We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more
Bartlett, Daniel Henry Charles (1871–1957), Church of England clergyman and missionary society administrator, was born at 20 Camden Place, Walcot, Bath, on 28 June 1871, the seventh child of Daniel Bartlett, a wine merchant, and his wife, Constance, née Drewe. The family moved to Bristol where he was educated at the cathedral school before entering the Phoenix Fire Office. Raised in a Christian home, Bartlett dated his evangelical conversion, when he was aged about sixteen, to a sermon by Talbot Greaves at Christ Church, Clifton. He testified that the sermon was the means of ‘bringing me from a formal and outwardly strict profession of Christianity into a living union with a personal Saviour—Christ Jesus’ (Bromiley, 2). He began to teach in the Clifton Sunday school and to take part in open-air meetings, mission hall services, and parish visitation.

Against the advice of his family Bartlett turned his back on a business career to pursue Christian ministry, preparing under a private London tutor for the Cambridge University entrance examination. Entering Queens' College, Cambridge, in October 1891 to study theology, he was a member of the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union. After graduation he was ordained by Bishop Ryle of Liverpool in December 1894 as curate to Canon Herbert Woodward at St Silas's, Toxteth Park. Six weeks later, on 1 February 1895, he married his cousin Edith Emily (d. 1944), daughter of Horace Gregory Drewe, civil engineer. Following his curacy Bartlett served briefly as secretary to Irish Church Missions in the north of England, lecturing widely on the dangers of Roman Catholicism and Anglican ritualism.

In July 1901 Bartlett was instituted as vicar of St Nathaniel's, Windsor, Toxteth, one of Liverpool's most deprived districts. The previous vicar, Canon Richard Hobson, had transformed the parish during a long and energetic ministry, a tale told in Hobson's autobiography, What Hath God Wrought (1903), and he left behind a large congregation. Bartlett consolidated the work, and during his incumbency the Sunday school numbered 100 teachers and the ragged school provided over 10,000 free meals every year. In February 1904 the church building burnt to the ground in a fire, so Bartlett erected a new church, seating over 1000 people, consecrated in June 1905 by Bishop Chavasse. The chancel was designed in semi-circular Basilican fashion, so that communicants could kneel right around the Lord's table, and at his death Bartlett left an endowment to the church provided this unusual arrangement be continued in perpetuity, and that no cross or crucifix ever be placed on or near the table. He continued to campaign against the spread of Roman Catholicism and Anglo-Catholicism in the diocese, and was especially alarmed by the arrival of Mormon evangelists in his parish in 1907. His long newspaper and pamphlet battle against them culminated in The Mormons or Latter-Day Saints: Whence Came They? (1911), his most substantial publication. Chavasse called him ‘the anti-Mormon apostle of Liverpool’ and praised his ‘untiring exertions to check this painful Mormon crusade’ (Bromiley, 15).

A group of prominent ‘liberal evangelicals’ in the Church of England, led by Guy Rogers (vicar of West Ham), petitioned the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in November 1917 for greater theological freedom within the society, principally in matters of biblical interpretation and missionary collaboration. They wanted the evangelical movement to benefit from the fruits of higher criticism and to work in tandem with other Anglican agencies like the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. This campaign of liberalization provoked a furore and Bartlett led the conservative reaction. He was the first honorary secretary of the Fellowship of Evangelical Churchmen, established in spring 1918 in the light of the CMS crisis to draw together conservative evangelicals in the Church of England who were ‘deeply attached to the “old paths”’ (Fellowship of Evangelical Churchmen: First Report, 1918). To be nearer the centre of action, Bartlett migrated south from Liverpool to London in July 1918 as vicar of St Luke's, Hampstead, where he vowed to preach nothing but ‘the old old Gospel of redeeming Love, neither modernized nor symbolized’ (St Luke's Church, Hampstead, Monthly Magazine, June and July 1923, St Luke's, Hampstead, archives). The Fellowship of Evangelical Churchmen wanted to keep the CMS in step with the traditional evangelical principles of its Victorian heyday under the administration of Henry Venn. When this proved impossible, the fellowship resolved under Bartlett's leadership to establish a new society, the Bible Churchmen's Missionary Society (BCMS), launched in November 1922 after five years of intense theological turmoil within the Anglican evangelical movement.

