Charles Dickinson

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Dickinson, Charles, Bishop of Meath, was born in Cork, August 1792. At school he displayed remarkable abilities, and in 1810 entered Trinity College, where he formed close intimacies with Hercules Graves, his brother (Robert P. Graves), J. T. O'Brien, Charles Wolfe, and others who afterwards became eminent men.

His mathematical talents early attracted the attention of Dr. Magee. In 1813 he obtained a scholarship, in 1815 he took his degree of B.A., and nothing stood between him and a fellowship but the prospect of marriage — celibacy being then enjoined on the Fellows. In 1818 he was ordained, and undertook the temporary charge of Castleknock parish, and in 1820 he was happily married. Passing over temporary engagements, we find him in 1832 receiving a few pupils on high terms, and acting as Chaplain of the Dublin Female Orphan Home. In this latter position the true nobility and simplicity of his character became known to Archbishop Whately, who in 1832 appointed him domestic chaplain and secretary: next year the living of St. Anne's (now held by his son, the Rev. H. H. Dickinson, Dean of the Chapel Royal) was conferred upon him.

There was a remarkable agreement in tastes and views between the Archbishop and Mr. Dickinson. They united in promoting the National School system, which commended itself to them as the best attainable, and one it was the duty of Irish Protestants heartily to accept. Upon the death of Bishop Alexander, in 1840, Mr. Dickinson was, much to his surprise, appointed by Government to the vacant see of Meath, without the solicitation of the Archbishop or any of his friends. He was consecrated in Christ Church on 27th December, but adorned the position only long enough to show what he might have effected for the Church had his life been prolonged.

Fever carried him off eighteen months after his appointment, on 12th July 1842, aged 49. He was buried at Ardbraccan. His loss was one of the most severe afflictions of Archbishop Whately's life. Writing to the son of the deceased, the Archbishop says: "What he was to me, God and I only know, and I feel that to indulge any selfish grief for a private friend, when the Church has sustained such a loss, would be very unlike his public-spirited character." The Bishop's Remains were edited in 1845 by his son-in-law, the Rev. John West, afterwards Dean of St. Patrick's.

Sources

103. Dickinson, Most Rev. Charles, Bishop of Meath, Remains of: Rev. John West, D.D. London, 1845.

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