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Bishop John William Colenso 1814 - 1883

Cartoon drawing of Bishop Colenso

Having read quite a bit about the life of Bishop Colenso, I have every respect for the man. He was put into an impossible position given the timing of his appointment. At first he doubted his own ability, but armed with the belief that it was God's will, he not only befriended the Zulu people by learning their language and embracing their different outlook, but also left them in no doubt at all that he had no part to play in the ensuing bloodbath, other than do his best to persuade the British army to look at other options than war.

map of South Africa

 

As regards his writings on the pentateuch - the ideas and thoughts that presented themselves within his work gave him great cause for concern. He spent many, many months questionning himself, before concluding that maybe this was God at work again and that this was his true task. Many more months still were spent dwelling on the possible outcomes - whether to publish his writings or not. He wrote letters to eminent friends for advice, clearly outlining his thought processes on the Bible text, as well as his concerns over the potential furore of the Church. He never actually sent these letters because he realised that this action alone may incriminate his friends and make their situation as difficult as his own, whether they were able to understand and support his difficulties in reaching his point of view or not.

 

Chronology

1814 Jan 24
1827 Jul 10

Born St Austell, Cornwall, England
Baptised into the Church of England St Austell, Cornwall, England

1832 - 1844

John Colenso attended St John's College, Cambridge 1832 -1836 and shortly after graduating was elected into a Fellowship and taught at Harrow. He attended a sermon by Samuel Wilberforce and was influenced by the idea of missionary work
He took up a College in Norfolk in preference to a better paid position in Putney and served as vicar at Forncett St Mary from
1844

1846 - 1852

John Colenso married Sarah Frances Bunyan in London. Frances Emily Colenso was born in 1847 (later called Harriet) followed by Frances Ellen Colenso born in 1849. Their eldest son Robert John Colenso was born in 1850 followed by Francis Ernest Colenso who was born in 1852 (In the photograph the boy at the back - the baby is John Eric son of Robert)

1852 - 1858

John Colenso was offered the position of Bishop of Natal. He arrived in Natal as Bishop in the January of 1854 and was horrified at the way the Zulu people were being treated. He returned to England 1855 for some months unsure if he was able to deal with the situation. Believing in the end that it was God's will, he returned to Natal and in time became fluent in Zulu and developed a profound sympathy for the people he served. The youngest child Agnes Mary Colenso was born in 1855 at Pietermaritzburg

1859 - 1862

Controversy arose by his stand on polygamy and other issues
He published a grammar book of the Zulu language as well as a Zulu - English dictionary. He also published manuals of instruction for the Zulus on history, astronomy, geography and other subjects.
A commentary on St Paul's Epistle to the Romans published by Colenso was declared full of heresies by Bishop Gray of Capetown
Colenso published a critical examination of the Pentateuch which is when his radical theology caused a controversy that shook the Anglican Church in Natal, raising constitutional as well as doctrinal issues. Bishop Gray claimed the right to exercise coercive jurisdiction over Bishop Colenso by both trying and condemning him

1863 - 1875

Bishop Gray pronounced a sentence of deposition followed by Colenso's excommunication
Colenso returned to England and appealed to the crown with the result that the judicial committee of privy council declared the whole of Bishop Gray's proceedings null and void
Colenso returned to Natal as the legal Bishop although some leading Societies chose to regard him as deposed
In general, friendly feelings toward Colenso increased among the colonists that is until he took an unpopular stand on an issue of native trouble.

1883 Jun 20

John William Colenso died. His tomb is in front of the altar at St Peter's Church. which was the Bishop's Cathedral from 1857.

 

 

Immediate Family Members

Elizabeth Colenso
1776 -


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John Williams Colenso
1779 - 1860
Mary Ann Blackmore
1784 - 1829
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William Colenso
1782 _ 1865
Frances Flamark
1788 - 1843
********

Samuel May Colenso
1786 - 1866
Mary Veale Thomas
1786 - 1856
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Robert Colenso
1772 - 1806
Elizabeth Painter
1769 - 1828
********

*** ***

 

John William Colenso
24 Jan 1814 - 20 Jun1883
Emily Frances Colenso
1815 - 1879
Elizabeth Ann Colenso
1817 -
Sophia Ann Colenso
1821 - 1854
Thomas Blackmore
Colenso
1823 - 1849

*** ***

 

William Colenso
1809 - 1809/11
William Colenso
1811 - 1899 (NZ)
Samuel Colenso
1813 (Canada)
Richard Veale Thomas Colenso 1815 - 1892
John Williams Colenso
1818 - 1853
Jane Emily Colenso
1820 - 1896
Elizabeth Frances Colenso
1820 - 1883
Ellen Colenso
1824 - 1907
Edwin Colenso
1827 - 1897 (Australia)
Mary Ann Colenso
1830 -

Mary Paynter Colenso
1797 -
Johanna Hodge Colenso
1798
Robert Colenso
1801

 

Key

***

Uncles Aunts & First Cousins

The Bishop
Parents, Brother, sisters

***

Died before 1853

Alive to know of the achievement

Information not found to date

 

Some contemporary opinions

 

 

Hymn - 'The Church's one Foundation'

Poem - 'The Legend of Pornic' by Browning 

 

 

Recent speeches

 Click any image to view the whole speech or essay in its own context

Buthelezi - 1st Sept 2000

 

Archbishop of Canterbury - 15th June 2001 

 

Buthelezi - 6th Sept 2002

 

 Lamin Saneh - Christian Missions and the African Response

 

 

 

And from Bishop John
 

Letter printed in the Times 25th August 1877

 

Legacies

JW Colenso

Bishop of Natal

 

Memorial Window.

