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Henry Ignatius Dudley Ryder

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English Oratorian priest and controversialist, b. 3 Jan., 1837; d. at Edgbaston, Birmingham, 7 Oct., 1907; was the eldest son of George Dudley Ryder, one of the numerous clergymen of the Established Church of England who followed in the steps of Newman. He was received into the Catholic Church at Rome in 1846. The grandfather, Henry Dudley Ryder, a son of the first Lord Harrowby, was a prominent Evangelical in the early years of the last century, and was the first of the party to be raised to the episcopate. He was successively Bishop of Gloucester and Lichfield and Coventry. His kneeling statue by Chantrey will be remembered by all visitors of Lichfield cathedral. Newman, in his "Apologia", speaks of the veneration in which he held Bishop Ryder. George Ryder married Sophia, a daughter of the Rev. John Sargent. The three other Misses Sargent married respectively Samuel Wilberforce, who became Bishop, first of Oxford, and then of Winchester; Henry Wilberforce; and Henry Edward Manning, the future cardinal and Archbishop of Westminster.

Father Ryder's lifelong connection with Newman and the Oratory began as a private pupil, when he was about twelve years old. The only interruption was a year at the English College at Rome and a few months at the Catholic University at Dublin, of which Newman was rector, before he began in December, 1856, his Oratorian novitiate. In 1863 he was ordained priest. After Cardinal Newman's death he was elected superior of the Birmingham Oratory and held this office till his health gave way. He was the last survivor of "my dearest brothers of this House, the Priests of the Birmingham Oratory" to whom Newman dedicated his "Apologia". His grave is with theirs and Cardinal Newman's at Rednal, a small country house belonging to the Birmingham Oratory, about seven miles from Birmingham. His life was uneventful. He cared little for notoriety or even fame. Once only did he push himself forward, and then it was to incur obloquy rather than applause. This was in 1867-8, when he attacked W.G. Ward, at that time editor of "The Dublin Review", and a leading spirit among an influential section of English Catholics who were singularly intolerant towards those who differed from them. Ward seemed to think of the pope as unceasingly exercising his very highest prerogative. All doctrinal instructions contained in papal documents, such as encyclicals and the like were infallible utterances. The Syllabus, together with all the documents which it quotes, was certainly infallible. So also, most probably, were the doctrinal Decrees of the Index and the Holy Office, when sanctioned by the pope and promulgated by his order. These opinions were put forward not tentatively, but as the only possible ones for a loyal Catholic. In other words, the doctrine of Infallibility was caricatured by its would-be defender in almost exactly the same way that it was caricatured a few years later by the Old Catholic Schulte (see FESSLER). Against these extravagances Ryder delivered his protest in three pamphlets, remarkable both for their literary style and the theological knowledge they displayed. He earned for his reward, as he himself in later years expressed it, "the prophet's portion of stones"; but time has shown that he was mainly in the right; within a very few years his opponent had to retract many of his more pronounced opinions in deference to the teaching of Roman theologians. It should be added that Ryder fully believed in the doctrine of Papal Infallibility before it was defined

His literary output was small. Apart from a number of articles in American and English magazines, he published "Idealism in Theology, a Review of Dr. Ward's scheme of Dogmatic Authority" (London, 1867); "A letter to W.G. Ward on his theory of Infallible Instruction" (London, 1868); "Postscriptum to Letter, etc." (London, 1868); "A critique upon Mr. Foulkes' Letter" (London, 1869); "Catholic Controversy", a reply to Littledale's "Plain Reasons" (London, 1880); "Poems Original and Translated" (Dublin, 1882). There is besides "Essays of the Rev. H. I. D. Ryder, edited by Francis Bacchus" (London, 1911). "His literary ideal", writes Mr. Wilfrid Ward, "was so high; his self-criticism so unsparing, that much which might have secured him a wider reputation was set aside. Quantify was sacrificed in preference to letting the world see anything which he himself felt to fall short of his own high standard in quality."


WILFRID WARD, Father Ignatius Ryder in The Dublin Review (January, 1898), republished in IDEM, Ten Personal Studies (London, 1908); CHAPMAN, Dr. Ryder's Essays in the Dublin Review (April, 1911).

About this page

APA citation. Bacchus, F.J. (1912). Henry Ignatius Dudley Ryder. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Bacchus, Francis Joseph. "Henry Ignatius Dudley Ryder." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Joseph E. O'Connor.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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