Leadbeater and Peter Finch

Following the annual Convention of the Theosophical Society, followed by a meeting of the General Episcopal Synod of the Liberal Catholic Church, at Adyar in December 1925, Leadbeater returned to Sydney. Accompanying him was a young boy, Peter Finch, whose grandmother had an interest in Theosophy and Buddhism, and had attended the Convention. Her grandson, being in her custody, had also been present, manifestly bored, until he was “given in charge” to Dick Balfour Clarke.

I.M. Britain, in The Australian Dictionary of Biography, comments of Finch at Adyar:      His waif-like aura and wafer-thin body proved irresistible, at least in the spiritual sense, for Adyar’s twin panjandrums Dr Annie Besant and ‘Bishop’ Charles Leadbeater. From Dr Besant, Peter had lessons in meditation; ‘Bishop’ Leadbeater was more noted for his lessons in masturbation. http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/finch-frederick-george-peter-ingle-10179 The lessons in meditation from Besant seem entirely probable. There was no evidence whatsoever that Leadbeater engaged in any form of sexual activity with the boy.

Finch was taken to Sydney without his grandmother, enrolled in the Theosophically inspired Garden School, and confirmed into the Liberal Catholic Church by Leadbeater on October 10 1926. He was removed from the Garden School when his mother’s estranged husband located him and enrolled him in a local public school.

As the British born Australian actress Enid Lorimer (1887-1982) recalled the story:                 In 1925, Enid travelled to India for the Theosophist’s Golden Jubilee in Adyar, near present day Chennai (Madras), and here she came across a 9 year old English boy, who had been brought to the huge conference by his somewhat unattentive grandmother. He was running wild, and had attached himself to a Buddhist monk and was wearing saffron robes and a shaven head. Enid was asked to teach him to read and write in English (as he had been educated only in French.) Annie Besant, President of the Theosophical Society herself decided that the boy should be sent to Sydney, live in the Manor, and attend the school there. Here Enid continued to teach him and they formed a long term bond. She was aware of his very special charm, intelligence and ability as a mimic. http://enidlorimer.com/#/enid-and-children/4539070710

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Frederick George Peter Ingle Finch (1916-1977) went on to become a notable English born Australian actor.

For Peter Finch, see:

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/finch-frederick-george-peter-ingle-10179

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Finch

Elaine Dundy Finch, Bloody Finch: A Biography of Peter Finch. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1980

Trader Faulkner Peter Finch: A Biography. London: Angus & Robertson, 1979

 

Harold Morton reconsiders

When Leadbeater was critically ill in hospital in Perth, Western Australia, having been taken from the ship on which he was sailing from India to Sydney, he asked that one of his young disciples, a Liberal Catholic Priest and General Secretary of the Theosophical Society be summoned urgently. Harold Morton flew to Perth, and was one of the few people to talk to Leadbeater before his death. He conducted the funeral service in St John’s Liberal Catholic Church following Leadbeater’s death. Subsequently he resigned as General Secretary of the Theosophical Society.

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Ten years after Leadbeater’s death, Morton wrote to another close disciple, Russell (Dick) Balfour Clarke:

At that time I believed in his wisdom, etc. as a complete devotee does.   Then came my complete rejection of his teachings.  I cannot accept his occult claims any longer, can you?  Do you still accept Initiations and the whole story woven by C.W.L. along those lines?  The World Mother?  red and green angels from Alpha Centauri!!!  and what about the five (or seven) sacred virgins of the Java legend?  My, what an imagination, what audacity; what a set of mad followers to listen to such stories.

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And, at the bottom of the letter, Dick Balfour-Clarke had written that, when he received the letter in 1944 he could not sympathize with its views, but now “I have changed my views so much that I can no longer take issue with” Morton.  That comment was dated 1977.

Dick Balfour Clarke showed me the letter when I met with him in Adyar in 1979. A copy of it is in my collection.

