The Info List - Alfred Blunt

Alfred Walter Frank Blunt (1879–1957) was an English Anglican bishop. He was the second Bishop of Bradford from 1931 to 1955 and is best known for a speech that exacerbated the abdication crisis of King Edward VIII.


1 Birth and education 2 Teaching and priesthood 3 Bishop of Bradford 4 Speech and abdication crisis 5 Personal and later life 6 Publications 7 References

7.1 Citations 7.2 Works cited

8 External links

Birth and education[edit] Blunt was born on 24 September 1879 in Saint-Malo, France, where he was brought up before his mother returned the family to England in 1887.[1] He was younger son in second marriage of Captain F. T. Blunt (died 1881) of the British colonial service, ultimately Chief Civil Commissioner for the Seychelles. He was privately educated by his widowed mother, and attended Church Hill preparatory school at Crondall
near Farnham, Hampshire, before entering Marlborough College in 1893.[2] He entered Exeter College, Oxford, where he graduated Bachelor of Arts in 1901, receiving first-class honours in literae humaniores, and was promoted to Master of Arts in 1904.[3] He was later granted by the same university the degrees of Bachelor of Divinity in 1918 and, honoris causa, Doctor of Divinity
Doctor of Divinity
in 1932.[4] Teaching and priesthood[edit] Blunt was elected as a tutorial Fellow of Exeter College in March 1902,[5] and as Assistant Master of Wellington College later in 1902 before studying for priesthood at Cuddesdon Theological College.[2] He was ordained deacon in 1904 and priest in 1905 by Francis Paget, Bishop of Oxford, in whose diocese he served as a licensed preacher until 1907, when he became curate at Carrington, Nottingham, an industrial parish. He became its perpetual curate, or vicar, in 1909. He also became examining chaplain to Edwyn Hoskyns (and his successor Bernard Heywood), Bishop of Southwell, its diocesan, from 1911 until 1927.[4] In 1917 he moved to Derby, to be Vicar of St Werburgh's, another industrial parish.[6] He became honorary canon at Southwell Minster
Southwell Minster
in 1918. In 1920 he was also appointed Rural Dean of Derby. In 1927, when a new Diocese of Derby
was formed, he became in turn canon at Derby Cathedral and examining chaplain to Edmund Pearce, Bishop of Derby.[4] In churchmanship he was an Anglo-Catholic.[7] Politically interested in social justice and a priest who preferred work in slum communities and with youth, he was a member of the Christian Social Union from 1907, and from the time of the general strike of 1926 a member of the Labour Party.[2] While in Derby
he became a friend of J. H. Thomas, a local Labour Member of Parliament and future cabinet minister.[1] Bishop of Bradford[edit] In 1930, Blunt was offered but declined the See of Worcester before becoming Bishop of Bradford the following year.[2] He was consecrated as a bishop on 25 July 1931 and enthroned on 30 November 1931.[1] He hosted the Anglo-Catholic Conference, over which he presided, at Bradford in 1934.[2] Politically, he drifted leftward and during the Second World War
Second World War
advocated communism (although he criticised the way it was practiced in Soviet Russia) and supported the Beveridge Report in 1943.[8] He became the president of the newly formed Council of Clergy and Ministers for Common Ownership in 1942.[9] Blunt's work continued, despite mental breakdowns as early as 1931, until he was forced to retire after a stroke in 1955.[10] Speech and abdication crisis[edit] See also: Edward VIII
Edward VIII
abdication crisis Blunt's speech was made to his diocesan conference on 1 December 1936. At this stage, the crisis had not come to the notice of the public and, though the press knew of it, they had not yet revealed it. The speech was mundane until Blunt talked about the coronation service:

On this occasion the King holds an avowedly representative position. His personal views and opinions are his own, and as an individual he has the right of us all to be the keeper of his own private conscience. But in his public capacity at his Coronation, he stands for the English people's idea of kingship. It has for long centuries been, and I hope still is, an essential part of that idea that the King needs the grace of God for his office. In the Coronation ceremony the nation definitely acknowledges that need. Whatever it may mean, much or little, to the individual who is crowned, to the people as a whole it means their dedication of the English monarchy to the care of God, in whose rule and governance are the hearts of kings. Thus, in the second place, not only as important as but far more important than the King's personal feelings are to his Coronation, is the feeling with which we – the people of England – view it. Our part of the ceremony is to fill it with reality, by the sincerity of our belief in the power of God to over-rule for good our national history, and by the sincerity with which we commend the King and nation to his Providence. Are we going to be merely spectators or listeners-in as at any other interesting function, with a sort of passive curiosity? Or are we in some sense going to consecrate ourselves to the service of God and the welfare of mankind?

He continued:

First, on the faith, prayer, and self-dedication of the King himself; and on that it would be improper for me to say anything except to commend him to God's grace, which he will so abundantly need, as we all need it – for the King is a man like ourselves – if he is to do his duty faithfully. We hope that he is aware of his need. Some of us wish that he gave more positive signs of such awareness.

