Bishop William Hogarth
March 29th 1786 - January 29th 1866

Bishop William Hogarth

Hogarth's house, Darlington.
The commemorative plaqueThe Darlington Housing Association plaque



Top:   A photograph of Bishop William. It would have been taken around 1855, at a guess. The quality is quite poor due to it being a scanned photocopy of a book page. Taken from "The English Catholics 1850-1950", edited by GA Beck and published in 1950, it's not currently available to me, unfortunately.

Middle:   The building on the left, is Bishop William Hogarth's house in Coniscliffe Road, Darlington, County Durham. Behind it (not shown) is St. Augustine's Catholic church. Just to the left of his house, is one of the entrances to the church which he founded. The building, next door on the right, is Hogarth's / The Bishop's House (sic) - It's a cafe bar.  In view of his inclination to turn husbands out of pubs, when the hour was late, I'm not sure that this is an arrangement he would have entirely approved of!

Left:   The plaque affixed to the front of the house where he lived from 1824 until his death in 1866.

Right:   The plaque affixed to the wall of the housing development, stage right and out of shot, which was built in his memory.


Mr Robin Gard, archivist for the Catholic Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle and editor of the 'Northern Catholic History', responded to my enquiries most generously, with the picture of Bishop William, above and the following biographical information which had been submitted to 'The Dictionary of National Biography'. This work is available on CD-ROM  0-19-268312-8  from the Oxford University Press, priced at £411.25 (but postage is free).

Hogarth, William, D.D. (1786-1866).  The first Roman Catholic bishop of Hexham & Newcastle, was born on 25 March 1786 at Dodding Green, near Kendal, Westmorland, where his family had retained their faith and their lands through penal times.

William and his elder brother Robert (1785-1868) were educated from 1796 as church students at Crook Hall college, Durham, where students from the English secular college at Douai had settled in 1794 and which was removed to Ushaw in 1808.  They both survived an outbreak of typhus at the college in the winter of 1808/09 during which five fellow students died, and were among the first to be ordained priests at Ushaw, Robert in March 1809 and William in the following December.  Robert was engaged on pastoral work most of his life but William remained at Ushaw as professor, prefect general and procurator from 1811 to 1816, during which time Charles Newsham and Nicholas Wiseman were among his pupils.

In 1816 he was appointed chaplain to the Lawson family at Cliffe Hall, and when the Cliffe and Darlington missions were united in in 1824 he transferred to Darlington, where he passed the rest of his life.  From 1838 he was vicar generally successively to bishops Briggs, Mostyn, and Riddell, vicars apostolic of the northern district.  In 1848 he succeeded Dr Riddell as vicar apostolic and was consecrated bishop of Samosata, in partibus, at Ushaw on 24 August.  When the hierarchy was restored by Pius IX he was translated to the new see of Hexham, renamed Hexham and Newcastle in 1861.

Throughout his life he retained a close interest in the affairs of Ushaw College.  He supported his friend Charles Newsham, fifth president, in his plans for its major expansion between 1848 and 1858 and advocated its independence from episcopal control.  He was older than most of his episcopal colleagues and while not aloof from ecclesiastical politics he preferred to concentrate his energies on promoting the interests of his diocese, rather in the spirit of the former vicars apostolic - It is said that every church or chapel had been either built or enlarged under his management.  Even so, he was well respected by fellow bishops and was a friend and confidant of Nicholas Wiseman.

Although somewhat rough in manner, he was well known for his personal kindness and he generously supported all good causes in Darlington, irrespective of religious denomination.  He built St Augustine's church in 1827 and was much loved by his own congregation, which he increased from 200 in 1824 to 3,000 in 1866.  He was, above all, an energetic and capable administrator who established his new diocese on a sound footing.  He died at Darlington on 29 January 1866, aged 79 years, and was buried at Ushaw college.

In an article entitled  +CROSSWISE+  which, I'm told, came from a edition of the 'Northern Echo' (date unknown), Canon Robert Spence gives an account of Bishop William:

Tribute to Hogarth

At the weekend we had a flower, Craft and Music Festival at St. Augustine's, enjoyed by very many people from Darlington and all over the North East. The Festival carried the name 'Hogarth's Heritage' because it was held in the recently restored church that William Hogarth built 170 years ago.

I am delighted to have such an eminent predecesor to look back to for inspiration. You have probably passed his Darlington home in Coniscliffe Road many times, with it's plaque recording that he lived there as priest and bishop from 1824 until 1866.

The more impressive memorial to him is in the West Cemetary. He is described as 'The Father of his Clergy and the Poor who, by a saintly life, great labour and charity unbounded, won love and veneration from all.'  Strikingly we are reminded 'This memorial was erected by his Catholic flock and fellow townsmen of every creed and party'.

Perhaps the most fitting tribute to his memory is Hogarth Court, the fine Darlington Housing Association development just along from his own home. He was always concerned about standards of housing in the town. In the wake of the Public Health Act of 1848 he reported on the conditions of some of the yards off Skinnergate. He found Darlingtonians crowded together in such a manner that, in visiting them, there was not room to get around the bed, and he had been obliged to scramble over several beds to reach the parties he had been requested to visit.

He was at that time a 60-year old bishop responsible for the counties of Durham, Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmorland!

Thomas Mewburn the Railway Solicitor who lived at the original Larchfield House tells how his 'good friend and near neighbour' would sometimes visit nearby pubs to get men back to their homes and families. 'If they are uproarious on his entering, they instantly become quiet and go home!'

No wonder that the day his body was carried from the town for burial at Ushaw near Durham City, the streets were densely crowded, the shops closed and the bells of St. Cuthbert's tolled a muffled peal of respect.

Corrigendum: I have been advised by a diligent visitor (Guestbook - 31 May 2002), that the reference to Thomas Mewburn is wrong, in as much as his given name was actually Francis.  It just goes to show that you can't believe everything you read in a newspaper!

The Catholic Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle - Previous Bishops
A profile of William's brother, the V. Rev. Robert Hogarth
The Story of Dodding Green - abridged version
Visit Les Strong's 'Dodding Green' page.

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