 

“John Bull”

The English publication most involved in making “news” about Leadbeater available was John Bull. Since 12 May 1906 it had been published by a friend of Annie Besant, Horatio Bottomley.

horatio

Horatio William Bottomley (1860-1933) was an English financier, journalist, editor, newspaper proprietor and Member of Parliament, and as was subsequently found, swindler. In 1922, he was convicted of fraud and sentenced to seven years imprisonment, and his multiple careers, including that of rabid patriot, came to an abrupt end.

For Bottomley, see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horatio_Bottomley

http://spartacus-educational.com/FWWbottomley.htm

https://magforum.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/bottomley-the-swindling-john-bull/

Julian Symons Horatio Bottomley House of Stratus, revised edition, 2008

Alan Hyman The Rise and Fall of Horatio Bottomley: The biography of a swindler Cassell, 1972

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In 1909, John Bull had also decided that there was good copy in Leadbeater. Bottomley had run headlines reading “A Teacher of Filth. Pitiful Degradation of the London Theosophical Lodge”.  This was followed by details of Leadbeater’s resignation and arguments over his re-admission to the TS.  Bottomly described Leadbeater as “an individual who, instead of being permitted to work with decent men and women, should be tied to a cart tail and flogged from Temple Bar to Aldgate pump.” [John Bull February 9, 1909:141]

Bottomly announced that he was directing the attention of the Director of Public Prosecutions to the matter, alarmed that the TS was “gathering into its ranks an army of morbid moral degenerates, whose teachings are calculated to undermine the character and sap the manhood of our race.” [John Bull February 9, 1909:141]

This was followed in the next issue by “Plain Words to Mrs Besant. The Theosophical Society Scandal”.  Bottomley proclaimed that Leadbeater was “polluting the morals and undermining the character and latent manhood of youths…. Mrs Besant must either prove herself a pure woman, or stand condemned as an avowed ally of a dangerous sex pervert – a loathsome moral degenerate.” [John Bull February 13, 1909:165]

This campaign was maintained, on and off, for several years, along with exposes of various religious movements, speculators and business frauds, culminating in 1912 with the headlines:  “Deified and Defiled. Two Boys and a Beast”.  The two boys were Krishnamurti and Nityananda; the identity of the beast was not difficult to guess.  The article puritanically declared that “Details of his precepts cannot, of course, be set forth in the public press”, and concluded: “Leadbeater, in our opinion, is not a fit person to be the guardian of a pig;   and so long as Mrs Besant thinks fit to associate herself with him, she cannot expect the tenets of which she is so eloquent and exponent to make progress in a civilized country.” [John Bull November 16, 1912:642]

John Bull subsequently published more stories about Leadbeater and about the Liberal Catholic Church.

 

Archives: The Liberal Catholic Church

Given Leadbeater’s long and dominant role in the Liberal Catholic Church, it can be assumed that the archives of the Church contain relevant and significant material relating to him.

Given the number of schisms and divisions in the Liberal Catholic Church in modern times, it is necessary to say that the Liberal Catholic Church to which this post refers is that which has its international headquarters in London.

The Archives were for many years located in the international headquarters of the Church in Drayton House, 30 Gordon Street, London. When Eric Taylor was the Presiding Bishop of the Church, he gave me limited access to those Archives, which were far less in quantity than I had assumed. They included materials going back to Archbishop Mathew and Wedgwood’s consecration as a Bishop. There is some reference to what they contained in two publications of the Church: James Burton (ed) The Official Records of the Synod During the Period 1910-1920 of the Liberal Catholic (Old Catholic) Church. Part I 1910-1915 and James Burton (ed) The Official Records of the Synod During the Period 1910-1920 of the Liberal Catholic (Old Catholic) Church. Part I 1915-1920. The Church claimed to have acquired a number of archival documents deriving from Archbishop Mathew.

When the financial circumstances of the Church deteriorated, the lease on the offices at Drayton House was given up, and the Archives were removed to All Saints Liberal Catholic Pro-Cathedral, 205c Upper Richmond Road, Putney, London, SW15 6SQ, England.

