Open main menu


HARDING, JOHN, D.D. (1805–1874), bishop of Bombay, son of William Harding, chief clerk in the transport office, and his wife Mary Harrison Ackland, was born in Queen Square, Bloomsbury, on 7 Jan. 1805. He was educated at Westminster School, proceeded to Worcester College, Oxford, and graduated B.A. in Michaelmas term 1826 as a third-class man in lit. human., his name appearing in the same class list with three other future bishops, Samuel Wilberforce of Oxford, Eden of Moray and Ross, and Trower of Gibraltar. In 1829 he became curate of Wendy in Cambridgeshire. After some other ministerial engagements he was appointed minister of Park Chapel, Chelsea, in 1834, and in 1836 became rector of the united parishes of St. Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe and St. Anne's, Blackfriars, in the city of London. William Romaine (d. 1795) [q. v.], one of the early evangelical leaders, had been rector of this church, and the doctrines of that school had been consistently maintained by his successors. Harding was an ardent 'evangelical,' and during the fifteen years of his incumbency his church was a favourite gathering-place of members of that school. His sermons were calm, thoughtful, and impressive. He was for some years secretary of the Pastoral Aid Society, and exhibited a warm interest in various religious societies of the evangelical school. Harding was selected by Archbishop Sumner for the see of Bombay, vacated by the resignation of Bishop Carr, and was consecrated in Lambeth Chapel on 10 Aug. 1851. In the same year he proceeded B.D. and D.D. at Oxford. He administered his diocese conscientiously, but lacked energy and originating power. His somewhat rigid evangelicalism led him to look coldly on 'brotherhoods' and other proposed agencies of the high church party for supplementing the deficiencies of missionary work in the diocese. He was little seen in his diocese except at the three chief centres of the province, and consequently had small personal knowledge of its real wants. He was the firm opposer of what are known as ritualistic practices. Failure of health led to his return home on furlough in 1867, and he resigned the see in 1869. He settled at Ore, near Hastings, where with increasing years his religious sympathies widened, and the clerical meetings at his house formed a rallying-point for clergy of widely different views. He was a frequent preacher at St. Mary's-in-the-Castle, Hastings, of which his friend the Rev. T. Vores was incumbent. He died at Ore on 18 June 1874. He married Mary, third daughter of W. Tebbs, esq., proctor in Doctors' Commons, but left no family. His only published works were a small volume of parochial sermons and 'Texts and Thoughts for Christian Ministers,' London, 1874.

[Private information; personal knowledge]

E. V.