Feast of Samuel and Henrietta Barnett (June 17)   4 comments

Above:  Portrait of Samuel and Henrietta Barnett, by Hubert von Herkoner

Image in the Public Domain

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SAMUEL AUGUSTUS BARNETT (FEBRUARY 8, 1844-JUNE 17, 1913)

Anglican Canon of Westminster, and Social Reformer

husband and partner of

HENRIETTA OCTAVIA WESTON ROWLAND BARNETT (MAY 4, 1851-JUNE 10, 1936)

Social Reformer

June 17 is the feast day of the Barnetts in The Church of England.

Even if The Church of England had not paired the Barnetts on a feast day, I would have decided to do so anyway.  The couple was a team from the day they married in 1873 to the day Samuel Barnett died in 1913.  I have established emphasizing relationships and influences as a goal for this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

Samuel Augustus Barnett, born in Bristol, England, on February 8, 1844, was a son of Mary Gilmore and iron manufacturer Francis Barnett.  Our saint, an 1867 graduate of Wadham College, Oxford, joined the ranks of Anglican clergymen that year and became the Curate of St. Mary’s, Bryanston Square, Marylebone, London.  He married Henrietta Octavia Weston Rowland in 1873.

Henrietta, born in London, England, on May 4, 1851, was a socially conscious heiress.  Her mother was Henrietta Monca Margaretta Didges.  Our saint’s father was Alexander William Rowland (d. 1869), in the oil business.  Her mother predeceased her father.  Young Henrietta, altruistic from an early age, attended a boarding school in Devon.  Starting in 1869 or so, she worked with Octavia Hill (1838-1912), active in efforts to improve slums in London.

The work in which the Barnetts engaged together, starting in 1873, flowed from their faith and their Christian Socialist ideals.  Samuel served as the Vicar of St. Jude’s, Whitechapel, London, from 1873 to 1894.  He led an congregation in a slum.  He, the founder (1869) of the Charity Organization Society, worked with Henrietta in improving the lives of people in Whitechapel.  The couple addressed housing.  Substandard housing was a major problem.  The Barnetts lobbied for building suitable residences.  They also enriched slum dwellers’ lives with art; the couple founded the Whitechapel Art Gallery.  Urban children needed countryside holidays.  The Barnetts raised funds and arranged for those holidays.  Entertainment was another need the Barnetts worked to provide.  Education was, of course, vital.  The Barnetts founded a night school for adults.  Samuel also served on school committees.  Through Toynbee Hall, of which Samuel was the first warden (1884-1906) and in which Henrietta taught, tutors from Oxford lived and taught in the slum.  Jane Addams (1860-1935) and Ellen Gates Starr (1859-1940) modeled Hull House, Chicago, Illinois, on Toynbee Hall.  Henrietta’s sister, Alice Marion Rowland Hart (1848-1931) also taught at Toynbee Hall.

Above:  Toynbee Hall

Image in the Public Domain

The Barnetts wrote books together.  These included:

  1. Practicable Socialism:  Essays on Social Reform (1888, 1894),
  2. Religion and Progress (1907),
  3. Towards Social Reform (1909),
  4. Religion and Politics (1911),
  5. Worship and Work (1913), and
  6. Vision and Service (1917).

Samuel also wrote Perils of Wealth and Poverty, published posthumously in 1920.

Samuel, a Canon of Westminster (1906-1913), died in London on June 17, 1913.  He was 69 years old.

Henrietta continued in good works until 1936.  She founded Barnett House, Oxford, for the study of social sciences, in Samuel’s honor.  She wrote Canon Barnett:  His Life, Work, and Friends (1918)–Volumes I and II.  She also wrote books on topics ranging from child rearing to working for economic justice.  Our saint had formed the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust, which entailed building mixed-income housing, in 1903.  Henrietta, form 1924 a Commander of the British Empire, took up painting during her final years.  She, aged 85 years, died in London on June 10, 1936.

The Barnetts understood the Biblical mandate to help the less fortunate.  They knew that those blessed with privilege have a responsibility to aide those not blessed in that way.  Our saints accepted that the more one has, the more responsibilities one has.  They acted accordingly, for the glory of God and the benefit of many people.  They were faithful partners of God.

The poor will always be with us.  That is a fact.  Increasing numbers of the impoverished can, of course, cease to be poor.  Poverty is a function of various factors, not the least of which is institutionalized artificial scarcity.  Therefore, individual actions help alleviate the problem, but institutional revolution is necessary to make substantial dents in poverty.  The ultimate solution to institutionalized artificial scarcity resides in the purview of God, whose partners we are supposed to be.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 8, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JULIANA OF NORWICH, MYSTIC AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ACACIUS OF BYZANTIUM, MARTYR, 303

THE FEAST OF HENRI DUMONT, ROMAN CATHOLIC COMPOSER AND ORGANIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAGDALENA OF CANOSSA, FOUNDRESS OF THE DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY AND THE SONS OF CHARITY

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER OF TARENTAISE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

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Almighty God, whose prophets taught us righteousness in the care of your poor:

By the guidance of your Holy Spirit, grant that we may

do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in your sight;

through Jesus Christ, our Judge and Redeemer, who lives and reigns

with you and the same Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 736

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