James Ingall Wedgwood

James Ingall Wedgwood (1883-1951) introduced Leadbeater to and initiated him into Co-Masonry (1915), and introduced him to an ordained him a Bishop in what was to become the Liberal Catholic Church (1916).

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Wedgwood’s family background and early life is well documented, containing none of the mysteries or fictions involved in Leadbeater’s story. Born in England on May 24, 1883, at 31 Queen Anne Street, Marylebone, London, Wedgwood was a member of the eminent family of potters. He was the son of Alfred Allen Wedgwood (1842-1892) and Margaret Rosena Ingall (1854-1922).

Wedgwood was the great, great grandson of the potter Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795), and the grandson of the spiritualist Hensleigh Wedgwood (1803-1891), and the great nephew of Charles Darwin (1809-1882). For the history of the Wedgwood family, see Barbara and Hensleigh Wedgwood The Wedgwood Circle. Four Generations of Family and Their Friends London, Studio Vista, 1980.

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Wedgwood attended Pretoria House School at Folkestone in Kent, and then went on to his father’s old school, Rugby. After leaving school he studied chemistry at University College, Nottingham, on the advice of the famous chemist, Sir Henry Roscoe (1833 – 1915). University College had been established in 1881, and was chartered as the University of Nottingham in 1948. He was for a time employed as an analytical chemist in York, where he lodged with the Reverend Patrick John Shaw (1869-1952), the newly appointed Rector of All Saints Church, North Street. Wedgwood also studied music at the Nottingham College of Music, and he studied the organ at St Albans, Nottingham under Dr Harold Gibbs (1928-1945). He then spent four years as an articled pupil at York Minister under Dr Tertius Noble (1867-1953).

Wedgwood also felt he had a vocation to the priesthood of the Anglican Church, and began theological studies whilst staying with Patrick Shaw despite the opposition of the Wedgwood family.

In 1904, in the midst of his musical and theological studies, Wedgwood attended two lectures by Mrs Besant. He had probably been introduced to Theosophy by his aunts, Effie and Hope, who had joined the Theosophical Society around 1892, having been attracted to it through their father’s spiritualism and by Mrs Besant’s social activism. As a result of his conversion to Theosophy, Wedgwood was obliged to leave the lodgings and his studies because the Rector disapproved of his newly found faith. Wedgwood renounced all thought of a vocation in the Church of England, and devoted himself entirely to the work of the Theosophical Society, which he joined in 1904, becoming an enthusiastic lecturer for the Society. He had a sufficient private income from the family business to live independently, and moved to London where he served as General Secretary of the Theosophical Society in England from 1911-1913, and as General Secretary of the European Federation of the Society from 1913-1921.

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By 1910 Wedgwood had joined yet another Theosophy-related movement, the Co-Freemasonic Order, of which Mrs Besant was Very Illustrious Most Puissant Grand Commander of the British Jurisdiction. By 1911 Wedgwood had risen to become Very Illustrious Supreme Secretary 33rd degree of the British Federation of International Co-Freemasonry.

In 1912, with the help of Mrs Marie Russak (1865-1945), Wedgwood founded the Temple of the Rosy Cross, a ritualistic body which included an adventist theme, and was concerned with kabbalism, astrology, Masonry, Christian ceremonial and symbolism. Leadbeater never approved of the Temple, basically because, having had no part in its foundation, he had no control over it, and because it involved the production of messages from the Masters through agents other than himself or Mrs Besant. In 1914 he “brought through” a message from the Master ordering its dissolution.

In 1913 Wedgwood made contact with Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew (1852-1919), head of a small Old Catholic Church in England and, having been received into the Church, he had been admitted to Minor Orders, ordained Deacon, and finally ordained Priest on July 22nd, 1913. On August 6, 1915, Mathew issued a decree, “Pastoral Letter On Membership in the Theosophical Society and in the Order of the Star in the East”, declaring that none of his clergy and laity could be members of either organization. On November 12, 1915, Wedgwood submitted his resignation to Mathew, as did the majority of Mathew’s other clergy who were Theosophists brought into the Church by Wedgwood. This began the establishment of what was to become the Liberal Catholic Church, of which Wedgwood was first Presiding Bishop.

 

Wedgwood was forced to resign as Presiding Bishop following a major sexual scandal in England in 1922 and was succeeded in that office by Leadbeater. After a period of semi-isolation in France, where he completed a Doctorate on the production of sound in the organ at the Sorbonne, Wedgwood returned to Theosophical work initially at the Theosophical Centre at Huizen (The Netherlands) and then at Tekels Park (England). He died in 1951 following a long degenerative illness.

