Headington history: People

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Charles Pourtales Golightly (1807–1885)

The Revd Charles Pourtales Golightly (1807–1885) became attached to St Andrew’s Church, Headington some time after his famous quarrel with Cardinal Newman in the late 1830s.

At the time of the 1841 census he was an unmarried man of 33, living at 6 Holywell Street, Oxford, a large house which he appears to have renamed “The Cardinal’s Hat”: he was the only occupant, but was waited on by four servants. In the census he describes himself as a clergyman, which implies that he may already have become curate at St Andrew’s Church under the Revd J. C. Pring (Vicar 1835–1876).

In 1849 Golightly paid for the people of Headington Quarry to have bread and meat the day before Holy Trinity Church opened there, sharing the cost with Dr Lynch Cotton (who gave the land for that church) and Charles Tawney (who gave the land for Headington National School), and on 15 December 1849 it was announced in Jackson's Oxford Journal that Golightly had been appointed Curate at the new church of Holy Trinity in Headington Quarry (in addition to St Andrew's).

Golightly took an interest in Headington National School which had opened on the London Road in 1848, and on 9 July 1850 he was present at an inspection by the Government Inspector of Schools, bearing testimony to the fact that the moral training of the children was studiously encouraged and enforced.

At the time of the 1851 census Golightly still lived in Holywell, waited on by a footman, cook, and house servant. He gives his occupation as “MA, Afternoon Lecturer at Headington and not having cure of souls”. This means that he was paid from voluntary contributions to come and give Sunday afternoon “lectures” in St Andrew’s Church; and in 1854 the Revd J. C. Pring names him as his (unlicensed) curate in the Bishop’s Visitation Return. This return gives the times of the church services as 11am and 3pm; Golightly evidently took the 3pm slot. On 26 October 1878 a letter from Golightly to the Bishop of Oxford was published in Jackson's Oxford Journal, and included a mention of his time as Afternoon Lecturer at St Andrew's:

I was … for five years Afternoon Lecturer in the parish of Headington on 30l. per annum, undertaking nearly all the duties of a Curate, the Incumbent professing to do nothing, and being as good as his word.

Golightly’s connection with the St Andrew’s Church appears to have ceased around 1860 (which must be about the time he became Vicar of Toot Baldon), although he contributed £5 to its Restoration Fund in January 1881. He was still living at 6 Holywell Street that year, and his footman, George Coppock, was a Headington man. In 1861 he was visiting the Rector of Albourne in Sussex at census time, but in 1881 he was still living alone at 6 Holywell Street, looked after by two servants.

He died at Brooke House in Upper Clapton at the age of 79 in 1885, and was buried in Holywell Cemetery on 30 December. His estate came to £32,784.

Dictionary of National Biography

Below is Golightly’s entry in the old DNB, written by William Prideaux Courtney in 1890, reproduced by kind permission of Oxford University Press.

Golightly, Charles Pourtales 1807–1885, Anglican clergyman, born on 23 May 1807, was second son of William Golightly of Ham, Surrey, gentleman, by his wife, Frances Dodd. His mother’s mother, Aldegunda, was granddaughter of Charles de Pourtalès, “a distinguished member of an ancient and honourable Huguenot family”. He was educated at Eton. In his youth he travelled in Europe, visited Rome, seeing there “a good deal of certain cardinals, and entering into their characters and their politics”. He matriculated 4 March 1824 at Oriel College, Oxford, where he proceeded as B.A. in 1828, M.A. in 1830.

   His attainments would have justified his election to a fellowship, but as his private property was thought to be a disqualification he took curacies at Penshurst in Kent, and afterwards at Godalming in Surrey. In 1836, when the chapel of Littlemore, near Oxford, was almost finished, it was suggested that Golightly’s means would enable him to take it without an endowment. Golightly entered into the scheme with enthusiasm, and bought one of the curious old houses in Holywell Street, Oxford. A single sermon led, however, to a disagreement with Cardinal Newman, the then vicar of St. Mary’s, Oxford, to which Littlemore had been an adjunct, and their official connection, though they had been acquaintances from early youth, at once ceased. In this house he remained for the rest of his life, keenly interested in church matters, and struggling against the spread of what he deemed Romanism. For some time he was curate of Headington; he held the miserably endowed vicarage of Baldon Toot, and he occasionally officiated in the church of St. Peter in the East, Oxford, for Hamilton, afterwards bishop of Salisbury.

