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of Ruiton Independent Chapel and Vicar of St. James' Church, 1815 - 1846
Theodosius Theodosius, was the first imcumbent of St. James' Parish Church, Lower Gornal, previous to this he had been expelled from Ruiton Independent Chapel in Upper Gornal.
Theodosius, an unusual reduplicated name was born in Llanfynydd, Carmarthenshire in 1774 to William Theodosius and Sarah Thomas.
Theodosius, was invited to preach at Ruiton Independent Church, after few visits, he was asked to take up residence there in 1811.
However some turbulent years ensued when he attempted to take control and move the congregation towards the Anglican church, making Ruiton Independent a Chapel of Ease to Sedgley All Saints Parish Church.
This affair is well documented in the article "The Strange Case of the Gornal Chapels", this article featured in the book "The Transactions of the Congregational Historical Society" published in 1909 and is reproduced below in it's entirety.
After Theodosios was expelled from Ruiton, he was instrumental in establishing St. James' Parish Church with the encouragement of Lord Ward of Himley Hall, who also gave some land to be used as the Graveyard and Vicarage.
Work on the new Chapel of Ease began in 1815, and was opened in 1817 with Theodosius incumbent, he remained Vicar of Lower Gornal until 1845.
"The Strange Case of the Gornal Chapels"
There are many instances of clergymen seceding from the Anglican Church and establishing Nonconformist places of worship. But an incident narrated by Mr. A. A. Rollason in the Dudley Herald of 17th October last, of the founding of a new (and very needful) Episcopal church by a seceded Congregational minister, is perhaps unique.
The Congregational church at Ruiton (Gornal) near Dudley, was the outcome of visits paid about 1750 by the Rev. George Whitefield. A house was licensed as required by the Toleration Act; and there worship was carried on until a chapel was built in 1777; this was enlarged in 1804, and in 1833 it was taken down and the present chapel erected.
The first minister after the enlargement was the Rev. Theodosius Theodosius — a reduplicated name which is sufficiently uncommon. He had been a student under the Rev. Jenkin Lewis at Wrexham, and was the first settled minister of New Windsor Chapel, Manchester, where he was ordained on 13th July, 1803. The pulpit at Ruiton being vacant in the autumn of 1804, he preached there on two Sundays the result being an invitation which he accepted on 29th November. His pastorate commenced on 6th January, 1805, and for a considerable time the congregation increased in a very pleasing manner
After a while, however, he married Miss Catharine Fletcher of Wednesbury, a member of a somewhat influential family; and doubtless to this marriage may be attributed the course which he afterwards pursued. The eldest sister of Mrs. Theodosius had married the Rev. John Waltham, M.A., J.P., rector of Darlaston, and after his death the Rev. John Howells, M.A., vicar of Holy Trinity, Coventry. A cousin had also married Dr. Luke Rooker, vicar of Dudley; and it is perhaps not uncharitable to suppose that their near relation being the wife of a Congregational minister was not altogether pleasing to them.
Mr. Theodosius had three children baptised in Ruiton chapel, in May 1810, March 1812, and January 1814 respectively. But nearly a year before this trouble had arisen, the nature of which is best given in the words of Mr. Rollason:— At that time the extensive parish of Sedgley had only one church, that being the parish church.
Mr. Theodosius doubtless in his own mind considered he would be doing the right thing if he could make Ruiton chapel a chapel of ease to the parish church. Anyhow, he attempted to set up Episcopacy at that place of worship. This aroused not only his Nonconformist congregation but the Nonconformists of the county.
As to what ensued appears in the chapel records. To the grief of the church, the disgrace of himself, and to the reproach of the Name of Christ, Mr. Theodosius began to pursue a very improper course of conduct; at times he seemed to mourn over his inconsistencies and resolved to put away his evil practices, but when these seasons of remorse were over he was as bad as before.
This rendered his ministry powerless, and must have had a very bad effect upon the minds of the people; and now the knowledge of his evil ways having gone abroad, the ministers of the county expelled him from their association, and the church, at a meeting held in February, 1813, authorized the deacons to give him six months to leave. But this he refused to do, and persisted in opposition to the church to keep possession of the property after his notice had expired, and he, with others who joined with him, were the cause of great disturbances.
