Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Girdlestone, Edward

GIRDLESTONE, EDWARD (1805–1884), canon of Bristol, youngest son of Samuel Rainbow Girdlestone, a chancery barrister, was born in London 6 Sept. 1805. An elder brother, Charles, is noticed above. He matriculated from Balliol College, Oxford, 10 June 1822, and in 1823 was admitted a scholar of his college, became B.A. in 1826, M.A. in 1829, and was ordained to the curacy of Deane, Lancashire, in 1828. Having taken priest's orders he became vicar of Deane in 1830. Lord-chancellor Cranworth, to whom he was personally unknown, conferred on him in 1854 the place of canon residentiary of Bristol Cathedral, in right of which he succeeded to the vicarage of St. Nicholas with St. Leonard, Bristol, in 1855, which he resigned in 1858 for the vicarage of Wapley with Codrington, Gloucestershire. In 1862 he became vicar of Halberton, Devonshire, and ultimately in March 1872 vicar of Olveston, near Almondsbury, Bristol. He was well known under the title of ‘The Agricultural Labourers' Friend,’ an appellation of which he was very proud. It was in 1867 that his first public efforts on behalf of the labourers were made, and at a meeting of the British Association at Norwich in the following year he suggested an agricultural labourers' union. He wrote, spoke, travelled, and organised in behalf of this object, and his name became associated with the meetings of various learned and philanthropic bodies. He was the means of removing upwards of six hundred families from the districts of the west of England, where work was scarce and poorly paid, to the more active and prosperous north. He caught cold while on a journey to visit the Prince of Wales, at Sandringham, and died of its effects in the canon's house, Bristol, 4 Dec. 1884. He was buried in the graveyard of Bristol Cathedral, 9 Dec. He married in 1832 Mary, eldest daughter of Thomas Ridgway of Wallsuches, in Deane parish. He was the author of:

  1. ‘Sermons,’ 1843, &c., eight pamphlets.
  2. ‘The Committee of Council on Education, an imaginary Enemy, a real Friend,’ 1850.
  3. ‘G. Marsh, the Martyr of Deane,’ 1851.
  4. ‘Sermons on Romanism and Tractarianism,’ 1851.
  5. ‘The Education Question,’ 1852.
  6. ‘Apostolical Succession neither proved matter of fact nor revealed in the Bible nor the Doctrine of the Church of England,’ 1857.
  7. ‘Reflected Truth, or the Image of God lost in Adam restored in Jesus Christ,’ 1859.
  8. ‘Remarks on “Essays and Reviews,”’ 1861.
  9. ‘Revelation and Reason,’ a lecture, 1883.

[Church of England Photographic Portrait Gallery, 1859, pt. vi., with portrait; Church Portrait Journal, August 1884, pp. 57–60, with portrait; Times, 5 Dec. 1884, p. 10, and 10 Dec. p. 6.]

G. C. B.