Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Parry, Edward (1830-1890)
PARRY, EDWARD (1830–1890), bishop suffragan of Dover, eldest surviving son of Rear-admiral Sir William Edward Parry [q. v.], the Arctic explorer, was born on 14 Jan. 1830, at Sydney, N.S.W., where his father held a temporary appointment from 1830 to 1834. In 1840 he was sent to Mr. Brown's school at Cheam, and thence, towards the close of 1843, to Rugby, under the headmastership of Arnold's successor, Dr. Tait. His house-master, Mr. Cotton, afterwards bishop of Calcutta, remained a staunch friend through life. In 1846 he had reached the ‘sixth,’ and in 1849, after winning many prizes, he was awarded a university exhibition of 60l. a year. He was head of the school during Dr. Tait's last year, 1848–49; and thenceforward, as he said in after years, Tait proved himself almost a second father to him.
Owing to ill-health, Parry was prevented from trying for the Balliol scholarship, but in October 1849 he went as a commoner to that college under Dr. Jenkyns. In December 1852 he took a first class in lit. hum. in the last class list under the old system; he graduated B.A. 1852, M.A. 1855, and D.D. 1870. Being ineligible in those days for almost all Oxford fellowships, by reason of his alien birthplace, he went in January 1853 as tutor to Durham University. In 1854 he was ordained deacon (priest 1855), and undertook a long-vacation curacy among the Norham pitmen. At the close of 1856 he left Durham to become curate under Hugh Pearson [see under Pearson, Hugh Nicholas] at Sonning; but in the Easter of 1857 Dr. Tait, who had recently been transferred to the see of London, selected him to be his first domestic chaplain. Parry was thus thrown into the very centre of church life in the metropolis. His secretarial duties were severe, but he found time to continue some parochial work in Marylebone, under Garnier, afterwards dean of Lincoln, and to take a part in starting the London Diocesan Home Mission. In February 1859 the bishop appointed him to the rectory of St. Mary's, Acton, and made him one of his examining chaplains. Acton was just developing from a small country hamlet into a populous metropolitan suburb. To meet its growing spiritual needs, Parry rebuilt St. Mary's Church, enlarged the schools, obtained sites for two new churches, and erected two school churches. In 1863 he became rural dean of Ealing. In the spring of 1869 Dr. Tait, who had just succeeded to the primacy, appointed him archdeacon and canon of Canterbury.
From being little more than a diocesan see, Canterbury, under Tait's rule, was fast becoming a patriarchate, and the new life of the Anglican church, at home and overseas, had extraordinarily increased the work at Lambeth. The act of 26 Henry VIII, chapter 14, for creating bishops-suffragan to assist the diocesan bishops, although still extant, had been disused since the reign of Elizabeth. But in 1869, after an attack of an almost fatal illness, Tait obtained the assent of Mr. Gladstone to the nomination of Parry as his suffragan in accordance with the provisions of the ancient statute. In 1868 the government had refused to allow the bishop of Lincoln to appoint a bishop-suffragan of Nottingham, but this prohibition was now withdrawn, and in February 1870 Henry Mackenzie [q. v.] was consecrated to that office. A few weeks later Parry was consecrated in Lambeth Chapel, on Lady Day 1870, as fourth bishop of Dover (his predecessor in title, Richard Rogers [q. v.], died in 1597).
The revival of so archaic an office was received with apathy, even disfavour. But in his double capacity of bishop and archdeacon Parry threw himself into his new work with characteristic thoroughness. Before his consecration the average number of confirmations in the diocese had not exceeded twenty-seven a year, and no bishop, it was said, had been seen within man's memory in three out of every four parishes. The number of confirmations under Parry's régime rose at once to eighty or ninety annually, and after several years of strenuous labour there remained no incumbency of the archdeaconry in which he had not at least officiated once, while the annual visitations which he held at Canterbury were opportunities for strengthening his intimacy with both clergy and laity in the diocese. Within the cathedral city the parochial system was strengthened through his efforts by the grouping of the too numerous and ill-endowed parishes under fewer incumbents, and he actively exerted himself on behalf of local charities and institutes. In the lower house of convocation his judgment was highly esteemed. ‘I rejoice to think,’ Archbishop Tait once said in the House of Lords, ‘that in my diocese I have had the help of a suffragan who is beloved by the clergy among whom he has laboured; and one effect of his labours among them has been very greatly to increase both my efficiency and the efficiency of the church in the diocese of Canterbury.’
In 1879 Lightfoot, on making his first entry into the see of Durham, invited Parry to his assistance during the autumn. In November 1882 he declined, with some reluctance, the offer, by the synod of the diocese, of the bishopric of Sydney with the office of metropolitan of Australia. A fortnight later Archbishop Tait died; but Parry continued the work which he had himself originated, at the cordial invitation of Tait's successor, Archbishop Benson. Owing to declining health, he resigned his suffragan's commission in November 1889, and he died on 11 April 1890. He was buried in the churchyard of St. Martin's, Canterbury. The fine recumbent effigy in the nave of Canterbury Cathedral, the replica in Lambeth Palace of the portrait by Prof. Herkomer, R.A., presented in 1886 by the Kentish clergy and laity to his wife, the Parry library in the King's School, Canterbury, and the Parry prize fund at the Clergy Orphan School, are marks of the affection in which his memory was held. Memorial tablets were also erected in Rugby Chapel and in St. Mary's Church at Acton.
In May 1859 he married Matilda, eldest daughter of Benjamin Williams, esq., of Limpsfield, Surrey. She and six children survived him.
Though allied by his early surroundings to the evangelical school, Parry was no doctrinaire or party man. The keynote of his visitation charges is catholic tolerance, fairness, and generous sympathy with good men of all schools. In his opinion it was the duty of the clergy to master the bearings of modern research upon Holy Writ, while basing their main principles on the divinity and personal work of Christ. For many years he was librarian to the chapter, and any point of antiquarian or architectural interest was always sure of his attention. By his personal character and example he formed and fulfilled the ideal of a new and high office in the English church.
His published works are the lives of his father and sailor-brother: 1. ‘Memoirs of Rear-admiral Sir W. E. Parry’ (1857), and 2. ‘Memorials of Charles Parry, R.N.’ (1870).[Personal knowledge; obituary notices, Times 12 April 1890, Guardian 16 April 1890, Kentish Observer 17 April 1890.]