1902 Encyclopedia > Alexander Penrose Forbes

Alexander Penrose Forbes
Bishop of Brechin

ALEXANDER PENROSE FORBES, (1817-1875), bishop of Brechin, was born at Edinburgh, June 6, 1817. He was the second son of Lord Medwyn, a judge of the Court of Session, and grandson of Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo. He studied first at the Edinburgh Academy, then for two years under the Eev. Thomas Dale, the poet, in Kent, passed one session at Glasgow university, and, having chosen the career of the Indian civil service, completed his studies at Haileybury College. In 1836 he went to Madras, but in consequence of ill-health, the result of the climate, he was obliged after two or three years to return to England. He then entered Brasenose College, Oxford, where in 1841 he obtained theBoden Sanskrit scholarship, and in 1844 took his degree of B.A. He was at Oxford during the early years of the great religious movement known for some time as Puseyism, and he was powerfully influenced by association with its leaders, Newman, Pusey, and Keble, and entered heartily into their views and aims. In 1844 he was ordained deacon and priest in the English Church, and held an English curacy; but being naturally attracted to the Episcopal Church of his native land, then recovering from long depression, he removed in 1846 to Stonehaven, the chief town of Kincardineshire. The same year, however, he was appointed to the vicarage of St Saviour's, Leeds, and co-operated in a mission formed there, with strong Romanizing tendencies, which ere long collapsed. In 1847 Forbes was called to succeed Bishopv Moir in the see of Brechin. He removed the episcopal residence to Dundee, where he resided till his death, combining the pastoral charge of the congregation with the duties of the see. He laboured in season and out of season, never sparing himself when work was to be done, and won not only golden opinions but warm affections, especially among the working classes. Through his energy and devoted endeavours several new churches were built in Dundee, and among them the pro-cathedral of St Paul's. He was once prosecuted in the church courts for heresy; the accusation being founded on his primary charge, delivered and published in 1857, in which he set forth his views on the eucharist. He made a powerful defence of the charge, and was acquitted with " a censure and an admonition." Keble wrote in his defence, and was present at his trial at Edinburgh. Forbes was a good scholar, and above all a scientific theologian, and his social qualities were such as to endear him to all who knew him. He was author of treatises on the Nicene Creel and the Thirty-nine Articles, various commentaries and devotional works, discourses, and reviews. He died at Dundee, October 8, 1875.

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