Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Bloomsbury missionary becomes head of a church

Bloomsbury People has featured a number of stories about Bishop Andrew McLaglen, the father of Hollywood star, Victor McLaglen. Andrew McLagen was consecrated in November 1897 as bishop of the Free Protestant Episcopal Church of England (later known as the Evangelical Church of England). This church was formally dissolved in 1997 although it remains active in the US and Canada.

From knowing absolutely nothing about Bishop Andrew McLaglen's background when the first blog about him was posted on 6 August 2009, other than the fact he had been an apprentice missionary in Bloomsbury from 1877-1879, the Bloomsbury Project now has a link to the church through its current Primus and Bishop of California, the Most Reverend Edwin D Follick, who is also Director of University Libraries and University Chaplain, South Baylo University, Anaheim, California. Bishop Ed has sent me a photograph (top picture) of three of the first bishops of the Free Protestant Episcopal Church. It shows (from left) the Most Reverend Lord Leon Checkemian, DD LLD, the first Archbishop; the Right Reverend James Martin, DD LLD; and the Right Reverend Andrew Albert McLaglen, DD LLD.

The photograph was reproduced on the souvenir programme of the 12th Annual Convocation and Dinner of St Andrew’s Ecumenical Research Intercollegiate Fellowship, held at St Andrew’s Collegiate Church, Stonebridge Road, Tottenham, North London, on 4 September 1965. This church was acquired in 1967 by the Church of God but maybe it was later demolished or used for a different purpose because I cannot find reference to a church in Stonebridge Road. Laziness on my part because I haven’t actually been to investigate!

The middle picture shows Bishop Edwin Follick (right) presenting a sculpture to the Most Reverend Charles D Boltwood, DD LLD, Bishop Primus of the Free Protestant Episcopal Church, in 1978. It was Dr Boltwood who wound down the operations of the FPEC in the UK and transferred the church records to North America.

From humble beginnings in Bloomsbury, this story has travelled the world and pulled in more information about Victor McLaglen’s ancestry than I believe was generally known before. And by another strange twist of fate, I was talking to an elderly friend about the Bloomsbury Project and its stories when he informed me that he had known Victor’s daughter Sheila and her husband, and had even met (only once) the great actor himself. His recollection was that Victor arrived, having clearly enjoyed a ‘couple of drinks’!

Finally, I had to include a photograph (bottom) of Victor with his daughter Sheila and son Andrew.