Friday, 18 September 2015

More stories of MACFADYEN MEMORIAL CHURCH from Tony Goulding

Rev. Alfred Allan Lee
A great tragedy occurred whilst this man was serving as the minister at McFadyen’s Memorial Congregational Church standing on the corner of Barlow Moor Road and (then) Holland Road.

On the afternoon of July 5th 1916 David Alan Dunlop Lee, the 4 year old son of the Rev. Alfred and Marian T Lee, fell out of the upper-floor bedroom window of the family home at 6,Egerton Road.

He was found in an unconscious state and died shortly afterwards. Young David is buried in plot G 2411 of Southern cemetery's Non-Conformist section.

Rev. Lee continued within the congregational church rising to the position of Moderator of its Eastern Province. Less than a year into his tenure of this office he died aged, just, 60 on 16th January 1941 at Westcliffe-on-Sea, Essex.

The account of his death in “The Chelmsford Chronicle "records how he passed away suddenly at Chelmsford station whilst waiting for a bus home, having just visited his son who was a doctor at "Runwell" the recently opened, innovative mental hospital nearby.

Many newspapers carried obituaries including "The Melbourne Argos" of Victoria, Australia. Rev. Lee had been a popular visiting preacher at the Collins Street Independent church in that city for several months in 1938. Declining an offer to remain in Australia he chose to return to his work in England as pastor of Crowstone Church, Westcliffe-on -Sea where he had been since 1928.

The son of a Methodist minister Rev.Lee was born in Liverpool and educated at both the collegiate school and the university there, with the original intention of perusing a career in medicine. Previous to his arrival in Chorlton-cum-Hardy he had been a pastor to a number of congregations in his native area and also held a post in St. James, Newcastle prior to his moving on to Essex.

The above scroll commemorates the tragic loss, just two years later, of another young life associated with "Macfadyen's Church". This soldier was the grandson of Rev. John Allison Macfadyen to honour whose memory this church was named

John Allison Macfadyen was born in Greenock, Scotland on 22cnd January, 1837 the son of a tobacconist Dougall (aka Dugald) Macfadyen and his wife Joanna (nee. Allison). Following Doug all’s early death, the family moved in with the maternal grandfather William Allison, a weaver.

After attending Glasgow University for 5 years, gaining a B.A. in 1856 and an M.A. a year later,* John Macfadyen came south to train for the ministry at Lancashire Independent College in Whalley Range. He first became a minister in St. Helens in 1860 where he stayed until he was installed as the first pastor of the Chorlton Road Congregational Church in 1863. He remained in this position for the rest of his life, dying on 21st November, 1889. (*a D.D. was added in 1882)

At this time the Congregationalists of Chorlton-cum-Hardy worshipped at the Chorlton Road Church ; a considerable journey especially for the young and elderly ,or in inclement weather  With  encouragement and no little input from Rev. Macfadyen a solution was sought  first in  obtaining the use of Masonic premises on High Lane and later in  purpose built school and church buildings, culminating  in the opening of  the Macfadyen Memorial Church on 25th October 1894.

At his first parsonage in College Street St. Helens the 1861 census records that his sister .Catherine was acting as his housekeeper. Not long after his move to Manchester , however Rev. Macfadyen married Elizabeth Anderson, the daughter of a Greenock wholesale grocer and sugar broker, in that town on 13th April 1864.(interestingly the groom describes himself on the marriage certificate as "Minister of the Gospel")

Alongside his career as a popular congregational minister, including at least one trip to New York, Rev. John and his wife raised 5 sons and 2 daughters all of whom were educated to a high standard; the elder boys at Manchester Grammar School - the two girls at Milton Mount College, a boarding school in Gravesend, Kent dedicated to the education of the daughters of the congregational clergy.

An enquiry into the future lives of these children brought up in the family home of Landers ton House, Marlborough Place, Withington Road, Moss Side is very revealing.

WILLIAM ALLISON b. 1865 --- After graduating from Oxford he emigrated to South Africa where he became eminent in the legal profession. Holding a prominent position at the University College of the Transvaal, Pretoria.

