Benjamin Cronyn | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Benjamin Cronyn

Benjamin Cronyn, first Anglican bishop of Huron (b at Kilkenny, Ire, 11 Jul 1802; d at London, Ont, 22 Sept 1871), father-in-law of Edward BLAKE and Samuel Hume BLAKE.

Benjamin Cronyn, first Anglican bishop of Huron (b at Kilkenny, Ire, 11 Jul 1802; d at London, Ont, 22 Sept 1871), father-in-law of Edward Blake and Samuel Hume Blake. Cronyn enjoyed a first-rate education at Kilkenny College and Trinity College in Dublin, earning the divinity prize and eventually 4 degrees at the latter. During his formative years, he came under the indelible influence of the Reverend Peter Roe, a leading Irish evangelical. Cronyn moved to Upper Canada late in 1832 as a missionary under the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. He was soon licensed to St Paul's Church, London, and from the outset he figured formidably in that largely Irish Protestant community. A man of extraordinary physical stamina, he laboured assiduously among his backwoods parishioners and the garrison. Around him, Cronyn systematically constructed an "Irish Compact," a phalanx of aggressive low-church evangelicalism which harassed the high-church stronghold of Bishop John Strachan of Toronto.

In 1857, Dr Cronyn (as he had become in 1855) was elected first Bishop of Huron and consecrated at Lambeth Palace. His elevation to the episcopate established 2 important precedents in Canadian church government: he was the first bishop in the British Empire to be elected by a diocesan synod of lay and clerical representatives (previously colonial bishops had been appointed from England); and consequently he was "the last Canadian bishop required to go to England for consecration."

Cronyn further augmented his position in 1863 by establishing Huron College, a low-church theological school in his see-city of London, On. The college served not only as Cronyn's counterplot to the "unsound and un-Protestant" teachings of Strachan's Trinity College in Toronto, but also as the founding college of the University of Western Ontario.

So vigorously and solidly did Bishop Cronyn promote his form of "extreme Protestant" Anglicanism that its stamp remains evident on the church in southwestern Ontario and indeed elsewhere. A churchman of unflinching fundamentalist convictions, the ambitious Irish cobbler's son also proved a skilful steward of those 2 keys to worldly success - politics and business. His descendants include the distinguished actor Hume Cronyn.

Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons

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