Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/MacColl, Malcolm

1531324Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement, Volume 2 — MacColl, Malcolm1912Augustus Robert Buckland

MACCOLL, MALCOLM (1831–1907), divine and author, born at Glenfinnan, Inverness-shire, on 27 March 1831, was the son of John MacColl of Glenfinnan by his wife Martha, daughter of Malcolm Macrae of Letterfeam in Kin tail. His childhood passed mainly at Kintail and Ballachulish. At about fifteen he was at school at Dalkeith, and on 14 Sept. 1854 he entered the theological department of Trinity College, Glenalmond. Ordained deacon in 1856 and priest in 1857 by the bishop of Glasgow, he was in 1856-7 in charge of Castle Douglas. He was curate of St. Mary's, Soho, London (1858-9); in 1860 curate of St. Barnabas, Pimlico; in 1861 of St. Paul's, Knightsbridge; in 1862-3 chaplain at St. Petersburg; in 1864-7 again at St. Paul's, Knightsbridge; in 1867-9 chaplain in Southern Italy; and in 1869 curate of Addington, Buckinghamshire. While at Glenalmond he attracted the notice of Gladstone, with whose political and religious views he identified himself through life. In 1865 he published (as 'Scrutator') a pamphlet in Gladstone's support, *Mr. Gladstone and Oxford.' A book, 'Science and Prayer,' which reached a fourth edition in 1866, also aided his progress. In 1868 he published 'Is there not a Cause?' (2nd edit. 1869), a defence of Gladstone's Irish church policy. In 1870 he was chaplain to Lord Napier and curate of St. Giles's, Camberwell. In 1871 he was presented by Gladstone to the City living of St. George's, Botolph Lane. The church was closed in 1891, but MacColl continued to receive the stipend. In 1875, during the controversy over the Public Worship Regulation Act, he issued a clever attack on the judicial committee of the privy council, entitled 'Lawlessness, Sacerdotalism and Ritualism.' In the same year he was present at the second Bonn conference on reunion. In 1876 he visited eastern Europe with Henry Parry Liddon [q. v.], and joined Liddon in denouncing Bulgarian atrocities which they believed they had seen (Johnston's Life and Letters of H. P. Liddon, pp. 210-11). He gave evidence before the Ecclesiastical Courts Commission of 1881. In 1884 he was presented by Gladstone to a residentiary canonry at Ripon. He defended that statesman's Irish policy in 'Reasons for Home Rule' (1886, nine edits.). Few political or ecclesiastical controversies escaped his pen. In 1899 he received the hon. D.D. degree from Edinburgh University, and published 'The Reformation Settlement' (10th edit. 1901). He gave evidence (with parts of which he was afterwards dissatisfied) before the royal commission appointed in 1904 to inquire into ritual excess. In 1903 he formally left the liberal party over its education policy. He died suddenly in London on 5 April 1907. He married in 1904 Consuelo Albinia, youngest daughter of Major-general W. H. Crompton-Stansfield, of Esholt Hall, Yorkshire, who survived him without issue.

MacColl was largely self-educated, and raised himself by industry, resolution, and literary aptitude. Controversy was the breath of his nostrils. Gladstone called him 'the best pamphleteer in England,' but apparently distrusted his learning (A. C. Benson, Life of E. W. Benson, ii. 657). In addition to many contributions to periodicals, various pamphlets, and works referred to, MacColl published:

  1. 'Life Here and Hereafter,' sermons, 1894.
  2. 'Christianity in Relation to Science and Morals,' 1889, 4th edit. 1890.
  3. 'England's Responsibility towards Armenia,' 1895.
  4. 'The Sultan and the Powers,' 1896.
  5. 'The Royal Commission and the Ornaments Rubric,' 1906.

[The Times, 6 April 1907; Guardian, 10 April 1907; A. Macrae, History of the Clan Macrae (in proof), p. 471; Men of the Time, 1887; D. C. Lathbury, Correspondence on Church and Religion of W. E. Gladstone, 1910, ii. 62, 318; Clergy List, 1857 and following years, and Crockford's Clerical Directory, 1886 and following years, where the dates of MacColl's ordination and early preferments are variously given; private information.]

A. R. B.