DUGALD b.25/12/18687--- followed his father into congregational church, being at one time secretary of the London Missionary Society. After obtaining his degree from Merton College, Oxford (gaining a First in Theology) and a visit to Germany he worked in St.Ives Huntingdonshire, Hanley, Staffordshire and Highgate, before settling in Letchworth, Hertfordshire. A prominent member of the Liberal Party he stood, unsuccessfully, several times for Parliament. He wrote widely on church history and structure and was a great champion of an extension of further education and the "Garden City" Movement. Dugald died in 1936 His son Lt. John Dennis Gouty Macfadyen having died in the carnage on the Western Front in 1918

NORMAN b.21/5/1877   Qualified as a doctor at St.Bartholomew's Hospital, London in 1904 and a year later added the Diploma in Public Health from Cambridge.  He then became the first G P. (and later Medical Officer) in the embryonic Letchworth Garden City community which would soon also include not only his brother Dugald as a minister but also his second wife Edith as the librarian.

ALFRED NEWTH* b. 1870  After leaving Manchester Grammar School he won an exhibition at Wadham College ,Oxford at which he obtained a first class degree . Alfred took up a post at St. Andrews University in 1892. Interestingly in 1897 he published a translation of Pius XI auto-biography "How I became Pope".
Later he joined the colonial service in Cape Town where he was secretary to the Prime Minister there and volunteered to serve as a captain in the "Cape Highlanders" during the 2nd Boer War
After a civil ceremony at St. Ives he was married in London by his brother Rev.Dugald to Irene Mary Ashby. His new wife was a very active campaigner (both in London and the Southern U.S.A.) for women's suffrage, fertility control and against child labour which, radicalism; she kept up when the couple finally settled in South Africa. Alfred combined his colonial service with authoring several books RE: the laws and statutes of the Transkei. (* named after Alfred Newth his father's Hebrew and Philosophy professor at the Lancashire Independent College)

ERIC b.9/12/1879   Educated privately in Oxford, where the family re-located to on the father's death, subsequently gaining scholarships to both Clifton College, Bristol and Wadham College, Oxford. At Oxford Eric served as president of the "Union" 1902 and took a first class degree in "Greats".

His time at university was interrupted by the Boer War in which he served as a volunteer trooper in the Imperial Yeomanry.  After suffering a serious eye injury in an accident (which necessitated the wearing of a monocle for the remainder of his life) he was awarded the Queens South Africa Medal and invalided home.

This injury did not, however, inhibit Eric's and he volunteering (initially with the Malay Staes Volunteer Rifles) further service in France in World War 1, in which he reached the rank of lieutenant in the Royal Horse Artillery. In the 2nd World War he served as a captain in the Home Guard.

As first a civil servant in Malaya he was largely responsible for and wrote extensively about the development of Rubber plantations. Returning to England he was briefly Liberal M.P. for Devises, Wiltshire 1923-4. In later years he travelled widely and occupied positions of prominence with  respect to Town Planning indicatives (especially. echoing the family  connection, as a onetime chairman of First  Garden City Ltd. the company set up to develop Letchworth).

Eric was knighted, in 1943, for his work in the field of tropical agriculture and as a member of the governing body of the Imperial School of Tropical Agriculture, Trinidad. Sir Eric died 13th July 1966 at his home in Hildeborough nr. Tonbridge, Kent.

MARJORIE b.1873 & JOANNA b.1874 Records of the two daughters are a little sketchy, however, they do indicate that Joanna became a kindergarten teacher and died, in 1927 in Sevenoaks, Kent near to where her younger brother Eric was raising his young family. Marjorie trained as a nurse at the London Hospital, Whitechapel alongside none other than Edith Cavell, and died also unmarried in Surrey in 1957, aged 84.

Finally there is a curious tale concerning an Andrew Swan who was the son of Rev John Allison Macfadyen's sister Catherine and her husband Andrew Swan a slater and slate merchant of Greenock. It seems that as a young man Andrew sailed away from Greenock and was not heard from again for 34 years, for the last 20 of which he was presumed dead, before suddenly arriving on his uncle Dugald's doorstep in Letchworth at New Year 1931/2 An extra-ordinary “boys own “story unfolded of a wandering around the South Seas .a shipwreck, a desert island a dramatic rescue after 4 years of isolation followed by a diving career involving sunken treasure.

© Tony Goulding, 2015-09-10

Pictures; the Church circa 1900, from the Lloyd collection, the church during its renovation, 2015 courtesy of Andy Robertson and remaining images  from Tony Goulding

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