 

Wedgwood’s writings include:

The Facts Regarding the Episcopal Succession in the Liberal Catholic Church author, np, nd

Spiritualism and the Great War Theosophical Publishing House, London, nd

Universal Co-Masonry. What Is It? Supreme Council of Universal Co-Masonry for Great Britain, (London), nd

Meditation for Beginners Theosophical Publishing House, London, 1913

Varieties of Psychism Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1914

“The Modern Ceremonial Revival”, in The Herald of the Star, March, 1914

“Some Reminiscences of Mr Leadbeater”, in Union Lodge Lectures, (Union Lodge, TS), (London), 1918

“The Old Catholic Church”, in Union Lodge Lectures, (Union Lodge TS), (London), 1918

“The Old Catholic Church”, in Occult Review, June 6, 1918

A Statement Concerning the Order of Corporate Reunion, author, London, 1918

The Liberal Catholic Church and the Theosophical Society. Where They, Agree and Where They Differ St Alban Press, Sydney, 1919

Reply to Mr Martyn author, Sydney, 1919

The Lambeth Conference and the Validity of Archbishop Mathew’s Orders. An Open Letter to His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury author, Sydney, 1920

“The Symbolism of the Altar”, in The Liberal Catholic, December, 1924

“The Blessed Sacrament”, in The Liberal Catholic, Easter, 1925

St Michael’s Centre, Huizen author, Huizen, 1926

“The Liberal Catholic Church, Its Doctrinal Position”, in The Liberal Catholic, July, 1926

The Distinctive Contribution of Theosophy to Christian Thought, The Blavatsky Lecture 1926, Theosophical Publishing House, London, 1926

The Place of Ceremonies in the Spiritual Life St Alban Press, London, 1927

“Principles of Church Worship”, in The Liberal Catholic, October and November, 1927

“Principles of Church Worship”, in The Liberal Catholic, January, February, March, April, June, July, August, September, October, December, 1928

A Tract for the Times. An Open Letter Addressed to the Clergy of the Liberal Catholic Church on the Continent of Europe author, Huizen, 1928

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The Presence of Christ in the Holy Communion Theosophical Publishing House, London, 1928

“Methods of Spiritual Training”, in The Theosophist, December, 1928

“Methods of Spiritual Training”, in The Theosophist, January, 1929

The Theosophical Society and Kindred Organizations. An Open Letter to the General Council of the Theosophical Society in Reply to a Letter of Mrs Jinarajadasa author, Huizen, 1929

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The Larger Meaning of Religion Theosophical Publishing House, London, 1929

Present Day Problems author, Adyar, 1929

“The Liturgy”, in The Liberal Catholic, July, August, September, October, November and December, 1931

“The Liturgy”, in The Liberal Catholic, January and February, 1932

“The Seventh Ray”, in St Michael’s News, Huizen, March, 1936

“The Sixth Ray”, in St Michael’s News, Huizen, April, 1936

“The Body of the Lord”, in The Liberal Catholic, November and December, 1936

“The Body of the Lord”, in The Liberal Catholic, January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December, 1937

“The History of the Liberal Catholic Church, 1. Beginnings”, in The Liberal Catholic, January and February, 1938

“The Old Catholic Church”, in The Liberal Catholic, July, 1950

“The Policy of the Liberal Catholic Church”, in The Liberal Catholic, July, 1951

“Work with the Dead”, in The Liberal Catholic, October, 1951

“The Longer and Shorter Forms”, in The Liberal Catholic, January, 1952

“The Work of a Priest”, in The Liberal Catholic, April, 1952

“The Assumption of the Virgin Mary”, in The Liberal Catholic, October, 1952

“Talk to Clergy”, in The Liberal Catholic, April, 1953

“The Work of a Priest”, in The Liberal Catholic, January, 1953

“The Holy Ghost”, in The Liberal Catholic, July, 1953

“The Work of a Priest”, in The Liberal Catholic, June and August, 1959

“The Work of a Priest”, in The Liberal Catholic, February and April, 1960

The Beginnings of the Liberal Catholic Church St Alban Press, Ojai, 1966

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New Insights Into Christian Worship, Selected Works of J.I. Wedgwood, Vol. I St Alban Press, London, 1976

2004 The Collected Works of James I. Wedgwood, D.Sc., St Alban Press, San Diego

Additionally, Wedgwood wrote a number of works on the organ:

Tonal Design in Modern Organ Building Embodying a reply to Mr. R. Mayrick-Roberts … Reprinted from the London “Musical Opinion.” In answer to R. Meyrick-Roberts’ articles “On Modern Tendencies in Organ-Building” published in the same journal London: Winthrop Rogers, 1905; London: Houghton & Co., 1904

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A Comprehensive Dictionary of Organ Stops: English and Foreign, Ancient and Modern, Practical, Theoretical, Historical, Aesthetic, Etymological, Phonetic London: Vincent Music Co., [1905]

Some Continental Organs (Ancient and Modern) and Their Makers London, W. Reeves, 1910.

 

 

 

 

 

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