A study of William Van Mildert, Bishop of Durham, and the High Church movement of the early nineteenth century
This thesis examines the life and ministry of William Van Mildert (I765-I836) and his membership of the early nineteenth century High Church group known as the Hackney Phalanx. It considers Van Mildert's experiences before ordination and as deacon, priest and bishop, and their influence on his conception of the nature and mission of the Church of England. It relates the measures initiated by the Phalanx for reforming and extending the work of the Church to its members' understanding of their social and political context, and indicates some features of their shared theological position, particularly their ecclesiology. Among the undertakings of the Phalanx, the restructuring of the S.P.C.K, and the founding of new Church Societies to promote education and church-building receive particular attention. Van Mildert's labours as a member of the House of Lords are considered in detail, especially during his Durham episcopate (1826-36), when he was prominent in the unsuccessful opposition to Roman Catholic emancipation and to the Church Temporalities (Ireland) Act of 1833.The founding of Durham University owed much to Van Mildert, Besides contributing an estimated £10,000, he was closely involved both in developing the plans and in piloting the necessary legislation through Parliament. Van Mildert's theological writings are more notable for their extensive acquaintance with the work of earlier theologians than for originality: he disliked Innovation in matters of religion. Besides sermons and episcopal charges, he published Boyle Lectures taking a systematic view of the rise and progress of Infidelity and (while Oxford Regius Professor of Divinity) Bampton Lectures on the principles of Scripture-interpretation. He also produced a complete edition of the works of Waterland. Cited as a theological authority by the Oxford Movement, he nevertheless held aloof from the Movement’s beginnings.