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During a period in which there were “difficulties” involving Bishops in the United Kingdom, the Archives appear to have been removed but, eventually, returned.

Requests for access to those Archives would need to be addressed to the Presiding Bishop: The Rt Rev Graham Wale PresidingBishop@TheLCC.org

The Archives of the Liberal Catholic Church in Australia are significant because of the important historical developments regarding the Church, including Leadbeater’s ordination as a Bishop, which occurred in Sydney. Those Archives are now held at the national headquarters of the Church in Sydney: Church of St Francis and St Alban, 21 St Johns Avenue, Gordon, NSW, 2072.Requests for access to the Archives would need to be directed to the Regionary Bishop for Australia:The Rt Rev. Graham Preston bp.graham.preston@liberalcatholicchurch.org.au

 

The Gauntlett Statement

Bernard Edward Rupert Gauntlett (1881-1924) was originally a member of the Catholic Apostolic Church (the “Irvingites”). He joined the Theosophical Society and became the Secretary of the Theosophical Order of Healers. He subsequently joined the Old Catholic Church in Great Britain under Archbishop Mathew and was ordained a Priest by Mathew on 1 July 1914. He resigned from Mathew’s Church on 25 September 1915, together with all Mathew’s Priests who were Theosophists, after Mathew issued a decree forbidding them to be members of the Theosophical Society or the Order of the Star in the East. He was ordained a Bishop of 26 September 1915 by Willoughby (at the same ceremony was Robert King was ordained). He was an assisting Bishop at the ordination as a Bishop of Wedgwood on 13 February 1916.

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Gauntlett formally resigned from the Church of which Wedgwood had become leader on March 14, 1924, as a result of sexual scandals in which allegations had been made against Wedgwood, King and a number of Liberal Catholic Priests.

Several years prior to his formal resignation, he made a sworn declaration regarding the circumstances of Wedgwood’s resignation as Presiding Bishop:

June 23, 1922

I, RUPERT GAUNTLETT, of 9 Talbot Mansions, Museum Street, W.C. 1, make the following statement on Oath, and do so for the purpose of contributing to the clearing up of the scandals which are now so seriously wrecking the harmony of our Society. The statement is therefore, made entirely without malice, and solely for the above mentioned purpose. When Mrs. Besant was in England during 1919 I had an interview with her at her flat in Robert Street, and the subject of Mr. Farrer’s confession of Sexual Malpractices was brought up. [For Farrer, see note below] Mrs. Besant asked me what was my position in the Liberal Catholic Church and what were my intentions in regard to this confession. I stated that though I had no knowledge of the truth or otherwise of the charges which Mr. Farrer had brought against other persons. I was at the same time so reluctant to be associated with persons against whom such charges could be made that I was seriously considering my resignation from the Church. Mrs. Besant then asked me not to take this action as the time she said, might come when it would be essential for some one to take action for the cleaning of the Church from such scandals and in that case I should be the person to do so. I asked her whether there as any real ground for Mr. Farrer’s statement in so far as it incriminated others, and Mrs. Besant then said that she had no doubt as to its truth, and that in any case, within her personal knowledge, Mr. Wedgwood’s behavior when at Adyar was such that she refused ever to have him there again. On this assurance I consented to remain in the Church, for the specific purpose of taking my present action when the time should be ripe, and before doing so I wrote to Mrs. Besant in March that I was now acting in accordance with her instructions.

On March 22d last I saw Mr. Wedgwood in London, and had a serious conversation with him on this subject. As Senior Bishop of the Church he told me that he wished to resign, and that he wished his resignation to take effect from after March 23d, on which date he had certain duties to perform which could not be postponed.

I asked him most seriously to reconsider his resignation, as coming at such a time it could only be considered as implying his guilt of the charge made against him, and I asked whether it would not be better to bring a libel action against Mr. Farrer and so, for the sake of our various interest, clear his character. He told me he would not do this and that I was to accept his resignation, and on this I did so, but at the same time stated most clearly that I could only do so on the distinct understanding that guilt was implied by his resolution. He was unshaken in his purpose, and I then accepted his resignation.

