Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Moberly, George

MOBERLY, GEORGE (1803–1885), bishop of Salisbury, seventh son of Edward Moberly of St. Petersburg, a Russia merchant, by his wife Sarah, daughter of John Cayley, British consul-general in Russia, was born 10 Oct. 1803. He was educated first at Winchester College and then at Balliol College, Oxford, where he matriculated with a scholarship 13 March 1822. He graduated B.A. in 1825 with a first class in literæ humaniores, gained the chancellor's prize for the English essay in 1826, on the subject, 'Is a rude or a refined age more favourable to the production of works of fiction?' proceeded M.A. in 1828, and D.C.L. in 1836. He was select preacher before the university in 1833, 1858, and 1863, and Bampton lecturer in 1868. In 1826 he was elected to a fellowship at Balliol College, and was for some years one of the most brilliant and successful of the tutors who assisted Dr. Jenkyns to make Balliol the foremost college in Oxford. He was a public examiner in 1830, and again in 1833, 1834, and 1835. Manning was among his pupils, and also Tait, who succeeded him in his tutorship, and eventually consecrated him bishop of Salisbury. He vacated his fellowship on his marriage in 1834 with Mary, daughter of Thomas Crokat of Leghorn; but in 1835 he was appointed head-master of Winchester, a post which he held for thirty years. Leaving Oxford on the eve of the 'Oxford movement,' he took little, if any, active part in the various ecclesiastical controversies which were occasioned by it. His sympathies and opinions, however, were of the high-church school. Keble was his neighbour at Winchester and intimate friend, and he formally protested against the sentence of degradation pronounced upon W. G. Ward for the opinions expressed in his 'Ideal of a Christian Church considered.' This protest, contained in a letter to Richard Jenkyns [q. v.], master of Balliol, was published in 1845. As a schoolmaster he exerted much personal influence over his boys. When examining Rugby School along with Christopher Wordsworth he caught from Arnold much of his enthusiasm and some of his views. He approved the 'fagging' system (cf. his Winchester College Sermons, 2nd ser. Pref.), supported all the school traditions, and was conservative in his modes of teaching. Although beloved by many pupils, it cannot be said that he gave any impulse to the fame or progress of the school, and the numbers did not increase under his rule. In 1866 he resigned, and was presented to the rectory of Brightstone, Isle of Wight, and in 1868 became a canon of Chester Cathedral.

Moberly had been regarded as a possible bishop ever since 1850, and in 1857 an unsuccessful attempt had been made to induce the Duke of Newcastle to appoint him bishop of Sydney. But his promotion was delayed in consequence of his high-church leanings. At length in 1869 he was appointed by Mr. Gladstone to succeed Walter Kerr Hamilton [q. v.] as bishop of Salisbury, the first high-church appointment for many years, and he was consecrated 28 Oct.

In the administration of his diocese he followed the lines of his predecessor. He avoided dissensions; he founded a 'Diocesan Synod;' he escaped public attention. He was a diligent attendant in convocation and an infrequent one in the House of Lords, and, though a fairly impressive preacher, spoke rarely in either assembly. Though not unfavourable to the principle of the Public Worship Regulation Act of 1874, he voted for its withdrawal in deference to the public outcry which it occasioned, and refused to sign the bishops' pastoral, which was issued before the act came into operation. In 1872 he issued an appeal to churchmen, much to the indignation of the ritualists, to consent to the omission of the damnatory clauses from the Athanasian Creed; in 1873 he was a member of the committee appointed by convocation to consider the attitude of the church towards auricular confession, and assisted to draw its report; and in 1877 he spoke strongly in convocation against the use of the confessional, especially in schools (see Chronicle of Convocation, 6 July 1877, p. 331). The most concise indication of his general ecclesiastical position is to be found in the preface to the second edition of his university sermons on the 'Beatitudes' (1861). His publications were numerous, but consisted chiefly of single sermons and episcopal charges. The others are: 'Remarks on the proposed admission of Dissenters to the University of Oxford,' 1834; 'Practical Sermons,' 1838; 'Sermons at Winchester College,' 1844 (2nd series, 1848); 'The Sayings of the Great Forty Days,' 1844, frequently republished; 'The Law of the Love of God,' an essay on the commandments, 1854; sermons on the 'Beatitudes,' 1860 (2nd edition, with remarks on 'Essays and Reviews,' 1861); 'Letters to Sir W. Heathcote on Public Schools,' 1861; 'Brightstone Sermons,' 1867, frequently republished; 'The Administration of the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ, being the Bampton Lectures for 1868,' 1868; and he also contributed to a revision of portions of the New Testament, published by 'Five Clergymen' in 1857, 1858, and 1861.

For some time before his death his faculties had been decaying, and his episcopal duties were discharged by J. B. K. Kelly, formerly bishop of Newfoundland. In 1884 his resignation was determined upon, but the papers had not received his signature when he died at Salisbury on 6 July 1885 Five sons and seven daughters survived him.

[Guardian, 8 July 1885; Times, 7 July 1885; Sat. Review, Ix. 47; Davidson's Life of Archbishop Tait; Wilberforce's Life of Bishop Wilberforce; T. Mozley's Reminiscences of Oriel; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Wilfrid Ward's Life of W. G. Ward; R. E. Prothero's Dean Stanley, 1894; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

J. A. H.