The church endeavoured to prevail upon him to leave peaceably by offering him the sum of £20 to do so, but finding him determined to proceed in a course of opposition, they had recourse to legal authority in November 1813. He was served with an ejectment, against which he put in a plea and so brought on the matter for trial, which was to have taken place in March, 1814; but a short time before the trial came on he gave up possession of everything and paid £20 towards the law expenses, and having thus lost his situation and character in our denomination, he went over to the established church.
Mr. Theodosius and his friends did all they could to retain the chapel by force, that it might be converted into a chapel of ease, but failing in this, they had recourse to another stratagem. The property had not been enrolled, and therefore, Mr. Thomas Underhill being the heir-at-law of his father, the power over the property was in his hands. They, therefore, offered him money for his right, but he nobly refused; and the church and congregation, having paid him for his time and the expense he had been put to in securing the property, he honourably gave it up to trustees for the object for which it was originally intended.
A new trust deed was executed on the 7th July, 1814, and now the storm that beat so heavily against them abated and they were permitted to enjoy a season of rest."
Mr. Theodosius, thereupon, set about founding a place of worship at Lower Gornal. It was built in 1815, the expense of its erection, about 1,ooo, being defrayed by public subscriptions. It was opened for worship in 1817, but its dedication and consecration was not until July, 1823.
Mr. Theodosius having become an ordained clergyman of the Church of England became its first incumbent, and the place of worship founded by Mr. Theodosius became St. James', of Lower Gornal. It was enlarged in 1837.
Mr. Theodosius remained at Lower Gornal till about 1847 or -8, when he was succeeded by the Rev. James Yates Rooker, a kinsman of his wife. He then removed to Stafford, but was afterwards presented to the rectory of Burwarton, Salop, which he held to his death. He died at Stafford on 1st January, 1853, aged 80.
Altogether he had seven children, of whom all but two died young. His only surviving son, the Rev. James Henry Theodosius, M.A., born 1824, held a curacy and several chaplaincies in Stafford, where he died in 1893.
His six sons all by their own exertions gained scholarships and exhibitions at the Universities. Two of them became clergymen one of whom, the Rev. N. H. Theodosius, M.A., is now incumbent of St. Paul's, Stafford.
The above extract entitled:- "The Strange Case of the Gornal Chapels"
Featured in "The Transactions of the Congregational Historical Society" published in 1909.
When Theodosius took up residence in the area, he married Catherine Fletcher (b1787), of a notable Darleston family on 3rd January 1809 at Saint Lawrence, Darleston.
During his time at Gornal, Theodosius and Catherine had several children:-
Harriett Theodosius b1810, died 12 January 1817.
Mary Anne Theodosius b1812, buried on 14 June 1838 at Lower Gornal, aged 26 years.
William Fletcher Theodosius b1813, died 12 August 1814.
James Theodosius b1814.
Sarah Jane Theodosius b1816, burial 9 September, 1847 at St James'.
Samuel Fletcher Theodosius b1820, died 23rd April 1825.
James Henry Theodosius, born 24 October 1824.
Catherine Alice Theodosius b1826, died in Cheadle, Cheshire 1904.
Tragically, all but two of their children died at a young age.
Memorial inscriptions, St James The Great graveyard, Lower Gornal.
Their son, James Henry Theodosius, went on to marry Maria Louisa Norman of Marston Staffs., in 1856.
He was Ordained Deacon at Norwich in 1848, and a Priest at Lichfield in 1849, he became Vicar of All Saints, Ranton Staffordshire, 1849-1873 also as chaplain to the Stafford Union and to Coton Hill Institute for the Insane, 1858.
In the later part of his life he was Chaplain to the Stafford County Asylum between 1873 and 1892, he died at Stafford 8 February, 1893.
Catherine Alice Theodosius, after moving from Gornal, was living with her father and brother James near Stafford in 1851.
Catherine Alice died in 1904, Cheadle, Cheshire, a spinster.
Catherine, Theodosius' wife died on 12 August, 1838 aged 49 years, and was buried at St. James', Lower Gornal on 16th August.
Their children who died young are also buried there.
Theodosius Theodosius died at Stafford in 1853, although he is mentioned on the memorial, it is uncertain if he was buried at St. James.
this aye fur noggin yeds