William Bottomley DUGGAN (1844–1904)
St Paul’s section: Row 6, Grave A11

William Bottomley Duggan

BORN JULY 23. 1844, DIED FEBRUARY 25. 1904


Duggan portrait
Portrait of Duggan in bas-relief
on the wall of St Paul’s Church

William Bottomley Duggan was born in St Luke's parish London on 23 July 1844. He was the son of William Bottomley, a gentleman of London and descendant of a Yorkshire nonconformist family, and Mary Ann Duggan, born in Bishopsgate in 1824/5. His parents do not appear to have been married, and in the 1861 census his mother was still described as a spinster.

His sister Mary Milly Bottomley Duggan was born in London on 5 November 1846, and they were baptised together at St Luke’s Church, Finsbury on 3 June 1849 when William was five and Mary was nearly three.

Their paternal grandfather, William Bottomley senior (born in Leeds in 1783) was a merchant who owned the Royal Admiral ship. At the time of the 1841 census he was living at Gothic Cottages, Castle Gate, Enfield with his first wife Mary Maling and his daughters Margaret and Fanny, plus two servants. His wife Mary died in St Luke’s parish in the fourth quarter of 1844. By 1851 he was living at 1 Percy Circus, Clerkenwell with his daughter Margaret Bottomley (35) and his widowed sister Mrs Frances Andrews.


William Bottomley Duggan (6) is hard to find in the 1851 census. At the time of the 1861 census William (16), his mother Mary Ann Duggan (36), and his sister Milly Bottomley Duggan (14) were staying at 33 Albert Road, Islington with William’s paternal grandfather, William Bottomley, who was now a retired merchant of 78 and a widower.

William Bottomley Duggan attended Totteridge Park School in Hertfordshire from the age of ten, and then went on to King’s College School, Wimbledon, where he won a Latin essay prize in 1862. He was matriculated at the University of Oxford from Lincoln College at the age of 19 on 29 January 1864.

On 23 August 1864 at Highbury Grove, Islington, William’s sister Mary Milly Duggan married Edward Evan Meeres, a medical General Practitioner. By the time of the 1871 census they were living at Melksham, Wiltshire and already had five children: Kathleen (4), Thomas (3), Edgar Stuart (2), Horace (1), and Theresa Mary (three months).

William and Mary’s paternal grandfather William Bottomley senior died at 38 Park Street, Islington at the age of 80 on 31 October 1863. His effects came to nearly £9,000, and one of his executors was his grandson-in-law Edward Meeres.

William Bottomley Duggan obtained his B.A. in 1869 and was ordained Deacon on 19 December that year by the Bishop of Winchester in his Cathedral, and Priest on 9 October 1870 by the Bishop of Oxford (Samuel Wilberforce) in the parish church of Hambledon. He was elected President of the Oxford Union Society for Michaelmas Term 1870.

William Bottomley Duggan was Curate of St Paul’s Church, Oxford from 1869, and then in April 1871 was appointed to succeed Alfred Hackman as Vicar there.

Interior of St Paul's ChurchInterior of St Paul's Church (now Freud's Café), c.1905

Duggan's predecessor had also served as Chaplain of Christ Church and lived in the college, so there was no house provided by the church for Duggan, who remained a bachelor and lodged for the rest of his life with George & Hannah Brooke, even moving home with Mrs Brooke after she was widowed. At the time of the 1871 census he was at 43 Walton Street with Hannah and her husband George, who was a managing attorney’s clerk.

Duggan was also the Curator of St Sepulchre’s Cemetery.

By 1881 Hannah Brooke was a widow, and Duggan was living with her and her son at her new address, 98 Great Clarendon Street.

His only sister Mrs Mary Meeres died in Plymouth at the age of 37 in the first quarter of 1884, just after giving birth to her ninth child. At the time of the 1891 census her physician husband Edward was living at 1 St Andrew’s Terrace, Plymouth, with five of his children and two servants.

Duggan’s lodging house in Great Clarendon Street was described as the Old School House in 1901. His landlady of 33 years, Mrs Hannah Brooke, died there in December 1903, and two months later, after serving as Vicar of St Paul’s Church for 33 years, he also died, and was buried in the grave next to hers:

† William Bottomley Duggan died at 98 Great Clarendon Street at the age of 59 on 25 February 1904 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 29 February (burial recorded in the register of St Paul’s Church).

His funeral was taken by W. W. Merry, the Rector of Lincoln College.

The following obituary was published in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 27 February 1904:


After a long and painful illness, borne uncomplainingly and with exemplary fortitude and Christian hope, the Rev. William Bottomley Duggan, for 33 years Vicar of St. Paul’s, has passed away at the comparatively early age of 59, a victim of cancer. He had been in indifferent health for some years from another ailment, but it was not till he returned from his annual holiday at the end of last summer that grave symptoms began to develop. Under the advice of his medical men, Mr. A. Winkfield and Mr. H. E. Counsell, he consulted a London specialist, who confirmed that he was suffering from internal cancer. Notwithstanding his illness, he continued his ministerial duties, oftentimes when undergoing the most acute pain, till shortly before Christmas, when it was found necessary for him to go into the Acland Home to undergo an operation, which, however, was only in order to give temporary relief. He recovered satisfactorily from the operation, and was able to be removed to his lodgings in Clarendon-street, but the insidious disease from which he was suffering continued to run its fatal course. During his illness, although seldom free from pain, he never relaxed his interest in the church to which he had devoted so many years of his life. An instance of this is afforded by his request that the choir should visit his lodgings and sing the Benedicite to the new setting by Mr. Boyle, the organist. This they did after evening service on the 7th inst. and again on the 14th. He was then in a very weak state and has since gradually sunk till, after a period of unconsciousness, the end came peacefully at 1.15 on Thursday morning. His death is a severe loss not only to the parish of St. Paul, but to the whole city.

