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Henry Cotterill

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Title: Henry Cotterill  
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Subject: Brighton College, Smith's Prize, Bishop of Edinburgh, List of Old Brightonians, John Dowden, Diocese of Edinburgh, John Armstrong (bishop of Grahamstown), Bishop of Grahamstown
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Henry Cotterill

Henry Cotterill
Bishop of Grahamstown and Bishop of Edinburgh
Church Anglican
Diocese Grahamstown
In office 1812 – 1896
Predecessor John Armstrong
Successor Nathaniel Merriman
Ordination 1836
Consecration 1856
Personal details
Born 1812
Died 16 April 1886

The Rt Rev Henry Cotterill (1812, Ampton – 16 April 1886, Edinburgh) was an Anglican bishop in the second half of the 19th century.

Henry Cotterill was born in Ampton in 1812 into an ecclesiastical family[1] of committed Church Evangelicals. His father Joseph (1780–1858) was Rector of Blakeney, Norfolk, and a prebendary of Norwich Cathedral. His mother was a close friend of Hannah More.[2] Educated at his father's old college, St John's College, Cambridge, he was both Senior Wrangler and headed the list of Classicists in 1835,[3] on the strength of which he was elected as a Fellow of his college.[4][5] Influenced by Charles Simeon, he was ordained in 1836 and went to India as Chaplain to the Madras Presidency the following year.[6][7] Forced by malaria to return to England in 1846, he became inaugural Vice Principal and then the second Principal of Brighton College.[7] In post less than six years, he reinvigorated the languishing infant school. In a whirlwind of energetic reform, he overhauled the curriculum by introducing the teaching of the sciences and oriental languages, restored discipline, launched a fund to build a chapel, built the first on-site boarding house and connected the school to the town's gas supply.[8]

At the suggestion of the great Earl of Shaftesbury and Archbishop Sumner of Canterbury,[9] he was nominated and consecrated[10] in 1856 as the second Bishop of Grahamstown in South Africa. As was then customary, he was simultaneously created a doctor of divinity.[11]

Cotterill was consecrated on 23 November 1856, and arrived in Grahamstown in May 1857. Bishop Cotterill's episcopate was occupied with the development and consolidation of his diocese, and with the institution of diocesan and provincial synods. The opening service of the first synod of the diocese was held in the Grahamstown Cathedral on 20 June 1860. It may be of interest to record that H. Blaine and F. Carlisle were the representatives of the Cathedral congregation at the synod.

As one of the bishops of South Africa, he sat in judgement in December 1863 on the Bishop of Natal, John Colenso, his college friend from Cambridge days.

He was translated to Edinburgh in 1871 as coadjutor bishop, full diocesan bishop from 1872,[12][13] he died in post in 1886 and was buried in his cathedral.[14]

He married Anna Isabella Parnther who had been born in Jamaica in 1812. They had at least two daughters and four sons.[15] The four boys all attended Brighton College. George Edward (1839–1913), a Cambridge cricket blue and Sussex cricketer, was briefly Headmaster of St Andrew's College, Grahamstown (1863–65) before returning to teach at Brighton College (1865–81). Henry Bernard (1846–1924) was an African missionary explorer and writer. Joseph Montagu (1851–1933) played cricket for Sussex and became President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and was knighted. Arthur John (1849–1915) was Engineer-in-Chief, Egyptian Railways.

His brother George was on the teaching staff of Brighton College 1849-51 before emigrating to New Zealand while, intriguingly, his youngest brother, James Henry, was a pupil at the school while he was the Principal. James Henry became Professor of Applied Mathematics at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich (1873–97) and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1878.

Bishop Cotterill was buried before the sanctuary step in his cathedral. His grave is covered by a large memorial brass made by Skidmore of Coventry.

Published Works

His published works include

  • Does Science Aid Faith in Regard to Creation?[16]
  • The Genesis of the Church[17]
  • The Seven Ages of the Church[18]
  • A Letter on the Present Position of the South African Church[19]
  • Revealed Religion Expounded by Its Relations to the Moral Being of God[20]
  • My Work for God[21]
  • On the True Relations of Scientific Thought and Religious Belief[22]


External links

  • WorldCat catalog)
Religious titles
Preceded by
John Armstrong
Bishop of Grahamstown
1856 – 1871
Succeeded by
Nathaniel James Merriman
Preceded by
Charles Terrot
Bishop of Edinburgh
1871 –1886
Succeeded by
John Dowden

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