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Warman, (Frederic Sumpter) Guy (1872–1953), bishop of Manchester, was born at 8 Marquess Grove, Islington, London, on 5 November 1872, the eldest child and elder son of Frederick Warman (1843–1922), surveyor, and his wife, Caroline, née Ash (1848/9–1929). His father, a partner in Warman and Matthews, estate agents, was an able businessman and also an active supporter of evangelical causes, including Sunday schools and ragged schools in the East End of London. The family's relative affluence allowed Guy Warman to be educated at the Merchant Taylors' School, from where he proceeded to Pembroke College, Oxford, with a classical scholarship in 1890. He gained a second class in classical moderations in 1892, and then changed to the theological school, graduating BA with another second and with the Hall Houghton Junior Greek Testament prize in 1894. He was an active member of the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union during his student days, running a large children's service in the St Clement's district for two years. Somewhat to his father's disappointment—he described Guy as ‘a good businessman spoilt’ (Anglican Evangelical Group Movement papers)—he took holy orders, and was ordained deacon in 1895 and priest in 1896, serving curacies at Leyton (1895–9) and Hastings (1899–1901). In Leyton he met Gertrude (1874–1963), daughter of Norwood Earle, surveyor; they married at Leyton on 13 September 1899, and had two sons.

In 1901 Warman was invited by the new principal of St Aidan's College, Birkenhead, his old schoolfriend A. J. Tait, to join his staff as vice-principal. Although he soon relinquished this position on appointment as vicar of Birkenhead in 1902, Warman retained some teaching responsibilities as a lecturer until he returned to St Aidan's as principal in 1907. Remembered as ‘clear, accurate and well-read’ by former students, ‘the old Prin’ modelled dedication to work: ‘there would be no sympathy shown to the slacker by the man who never took a day off’ (Anglican Evangelical Group Movement papers; Heiser, 73). High standards were expected, and restless students in his classes were made to stand in the corner of the room. An essentially sympathetic personality could sometimes be masked by shyness, mistaken for aloofness; commitment to hard work remained a lifelong hallmark of Warman's ministry. Under his leadership St Aidan's saw a steady growth in the number of students and improvements to the college's buildings and facilities.

Concern for the wider life of the evangelical school in the Church of England bore fruit in the establishment of a hall of residence at Durham, jointly sponsored by St Aidan's and St John's Hall, Highbury, and was also seen in Warman's pivotal role in the genesis of the Liberal Evangelical Group Brotherhood, forerunner of the Anglican Evangelical Group Movement. He was one of a small group of clergy meeting from 1906 to encourage evangelicals to engage more positively with modern scholarship; he was chosen to advocate this approach from the platform of the Islington clerical meeting in January 1907; and the inaugural gathering of what became the Group Brotherhood took place in his father's Highbury home. He served as co-editor of the heavyweight evangelical periodical The Churchman from 1910 to 1914, and his cautiously liberal and non-partisan evangelicalism was set out in The Evangelical Movement: Its Message and Its Achievement (1916).

Warman was appointed by the Simeon trustees to succeed Theodore Woods as vicar of Bradford in 1916. In this role, building on his experience as vicar of Birkenhead, he was ‘an outstanding success’ (The Times, 14 Feb 1953), laying the foundations for the new diocese of Bradford. Tipped to become first bishop of Bradford, he was instead appointed bishop of Truro in 1919, and in 1923 he was translated to Chelmsford, where his considerable administrative gifts were more readily available to the senior leadership of the Church of England. An active member of the ecclesiastical commission, and one of those charged with responsibility for navigating the proposals for the revision of the Book of Common Prayer through the church assembly, he nevertheless found time and energy to be a conscientious diocesan bishop, winning the confidence of a wide spectrum of church people in Truro and Chelmsford by his concern for unity, his blend of tolerance and firmness, his effective control of diocesan organization, and his attention to the practical well-being of the parochial clergy.

In the sequence of changes consequent on the retirement of Randall Davidson as archbishop of Canterbury in November 1928 it was suggested that Warman might be preferred to the archbishopric of York. Instead he moved to succeed William Temple as bishop of Manchester. Welcomed by the business world for his practical gifts, and by the wider community for his directness of speech, he overhauled the diocesan administration and tackled issues left by the creation of the diocese of Blackburn in 1926. He established good relations with the free churches and with the Jewish community. During the economic problems and political unrest of the 1930s he spoke out for social reform and against the ‘new paganisms’ of communism and fascism. He was quick to respond to wartime conditions by authorizing worship in private homes and by reorganizing blitzed parishes. In the aftermath of the failure of prayer book revision in 1927–8 he upheld the standard of comprehensiveness expressed in the revision proposals, together with the expectation that episcopal direction would be obeyed. In Manchester, as in Chelmsford, the great majority of clergy and parishes responded well to a policy which avoided the laxity of Winnington Ingram's administration in London and eschewed the confrontational approach of E. W. Barnes in Birmingham. Although Warman drew the ire of the maverick Anglo-Catholic W. R. Jones, Peter Green's tribute in the Manchester Guardian spoke for most: ‘the best diocesan bishop I have ever known’ (Manchester Guardian, 26 March 1953).

An awareness of declining health led Warman to retire in 1947, telling reporters, ‘A “five-day-a-week” Bishop isn't good enough’ (Dobb, 288). He moved to Orpington, Kent, where he was able to remain active for a further six years. He died, of cardiac failure, chronic myocardial degeneration, and acute bronchitis, at 24 Elmfield Road, Bromley, on 12 February 1953. After a funeral at St Giles's, Farnborough, Kent, he was cremated. His wife survived him; both of their sons followed their father into the ministry of the Church of England.

Martin Wellings


The Times (14 Feb 1953) · Manchester Guardian (14 Feb 1953); (26 March 1953) · F. B. Heiser, The story of St Aidan's College, Birkenhead, 1847–1947 (1947) · A. J. Dobb, Like a mighty tortoise: a history of the diocese of Manchester (1978) · G. Hewitt, A history of the diocese of Chelmsford (1984) · archives of the Anglican Evangelical Group Movement, Hull History Centre · A. C. Downer, A century of evangelical religion in Oxford (1938) · Church Times (20 Feb 1953) · The Church of England Newspaper and the Record (20 Feb 1953); (27 Feb 1953) · private information (2012) [family] · b. cert. · m. cert. · d. cert.


Lafayette, whole-plate film negatives, 1928, NPG, London · photograph, 1929, Getty Images, London · Lafayette, whole-plate film negatives, 1934, NPG, London · Bassano, whole-plate film copy negatives, 1936, NPG, London · group photograph, 1952, Rex Features, London · Scott of Bradford, photograph, Pembroke College, Oxford · lithograph, NPG, London

Wealth at death  

£18,204 13s. 5d.: probate, 1 June 1953, CGPLA Eng. & Wales