The deceased gentleman was never married. He was educated at Lincoln College, and obtained a third class in Moderations in 1866. He took his B.A. degree in 1869, and in the same year was ordained deacon, and priest the following year. In his earlier years he was a frequent and effective speaker in the debates of the Union Society. He filled the office of secretary in Michaelmas Term, 1864, and librarian in Michaelmas Term, 1868, and Hilary and Easter Terms, 1869, and occupied the Presidential chair in Hilary Term, 1870. He was appointed select preacher at the University Church in Michaelmas Term, 1897. Notwithstanding offers of preferment, he has spent the whole of his ministerial life in St. Paul’s parish, first as curate, from 1869 to 1871, when, on the resignation of the late Rev. A. Hackman, he was appointed vicar. The living of St. Michael’s and also that of the City Church [the newly joined parish of All Saints with St Martin’s] were successively offered to him by his college, but on both occasions, contrary to the advice of friends, he preferred to remain at St. Paul’s, devoting the whole of his income and small private means to the good of the parish, the church, and its services. He was always a most generous contributor to every subscription list, for many years he paid the larger part of the organist’s salary, and he also maintained a curate to assist in the services of the church. He first officiated at a baptismal service in St. Paul’s on the 30th January, 1870, when two children were baptised, and it is a coincidence that his last baptismal service, on the 6th September, was for two infants. The total number of baptisms taken by him in St. Paul’s was 1,338, and he officiated at 358 weddings and 962 funerals, the last being that of Mrs. Brooke (his landlady, with whom he had lodged for many years), on November 12th, 1903. His first sermon at St. Paul’s was on Christmas Eve, 1869, and his last November 22nd, 1903. He, however, celebrated Holy Communion as late as December 6th. During his incumbency the school in Juxon-street was built and the church has undergone considerable improvement. The whole of the stained glass windows in the porch and west walls have been inserted, Mr. Duggan himself giving the one in the north-west corner to the memory of his sister. A clergy vestry has been built by funds provided by the late Mrs. Ridgway, a new heating apparatus installed, and a two-manual organ erected in the gallery to take the place of the small instrument which formerly stood near the vestry door.

Mr. Duggan commanded the respect and esteem of all parties in the Church, and was equally respected among Nonconformists. Belonging to the orthodox High Church party, he nevertheless had broad and tolerant views on questions of doctrine, ritual, and church government, so that St. Paul’s pulpit has from time to time be occupied, at his suggestions, by representatives of the Evangelical church, and on the other hand, by extreme High Churchmen, such as the Cowley Fathers. His own sermons, always most carefully prepared, showed deep thought and patient study, and were delivered with considerable vigour. He seldom allowed any public event or the death of any prominent person to pass by without reference to the subject, and the enforcing of such lessons as were to be gathered from the matter under review. It was a revelation to hear him read the Lessons in church, especially before a crowded congregation. He spoke as a father to his son, his forceful and expressive enunciation imparting fresh meaning to familiar passages and enlightening those which before were obscure. Mr. Duggan’s sympathies with the friendly society movement, the allotments question, and the Christian Social Union, are well known, and he frequently spoke in public on these subjects. For many years he responded with singular appropriateness and always with much acceptance, to the toast of the Bishop and clergy at the Walton Lodge Oddfellows’ annual dinner, and although a teetotaller and non-smoker, he regarded it as a matter of duty to patiently remain throughout the evening – even after most of the other occupants of the high table had left – in an atmosphere redolent of tobacco fumes and alcoholic liquor, which must have been very trying to one accustomed to different surroundings. He was a member of the Management Committee of the Radcliffe Infirmary, in which institution he took a keen interest, being a regular attendant at the meetings of the committee and of the Court of Governors. The deceased gentleman had considerable artistic taste, and was seldom in London without visiting the National Gallery. He has, we understand, bequeathed to St. Paul’s Church, to be hung in the vestry, a fine engraving, “The Head of Christ,” from Leonardi de Vinci’s [sic] picture, “The Last Supper.” He was a literary student all his life. He might often have been seen poring over the volumes at the second-hand book stall, and had accumulated an extensive library. His own publications, we believe, are limited to scattered sermons, one of which, published by request during his illness, is entitled “The Body of Our Humiliation.” Since Thursday morning the flags on St. Paul’s Church and the Clarendon Press have been flying at half-mast.

The funeral will take place in St. Sepulchre’s cemetery, of which the deceased was curator, on Monday at 2.30 p.m.

The living of St. Paul is the gift of the Bishop of Oxford. According to Crockford, the net income is £210.

At the Union Society on Thursday evening, Mr. W. Temple, the President, prior to the commencement of the debate, said he had to bring to notice of the House the fact that it had sustained the loss of a distinguished ex-officer in the person of the Rev. W. B. Duggan, Vicar of St. Paul’s, who was President of the Society in 1870.

The members signified their sympathy by standing in silence.

His effects came to £4,153 14s. 6d.

A memorial tablet to the Revd Duggan was placed in St Paul’s Church. Straight after his death in 1904, the Bishop of Oxford appealed for donations to build a vicarage, which no Vicar of St Paul’s Church had hitherto needed.

See also:
  • George Lewis (Rector of Icomb, Gloucestershire), An Oxford Parish Priest: being an account of the life and work of the Rev. W.B. Duggan, M.A., Vicar of St. Paul’s (Oxford: Henry Frowde, 1905)



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