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Edward Maltby

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Title: Edward Maltby  
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Subject: Lindisfarne Gospels, Charles Longley, University College, Durham, Kensal Green Cemetery, Lincoln's Inn, William Van Mildert, William Greenwell, Bishop of Durham, Bishop of Chichester
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Edward Maltby

For the acting Governor of Madras, see Edward Maltby (British civil servant).

Edward Maltby (6 April 1770 – 3 July 1859) was an English clergyman of the Church of England. He became Bishop of Durham, controversial for his liberal politics, for his slightly naive ecumenism, and for the great personal wealth that he amassed.

Early life

Maltby was born in Norwich. He was the fourth son of George (died 1794), a weaver and deacon at the Presbyterian Octagon Chapel, and Mary (died 1804), his wife. William Maltby was a cousin. Though presbyterian by persuasion, the family were not hostile to the Anglican Church. Maltby attended Norwich Grammar School, where he became close to headteacher Samuel Parr but when Parr retired in 1785, he transferred to Winchester College under Joseph Warton. William Enfield also reputedly played a part in his education.[1]

In 1784, Maltby's cousin Elizabeth had married George Pretyman and Pretyman sponsored Maltby's entry into Pembroke College, Cambridge in 1789.[1][2] Maltby was a distinguished scholar and, finding his nonconformist inclinations no barrier, he graduated as eighth wrangler in 1792, receiving his DD in 1806. In 1794, Maltby had become domestic chaplain to Pretyman. Maltby consequently received a Lincoln prebend and two vicarages: Buckden, Huntingdonshire and Holbeach, Lincolnshire. On 10 July he married Mary Harvey. The couple were to go on to have four sons. With Pretyman's patronage and a well-received book of apologetics,[3] Maltby was strongly favoured for eventual elevation to a bishop.[1]

Wilderness years

However, Maltby meddled in politics prematurely. His involvement in the 1807 general election in Huntingdonshire and a 1809 pamphlet criticising what he saw as the nepotism of prime minister William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland saw to it that he found no favour with the Tory establishment who were to hold power until 1830. However, Parr interceded with George Canning and Maltby became preacher at Gray's Inn in 1817 and Lincoln's Inn between 1824 and 1835. Maltby took the opportunity of light clerical duties to tutor private pupils, including:

He also found time to write[6] including publication of a collection of hymns (1815) and a projected, but uncompleted, edition of the New Testament.[1]

Mary died in 1825 and he remarried Margaret Green in 1826. Maltby was active in the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge and he was a senator of the newly formed University College, London, blessing the foundation stone of the Main Building in 1827.[1]


When the Whigs returned to power in 1830, prime minister Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey lacked a comfortable majority in the House of Lords and saw Maltby as a probable supporter if he could be appointed to the Lords Spiritual. Conveniently for Grey, Folliott Cornewall, Bishop of Worcester, died in September 1831. Grey transferred Robert James Carr, then Bishop of Chichester, to Worcester and then appointed Maltby to Chichester. Grey made the appointment with such undue haste that Maltby's congé d'élire arrived in Chichester before Cornewall's funeral and the public was scandalised. However, Grey was satisfied when Maltby was able to vote in favour of the Reform Bill.[1]

In 1837, Maltby became Bishop of Durham, the first after the abolition of the office of Prince Bishop.[1]

In 1847, John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, a close personal friend, canvassed him as Archbishop of York but Maltby felt the role too much for his years.[1]

Doctrinal controversy

On his appointment, Maltby was the sole Whig among the Lords Spiritual, save for 87-year-old Henry Bathurst, Bishop of Norwich, and he attracted much personal hostility and criticism. However, Maltby was driven by his conscience and an overriding ecumenism and even-handedness in his associations and criticism. His public controversies and scandals included:

Durham University

Maltby had strong connections to the University of Durham, making generous financial provision. He also assisted in the negotiations of its royal charter, persuading the government to honour its undertaking to his predecessor, William Van Mildert, that all students must subscribe to the Thirty-Nine Articles before graduation.[1]

Wealth and personal life

The Established Church Act 1836 set the maximum annual income for a bishop at £8,000 (£525,000 at 2003 prices[8]) but it was revealed in 1847 that Maltby was earning around £12,000 (£787,000[8]), having exceeded £21,000 (£1.4 million[8]) in 1841. In response to the widespread public criticism, he established the Maltby Fund for building work in the Durham diocese.[1]

He caused further scandal in 1855 when, elderly and almost blind, Maltby made an unprecedented request that he be allowed to retire and suggested an annual pension of £4,500 (£307,000[8]). Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone was appalled, denouncing the request as simony, but he eventually conceded, allowing Blomfield, now Bishop of London, to retire at the same time.[1][9]

Maltby died at his London residence and is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, sharing a family vault with his eldest brother.[1]




  • Obituaries:
    • The Times, 7 July 1859
    • Durham Chronicle, 8 July 1859

  • Fowler, H. C. (1990) "Edward Maltby: his episcopal superintendence and views as bishop of Durham’, MA diss., University of Durham
  • Varley, E. A. (2004) "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, accessed 11 August 2007 Template:Linknote
Church of England titles
Preceded by
William Van Mildert
Bishop of Durham
Succeeded by
Charles Thomas Longley

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