Samuel Waldegrave

The Life And Testimony Of Samuel Waldegrave

John E. Hazelton, “Hold Fast”:

Bishop Samuel Waldegrave, of Carlisle (1817-1869), was a powerful exponent of the Gospel, and a few godly clergymen still living can speak of him as their father and instructor in Christ. 

There was no vacillation in Dr. Waldegrave and his sermons and charges are rich in spiritual truth. By his death the Church of England suffered a great loss; office did not spoil him or cause him to lower the tone of his testimony; in diocesan activities he was equal to any member of the Bench and the needs of districts destitute of the Gospel were for the first time supplied through him. Whether arm-in-arm with the late George Cowell, the well-known “Wayside Notes” writer of the “Gospel Magazine,” conversing upon their experience of Divine things, or in assemblies far from congenial to him, he was ever the same faithful servant of God. 

Ennobled by birth, his dignified presence and gentle address were so sanctified by grace that no Christian could converse with him for many minutes and fail to realize an atmosphere of godliness, which left long after a singular fragrance in the soul. Samuel Waldegrave was the second son of Admiral the Earl of Waldegrave, C.B. His preparatory education was conducted at Cheam, under Dr. Mayo, whose favourite pupil he was. He entered Baliol College, Oxford, in 1836, and took double first-class honours in 1839. He was ordained in 1842, his first curacy being St. Ebbe’s, Oxford—a parish intimately associated with the names of faithful Evangelical witnesses. A clever organizer, he succeeded in consolidating a new ecclesiastical district in St. Ebbe’s, and in building for it a church, of which he was appointed the first incumbent by Sir Robert Peel. In 1839 he was elected Fellow of All Souls’, but six years later be vacated that position by his marriage with Jane Anne, eldest daughter of Francis Pym, Esq., of the Hazells, Bedfordshire. About this time he became Rector of Barford St. Martin, near Salisbury. In 1816 he was appointed Public Examiner to the University; and four Vice-Chancellors named him as Select Preacher. He was also chosen Bampton Lecturer, and, in 1853, delivered a series of discourses, which afterwards appeared under the title of “New Testament Millenarianism.” Probably no work in the English language advocates the historic interpretation of prophecy more learnedly and exhaustively than do these Bampton Lectures. In 1857, the Lord Chancellor appointed him a Canon of Salisbury, and on the translation of Bishop Villiers from the See of Carlisle to that of Durham, Lord Palmerston preferred Dr. Waldegrave to the former.

His devotion to the spiritual interests of his responsible charge was intense and unwearying. He was first and foremost a preacher of the Word. His acquaintance with the Hebrew and Greek originals of Holy Scripture was exceptionally deep and thorough. Few men could approach him in ability as a critic of the mis-called “Higher Critics,” while his pulpit expositions of the sacred text were characterized by a simplicity and lucidity which ever commanded the intelligence of the keenest of his educated hearers, and the attention of the humblest members of the congregations he addressed. Whether preaching before the cultured members of his University, or a small assemblage of Cumberland or Westmoreland salesmen, his style was attractively fervent, and his tones persuasively sympathetic, while his proclamation of such unpopular doctrines as the Divine sovereignty, election by grace, the special redemption of the Church, and the utter perversion of the will of man—as fallen—were enunciated without respect of persons. It was one of the many kindly features in Dr. Waldegrave’s character to feel and show practical sympathy for the need of others, especially when they belonged to the household of faith. Few things were more to his mind than to make a tour of the remote and small parishes in his scattered diocese, and to liberate for a few weeks the parochial clergy by occupying their pulpits during their absence. His Lordship on one occasion visited the parish of Bassenthwaite under such conditions, and in the course of an exposition of John 3:14,15, the preacher did not hesitate to affirm, in so many words, “My friends, Christ endured the hell of His people!” What an epitome of sound divinity! How rarely heard from any preacher’s lips to-day—indeed, is there a living Bishop on the Bench who ever ventured to make that unqualified, truly Gospel, soul-satisfying proclamation?

His last illness was of an acutely painful and distressing character. No murmur was ever heard from him, but only expressions of thankfulness at the relief which he was able to obtain from the soothing remedies employed. One of his loved clergy, now also in glory, visited the dying Bishop, and heard from his lips a touching sentiment to the following effect: “I thank God more and more for that little word ‘thick’ in the Scripture, ‘I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins; return unto Me, for I have redeemed thee.'” He had a deep sense of sin and personal unworthiness. His views of the freeness of redeeming grace were high and adoring. His spirit was thus chastened, lowly, and tender. Never were the tones of his softly-breathed words in the pulpit so affecting as when he spoke of the “poor sinner!”

The dying Bishop evinced the deepest concern for the flock whom the Lord had committed to his trust, one of his plaintive sayings being “I can leave my wife, I can leave my children; but oh, my people, my people!”

Samuel Waldegrave (1817-1869) was an Anglican preacher. In 1842, he was appointed to the curacy of St. Ebbe’s, Oxford. In 1846, he became Rector of Barford St. Martin, near Salisbury. In 1857, he was appointed Canon of Salisbury, and then Bishop of the See of Carlisle. In our judgment, he nurtured high views of sovereign grace. Although his printed sermons speak of making an “offer” to sinners, yet they seem to be always qualified and only given to those who have been made sensible of their need under the regenerating power of God.