Tait, Archibald

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Tait, Archibald (1811–82). Archbishop of Canterbury. A Scottish presbyterian by upbringing, Tait was educated at Glasgow University and Balliol College, Oxford. He was successively headmaster of Rugby (1842), dean of Carlisle (1849), bishop of London (1856), and archbishop (1869). Ecclesiastically he had to cope with the advance of both liberalism and ritualism. Though a low churchman, he was no evangelical—‘a big man, intelligent and able and rock-like and not in the least narrow’. Having protested against Newman's Tract 90 (1841), he viewed the Anglican church not in tractarian terms as the catholic body in England, but as the national church, whose hallmark was comprehension. To preserve this, despite his own inclinations, he courageously and consistently vetoed prosecutions for ritualism under the Public Worship Act (1874). A conscientious bishop, he impressed Londoners by preaching in the open air in working-class areas and visiting them during a cholera epidemic.

Revd Dr William M. Marshall