Charles D'Arcy

Charles D'Arcy

Charles Frederick D'Arcy (2 January 1859 – 1 February 1938) was a Church of Ireland clergyman, from 1903 Bishop of Clogher, in 1907 translated to become Bishop of Ossory, Ferns and Leighlin and then Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore, briefly Archbishop of Dublin, and finally from 1920 until his death Archbishop of Armagh. He was also a theologian, author and botanist.


Early life

Born in Dublin in 1859, D'Arcy was the son of John Charles D'Arcy of Mount Tallant, County Dublin, and of Henrietta Anna, a daughter of Thomas Brierly of Rehoboth House, Dublin. He was a grandson of John D'Arcy of Hydepark, County Westmeath, and a descendant of John Darcy, the first Baron Darcy de Knayth, one of the knights who had fought at the Battle of Crecy (1346).[1][2]

Charles D'Arcy was educated at The High School, Dublin, and Trinity College, Dublin, where he was the first mathematical scholar of his year and won a gold medal in Moral Philosophy. He graduated BA in 1882, with a first-class Divinity Testimonium, and MA in 1892. He was later awarded the degrees of Bachelor of Divinity, 1898, and Doctor of Divinity, 1900.[1]


D'Arcy was ordained and became curate of Saint Thomas's, Belfast, in 1884. He became Rector of Billy, County Antrim in 1890, and of the united parishes of Ballymena and Ballyclug in 1893. From 1895 to 1903, he was chaplain to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, successively the 5th Earl Cadogan and the 2nd Earl of Dudley. In addition, he was Prebendary of Connor in Lisburn Cathedral , from 1898 to 1900. His next living was as Vicar of Belfast, from 1900 to 1903, and while there he was also appointed Dean of St Anne's Cathedral and examining chaplain to Bishop Welland.[1].[2]

In 1903, D'Arcy was elected Bishop of Clogher, in 1907 was translated to become Bishop of Ossory, Ferns and Leighlin, and in 1911 Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore, succeeding Dr John Baptist Crozier in both.[1]

He corresponded with Shane Leslie in 1907 about Leslie's decision to convert to Roman Catholicism.[3]

In 1907, he became a member of the Royal Irish Academy and was a Select Preacher at the University of Cambridge 1907–1908 and 1925 and Hulsean Preacher at Cambridge, from 1929 to 1930; as well as a Select Preacher at the University of Oxford, 1908–1910, at the University of Glasgow, 1912, and at the University of Durham, 1923.[2]

In August 1919, D'Arcy was appointed Archbishop of Dublin, Bishop of Glendalough and Kildare and Primate of Ireland Metropolitan. Less than a year later, in June 1920, he was elected as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, again succeeding Crozier.[1][2][4]

He was opposed to Irish Home Rule, and in 1912 signed the Ulster Covenant.[5] In 1921, he was appointed a member of the Senate of Southern Ireland, which was abolished with the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922, but did not attend.[6]

He was a life-long friend of James Craig, Lord Craigavon, the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland,[7] and a member of the Athenaeum Club, London, and the University Club, Dublin.[2] He was also a supporter of the Eugenics movement and chaired the Belfast branch of the Eugenics Education Society.[8]

In 1934, he published his autobiography, The Adventures of a Bishop: a Phase in Irish Life, and in June 1937 announced that he intended to retire, because of poor health. However, in the event he continued as Archbishop until he died on 1 February 1938.[1] He was buried at St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh.[9]

Marriage and family

In 1889, D'Arcy married Harriet Le Byrtt Lewis, daughter of Richard Lewis of Comrie, County Down, and they had one son and three daughters.[2] Mrs D'Arcy died of a heart attack during a cruise to the West Indies in the summer of 1932.[1] Of their three daughters, one married Charles Mulholland, 3rd Baron Dunleath and became Lady Dunleath.[1][10] Their son, John Conyers D'Arcy, Royal Artillery, fought in both World Wars and ended his career as the Commander of British forces in Palestine and Transjordan.[1][11] In May 1920, D'Arcy gave his son a Special licence to marry Noël Patricia Wakefield.[11]

Between 1900 and 1903, D'Arcy corresponded with his uncle George James Norman D'Arcy about his uncle's petition to the Crown for the abeyant peerage of Darcy de Knayth. However, in 1903 the House of Lords awarded the title to Violet Herbert, Countess of Powis.[11]


  • Honorary Doctor of Divinity, University of Oxford[2]
  • Honorary Doctor of Divinity, Queen’s University, Belfast[2]
  • Honorary Doctor of Divinity, University of Glasgow[2]
  • Honorary Doctor of Letters, University of Dublin[2]
  • Fellow of the British Academy, 1927[2]

Selected publications

  • A Short Study of Ethics (Macmillan, 1895, second edition, 1901)[2][12]
  • Idealism and Theology: a study of presuppositions (University of Dublin Donnellan Lectures for 1897–1898)[2]
  • Idealism and theology (Hodder, 1899)[12]
  • Ruling Ideas of Our Lord (Christian Study Manuals Series) (Hodder and Stoughton, 1901, second edition 1902)[2][12]
  • 'Articles on Consciousness, Leading Ideas, and Trinity', in Hastings' Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels[2]
  • Christianity and the Supernatural (Anglican Church Handbooks series) (1909)[2]
  • Christian Ethics and Modern Thought (Anglican Church Handbooks) (Longmans, Green, 1912)[2][12]
  • What is the Church? (Longmans, Green, 1914)[12]
  • God and Freedom in Human Experience (University of Dublin Donnellan Lectures for 1913–1914) (1915)[2]
  • God and the Struggle for Existence (contributor) (1919)[2]
  • Anglican Essays (contributor) (1923)[2]
  • Science and Creation (1925)[2]
  • The Christian Outlook in the Modern World (1929)[2]
  • God in Science (J. Nisbet, 1930)[2][12]
  • Providence and The World-Order (Robertson Lectures, Glasgow University) (Round Table Press, 1932)[2][12]
  • The Adventures of a Bishop: a Phase in Irish Life (Hodder and Stoughton, 1934, autobiography)[2][12]
  • God and the struggle for existence (Association Press, 1996)[12]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Charles Frederick d'Arcy at
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y 'D'ARCY, Most Rev. Charles Frederick', in Who Was Who, A & C Black, 1920–2008, online edn, Oxford University Press, December 2007
  4. ^ Desmond, Ray, & Christine Ellwood, Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturists, p. 193 at
  5. ^ 'D'Arcy, Charles Frederick 1859–1938' in Dictionary of Ulster Biography, D surnames online at
  6. ^ The Senate of Southern Ireland, 1921, at
  7. ^ Charles Frederick D’Arcy at
  8. ^ Morris, David, Bishop Boyd-Carpenter: Sheep or Shepherd in the Eugenics Movement? at "Two other prominent supporters of the Eugenics movement were Charles D’Arcy, Archbishop of Armagh and William Inge, Professor of Divinity at Cambridge and later Dean of St Paul’s.”71 Inge was a member of the Council of the Society from the early days; D’Arcy and Welldon were respectively chairmen of the Belfast and Manchester branches of the Society."
  9. ^ Grave of Charles Frederick D'Arcy at
  10. ^ Henrietta Grace D'Arcy at
  11. ^ a b c D'Arcy of Hyde Park Papers at, the National Library of Ireland web site (pdf file)
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i Charles Frederick D'Arcy at
  • Obituary of Charles Frederick D'Arcy (1859 – 1938) (in Proceedings of the British Academy, Vol 24; offprint, 19 pages, Oxford University Press, 1938)

External links

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