Reginald Elphinstone Astley Edward Rupert Farrer (1874-1933) was a friend of Wedgwood, and a Liberal Catholic Priest; he had been a pupil of Leadbeater and was one of Krishnamurti’s “bodyguards” in 1912 and 1913. On February 28 1922 he wrote to the head of Co-Masonry tendering his resignation and specifying his reasons:

The imputation against myself as well as against Wedgwood, King and Clark in Mr Martyn’s letter is but too true.  Yet I would have you believe that I was led astray by those whom I considered to be my superiors both morally and spiritually.  I was not strong enough to control my own lower nature and gave way to a practice that I am now heartily ashamed of.  Reparation for the stain that I have brought upon the Order I cannot make, and I have come to the mournful conclusion chat it is incumbent on me to ask you to strike my name from the role of Co-Masonry.  Wedgwood absolutely declines to give up the malpractice.  Again, [Jose] Acuna who is also addicted to this vice had actually stood sponsor for one of his ‘friends’ who was initiated into Emulation Lodge recently.

The Warnon Biography

A Bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church, Maurice H. Warnon (1937-2011), began work on a biography of Leadbeater.

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His unfinished “Biographical Notes” are available on-line:

http://kingsgarden.org/English/Organizations/LCC.GB/LCIS/

Scriptures/Liberal/Leadbeater/BioLeadbeater.html

The Notes contains little that is new or original and essentially re-retell the familiar story. The rather strange language is uncorrected from the original.

The Leadbeater family was Norman French in origin, with the name Le Bâtre (the builder), later Englicised to Leadbeater. The senior branch of the family settled in Northumberland, England; whence a junior branch established itself in Ireland. Some facts about this junior branch are given in the two volume of The Leadbeater Papers. The senior branch followed the fortunes of “Prince Charles” Stuart and became Jacobite; from that day on – though they later became loyal subjects of the British Crown – it was the custom of the family to christen the eldest son “Charles”.

Charles Webster Leadbeater was born on the 17th of February 1847. During his childhood, he and his younger brother travelled to Brazil, where their father supervised the construction of a railroad. His father, during his stay, contracted a tropical disease and the boy died just before the family returned to England, and his brother died accidentally.

Charles W. Leadbeater’s father died while his only surviving son was a teenager. The family was well-to-do, but a few years later, they lost all in the collapse of a great bank. This necessitated the young man going to work as early as possible. For a while he was a clerk in the well-known bank of William Deacons & Co., but the work was naturally cramping and uncongenial. Leadbeater was then very “High Church” in his ecclesiastic leanings, and was closely associated with the work of the Church of All Saints, Margaret Street, London. As his uncle had much influence in ecclesiastical circles, it seemed logical that the nephew should enter the Church. The Rev. W.W. Capes was Leadbeater’s uncle and the Rector of the parish of Bramshott, Liphook, Hampshire. He was also an Oxford “don”, being the Reader in Ancient History in the University, fellow and tutor of Queen’s College and of Hertford College, Junior Proctor, Select Preacher and Public Examiner. After the usual studies, the young Charles was admitted as Deacon by Bishop Harold Browne of Winchester on December 22, 1878, and ordained to the Priesthood on December 21, 1879, at the Parish Church of St. Andrew, Farnham, Surrey by Harold Browne, Bishop of Winchester.

Warnon also began work for a biography of Wedgwood, and his more substantial notes for that work are available on-line: http://kg.vkk.nl/english/organizations/lcc.gb/lcis/scriptures/liberal/wedgwood/wedgwoodbiography.html

The Ordination of Women

One of the questions Wedgwood and Leadbeater had to consider in regard to the new Liberal Catholic Church, especially given the emphasis on equality within the Theosophical Society and the break with tradition by Co-Masonry in allowing women to join, was that of whether women could be ordained.

