property on condition that he assumed the name of Denison and continued the business in Leeds. This he accordingly did, and afterwards resided at Ossington, Nottinghamshire, became M.P. for Chichester, and died at 2 Portman Square, London, on 6 May 1820. His mother, his father's second wife, was Charlotte, second daughter of Samuel Estwicke, M.P. for Westbury. Edward Denison received his early education at Esher, and in 1811 entered Eton, whence in 1818 he proceeded to Oriel College, Oxford, where in 1822 he took a first class and his B. A. degree. He was elected a fellow of Merton College in 1826, proceeded M.A., and received ordination on 23 Dec. 1827. After serving as curate at Wolvercot, near Oxford, and at Radcliffe in Nottinghamshire, he returned to Oxford and took charge of the parish of St. Peter, where he remained until his appointment to the see of Salisbury. He acquired some reputation while filling the office of select preacher before the university in 1834, but in 1835 violently opposed the admission of dissenters to the colleges of Oxford. His scholarship and energy of character, however, recommended him to Lord Melbourne, and at the early age of thirty-six he was consecrated bishop of Salisbury (16 April 1837), having on 5 April previously been created D.D. by his university. He immediately increased the number of Sunday services in the parish churches, and reformed the mode of conducting confirmations. When the cholera broke out in Salisbury the bishop boldly encountered the disease in the crowded homes of the poor, working both as a religious teacher and as a sanitary reformer. It is stated that he expended upwards of 17,000l. in charity, and never saved a single shilling from the revenues of the see. He invariably preached in one of the churches of Salisbury whenever he was in that city on a Sunday. He was a well-known advocate of the revival of the church's synodical powers, and in convocation displayed considerable resolution in furthering the movement. His patronage was impartially bestowed, and in all practical work he displayed administrative power, although in his theological views he was always somewhat intolerant. He died from the effects of a cold, which terminated in a black jaundice, in the Close, Salisbury, on 6 March 1854, aged, only fifty-three, and was buried in the cloisters of the cathedral on 15 March. He married, first, on 27 June 1839, Louisa Mary, second daughter of Henry Ker Seymer of Hanford, Dorsetshire, she died on 22 Sept. 1841; secondly, on 10 July 1845, the Hon. Clementina Baillie-Hamilton, fourth daughter of the Ven. Charles Baillie-Hamilton, archdeacon of Cleveland. Denison was the author of several works, chiefly sermons and charges. Of these may be mentioned:

  1. 'The Sin of Causing Offence,' a sermon, 1835.
  2. 'A Review of the State of the Question respecting the Admission of Dissenters to the Universities,' 1835.
  3. 'Sermons preached before the University of Oxford,' 1836.
  4. 'The Church the Teacher of her Children,' a sermon, 1839.
  5. 'The Obligation of the Clergy in Preaching the Word of God,' a charge, 1842.
  6. 'Difficulties in the Church,' a sermon, 1853.
  7. 'Speech in the House of Lords, June 25, 1853, relative to the Charge of having received more than the legitimate Income of his See,' 1853.

[Gent. Mag. April 1854, pp. 418-20; Eton Portrait Gallery (1876), pp. 157-62; Morning Chronicle, 8 March 1854, pp. 3, 4.]

G. C. B.