DEAN OF RIPON FOR 20 YEARS
We regret to announce that the Rev. the Hon. William Henry Fremantle, D.D., who resigned the Deanery of Ripon a year ago last September after holding it for 20 years, died in London yesterday, aged 85.
Dr. Fremantle was the second son of the late Sir T. F. Fremantle, who was raised to the peerage as Baron Cottesloe in 1874, when his son was rector of St. Mary, Bryanston-square. The Dean's mother was a daughter of Field-Marshal Sir George Nugent. Dr. Fremantle was born in 1831 and educated at Cheam preparatory school, passing on in due course to Eton, which was then going through a time of considerable expansion under Dr. Hawtrey. He proceeded to Balliol, where the long reign of Dr. Jenkyns was drawing to a close, and in 1853, the year before the Master's death, he graduated with a first class in Lit. Hum., being also in 1854 awarded the English Essay Prize for a dissertation on the influence of commerce on Christianity. In that year he was elected to a Fellowship at All Souls, and in 1855 was ordained deacon (priest in 1856) by Dr. Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford, not on the title of his Fellowship, but for the curacy of Middle Claydon, a parish near his home on the estate of Sir Harry Verney, the second baronet, with whom he maintained a close friendship for the next 40 years. In 1857 he accepted from All Souls College the vicarage of Lewknor, Oxfordshire, which he held for eight years. During his incumbency here he was selected as chaplain by Dr. Tait, then Bishop of London, a relationship which continued till Tait's death as Archbishop in 1882. The chaplain made himself of use in various matters that occupied the mind of his chief, notably in compiling, with the Hon. G. C. Brodrick, afterwards Warden of Merton, a volume giving all the ecclesiastical judgments of the Privy Council, to which Tait, then much exercised about the Final Court of Appeal, wrote an historical preface.
Enthusiasm for Causes In 1882 Mr. Gladstone, who must have sympathized rather with Dr. Fremantle's political Liberalism, than with his ecclesiastical latitudinarianism, nominated him to the important benefice of St. Mary, Bryanston-square. Here he found himself succeeding a worthy Evangelical, devoted to the black gown and all that went with it, and there is a tradition that the new rector heard the farewell sermon of the old, in which the congregation were sadly informed that they had had the Gospel faithfully preached to them, but that now other teaching was in store. He hoped they would prefer the truth though it might be necessary for that purpose to take sittings at Portman Chapel. But Mr. Fremantle, nothing if not sanguine, was not discouraged and, indeed, he had shown at Oxford an earnest Evangelical piety, being the like-minded companion of men such as Lord Radstock and Henry Wright, afterwards secretary of the Church Missionary Society. Possibly his temperament was too mercurial for the stern organizing requirements of a West London parish. But his parishioners could not be influenced by the charm of his simplicity and by the earnestness with which he threw himself into the causes for which he so keenly cared.
In 1882 he resigned his benefice on a summons to return to Balliol as Fellow, tutor, and chaplain, and almost at the same time he was appointed to a residentiary canonry at Canterbury. It is not necessary to dwell on the late Dean's devotion to Jowett, who was then in the heyday of his Mastership and whose sermons the Dean afterwards edited. In the following year he was Bampton Lecturer, and took for his theme "The World as the Subject of Redemption."
In 1895 the Hon. W. R. Fremantle, Dean of Ripon, who had been one of the pillars of Evangelicalism and a vigorous denouncer of "Essays and Reviews," died at an advanced age, and Lord Rosebery nominated the nephew to succeed his uncle. The new Dean was all for a large comprehensiveness, and was never happier than when he could bring Churchmen and Nonconformists and laymen of various ideas together in what he called "Christian conference."
As Dean of Ripon he was responsible for considerable parochial activity, to which he did full justice, and for some efforts to improve the interior arrangements of the Church. But his work still left him free for public interests. For instance, he was a great advocate of efforts in the direction of international arbitration and for the reduction of armaments. At each of the Peace Conferences held at The Hague he went over to preach to the British delegates in the English Church. He was one of the early sympathizers with the Old Catholic movement, and his frequent travels abroad developed his interest in the Christian movement of the Continent. He had an ardent personality, which perhaps, lacked its due measure of humour, but which never forfeited the respect of those who care for untiring enthusiasm in the causes which a man believes to be good. A dinner in London which celebrated his 80th birthday testified to the number of his friends as well as to the affection which he inspired in them. He was a strong opponent of Disestablishment in Wales, and during the Kikuyu controversy he addressed a vigorous letter to The Times in which he defended the admission of Nonconformists to the Holy Communion in the Church of England.
The late Dean as twice married, first in 1863 to Isabella, youngest daughter of Sir Guiling Eardley, whose international religious philanthropy was reproduced by his son-in-law. Mrs. Fremantle died in 1901, and two years later the dean married as his second wife, Sophia, eldest daughter of the late Major G. T. Stuart, of the 88th and 49th Regiments. By his first he had a large family. The best known of his sons is Mr. H. E. S. Fremantle, formerly editor of the South African News and a member of the Union Parliament. Another son, Mr. F. E. Fremantle, M.B., M.Ch., was Plague Medical Officer in the Punjab, and is now Medical Officer of Health for Hertfordshire.
The funeral will be at Essendon to-morrow at 12.