Wedgwood had been challenged on this issue in 1918 by a question in the British TS journal, The Vahan, when a correspondent suggested that a refusal to ordain women was contrary to Theosophical principles. He responded with an article entitled “Women and the Priesthood” presenting a number of arguments, including that the occult nature of women’s bodies, as identified in “recent occult investigation”, was unsuitable for the Christian priesthood. [J.I. Wedgwood “Women and the Priesthood” in The Vahan 28:1, August 1918:4-5]

Leadbeater had examined the matter clairvoyantly and sought the advice of the Master, and his conclusion was negative:

These forces as now being used could not be sent through a feminine body safely at all; an entirely different arrangement could be made, but it would be a different arrangement. All priestesses in olden days were priestesses of Goddesses. [Quoted in C. Jinarajadasa On the Liberal Catholic Church TPH, Adyar, 1952:39]

And in The Science of the Sacraments he wrote:

The forces now arranged for distribution through the priesthood would not work efficiently through a feminine body; but it is quite conceivable that the present arrangements may be altered by the Lord Himself when He comes again into the world. It would no doubt be easy for Him, if He so chose, either to revive some form of the old religions in which the feminine Aspect of the deity was served by priestesses, or to modify the physics of the Catholic scheme of forces that a feminine body could be satisfactorily employed in the work. [C.W. Leadbeater The Science of the Sacraments Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 2nd edition, 1929:430]

There were rumours, never substantiated, that Leadbeater consecrated Mrs Besant to the episcopate. Cf. John Plummer The Many Paths of the Independent Sacramental Movement Apocryphile Press, Berkeley, 2005:163-164. A photograph of Mrs Besant sitting in the sanctuary during a Liberal Catholic liturgy with the caption “Mrs Annie Besant in the Sanctuary of the Liberal Catholic Church. Was she the first modern woman Bishop?” appears in Lewis Keizer Wandering Bishops. Apostles of a New Spirituality 2000:26 [revised on-line edition http://www.hometemple.org/WanBishWeb%20Complete.pdf%5D

Leadbeater’s Consecration: The Inner Side

On July 22, 1916, Wedgwood privately consecrated Leadbeater to the episcopate in Sydney.

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Three days later, Leadbeater wrote to Mrs Besant:

Wedgwood has arrived and is in good health. His consecration to the Episcopate had the unexpected result of putting him practically at the head of the Old Catholic movement as far as the British Empire is concerned, all his colleagues (except, I think, one) in it being Theosophists ready to work under this direction. This being so, he desires most earnestly to offer the movement to the World Teacher as one of the vehicles for His force, and a channel for the preparation for His Coming. I took him therefore to the LORD MAITREYA at the Festival, and He was graciously pleased to accept the offer, and to say that he thought the movement would fill a niche in the scheme and would be useful to Him. From what He said I inferred that He Himself had so guided events as to produce this curious result, that a branch of the Catholic Church, having the Apostolic Succession in a form which cannot be questioned, should be entirely in the hands of Theosophists, who are willing and eager to do exactly as He wishes. He explained that this was a method of bringing over the Holy Orders of the old plan into the new one, and that this Old Catholic Church might very likely be the only branch of Christianity which would wholly and officially recognize and follow Him when He comes. He does not want it to be aggressive in any way, but to go on quite quietly for the present, carrying on its services for its small congregation in London (as it is doing), gradually drawing around it those who love the Catholic ritual, but want a Theosophical interpretation of it and of the doctrine of the Church. [Jinarajadasa, On the Liberal Catholic Church, Theosophical Publish House, Adyar, 1952:3-4]

He then passed on the news of his own consecration:

