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Benjamin Pollard

First Anglican Bishop of Lancaster, first person from a 'modern' university in the post, and first University of Manchester student to sit on the Bishops' Bench in the House of Lords.

Born: 1890

Old Anselmian: around 1911

Degree: Chemistry, then Theology

Career: Muntitions factory worker, army chaplain and Bishop of Lancaster

Education

The Somerset-based Pollard family had an interesting link with Admiral Lord Nelson. They were proud to say that one of their ancestors was the midshipman on HMS Victory at the battle of Trafalgar. This military heritage would be continued by Benjamin Pollard, born in Bath in 1890.

At around two years old, Benjamin moved with his family to Manchester and was educated at Manchester Grammar School. By 1911, the family were living in Old Trafford and Benjamin and his elder sister Phyllis were both students at the University of Manchester. Benjamin initially studied chemistry, but later took up theology. This took him to St Anselm's Hostel, where he became one of the Hall's earliest tutors. 

Career

In 1914, Benjamin was ordained as a deacon and licenced to St. Luke, Weaste in Salford. As the First World War broke out, his earlier studies of chemistry proved useful. During the early part of the war, he became part of Lord Molton’s department, working on explosives. This department later became the Ministry of Munitions.

Continuing the military theme, he later became chaplain to the 2nd Battalion Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry for three years. After the armistice around 1919, he spent several months doing relief work in Armenia where over a million inhabitants had died as a result of the genocide carried out by the Ottoman Empire.

On his return to England, he was made senior curate of Sheffield Cathedral, and was in charge for a five month period between bishops. A spell as Rector of Bradfield in Sheffield followed until 1924, when he was appointed rector of St Chrysostom, Victoria Park and returned to Manchester. During this time, he was also chaplain to the Royal Infirmary, St Mary’s and the Christie Hospital.

Further promotion followed, and in 1928, Benjamin left Manchester to become a vicar in Lancaster. Then, in 1936, he was made the first Anglican Bishop of Lancaster (consecrated in York Minster by the Archbishop of York). In achieving this, he was the first University of Manchester student, and also the first student from any ‘modern’ Victorian university, to sit on the bench of bishops in the House of Lords.

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Image used in a commemoration of the opening of new buildings at the Ripley Hospital in Lancaster on 8 November 1956. Retrieved from Lancashire County Council's Red Rose Collections.

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Benjamin Pollard's and wife Marjorie's grave. Photo credit 1414Jan Find A Grave.

Later Life

Pollard held the role as Bishop of Lancaster for 18 years until 1954, when he was appointed to the bishopric of Sodor and Man (Isle of Man). This was announced by the Prime Minister Winston Churchill from 10 Downing Street, and the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II approved the appointment.

As a result of his work, Benjamin was awarded a Lambeth degree. A Lambeth degree is an academic degree conferred by the Archbishop of Canterbury and takes precedence over all other degrees. The Archbishop said that the honour was conferred, “...as a token of respect and in recognition of your great qualities and…. with your work as Governor of the Church Commissioners demands such recognition.”

Benjamin Pollard retired from his role as Bishop of Sodor and Man in 1965, and died, aged 76, in Ramsey on the Isle of Man.

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