In order to give his whole time to the BCMS, in an honorary capacity, Bartlett resigned his Hampstead parish and moved in June 1923 to his own house at Clevedon, near Bristol, travelling by train to the BCMS office in London three days a week. He took two further minor pastoral charges as rector of Nailsea (1923–7) and vicar of Wootton Bassett (1928–31), but the BCMS was to be his primary concern for the next quarter of a century. The work quickly expanded, with missionaries dispatched in the early years to India, Burma, China, Canada, and North Africa, and a training college established in Bristol in 1925. Bartlett oversaw all aspects of the home operation and edited the BCMS monthly magazine, The Missionary Messenger. In June 1931 he was awarded an honorary doctor of divinity degree by Emmanuel College, Saskatchewan, in recognition of the work of the BCMS among indigenous peoples in the vast Canadian diocese at the invitation of Bishop G. E. Lloyd.

Bartlett's leadership style alienated a number of BCMS supporters, who adhered to its conservative evangelical theology. A crisis in 1932 over student discipline at the BCMS college in Bristol led to the forced resignation of its first principal, Sydney Carter, who clashed with Bartlett over college governance. Carter called Bartlett ‘that arch hypocrite’ (Carter to W. D. Monro, 29 March 1937, Trinity College archives, Bristol, Sydney Carter papers), and one of the principal's supporters complained that the BCMS council was simply following ‘the decrees of a Dictator’ (George Litchfeld to Carter, 2 March 1932, Trinity College archives, Bristol, Sydney Carter papers). Bartlett also fell out with his successor as rector of Nailsea, W. D. Monro, who nicknamed him ‘Dirty Dan’ and privately denounced ‘the detestable abominations of Daniel the Dodger’ (Monro to Carter, 24 March and 1 April 1937, Trinity College archives, Bristol, Sydney Carter papers). Bartlett's control over the BCMS was total. In 1935 he was elected president of the society, and therefore chairman of its executive and committees, while remaining as honorary secretary. For a decade he held these two posts in tandem and was accused of clinging to office, but younger men eventually forced him to stand down in July 1945, at the close of the Second World War. His successor, A. T. Houghton, with whom he did not see eye to eye over BCMS policy, believed Bartlett had succumbed to ‘megalomania’ (Yates, 53).

Bartlett's wife died in November 1944, so during his retirement Jessie M. E. Ball, his private secretary from 1926 to 1945, came to take charge of the household. Bartlett regarded her as his ‘adopted daughter’ and they were soon joined by a ‘second daughter’, Mary Carpenter, returned from missionary service in India. In 1952 Bartlett and his female companions moved permanently from Bristol to his holiday home at Burnham-on-Sea. Although now more an observer than a participant in ecclesiastical affairs, in his final years he warmly welcomed the evangelistic crusades to Britain by Billy Graham. After a long illness Bartlett died of throat cancer at 13 The Esplanade, Burnham-on-Sea, on 2 May 1957, and was buried at Nailsea alongside his wife and two of his sisters. He left £1000 for the publication of a history of the struggle between ‘scriptural evangelicalism’ and ‘liberal evangelicalism’, which his executors decided was best fulfilled by a short biography of Bartlett himself, penned by one of their number, Geoffrey Bromiley (professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in California and former vice-principal of the BCMS College at Bristol).

Andrew Atherstone

Sources  

D. H. C. Bartlett, Bible Churchmen's Missionary Society: why a new society? (London, 1923) · G. W. Bromiley, Daniel Henry Charles Bartlett, MA, DD: a memoir (1959) · G. Hewitt, The problems of success: a history of the Church Missionary Society, 1910–1942, 2 vols. (1971–7) · W. S. Hooton and J. S. Wright, The first twenty-five years of the Bible Churchmen's Missionary Society (1947) · T. Yates, Pioneer missionary, evangelical statesman: a life of A. T. (Tim) Houghton (2011) · The Times (15 May 1957) · b. cert. · m. cert. · d. cert.

Archives  

Crosslinks, Lewisham, Bible Churchmen's Missionary Society archives · U. Birm., Cadbury Research Library, Bible Churchmen's Missionary Society archives


Likenesses  

D. Tripp, photograph, repro. in The Missionary Messenger (July–Aug 1957), 51 · D. Tripp, photograph, repro. in Bromiley, Bartlett, frontispiece · photograph, repro. in He must reign: a record of missionary work during the first 22 years of the Bible Churchmen's Missionary Society 1923–1944 (1944)

Wealth at death  

£15,403 5s. 1d.: probate, 3 July 1957, CGPLA Eng. & Wales