Cyril Forster Garbett

Cyril Forster Garbett

Garbett, Cyril Forster, 1875-1955, English prelate, archbishop of York. Educated at Oxford, he was assistant curate of Portsea (1899-1909) and then vicar there (1909-19). As bishop of Southwark (1919-32) he advocated Anglican social consciousness by publicizing the district's impoverishment. He was archbishop of York from 1942 to 1955. His numerous publications include The Claims of the Church of England (1947), Watchman, What of the Night? (1948), Church and State in England (1950), and In an Age of Revolution (1952).

See biography by C. Smyth (1959).

Cyril Forster Garbett (6 February, 187531 December, 1955) was an Anglican clergyman, and Archbishop of York from 1942 until 1955.

Early life

Garbett was born in the village of Tongham in Surrey, next to Aldershot in Hampshire, the son of the vicar of Tongham. At the age of 11 he was sent up to Portsmouth Grammar School and thence to Keble College, Oxford in 1894. At Oxford, he received a call to the ministry and moved to Cuddesdon Theological College to read theology and prepare for ordination.

In 1899, he was ordained Deacon and was sent to be Curate of Portsea, at which he was ordained to the priesthood in 1901, and where he remained until 1919, after 1909 as Vicar.

From there, he was consecrated Bishop of Southwark, where he remained until his translation as Bishop of Winchester in 1932, before finally in 1942 he became Archbishop of York.

Archbishop of York

Garbett was popular public figure, especially as a pastoral Bishop, famous for trudging the length of his dioceses and Archdiocese with his walking stick, visiting both clergy and lay people in the towns he passed through. Although personally warm, he had a reputation as a firm disciplinarian with clergy in his dioceses.

Politically and theologically, he is best seen as a transitional figure between the Edwardian and modern periods of the Church of England. A staunch nationalist and royalist, he held an erastian view of the Church of England clearly as a national church, and he held strongly traditional views of issues such as family relationships, sexual morality and corporal punishment.

On the other hand, Garbett belonged to the generation which was comfortable with the idea of diversity in the Church of England, and had little patience for High Church versus Low Church struggles. He was a pioneer of the Ecumenical Movement, and during and after the Second World War travelled extensively, including to Communist Bloc countries. Although generally perceived as leaning rightwards politically, he was comfortable with the welfare state which emerged during his Archiepiscopate.

His trip 19th — 28th September 1943, at the invitation of the Moscow Patriarchate, to Moscow where he was greeted by the newly installed Moscow Patriarch Sergiy (Stragorodskiy), was used by Stalin's propaganda machine to spread falsehoods about religious freedom in the USSR: on the 24th, the New York Times quoted Archbishop Garbett as stating that "he was convinced that there was the fullest freedom of worship in the Soviet Union". However, during the Cold War, Garbett denounced Communism as un-Christian and actively supported the British government line.

Garbett sat in the House of Lords for many years as a Lord Spiritual, and he took these duties as an erastian very seriously. On his retirement he was offered and accepted a hereditary barony, but he died before this could be legally created. It is thought he was to take the title Baron Garbett of Tongham.

Final years

Garbett continued to work ferociously into his late seventies, which eventually took its toll. On his eightieth birthday, February 6, 1955, he retired from active ministry and was created a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order. Later that year, he underwent surgery, and spent the last months of his life in a convalescent home where he continued to write and correspond until his death, on New Year's Eve 1955.



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