'Called to Serve'

The stories of the ordinands of St Faith's, Great Crosby

Henry Lionel Gibbs

From Scotland to Southport

One of many men and women from our church who became an ordinand is Henry Lionel Gibbs.  He would appear to be the oldest ordained clerics with associations to St. Faith’s, having been ordained in 1914.  The link with us is not yet clear, other than he was named in a 1980 article by Dorothy Carter as one of several St. Faith’s men ordained to the ministry.  There appears to be no other mention of him, as far as I am aware, in our church records.  There is a confirmation recorded of a Gertrude Lilian Gibbs in 1920, but I have not been able to find a birth record of her, living in the district.

Henry Lionel Gibbs was born in 1885 to Henry and Lilian Gibbs, the second of five children.  His father was a master builder.  Successive census returns indicate an improvement in the families fortunes.  Between 1881 to 1891 the family were living at Bevington Hill, a road in the Scotland ward of Liverpool and noted for its densely populated poor housing.  Parts of this road still exist but sadly none of the housing, following the widescale obliteration of the area in the 1960’s with construction of the Kingsway Tunnel.  By 1901 the family were living just a roar from Liverpool’s Anfield ground at 30 Rockfield Road, Anfield. The census of 1901 recorded Henry, aged 16, as a ‘pupil teacher’.

In the years between 1901 to 1911, Henry completed his studies at Liverpool University, gaining a B.Sc. in 1906 and an M.Sc. in Mathematics in 1907. He undertook his ministerial training at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.

By 1911, census records show Henry’s occupation as a schoolteacher for Liverpool Education Committee.  He was still living with his family, but they had now moved to a large and elegant property in Geneva Road, not far from Newsham Park in the Fairfield district of Liverpool.  With a nod to their roots, the house was named ‘Bevington’.

Henry married Ada Marie Newton on the 7th July 1912 at St. John the Divine, Fairfield, Lancashire.

In 1914 he was ordained Deacon at the recently completed Lady Chapel of Liverpool Cathedral by the Bishop of Liverpool and licensed to Christ Church, Kensington, West Derby.

In 1917 he was licensed as assistant curate to St. Thomas’s, Wavertree.  On the 18th August, 1921, he was instituted as Vicar of St. Catharine’s Church, Scholes, Wigan.  There is a photograph of him standing next to the church football team – perhaps living so close to Anfield in his youth stood him in good stead and gave him an appreciation of football.

His next appointment continued the football connection.  Between 1925 to 1935 he served as vicar to St. Luke the Evangelist, Walton on the Hill.  This church is situated right next door to Everton’s football ground, Goodison Park.  It’s impossible to say if he had allegiance to either club but I’m sure the roar of the crowd could be heard quite clearly at St. Luke’s! In 1936 a newspaper article reported him as the Diocesan Inspector of Schools in Liverpool. 

In 1936 he became vicar to St. Philip's Church, Southport and at their Diamond Jubilee in 1940 he was appointed as a Canon Diocesan of Liverpool Cathedral.

The Reverend Henry Lionel Gibbs died aged 67 on the 6th March 1952, survived by his wife and daughter.

Research by John Woodley
October 15th, 2015

The list of  ordinands