EDMUND DOUGLAS MERRITT
1927 – 1936
Ordained deacon: 1902
Ordained priest: 1903
1902 – 1905 Curate, All Saints’ Notting Hill
1905 – 1908 Curate, Holy Trinity, Salcombe
1908 – 1914 Curate, SS Peter and Paul, Teddington
1914 – 1927 Vicar, All Souls, St Margaret’s-on-Thames
1927 – 1935 Vicar, S. Michael, Camden
1935 Rural Dean, S. Pancras
1935 – 1945 Prebendary, S. Paul’s Cathedral
1945 Prebendary Emeritus, S. Paul’s Cathedral
He was the son of Edmund Merritt (born 1851, Marylebone, London) and Ellen Emma Gray (1852, Greenwich-1932), who had married in Lee, north Kent in 1876. In 1891 he was living with his parents at Lee, with his father working as a wine merchant. He attended Eastbourne School and at the time of the 1901 census he was boarding with an agricultural labourer and his wife and family at Fenny Bridges, Ottery St Mary, Honiton, Devon and giving his occupation as “Undergraduate”.
He gained his BA at Emmanuel College Cambridge in 1901, the same year as he joined Cuddesdon College. In 1926 he stated he was an old friend of Fr Keelan and Fr Kett, two of St Michael’s assistant priests, possibly from their all studying at Cambridge around the same time. He was made deacon by the Bishop of London in 1902 and priest the following year by the same bishop. His first curacy was at All Saint’s, Notting Hill (1902-1905). In 1905 he gained his Cambridge MA and on 29 August that year married Winifred Ethel Hartley (1884, Thirsk, Yorkshire – 1973, Thika, Kenya) in Methwold, Norfolk. She was the daughter of Reginald Hartley (1853-1928), a GP, and moved with her parents from Thirsk to Paddington between 1891 and 1901. Her parents divorced in 1893 on the grounds of her mother’s adultery with Rev William Teesdale Mackintosh, the married vicar of Thirsk.
Edmund’s next curacy was in Salcombe (1905-08), where he and his wife had their first two children, Edmund Philip (1907) and Ellen Mary (1908). He then moved to St Peter and St Paul, Upper Teddington (1908-14), where they had two more children, Charles Vincent (1909) and Alan John Vaughan (1911). He appears in the 1911 census at 37 Park Road, Teddington with his wife, four children, his wife’s younger sister and two servants.
Next he was Vicar of All Saints, St Margaret on Thames (1914-27), during which time he was elected one of the Proctors in Convocation (clergy representative) for London Diocese in 1925, a role he held until 1945. He then became vicar of St Michael’s (1927-35). The December 1926 parish magazine carried a letter from him announcing himself as Fr Osborn’s successor. He arrived and was instituted on 12th February 1927. His first annual letter in 1928 sounded a mixed tone:
“After the long reign of my revered predecessor it was natural that you should feel deeply the break with old traditions and old associations. Nevertheless the great majority of you have “stuck to the ship” right nobly and have helped me tremendously in the heavy task which I had to take to hand … While however I can thankfully record the faithfulness of the many, I cannot shut my eyes to the defection of the few. The annual statistics published in this issue of the Magazine show a decline in communicants which I intensely deplore and in other directions I cannot help noticing a certain falling off. I trust this is but temporary, and as we all settle down to the new regime all the ancient glories of St Michael’s will be restored, if not increased.”
Merritt was also a frequent guest preacher elsewhere, giving sermons at Westminster Abbey on 25 May 1930, St George the Martyr Queen Square on 8 July 1934 and St Paul’s Knightsbridge on 28 October 1934. In 1932 he became the chairman of the Federation of Catholic Priests and three years later a member of the council of the Church Union. The September 1935 recorded a Kenneth Merritt attending the St Michael’s summer camp as a leader but only being able to spend a week there as he had been called up for the RAF Reserve – he may have been a relation of Edmund’s. The October 1935 issue carried Merritt’s resignation letter and a request for books back from anyone he’d loaned them to. He was then made Rural Dean of St Pancras (August 1935) and given Licence to Officiate by the Diocese of London (1935-45), as well as Prebendary of Wenlocksbarn, St Paul’s Cathedral (1939-45). In 1945 he retired, became Prebendary Emeritus and was given Licence to Officiate in Canterbury Diocese, having retired to the Queen’s Hotel in Deal, Kent, where he was recorded as living by Crockfords in 1955. He died there on 26 October 19561.