Macnutt, a Biography

Frederick Brodie MacnuttFrederick Brodie Macnutt was born in Brighton on 26th September 1873 to Irish parents the Reverend George Augustus Macnutt (c1836-1905)  – who started his career as a medical doctor but was also a Baptist Minister – and Isabella Ridge (c1841-1930).  George and Isabella married at Montreal in Canada in 1864.  They also had children: Beatrice Moffatt (c1866-1935), Isabel (c1868  ), Arthur Charles (1875-1954), Ernest Augustus (1876-1955), Mary Moffatt (1878-1948) and John Stewart (1879-1971).  George and Isabella were constantly on the move, living in Canada, Australia, and within England in Barnet, Sussex and London.  In 1881 they lived in Lansdown House, John Street, Ryde, on the Isle of Wight.

Frederick was educated at St Paul’s school in London and then Trinity College Cambridge.  He was awarded BA in 1897 and MA in 1901.  He was ordained deacon in 1898 and priest in 1899, at Canterbury Cathedral.  On 6th December at All Saints, Eastbourne he 1898 Married Hettie Sina Bullock (1873-1945), daughter of the Reverend Charles Bullock.

St Matthews Surbiton
St Matthew’s, Surbiton

Frederick served curacies at Holy Trinity, Beckenham (1898-1901) and St James Piccadilly (1901-1902), and was Curate-in-Charge at Christ Church, Wimbledon (1902-1903), before being appointed as Vicar of St John’s in Cheltenham in 1903, remaining until 1907.  During this time Frederick and Hettie had two children: Derrick Somerset (1902-1971) and Margaret Hester (1906-1939).  Frederick enjoyed playing croquet and took part in several matches.  He was very popular at St John’s, particularly with men’s groups, so the congregation and church officials were sorry to lose him in 1907 when he went to St Matthews, Surbiton as vicar.  This was a significant appointment, reflecting Frederick’s success in his previous roles.  Further confirmation of this came in 1909 when he was installed as a Canon of Southwark Cathedral (which position he kept until 1918).

From the earliest days of his career Frederick wrote and published.  His first work was published soon after ordination in 1899, The Tabernacle of God With Men. For Christmas Day.  In 1903 he published The Riches of Christ: Sermons and in 1909 a guide for confirmation candidates.  With increased position and profile came further opportunities:  Advent Certainties, The Throne, The Cross and The Spirit (1913) and then, in November 1914, the outbreak of war inspired Frederick to deliver and afterwards publish a classic ‘recruiting sermon’: The Reproach of War: Addresses Given in St Saviour’s Cathedral, Southwark.  A longer list of some of his published works is given below.

In March 1911 Frederick was appointed 4th Class Chaplain to the Territorial Force, ranked as Captain, so it is not surprising that when the Bishop of London called in 1915 for clergy to serve as chaplains at the front, he responded.  He served as a chaplain from 1915 until January 1918. In September 1918 he was installed as vicar of St Martin’s, Leicester. His life and work between 1915 and 1918 are described in detail in a separate page here. Initially Frederick, Hettie and their daughter Margaret lived at St Martin’s vicarage but in 1922 they moved to Merridale, 249 London Road, where they kept two live-in servants.

In 1920 Frederick was also appointed Archdeacon of Leicester.  He led St Martin’s with incredible energy from parish church, to collegiate church in 1922, to cathedral in 1927, at which point he became the first Provost of Leicester.  Frederick worked closely with architect Charles Nicholson to reorder and transform the interior of the church building over a period of fifteen years which saw the pews removed, flooring replaced, screen, cathedra and choir balcony erected and two chapels created, as well as the organ rebuilt and a new vestry and song school created.  In February 1931 he was recognised for his achievements when appointed as a Chaplain to the King.

On 19th February 1938 Frederick officially left St Martin’s – by now Leicester Cathedral – and was installed as a residentiary canon of Canterbury Cathedral.  He was due to have been installed in September 1937 but was ordered to take three months rest before leaving Leicester, having collapsed in in the cathedral porch whilst collecting money for  new peal of bells.  Therefore he left Leicester in 1938.  £320 was raised for Frederick as a parting gift and he retained the post of examining chaplain at Leicester.

Frederick and his wife and daughter lived at 14 The Precincts, Canterbury, from 1938 until 1945, initially with a number of servants. In 1939 daughter Margaret, who was an invalid and had been ill for a long time, died at home.  In 1941 Frederick himself underwent an operation.  He retired in 1945 and soon after, on 5th May 1945 at Bude, Cornwall, wife Hettie died.  She had been living at Bude since 1942 when their Canterbury house was destroyed during an air raid. Fortunately they were not at home when the raid took place.  Hettie was buried at St Martin’s Churchyard, Canterbury.  Almost a year later, in March 1946, the engagement was announced between Macnutt and Evelyn May Oliver (1898-1981).  She was 47, he was 72 and had been a friend of her family for many years.  The Olivers were near neighbours of the Macnutts during their time living at Merridale, London Road, Leicester.  Frederick and Evelyn were married on 28th August 1947 at St Martin’s Leicester.  Afterwards they lived at Fircroft, Tower Hill, Horsham, near Christ’s Hospital school where Frederick’s son Derrick was Head of Classics.

Frederick Brodie Macnutt died at Horsham at the age of 75 on 17th July 1949.

Published Works Include:

  • The Tabernacle of God With Men. For Christmas Day (London, 1899)
  • The Riches of Christ: Sermons (London, 1903)
  • Preparation for Confirmation, a Manual of Plain Instruction for Candidates, etc (London, 1909)
  • The Inevitable Christ: Sermons Preached In Southwark Cathedral (London, 1911)
  • Advent Certainties, The Throne, The Cross and The Spirit (London, 1913)
  • The Reproach of War: Addresses Given in St Saviour’s Cathedral, Southwark (London, 1914)
  • The Church in the Furnace: Essays by Seventeen Temporary Church of England Chaplains on Active Service in France and Flanders (London, 1917)
  • After the War Papers Nos 1-19 (London, 1919)
  • Classics of the Inner Life: Lectures – Editor (London, 1924)
  • The Early Diocese of Leicester (Leicester, 1926)
  • Christian Unity and The Revised Prayer Book (Cambridge, 1928)
  • From Chaos to God, Religion and Renewal (London, 1929)
  • Theodore, Bishop of Winchester. Pastor, Prophet, Pilgrim. A Memoir, etc (London, 1933)
  • A War Primer, Containing Prayers, Old and New, For Public and Private Use in Time of War – Selected and Arranged (London, 1939)
  • Four Freedoms, Atlantic and Christian (Leicester, 1943)