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MOCKRIDGE, CHARLES HENRY, Church of England priest, editor, and author; b. 15 Dec. 1844 in Brantford, Upper Canada, son of James Mockridge and Sarah Lemon; m. 18 Oct. 1871 Eliza Sophia Ridley Grier in Belleville, Ont., and they had seven children; d. 25 Feb. 1913 in Louisville, Ky.

The son and grandson of Anglican clergymen, Charles Henry Mockridge was educated in Belleville and at Trinity College, Toronto, where he distinguished himself in classics. After receiving his ba in 1865 he spent the next few years as headmaster of high schools in Welland, St Marys, and Clinton. In 1868 he was ordained deacon and the following year priest by the bishop of Ontario, John Travers Lewis*. Mockridge went on to take his ma at Trinity in 1869, his bd in 1877, and his dd in 1882. He gave lectures in homiletics and pastoral theology at Trinity and was a member of the church’s board of examiners for granting divinity degrees. His four sons would follow him as graduates of Trinity College and into the priesthood.

After having served successively the mission churches at Madoc and Hillier from 1868 to 1876, Mockridge became assistant curate at St George the Martyr in Toronto. His reputation as a teacher and scholar had evidently preceded him, for the vestry instructed him to establish a boys’ day-school for fee-paying pupils. In May 1880 he succeeded his wife’s uncle, John Gamble Geddes, as rector of Christ’s Church Cathedral in Hamilton, where he became known as a powerful and aggressive speaker. He was popular with his congregation, but he offended several prominent members connected with the liquor industry by preaching against the traffic in alcoholic beverages and throwing his support behind the Moral Reform Association’s mayoralty candidate in the 1888 election. When he later preached a sensational denunciation of the pew-rent system on 22 Oct. 1888, he was forced to resign. In May 1889 he moved to Christ Church in Windsor, N.S., and a year later he returned to Toronto as the assistant rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity, a free-seated church. Mockridge professed an ardent, personal religion, and a veneration for Scripture. Pastoral visits as well as special services and devotional meetings in churches and homes characterized his early ministry.

A favourite theme for Mockridge was the duty for Christians to support the church’s missionary task, and in 1883, when the provincial synod established the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society to promote missions in Manitoba, the northwest, and overseas, he was appointed its first volunteer general secretary. He was responsible for organizing its operations and conducting its correspondence. In July 1886 the society began the monthly Our Mission News (Toronto) under his editorship (a year later it became the Canadian Church Magazine and Mission News) to promote “systematic and proportionate giving as the best means of securing support for missions.” The magazine supplied an important intellectual dimension to the church’s missionary enterprise and was, according to historian Thomas Reagh Millman, “one of the best publications ever produced by Canadian Anglicanism.” In January 1893 Mockridge launched the Canadian Church Juvenile (Toronto), a double sheet of stories and religious teachings. It was taken in many Sunday schools and by April 1894 its circulation had reached about 5,000. The missionary society failed to hold its own, however, because most of the contributions of congregations went to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Moreover, evangelical churchmen preferred to give directly to another London-based organization, the Church Missionary Society.

The demands of his positions as secretary and editor, coming on top of the claims of his parish, taxed the energy of Mockridge, who in any case felt hampered by the separation of the offices of secretary and treasurer. He tendered his resignation in 1893, but the society immediately created the full-time position of secretary-treasurer and offered it to him. He resigned from Holy Trinity and took up his new duties on 1 Jan. 1894. Shortly afterwards, he was made honorary canon of St Alban-the-Martyr. Two years later, however, a committee of the society, impelled by its failure to represent the church as a whole or to generate a stable income to sustain its work, decided that the two offices should revert to their voluntary status and should again be held by different persons. The editorship of the magazines would also be separated from the responsibilities of the secretary. The recommendations were accepted by the board of management of the society, and Mockridge’s position ceased to exist.

Thereafter Mockridge’s career suffered diverse shifts in fortune. In spring 1897 he went to the deanery of Peterborough, where he briefly marked time as a missionary until a call came from Grace Church in Watertown, N.Y. He held a rectorship in San Jose, Calif., in 1901–2. In 1903 he succeeded his son John Charles Hillier at Detroit’s Church of the Messiah, and he remained there until 1907. His ministry ended in a succession of unremarkable parishes in Massachusetts and Kentucky, where he died in 1913.

Mockridge’s career was marked by his spirited leadership as secretary of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and as the perspicacious editor of its magazines. As a church historian he published The bishops of the Church of England in Canada and Newfoundland in 1896 and a short companion piece in Church Eclectic (New York) entitled “Twenty-five years of the church in Canada” in 1898. In all of these endeavours he promoted missions as an important facet of the work of his church.

Peter Hanlon

Additional publications by Charles Henry Mockridge can be found in the collections of the ACC, General Synod Arch. (Toronto), or are listed in CIHM, Reg.

ACC, Diocese of Toronto Arch., Church of the Holy Trinity (Toronto), vestry minute-book, esp. 26 March 1894; St George the Martyr (Toronto), vestry minute-book, 1 May 1876; General Synod Arch. (Toronto), GS 75-102 (Church of England in Canada, Domestic and Foreign Missionary Soc.), esp. ser.1-3 (Mockridge material); ser. 2-3 (Mockridge ledgers). McMaster Univ. Library, Div. of Arch. and Research Coll. (Hamilton, Ont.), ACC, Diocese of Niagara records, Christ’s Church Cathedral (Hamilton), vestry minutes, 26 Oct., 20 Nov. 1888. Trinity College Arch. (Toronto), 990-0053/074 (degree book). Daily British Whig (Kingston, Ont.), 22 May 1868, 2 Nov. 1869. Dominion Churchman (Toronto), 2 Nov. 1893. Hamilton Spectator, 6 May 1880; 27 Aug. 1883; 3 March, 5 May 1884; 10 Oct., 21 Nov., 9, 19 Dec. 1887; 23 April, 23, 26 June, 22, 27 Oct., 5 Nov. 1888; 6 May 1889. Church of England in Canada, Diocese of Toronto, Journal of the synod, 1897: 12. T. R. Millman, “Canadian Anglican journalism in the nineteenth century” and “The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Church of England in Canada, 1883–1902,” in Canadian Church Hist. Soc., Journal (Toronto), 3 (1956–59), no.5: 1–19 and 19 (1977): 166–76 respectively. Standard dict. of Canadian biog. (Roberts and Tunnell), vol.1. J. G. Stevens, The descendants of John Grier, with histories of allied families; a biographical and genealogical record (Baltimore, Md, 1964), 217–18. Trinity Univ. Rev. (Toronto), 25 (1912–13): 117.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Peter Hanlon, “MOCKRIDGE, CHARLES HENRY,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 14, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed September 1, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/mockridge_charles_henry_14E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/mockridge_charles_henry_14E.html
Author of Article: Peter Hanlon
Title of Article: MOCKRIDGE, CHARLES HENRY
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 14
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1998
Year of revision: 1998
Access Date: September 1, 2014