With His permission Wedgwood has consecrated me as a Bishop on the understanding that I am at perfect liberty to wear my ordinary dress, and am in no way bound to perform any ecclesiastical ceremonies or to take any outward part in the work unless I see it useful to do so, but am to act as intermediary between the LORD and this branch of His Church, referring to Him any points of action or of doctrine upon which it desires instruction. An interesting little glimpse of occult ways came to me the night after my consecration. My own Master referred very kindly to it, and spoke of the additional power to help that it has given to me; and then He remarked: “You thought you had given up all prospect of a bishopric when you left your Church work thirty-two years ago to follow Upasika [Blavatsky]; but I tell you that it would have been in this very year that you would have reached it had you remained in your original work, so you have lost nothing except the emoluments and the social position, and have gained enormously in other ways. No one ever loses by serving Us!” That struck me as curious, for I had never thought of it in that way. [Jinarajadasa, On the Liberal Catholic Church, Theosophical Publish House, Adyar, 1952:4]

It may indeed appear curious that an assistant curate in a small village, lacking a University degree or any social status, should have aspired to be a bishop in the Church of England at a time when its concern with social position was so great.

Wedgwood, writing of the consecration, noted:

His consecration took place in the presence of a very few people; two priests I had ordained, Tweedy [sic] and McConkey presenting him (but not imposing hands). There were mighty influences present: several Masters came, the Lord Maitreya, and the Lord Buddha, and the Star shone out. When he said his first Mass afterwards, four Masters came in, and the Master Jesus stood there the whole time. [Copy of a manuscript letter in the author’s collection]

Wedgwood also commented:

Nothing about his consecration will appear in print, and we think it better be known only gradually. Only a few people here know. He was quite emphatic that I should remain at the head of the movement and therefore gave me the oath of canonical obedience, but he consented to act as the inner link and give us any instructions from the Great Ones. The Lord Maitreya accepted the movement to be used in His service, and implied that He had engineered the whole proceedings, so that the movement should get into the hands of Theosophists, and having unquestioned Orders could be used by Him, if He so desired when the time came, to hand on His old Orders into the new dispensation. The next step was that He blessed three large bottles of oil, that I had consecrated by the usual formula. They were taken by Him to the fourth dimension, and He held them. This can be used by our priests, as soon as I can get any over to England by a reliable messenger. [Copy of a manuscript letter in the author’s collection]

 

 

Hagiographical Dissonance

“Cognitive dissonance” is a concept in psychology referring to the psychological discomfort individuals, or groups, feel when confronted with mutually contradictory beliefs, particularly notable when a previously held belief is shown not to have been true. The impact of the disconfirmation of a belief will depend on (i) how strongly the belief had been held; (ii) how important the belief was to the individual or group; (iii) how committed the individual or group was to the belief; and (iv) the extent of public identification with the belief.

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The concept was originally developed by Leon Festinger (1919-1989), an American sociologist, in his book “When Prophecy Fails” (1956). It obviously has relevance to the failed “Coming” centred on Krishnamurti.

I use the term “hagiographical dissonance” to refer to cognitive dissonance in regard to the biography of a “holy” man or women – that is, a hagiography. How do disciples respond when elements of the hagiography are disconfirmed – that is, shown to be false? If X was a holy man, a spiritual teacher or (as Besant said of Leadbeater) “a man on the threshold of divinity”, is it possible that he lied, or engaged in immoral or illegal activities? What will be the response of his disciples if it can be shown that he did?

The standard responses are:

  1. rejection of the person or claims about the person: “I believed that he was a holy man, but I was deceived” – this is, perhaps surprisingly, relatively uncommon;
  2. accommodation – accepting the disconfirmation but not seeing this as a total demolition of the worth of the person;
  3. denial – rejection of the disconfirmation: the claims about him are lies, frauds or deceptions even though by all normal standards of evidence they appear to be true;
  4. mystification, that is, there is an explanation for the apparent disconfirmation, but it is beyond our mortal understanding;
  5. exceptionalism, that is, the rules that apply to other people do not apply to holy men like him;
  6. rationalization, that is, creating an apparently reasonable explanation for the apparent contradiction even though, by the usual standards applied to argument and evidence, the explanation is not reasonable.