  He was a thorough student of theology and history. His religious views were those of Hooker, and he gloried in the traditions of the old high church party, but his hatred of Romanism, deepened by his Huguenot descent, made him a fierce opponent of ritualism. Even opponents admitted his deep religious feelings and his frank fearlessness. He was friendly with men of every division of thought, and his charity was unbounded and unostentatious. He was full of anecdote, heightened by much dryness of wit, and was always accessible. For the last three years of his life he was haunted by painful illusions, and his death was a release from pain. He died on Christmas day 1885, and was buried in Holywell cemetery, near Magdalen College, Oxford. Edward Meyrick Goulburn, dean of Norwich, reprinted, “with additions and a preface, from the Guardian of 13 Jan. 1886” his reminiscences of Golightly. An auction catalogue of his furniture and library was issued in February 1886.

   All his publications were controversial. They comprise:

  • Look at Home, or a Short and Easy Method with the Roman Catholics”, 1837
  • “Letter to the Bishop of Oxford, containing Strictures upon certain parts of Dr. Pusey’s Letter to his Lordship. By a Clergyman of the Diocese”, &c., 1840
  • “New and Strange Doctrines extracted from the Writings of Mr. Newman and his Friends, in a Letter to the Rev. W. F. Hook, D.D. By one of the original Subscribers to the ‘Tracts for the Times’”, 2nd edition, 1841
  • “Strictures on No. 90 of the ‘Tracts for the Times’, by a Member of the University of Oxford”, 1841, which reappeared as “Brief Remarks upon No. 90, second edition, and some subsequent Publications in defence of it, by Rev. C. P. Golightly”, 1841
  • “Correspondence illustrative of the actual state of Oxford with reference to Tractarianism”, 1842
  • “Facts and Documents showing the alarming state of the Diocese of Oxford, by a Senior Clergyman of the Diocese”, 1859. This publication had its origin in an article in the Quarterly Review for January 1858, in which the practices at Cuddesdon College were severely criticised, and to which he drew attention in a circular letter addressed to the clergy and laity of the diocese. At a meeting in the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, on 22 Nov. 1861, an anonymous handbill, written by Golightly in condemnation of the teaching in the middle class schools connected with St. Nicholas College, Lancing, was gratuitously distributed. Some severe reflections were then made upon it by Dr. Jeune, the vice-chancellor, and this provoked:
  • “A Letter to the Rev. Dr. Jeune, in vindication of the Handbill by Rev. C. P. Golightly”, 1861. A second letter to Dr. Jeune, 1861. Still undaunted, he wrote:
  • “The position of Bishop Wilberforce in reference to Ritualism, together with a Prefatory Account of the Romeward Movement in the Church of England in the days of Archbishop Laud. By a Senior Resident Member of the University”, 1867. He returned to the subject with:
  • “A Solemn Warning against Cuddesdon College”, 1878, in connection with which should be read “An Address respecting Cuddesdon College by Rev. E. A. Knox” (1878), the “Address of the Old Students of the College to the Bishop of Oxford”, and the “Report for the five years ending Trinity Term 1878, by Rev. C. W. Furse, Principal”. In the same year Golightly reissued in separate form, and with his name, his “Brief Account of Romeward Movement in Days of Laud”. The attack on Cuddesdon College was the subject of pp. 358–66, 415–18, vol. ii. of the “Life of Bishop Wilberforce”, and Golightly retorted with “A Letter to the Very Reverend the Dean of Ripon, containing Strictures on the Life of Bishop Wilberforce”, 1881.

Mozley’s Reminiscences, ii. 108–14; Burgon’s Twelve Good Men, i. xxiv–viii, ii. 79–87; Stapylton’s Eton Lists, 2nd ed. pp. 108a, 113a; Foster’s Alumni Oxon.; Churchman, 1886, xiv. 70–6, by the Rev. R. S. Mylne; Guardian, 6 Jan. 1886, p. 26.

There is an updated entry on Charles Golightly in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
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© Stephanie Jenkins

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