JAMES RUSSELL M.A.
of Todmorden 1883-1910
Russell was born in Dorking, Surrey, in 1843, the third child
and elsest son of Edward James Richard Russell and his wife
Eliza Browne. He married Mary Georgiana Baron at Heywood in
1875 and they had 9 children, 6 of them born in Todmorden.
studied at St. Mary Hall Oxford, gaining a B.A. (1st. class Theol.Sch.)
in 1870 and M.A. in 1875. He was made a Deacon in 1870 and ordained
Priest in 1871.
was appointed as Vicar of Todmorden in 1883 and served that community
for the next 27 years. He was forced to resign his duties due to
failing health in 1910.
following article appeared in the Manchester Diocesan Magazine in
Russell, M.A. (hon. Canon of Manchester) Vicar of Todmorden.
Diocese of Manchester has lost the services of one of its most active
and capable clergy by the retirement of the Rev. E. J. Russell,
who has resigned the Benefice of Todmorden, the parish in which
he laboured for the last 27 years with untiring energy.
sudden failure of health incapacitated him from active work, and
eventually compelled him reluctantly to resign his charge.
late Bishop Fraser ordained him in the first year of his episcopate,
1870, and six years afterwards presented him to the living of St
James', Heywood, and in the year 1883 to Todmorden. Earnestness,
common sense, and original thought, combined with scholarship and
dignified language, caused Mr Russell to be much sought after as
a preacher; but though he was always ready to help other parishes
he never allowed anything to interfere with the claims of his own
parish of Todmorden was a difficult one to work, and the care of
the two churches, ST. MARY'S and CHRIST CHURCH, and the district
of Shade taxed the Vicar's strength to the uttermost, and ultimately
lead to his sudden and deeply regretted "breakdown."
very large amounts raised fir the restoration and extensive improvements
in both Churches, and the cost of providing for maintaining the
efficiency of the Parochial Schools testify to the respect and confidence
placed in him by the parishioners. Throughout the Diocese he was
well known as a most strenuous advocate of religious education,
and he rendered great service in the Church's struggle for fair
and just treatment; he was also a most valued and useful member
of the Committees of the Diocesan Societies, and for many years
the able chairman of the General Purposes Committee of the Church
Building and Endowment Society.
Moorhouse recognised his worth by conferring on him, in 1897, an
Honary Canonry in the Cathedral; and the beneficed clergy of the
Archdeaconry of Manchester elected him as one of the proctors to
Russell possessed literary attainments of no mean order; the readers
of the London "Guardian" had evidence of this, in the
appearance, from time to time, under the letters of E. J. R., of
some thought of the day embodied in poetical form. Much as those,
who only knew him in his public capacity, admired and esteemed him,
it was perhaps only his intimate friends who could fully appreciate
his loveable character, full of kindly humour, and unfailing charity.
March of the following year Canon Russell died. He is buried at
St. Annes-on-Sea in Lancashire. The congregation of St. Marys and
Christ Church erected a tablet in Christ Church to his memory.
the Glory Of God and
a mark of affection and respect to the
EDWARD JAMES RUSSELL M.A.
of Todmorden 1883-1910
Canon of Manchester and Proctor in Convocation
tablet was erected by his people
commemoration of his faithful ministry.
his incumbency and largely owing to his efforts the chancels
of this church and St. Mary's were enriched with many beautiful
strenuous and able worker for the cause of religious education,
he was respected and valued not only in this parish but throughout
asleep March 1911. Buried at St. Annes-on-Sea.
from Manchester Diocesan Magazine April 1911.
the death of Canon Russell on March 14th, the whole Diocese suffers
loss, for he was one whose activities were not confined by the limits
of his parish. His own people doubtless had the best opportunity
of appreciating his many attractive qualities, but to all, even
to those who knew him but slightly, he was remarkable for his geniality,
bonhomie, and courtesy. He was also a man of culture, and considerable
literary taste and ability, and whose characteristics were immediately
conspicuous both in his ordinary intercourse with his friends and
on occasions when he was heard as a public speaker. His work for
the Diocese and in connection with Church movements in the Diocese
was varied and long continued. He was for many years chairman Of
the General Purposes Committee of the Church Building Society, in
which position his tact and business capacity were often successful
in the solution of difficult problems, and his zeal for the objects
of the other Diocesan Societies was great and earnest and whole
hearted. He was a strong believer in the importance of religious
instruction as an essential part of education, as evidenced by the
fact of his being one of the founders and the first chairman of
the Church Schools Emergency League. His earnestness of manner and
the facility with which he gave expression to his views constituted
him a powerful advocate of any cause which he espoused. But Canon
Russell will be chiefly remembered by those who knew him best as
a devout and earnest Churchman, whose piety showed itself in generosity
and kindliness of temperament. There was nothing of smallness or
bigotry about him; he had hosts of friends, and it is doubtful if
he ever made an enemy.
a booklet about St. Marys Church, Todmorden, Canon H. W. Hodgson,
vicar from 1952 to 1971, wrote:
Church of God is not bricks and mortar but people and, as we have
noted, the people of God have worshipped at St. Marys for many
centuries. Many generations have passed into the next life with
no memorial behind them except the ongoing life of the Christian
Community at present. We do, however, have quite a bit of information
about some of the priests who have ministered here. We have only
space to mention three.
Canon Hodgson chose to mention Edward Russell amongst the three.
Edward James Russell
to Todmorden in 1883, Canon Russell did much to establish the present
pattern of Church life in the parish. In his youth he had been with
father Lowder and Father Mackonchie in the East End of London and
had witnessed the fierce riots of mobs who interpreted the efforts
of these priests to put true religion back into the dry officialness
of the Church of England as "popery". (Although, through
their ministrations, many thousands were brought to the Christain
faith). In Todmorden, Russell was responsible for the new chancels
on both churches and the establishing of regular Holy Communion
as the norm. He had a great interest in music and drama, and - with
his brother William (of St. Paul's Cathedral), the writer of several
Anglican psalm chants) - composed musical pantomimes for performance
in the parish, and profits from which helped support the Church
schools. The "Sunday Times" in 1901 commented, "If
many more "worthies" take to shining in dramatic walks
poor frivolous playwrights will be reduced to writing sermons!"
was invited by Lord Halifax to take a seat on the Council of the
English Church Union and was a champion of the Church's interest
in education. He was vicar of Todmorden for 27 years, a Proctor
in Convocation, and a Honary Canon of Manchester.
of the more enjoyable times of his incumbency must have been
the arrival of the peal of bells at Christ Church, a gift
from Hannah Howarth in memory of her siblings. He
is shown here, 4th from left, when the bells were delivered.
His name is engraved on the number 7 bell for posterity. More
about the bells and the dedication can be read in the story on CHRIST CHURCH
above information and the photos of Rev. Russell and of his memorial
provided by Richard Jeffery