LOBLEY, JOSEPH ALBERT, Church of England clergyman and educator; b. 10 Feb. 1840 in Liverpool, England, son of Benjamin Lobley, a joiner and builder, and Mary Harrison; m. in 1867 Elizabeth Ann Mais, and they had at least one daughter; d. 6 Jan. 1889 at Sedbergh, England.
Joseph Albert Lobley received his early education at the Collegiate Institution in Liverpool, matriculated to the University of Cambridge in 1859, and obtained his ba in 1863. In the latter year he was ordained deacon and in 1864 priest. From 1863 to 1866, while still resident at Cambridge, he was curate of nearby Bourn, an ecclesiastical benefice of which Christ’s College, Cambridge, was the patron. His academic distinction led to his election in 1865 as a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, a post he soon resigned to become curate of Hamer, near Rochdale (now part of Greater Manchester); he was vicar there from 1867 to 1873. While at Hamer he was designated bishop of Victoria, Hong Kong, but declined the post on medical advice. Through his interest in the missionary work of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, he probably familiarized himself at this time with the state of the Church of England in Canada.
In 1873 Ashton Oxenden*, Anglican bishop of Montreal, invited Lobley to come to Canada as principal of the proposed Montreal Diocesan Theological College. Bishop’s College at Lennoxville, Quebec, had provided clergy for Montreal since the founding of the diocese in 1850 and the bishop of Montreal was, ex officio, vice-president of Bishop’s. Yet Oxenden was aware that Bishop’s had “earned the character (somewhat unjustly perhaps) of nurturing extreme opinions in its students” and he therefore resolved, for this and other reasons, to establish a training school of his own. The Montreal college opened under Lobley’s guidance on 22 Sept. 1873 with only two students, but at the end of the second academic term had increased their number to ten. The college was not incorporated until 1879 and was without its own quarters until 1881, but it received strong support from Oxenden and prominent laymen. Lobley, who gave the entire course in theology, also taught general introductory subjects to those whose early education was inadequate and encouraged those who were qualified to secure a bachelor’s degree at McGill College or Bishop’s. In the four years Lobley headed the college, 12 students were prepared for ordination, among them Lewis Norman Tucker*, later general secretary of the Missionary Society of the Church of England in Canada, Elson Irving Rexford*, principal of the college from 1904 to 1928, and Jervois Arthur Newnham*, successively bishop of Moosonee and of Saskatchewan. Bishop Oxenden praised Lobley’s “great efficiency” and in 1891 wrote of him: “He was a little too much of a Churchman for some of my friends at Montreal, but he was a good and able man.”
Lobley had originally intended to stay in Canada only five years, but late in 1877 he handed over the principalship of the Montreal college to the Reverend William Henderson* and agreed to become head of Bishop’s following the death of its first principal, Jasper Hume Nicolls*. For the next seven and a half years Lobley led a busy life as an administrator and able teacher particularly of classics and mathematics. Although the number of students at Bishop’s never exceeded 40 during his tenure, he was occupied with expanding the curriculum to include science and law, laying out a scheme for a new library, maintaining strict discipline, adding to the chapel, and directing the college’s religious services. From 1883 to 1885 he assumed as well the rectorship of Bishop’s College School, a closely allied preparatory school founded in 1836 by Lucius Doolittle*. Lobley, who served the mission of Milby throughout this period, was an excellent preacher and had a good singing voice which helped him both at social occasions and in the conduct of services.
His outstanding work both at Montreal and at Lennoxville earned him speedy recognition in the church. In the episcopal election of 1879 to choose a successor to Alexander Neil Bethune*, bishop of Toronto, Lobley received a majority of the clerical votes but failed, if only by a few votes, to receive the approval of the laity. In March 1880 he was asked to succeed George Whitaker as provost of Trinity College, Toronto, and later was offered posts as dean of Quebec’s Cathedral of the Holy Trinity and of Kingston’s St George’s Cathedral, but he declined these offers. On his return to England in 1885 he lived first in Cambridge and was employed by the SPG as organizing secretary for the dioceses of Ely and Peterborough from January 1886 to July 1887. In August of the latter year he became vicar of Sedbergh, a living in the gift of Trinity College, Cambridge, but he died in January 1889 at age 48.
Joseph Albert Lobley left a fine record as an educator during his 12 years in Canada. The institutions he served are still active and attest to the soundness of his work. Although a few conservative evangelical Anglicans in Montreal and Toronto entertained doubts about his churchmanship, Lobley was not a party man. His personal charm was great, and the important positions which were offered to him in his comparatively short lifetime reflect his character and ability.
Joseph Albert Lobley was the author of The church and churches in southern India: a review of the Portuguese missions to that part of the world in the sixteenth century, etc. (Cambridge, Eng., 1870), of two sermons published in the Church Guardian (Montreal), 9 Aug. 1882 and 8 July 1885, and of a report on Bishop’s College published in Mission Field (London), 1 April 1879.
Anglican Church of Canada, General Synod Arch. (Toronto), Mountain-Roe-Jarvis coll., sect.2, Roe papers, B, diaries and journals, Fannie Roe diaries, 14 Dec. 1876; 24 Oct., 15, 23, 25 Dec. 1877; 3, 14 Jan., 11, 20, 29 Oct. 1878; 3 March 1879; 8 March 1880. Bishop’s Univ. Arch. (Lennoxville, Que.), Alumni Assoc., Minutes, 1878; College Council, Record of meetings, 1876–95; Corporation, Minutes, 1877–90; Trustees, Minute books, 1875–90. Church of England, Diocese of Toronto, Synod, Journal (Toronto), 1879. Educational Record of the Province of Quebec (Montreal), 5 (1885): 100, 162–63, 183. Ashton Oxenden, The history of my life, an autobiography (London, 1891); My first year in Canada (London, 1871). [A. C. Scarth], Memoir of the Rev. Archibald Campbell Scarth, M.A., D.C.L., rector of St George’s Church, Lennoxville . . . , [ed. Henry Roe] (Sherbrooke, Que., 1904). Evangelical Churchman (Toronto), 7 Feb. 1889. Gazette (Montreal), 1873–74. Sedbergh and District Parish Magazine (Sedbergh, Eng.), February 1889. Alumni Cantabrigienses . . . , comp. John and J. A. Venn (2 pts. in 10v., Cambridge, 1922–54), pt.ii: IV. George Abbott-Smith, I call to mind: recollections and impressions of the last three-quarter century (Toronto, ). Oswald Howard, The Montreal Diocesan Theological College, a history from 1873 to 1963 (Montreal, 1963). D. C. Masters, Bishop’s University, the first hundred years (Toronto, 1950).