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Welshmen Known in London.-XIII.…
_0. Welshmen Known in London.-XIII. The Rev. J. Crowle Ellis. THE subject of this week's sketch, the Rev. JL J. Crowle Ellis, Incumbent of St. Benet's Welsh Church, Queen Victoria Street, was born about fifty years ago at Llanarmon-in Yale, in Denbighshire. He, like so many other clergymen of the Episcopal Church in Wales and among Welsh people outside the Principality, is p A Son of Nonconformity. His father was Mr. John Ellis, Brynhyfryd, a prominent tradesman in the district, owner of a clay and lead mine, and for over 40 years a leader and deacon in the Wesleyan Methodist chapel in the village. His wife, Mr. Crowle Ellis' mother, was of a Wesleyan stock, being the daughter of Captain Crowle, of Cornwall. Both Mr. and Mrs. Ellis were noble examples of Christian piety, and their life of integrity and self-denial at home, as well as the religi- ous enthusiasm which characterised the little Wesleyan church which they attended, were among the early influences that acted upon the mind and soul of their son. After spending his boyhood in the National School in Llanarmon and in a school at Mold, he went to the counting house of Messrs. David Jones and Co., Liverpool. There he spent some years, qualifying himself, as he then thought, for a business career, though the old desire for Christian work was by no means dead. Coming under the influence of some clergymen of the Church of England, he learned to.look upon the Church as a totally different institution and force from what it had appeared to him in his own Nonconformist home As a result, he joined that Church, and began to Prepare to take Holy Orders. It was too late to think of entering one of the Universities. Acting upon the advice of Canon E. T. Davies (Dyfrig), then Vicar of St. David's, Liverpool, who had given him private tuition, he entered St. Aidan's College, Birkenhead, and passed the Oxford and Cambridge Preliminary Examination for Holy Orders. In 1880, he was ordained by the Bishop of Lichfield, now Archbishop of York, and appointed to a curacy at Biddulph, a large and populous parish in North Staffordshire. He saw that the great needs of the parish were temperance meetings and open air preaching, and devoted himself to pioneer work on those lines. There is a story told about him preaching in one of the slums, standing upon a chair, when a man who stood in the crowd listening shouted out, Thank God for a converted parson." Whilst in Biddulph he was fortunate to meet a certain lady, who afterwards became his wife. Mrs. Ellis until recent years when her health has been indifferent, threw herself heart and soul into her husband's work, rendering invaluable service. Mr. Crowle Ellis' next curacy was at the populous parish of Oldham. There he interested himself in the work of the Church Army. But his health gave way, and he accepted th&somewhat less exact- ing curacy of Neston, in Cheshire. Here in the bracing sea breezes his health was soon restored, and he began to look again towards the populous districts. Aston, near Birmingham, was his next sphere, where he served as senior curate under Canon Eliot, brother to the Dean of Windsor. At Aston, he had charge of a large district. He organised a Bible Class of about 100 men, many of whom were reclaimed J -unkards. Temperance lecturing and open air THE REV. J. CROWLE ELLIS. preaching occupied much of his time here again. Back to the Welsh. But hard work in the smoky Midlands brought about another breakdown in health, and acting upon the advice of his old friend, Canon Davies, he accepted a curacy at Penmaenmawr. This move took him back to Wales, and to officiate in the Welsh language. He had not been at Penmaenmawr many months before he was invited to become the first chaplain of the Welsh Mission in Paddington, which he decided to accept. That was sixteen years ago, and the day was a day of small things. The services were held in a little school-room, and the average number that attended was under fifty. There was no endowment and no regular grant, but few influential persons promised subscriptions. Mr. Ellis threw his whole energy into his work at Paddington. In three months he had obtained a free grant of a site for a chuich, immediately followed by a grant of a site for a parsonage. In five months from the time he took charge an iron church was erected and opened for services, and the chaplain soon began to see his efforts followed by success. He laboured there for seven years, and by the end of that time, through splendid self-denying co-operation of the members, had built a permanent church, hall for entertainments, and a caretaker's house, at a cost of ^4,000, and only a debt of £700 remaining to be met. The record of the work at Paddington is an example of the power of voluntaryism, which some members of the Established Church would do well to study. In 1895, Mr. Crowle Ellis was Appointed to St. Benet's by Bishop Creighton. In this sphere a work of a somewhat different character and difficulties awaited him. But from the time of his taking up the duties there, he has been free from the burden of anxiety concerning finances. At St. Benet's he has been exceedingly successful, and the Church which had been torn by disunions and withdrawals is now sbong^ healthy, and prosperous. The services have much improved, and though not ritualistic- in character, are considerably higher than they used to b2. Mr. Crowle Ellis would, we presume, call himself a Broad High Churchman. He knows nothing about sacerdotal narrowness and bigotrv, and his relations with Nonconformists are of the most cordial character. He is a firm believer in the value of the co-operation of the laity, and that has been heartily given him both at St. David's and at St. Benet's. In all his relation- ships not only to the members of the Churches he has served, but also to his superiors, he has been most happy all through his life. A thoroughly good preacher, careful pastor, wise organiser, and a capital friend, he has endeared himself to all who have come in contact with him. When the Church Congress met in London a few years ago, he suggested to Bishop Creighton the advisability of holding a Welsh meeting, and the idea was promptly adopted. Mr. Crowle Ellis himself was asked to organise it in conjunction with the Secretary of the Congress. The meeting was held in the Church House, and proved a great success. All Welsh movements in London find in Mr. Crowle Ellis a warm supporter. He has had a great deal to do with organising the National Welsh Festival in St. Paul's Cathedral every year on St. David's Eve. To the Welsh Auxiliary of the London City Mission, the Welsh Charitable Aid Society, and the Union of Welsh Mutual Improvement Societies, and the London Welsh Branch of the Bible Society, he has rendered very valuable service.