Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Lyne, Joseph Leycester

LYNE, JOSEPH LEYCESTER, 'Father Ignatius' (1837–1908), preacher, born in Trinity Square in the parish of All Hallows Barking, on 23 Nov. 1837, was the second son of seven children of Francis Lyne, merchant of the City of London, by his wife Louisa Genevieve (d. 1877), daughter of George Hanmer Leycester, of White Place, near Maidenhead, Berkshire, who came of the well-known Cheshire family, the Leycesters of Tabley. In October 1847 Lyne entered St. Paul's school under Herbert Kynaston [q. v.]. In 1852, after suffering corporal punishment for a breach of discipline, he was removed, and his education was completed at private schools at Spalding and Worcester. He early developed advanced views of sacramental doctrine. An acquaintance with Bishop Robert Eden [q. v.] procured his admission to Trinity College, Glenalmond. There he studied theology from 1850 to 1858 under William Bright [q. v. Suppl. II], and impressed the warden, John Hannah [q. v.], by his earnest piety. After a year's lay work as catechist at Inverness, where his eccentricity and impatience of discipline brought him into collision with Bishop Eden, Lyne was ordained in 1860, on the express condition that he should remain a deacon, and abstain from preaching for three years. He became curate to George Rundle Prynne [q. v. Suppl. II], vicar of St. Mary's, Plymouth, and soon started a guild for men and boys with himself as superior. Encouraged by Priscilla Lydia Sellon [q. v.], and largely influenced by Edward Bouverie Pusey [q. v.], who presented him with his first monastic habit, he projected a community house on a monastic pattern, when illness interrupted his activities. At Bruges, where he went to recruit, he studied the rule of the Benedictine order. On his return in 1861 he replaced Alexander Heriot Mackonochie [q. v.] as curate of St. Goorge's-in-the-East, London, and took charge of St. Saviour's mission church. Now convinced of his monastic vocation, he assumed the Benedictine habit. The innovation was challenged by Charles Fuge Lowder [q. v.], his ritualist vicar, and after nine months Lyne resigned rather than abandon his monastic dress.

In 1862 Lyne, who henceforth called himself 'Father Ignatius,' issued a pamphlet in favour of the revival of monasticism in the Church of England. This publication excited vehement controversy. Together with one or two kindred spirits Lyme formed at Claydon, near Ipswich, a community, which was frequently menaced by protestant violence The bishop of Norwich, John Thomas Pelham [q. v.], refused him a licence to preach and subsequently inhibited him. In 1863 Lyne acquired premises at Elm Hill, near Norwich, in face of local opposition. Special masses celebrated for the community by the sympathising vicar in the church of St. Lawrence, Norwich, at Lyne's instigation, produced further conflicts between him and the bishop. Lyne's appeal for support to Bishop Samuel Wilberforce [q. v.] only elicited a recommendation of submission. Forcing himself upon public notice by addressing the Bristol Church Congress of 1863, he could only secure a hearing through the interposition of Bishop Charles John Ellicott [q. v. Suppl. II]. His life at Norwich was varied by a mission in London and by quarrels within the community. In 1866, owing to a flaw in the title-deeds Lyne found himself dispossessed of his Elm Hill properity, and he retired to a house at Chale lent him by Dr. Pusey, who remained his friend. In 1867 he removed to Laleham, and at Feltham nearby he started a Benedictine community of Anglican sisters, who subsequently seceded to Rome. From 1866 to 1868 be preached regularly at St Bartholomew's Moor Lane, and other City churches. But his conduct was so extravagant that he was suspended by Archibald Campbell Tait [q. v.], bishop of London.

In 1869 Lyne purchased land in the Black mountains, South Wales, and built Llanthony Abbey. The cost of the building, which remained incomplete, was defrayed by friends and the pecuniary returns of Lyne's mission preaching. Accounts of miracles and supernatural visitatione enhanced the local prestige of the monastery, of which 'Father Ignatius' constituted himself abbot. But the life of the community never ran smoothly. Few joined the order; in many cases those who joined soon fell away. In 1873 Lyne was summoned before Vice-chancellor Sir Richard Malins [q. v.] for detaining Richard Alfred Todd, a ward in chancery, as a novice at Llanthony, and was ordered to release the young man (The Times, 26 July 1873). His difficulties were increased by family quarrels. His father, who had persistently opposed his son's extreme Anglican practices, repudiated him altogether after his mother's death in 1877, and publicly denounced his conduct and doctrines.

'Father Ignatius' combined the profession of a cloistered monk with the activities of a wandering friar. When the churches were closed to him, he preached in lecture halls and theatres, and impressed the public everywhere by his eloquence. On 12 Dec. 1872 he appeared as the champion of Christianity in an interesting public encounter with Charles Bradlaugh [q. v.] at the Hall of Science in Old Street, London.

In 1890-1 he made a missionary tour through Canada and the United States. He was cordially invited to preach in the churches of all denominations; but his zeal for heresy-hunting was not appreciated by the episcopal church of America. On his return he initiated a petition to the archbishops and convocation for coercive measures against the higher critics of the scriptures; and at the Birmingham Church Congress of 1893 he denounced Dr. Gore for his essay on inspiration in 'Lux Mundi' (1889). In 1898 he was irregularly admitted to the priesthood by the Syrian Archbishop and Metropolitan for the Old Catholics of America, Mar Timotheus (Joseph Villatte). He died unmarried at Camberley on 16 Oct. 1908, and was buried at Llanthony Abbey. The abbey was left to the few remaining monks, subject to the right of an adopted son, William Leycester Lyne; in 1911 it passed into the hands of the Anglo-Benedictine community of Caldey. A caricature by 'Ape' appeared in 'Vanity Fair' in 1887.

'Father Ignatius's' effort to revive monasticism in England bore little fruit. His persuasive oratory and his courage in the face of persecution were combined with extravagance of conduct and an impatience of authority which rendered him unable to work even with sympathisers. Of versatile talent, Lyne composed sacred music, and wrote a volume of verse, 'The Holy Isle: a legend of Bardsey' (1870); and two monastic tales, 'Brother Placidus, and why he became a Monk' (1870) and 'Leonard Morris, or the Benedictine Novice' (1871). Two volumes of addresses, 'Mission Sermons' (1886; 2nd ed. 1890) and 'Jesus only ' (1889), were edited by J. V. Smedley.

[Baroness de Bertouche, Memoir of Father Ignatius, 1904; Father Michael, O.S.B., Father Ignatius in America, 1893; The Times, 17 Oct. 1908; Guardian, 21 Oct.; Church Times, 23 Oct.; Life of Samuel Wilberforce, 1883, iii. 165; Life of Archibald Campbell Tait, 1891, i. 502-5; Charles Bradlaugh, his Life and Work, 1894, i. 342; Edmund Yates, Celebrities at Home, 2nd ser., 1878, p. 207 seq.; The other side, being the award of Augustus A. Leycester in the matter of arbitration between Francis Lyne and Rev. J. L. Lyne (i.e. father and son), 1886.]

G. S. W.