 

Holy Trinity Parish Church

St Austell Cornwall

England

Window Holy Trinity Parish Church  St Austell

 

Zulu Dawn

words spoken by Freddie Jones as Bishop Colenso

I truly cannot believe that with all the knowledge we have today about history, events, and the consequences or aftermath, that so many leaders of nations are still obsessed with power, with tyrany, and with showing an extreme inhumanity to their fellow man - their own people as well as an enemy.
Life is short enough, and ordinary folk get on with one another by and large, until leaders declare that one group should hate another.
It would be refreshing if modern leaders were to be honest, join forces, with the common aim of deposing tyrannical leaders, especially where there is no oil, be it in North, Central or South America, Africa, Middle or Far East, Asia, Australasia or Europe and begin to show some 'humanity' for the majority of peace loving people. Only then, should there be room for us all.

AJD 8 Jun 2003

 

 

Name

Town/City

Country

Named after

Date

***Colenso Drive ***

**Barnet**

** England **

Battle of Colenso

Aug/1998

*** Colenso Road ***

Birmingham

** England **

Battle of Colenso

7 /Feb/1901

Colenso Street

Blackburn

England

Battle of Colenso

1900 - 1930's

*** Colenso Road ***

** Fareham **

** England **

*** ************

************

*** *** ***

******

******

******

******

*** Colenso Street***

** Hartlepool **

** England **

Battle of Colenso

Before 1904

*** *** ***

*** ***

******

*** ***

*** ***

Whole estate of Colenso 'Streets'

** Leeds **

** England **

Battle of Colenso

Before 1904

Colenso Way

Newcastle-under-Lyme

England

*** ********

*** ********

Colenso Street

Oldham

England

*** ********

After 1930

Colenso Street

Preston

England

*** ********

*** ********

Colenso Road

Redbridge

England

Battle of Colenso

1901 - 1904

Colenso Terrace

Rhymney

Wales

*****

*****

Colenso Place

St Austell

England

Bishop Colenso

*** ***

Colenso Terrace

Tredegar

Wales

*** ********

*** ***

Colenso Street

York

England

Bishop Colenso

*** ********

 

 

The University of Natal (Pietermaritzburg and Durban). The annual 'Colenso Lecture' series on the 'symbolic meaning of the life and work of John Colenso in Natal' was established in 1995, although it was agreed that broader non-theological issues could be discussed. Robert A Hinde (St John's College, Cambridge University) was invited to deliver the very first series in August 1995. The titles were `The bases of violence and war', (main lecture at Pietermaritzburg), and `The study of interpersonal relationships', `Towards integrating the behavioural sciences', and `Where do we get our values?' were given at other universities in South Africa over two weeks. Read a more detailed account of the background and the experience of Robert A Hinde

 

 

Wills 1861

John Williams Colenso. 31st January 1861
Effects under £2,000 Resworn at the stamp office December 1861 under £200

The will of John Williams Colenso late of 15, Lower Durnford St East Stonehouse in the County of Devon Gentleman deceased who died on or about 23 December 1860 at Lower Durnford St aforesaid was proved at Exeter by the oath of Emily Frances Colenso of 15 Lower Durnford Street aforesaid Spinster the Daughter and the executrix according to the Tenor of the said will

Wills 1879

Emily Frances Colenso 17 November 1879
Personal Estate under £300

The will of Emily Frances Colenso late of Julian Hill Harrow in the County of Middlesex Spinster who died 15 October 1879 at Julian Hill was proved at the Principal Registry by Mary Butler (Wife of Spencer Perceval Butler) of Julian Hill the Niece the sole Executrix

Wills 1883

The Right Reverend John William Colenso DD 23 October 1883
Personal Estate £5,454, 1s 7d

Administration (with the will) of the Personal Estate of the Right Reverend John William Colenso late of Bishopstowe in the Colony of Natal Bishop of Natal D.D. who died 20 June 1883 at Bishopstowe was granted at the Principal Registry under the usual limitations to Francis Ernest Colenso of Lower Close, Norwich in the County of Norfolk Barrister-at-law the lawful Attorney of Sarah Frances Colenso Widow the relict and Sole Executrix now residing at Natal

Wills 1910

Francis Ernest Colenso of 21 Cavendish-Road-West St John's Wood Middlesex and of Elangeni Amersham Buckinghamshire died 30 June 1910 at Elangeni Amersham Buckinghamshire Probate London 17 August to Sophie Jeannette Colenso Widow
Effects £5,253 14s 3d

Wills 1937

Sophie Jeannette Colenso of Elangeni Chestnut Lane Amersham Common Buckinghamshire widow died 22 April 1937 Probate London 6 July to Irma Margaret Crovo (wife of Angelo Antonio Crovo)
Effects £7,231 13s 6d

Wills 1947

John Eric Colenso of Rock Cottage Uredale-road Limpsfield Surrey died 23 September 1946 Probate London 13 January to Mary Gertrude Colenso widow
Effects £10,207 10s 10d

Wills 1954

Mary Gertrude Colenso of Chantry Ridge 11 Chantry view-road Guildford widow died 11 September 1954 at Mount Alvernia Harvey-road Guildford Probate London 6 November to Midland Bank executor and Trustee Company Limited
Effects £8,246 8s 7d

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