A Telegraph and Argus
Telegraph and Argus
reporter, Ronald Harker, was present.[11] He took his notes back to the office and, on conferring with his colleague Charles Leach, agreed that the national media might be interested and sent the story over the wire to the Press Association.[11] Eight days later, King Edward VIII
Edward VIII
abdicated. When asked about it later, Blunt revealed that the comments he made had been intended to be a lament of the King's indifference to churchgoing. Like most other Britons, he had never even heard of Wallis Simpson.[12] Personal and later life[edit] He married, in 1909, Margaret Catharine (also known as Maggie), daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel J. Duke of the Indian Medical Service, and by her had a son and two daughters.[13] Resigning his bishopric, he retired to York, where he died on 12 June 1957 aged seventy-seven. He was buried at Calverley, Yorkshire.[10] Publications[edit] Sourced from Who Was Who and his sketch in Crockford's Clerical Directory 1957–58.

Studies in Apostolic Christianity (1909) Apologies of Justin Martyr (1911) Faith and the New Testament (1912) The Faith of the Catholic Church (1916) The Book of Acts (for the Clarendon Bible) (1922) Israel before Christ (World's Manuals series) (1924) The Book of Galatians (for Clarendon Bible) (1925) Israel in World-History (World's Manuals series) (1927) The Teaching of the Old Testament (1927) The Ancient World (1928) The Prophets of Israel (1929) The Gospel of Mark (for Clarendon Bible) (1929) C. of E., What does it Stand for? (1934) Grace and Morals (1935) The Gospels and the Critic (1936) Our Need for God (1937) God and Man (1937) The Faith of the New Testament (1939) For Beginners in Prayer (1941) The Goodly Fellowship (1942) What the Church Teaches (1942) The Trials of Sickness (1946) The Spirit of Life (1947)

References[edit] Citations[edit]

^ a b c Lister 1986. ^ a b c d e Watson 2004, p. 346. ^ Crockford's Clerical Directory, p. 108; Roberts 1979, p. 80. ^ a b c Crockford's Clerical Directory, p. 108. ^ "University intelligence". The Times (36723). London. 24 March 1902. p. 7.  ^ Watson 2004. ^ Roberts 1979, p. 80. ^ "Blunt, Alfred Walter Frank (1879–1957), bishop of Bradford Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". oxforddnb.com. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-49183. Retrieved 2 January 2018. (Subscription required (help)).  ^ Machin 1998, p. 129. ^ a b Watson 2004, p. 347. ^ a b Priestley, Mike (1 December 2006). "Not-So-Blunt Words That Stopped Coronation". Telegraph & Argus. Bradford, England: Newsquest Media Group. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 1 January 2018.  ^ Cooke, p. 72. ^ Watson 2004, p. 346; Who Was Who 1961, p. 113.

Works cited[edit]

Cooke, Alistair. Six Men.  Crockford's Clerical Directory, 1957–58. Oxford University Press.  Lister, Mary (1986). "Bishop Blunt and the Abdication Crisis". The Bradford Antiquary. 3. Bradford, England: Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society. 2: 54–64. Archived from the original on 10 March 2009. Retrieved 1 January 2018.  Machin, G. I. T. (1998). Churches and Social Issues in Twentieth-Century Britain. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0-19-821780-0.  Roberts, Frank C., ed. (1979). Obituaries from the Times, 1951–1960. Reading, England: Newspaper Archive Developments. ISBN 978-0-903713-96-2.  Watson, Giles C. (2004). "Blunt, Alfred Walter Frank (1879–1957)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 6. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/49183. ISBN 978-0-19-861411-1.  Who Was Who, 1951–1960. A & C Black. 1961. 

External links[edit]

National Portrait Gallery image

Church of England
Church of England

Preceded by Arthur Perowne Bishop of Bradford 1931–1955 Succeeded by Donald Coggan

v t e

Diocesan Bishops of Bradford

Arthur Perowne Alfred Blunt Donald Coggan Michael Parker Ross Hook Geoffrey Paul Roy Williamson David Smith David James Nick Baines Tom Butler (Acting)

for the Leeds diocese area bishops, see Bishop of Bradford

v t e

Edward VIII
Edward VIII
abdication crisis

Edward VIII Wallis Simpson


Prince Albert (Edward VIII's brother, later George VI) Stanley Baldwin
Stanley Baldwin
(Prime Minister of the United Kingdom) Alfred Blunt (Bishop of Bradford) John Theodore Goddard
Theodore Goddard
(Mrs Simpson's solicitor) Alec Hardinge
Alec Hardinge
(Edward VIII's private secretary) J. B. M. Hertzog
J. B. M. Hertzog
(Prime Minister of South Africa) Cosmo Gordon Lang
Cosmo Gordon Lang
(Archbishop of Canterbury) Joseph Lyons
Joseph Lyons
(Prime Minister of Australia) William Lyon Mackenzie King
William Lyon Mackenzie King
(Prime Minister of Canada) Queen Mary (Edward VIII's mother) Walter Monckton (advisor to Edward VIII) Michael Joseph Savage
Michael Joseph Savage
(Prime Minister of New Zealand) Ernest Simpson (Mrs Simpson's husband) Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera
(President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State)

Legal documents

His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936
His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936
(United Kingdom) Executive Authority (External Relations) Act 1936 (Ireland) His Majesty King Edward the Eighth's Abdication Act, 1937
His Majesty King Edward the Eighth's Abdication Act, 1937
(South Africa) Succession to the Throne Act 1937 (Canada)

Cultural depictions

Edward & Mrs. Simpson (1978) The Woman He Loved
The Woman He Loved
(1988) Wallis & Edward (2005) The King's Speech
The King's Speech
(2010) W.E.


Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 11279630 LCCN: n85127086 ISNI: 0000 0001 1595 3355 GND: 101966342 SUDO