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WILLOUGHBY, MARK, Church of England clergyman and educator; baptized 24 June 1796 in Chew Magna, England, son of William Hall Willoughby and Mary —; m. 10 Jan. 1844 Janet Scougall, widow of Robert Liston, in Montreal; they had no children; d. 15 July 1847 in Montreal.

Mark Willoughby was attracted to the Newfoundland Society for Educating the Poor, more commonly known as the Newfoundland School Society, from its beginnings in 1823. It was organized in England by a group of evangelical churchmen, led by Samuel Codner*, who were convinced that education linked with Christian truth based on Scripture was essential for settlers in the colonies. Assistant secretary of the society in 1823, Willoughby visited Newfoundland three years later and returned in 1829 as superintendent for the island. He held a Bible class in St John’s in which one of his students was William Bennett Bond*, later primate of the Church of England in Canada. In 1832–33 he visited Lower Canada as the society’s agent.

Willoughby was ordained a deacon in 1839 by Bishop Aubrey George Spencer* of Newfoundland, and shortly afterwards he moved to Lower Canada. He immediately accompanied Bishop George Jehoshaphat Mountain* on a tour of Mountain’s large diocese of Quebec, in which the bishop promoted the extension of the school society’s work. On 10 Feb. 1840 Mountain ordained Willoughby to the priesthood.

The new priest was soon assigned to Trinity Chapel in Montreal, then under construction to relieve the only Anglican parish of the city, Christ Church. The benefactor of the chapel, William Plenderleath Christie, had chosen Willoughby, and Mountain had accepted the nomination. The building, described by a contemporary as “a very elegant chapel” in the Gothic style, with a “chastely” interior, was consecrated, and Willoughby inducted as incumbent, on 20 May 1840. With the aid of two assistants, and thanks to a gift for administration and a manifest devotion to his vocation, Willoughby quickly won the trust and affection of his people; indeed, according to one member of his congregation, he was the best-loved clergyman in Montreal. The church soon boasted a number of prominent pew-holders, including Dr Andrew Fernando Holmes*, Samuel Gale*, Charles Dewey Day*, and Christopher Dunkin*, and it was attended by governors Sydenham [Thomson], Metcalfe (when he visited the city), and Cathcart*.

As a parish priest Willoughby continued to pursue his interest in education, and under his care the Trinity Chapel Sunday school became second to none in the diocese. In 1842 he was named to the board of examiners established under a recent provincial education act. As well, he maintained for some time his superintendency of the schools under the sponsorship of the Newfoundland School Society, and he claimed in 1845 to have established 70 such schools in the Diocese of Quebec.

In 1847, as ships docking at Montreal disembarked thousands of immigrants sick and dying of the dread typhus fever, Willoughby visited the sheds housing them to feed and to minister to the suffering. In July he contracted the disease and died, the first of five Anglican priests in the diocese who lost their lives in that service. During his illness the Sulpicians of the city sent frequently to enquire after him. Originally buried in the cemetery on Rue Dorchester, he was reinterred in Mount Royal Cemetery in 1871.

Mary Naylor

ANQ-M, CE1-84. PAC, RG 68, General index, 1841–67. Berean (Quebec), 7 Oct. 1847. Philip Carrington, The Anglican Church in Canada; a history (Toronto, 1963). Jubilee history of Trinity Church, Montreal, 1840–1890, comp. Henry Mott ([Montreal, 1890]). Brian Underwood, Faith at the frontiers: Anglican evangelicals and their countrymen overseas (150 years of the Commonwealth and Continental Church Society) (London, 1974). T. R. Millman, “The church’s ministry to sufferers from typhus fever in 1847,” Canadian Journal of Theology (Toronto), 8 (1962): 126–36.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Mary Naylor, “WILLOUGHBY, MARK,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed October 22, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/willoughby_mark_7E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/willoughby_mark_7E.html
Author of Article: Mary Naylor
Title of Article: WILLOUGHBY, MARK
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1988
Year of revision: 1988
Access Date: October 22, 2014