11 January 2007

England’s oldest Anglican priest: the Revd William Ackroyd with his second wife, Edith

England’s oldest Anglican priest: the Revd William Ackroyd with his second wife, Edith

The Bishop of Sodor & Man writes:
THE Revd William Lancelot Ackroyd, who, before his death on 8 December, aged 106, was the oldest priest in the Church of England, was brought up in Kent, and educated at Ashford Grammar School.

He qualified at Leeds University in 1919 as an industrial chemist, and worked for many years in Walkden and Littleborough, near Rochdale. He married his first wife, Janet, in 1924 in Manchester, and they had a daughter, Valerie. Sadly, Janet died in 1930.

Being drawn to the ministry, he entered Egerton Hall Theological College, Manchester, in 1931. He was ordained deacon in 1933, and served his first curacy at Christ Church, Salford, being priested in 1934. It was during 1934 that he married his second wife, Edith. After a further curacy at St John’s, Pendlebury, he was appointed to his first benefice, St Thomas’s, Ardwick in inner-city Manchester. During the war, he took up his duties as an air-raid warden with the Revd Roy Denne, and thus began a friendship that lasted decades.

He moved to St Simon and St Jude, Great Lever, Bolton, where his second daughter, Deirdre, was born. After his move to Bolton, he worked for a brief period with the British and Foreign Bible Society, and then moved back to Manchester, and from there to Cornwall, where he had two churches. His final living was in Gloucestershire. He retired in 1969 to Callington, in Cornwall.

He made many visits to Port St Mary in the Isle of Man, and, after Edith died, he moved to Port St Mary, where he continued his church life in the parish of Rushen, among his many friends.

A memorial service will be held in Callington, Cornwall, on 6 February.

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