Basic introductions to cognitive dissonance can be found at:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

http://www.simplypsychology.org/cognitive-dissonance.html

https://www.verywell.com/what-is-cognitive-dissonance-2795012

F.S. Willoughby

Frederick Samuel Willoughby (1862-1928) was the principal consecrator of James Ingall Wedgwood.

Willoughby

Willoughby studied at St Catherin’s College, Cambridge (BA 1884, MA 1890). He was ordained in the Diocese of Lichfield as Deacon (1887) and Priest (1888) and severed a number of curacies before being appointed Principal of St Chad’s Hostel, Hotton Pagnell (1899-1906) which he had founded. He was an extreme Anglo-Catholic Priest, associated with the English Church Union, the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament and the Guild of All Souls.

He was Vicar of St John-the-Baptist, Stockton-on-Tees, Co. Durham (1906-14) but was persuaded to resign after charges of sexual immorality were made against him (cf. John Bull, June 20, 1914) The details of the allegations were published in John Bull on May 15, 1915, and in subsequent numbers. The journal had already (June 20, 1914) published criticism of the “process of hushing-up by consent” which had allowed Willoughby to leave the Church of England without the allegations against him being determined. Willoughby availed himself of the provisions of the Clerical Disabilities Relief Act (1870) on January 19, 1915 which meant that he effectively resigned from the Anglican ministry and avoided any disciplinary enquiry.

Willoughby joined Mathew’s small church, and rose rapidly in the clergy, being consecrated a Coadjutor Bishop on October 28, 1914. Having, finally, been informed as to the basis on which Willoughby had left the Church of England, Mathew suspended him and, following the unanimous vote of the Synod, Willoughby was deposed from the ministry and dismissed from membership of the church on May 19, 1915. Wedgwood did not participate in the Synod, being in Australia at the time. However, he wrote to Mathew expressing his support for the decision, and speaking of Willoughby’s “imposture” and “deceit”.

After his break with Mathew he sought to be received into the Roman Catholic Church after consecrating a number of independent bishops.

Wedgwood knew that the charges against Willoughby were more or less true, and fearing that some of the mud thrown at Willoughby might stick to him, or to the church of which he had been elected leader, approached a number of other bishops seeking consecration. He had hoped to be consecrated by Mathew, but this was clearly impossible. He wrote to the Old Catholic Archbishop of Utrecht, by whom Mathew had originally been consecrated, but received no reply. He unsuccessfully sought assistance from other bishops consecrated by Mathew (Cuthbert Hinton, Herbert Beale, Arthur Howarth, Francis Bacon). He sought the advice of Frederick James, a fellow Theosophist, and he asked for assistance from a number of other freelance bishops. None would oblige. Wedgwood approached Bishop Vernon Herford (1866-1938) of the Evangelical Catholic Church, who proposed that Wedgwood’s movement be taken under his charge, with Wedgwood appointed as Vicar-General. But he would not consecrate Wedgwood, and his offer was therefore declined. Wedgwood even thought of applying to the Syrian Catholic Church on the Malabar Coast of India, but finally settled for Willoughby.

Assisted by Bishops Gauntlett and King, Willoughby ordained Wedgwood as a Bishop on February 13, 1916. Wedgwood and his followers were less than open in describing the immediate source of their Orders during the next few years, going out of their way to imply, or even to state, that Willoughby was not involved. See, for example, the correspondence in The Occult Review (London), February to December, 1918, in which various writers speculate on the identity of Wedgwood’s consecrator. Farrer, describing himself as “Priest Registrar” of the Church says that the “source of the Orders” can be obtained from him, but doesn’t disclose it in his letter which, curiously, is in response to a previous letter asking for the information. Mathew, finally, provided the details: The Occult Review, XXVII:5, 1918:250ff .

Willoughby submitted to Rome in 1916, finally dying in Germany.

See: Paul Kitchenham Frederick Samuel Willoughby (1862-1928): Anglo-Catholic Champion, Old Catholic Bishop (1999)