Ecclesiastical Law Journal


Episcopal Lineage: A Theological Reflection on Blake v Associated Newspapers Ltd

Christopher Hilla1

a1 Bishop of Stafford

Mathew's varied ecclesiastical progress presents a fascinating case study of an episcopate detached from a main-stream Christian community and alerts us to the danger of solely considering ‘episcopal lineage‘ as the litmus test for apostolicity. Mathew was born in France in 1852 and baptised a Roman Catholic; due to his mother's scruples he was soon re-baptised in the Anglican Church. He studied for the ministry in the Episcopal Church of Scotland, but sought baptism again in the Church of Rome, into which he was ordained as a priest in Glasgow in 1877. He became a Dominican in 1878, but only persevered a year, moving around a number of Catholic dioceses: Newcastle, Plymouth, Nottingham and Clifton. Here he came across immorality, and became a Unitarian. He next turned to the Church of England and the Diocese of London, but was soon in trouble for officiating without a licence. In 1890 he put forward his claim to Garter King of Arms for the title of 4th Earl of Llandaff of Thomastown, Co. Tipperary. He renounced the Church of England in 1899 because of vice. After founding a zoo in Brighton, which went bankrupt, he appeared in court in connection with a charge of embezzlement. He then became a Roman Catholic again, now as a layman.