Lot Archive


№ 816


17 September 2004

Hammer Price:

British War Medal 1914-20 (Rev. J. H. Darby) extremely fine £40-60

James Heaton Darby was born in Worcester on 29 January 1878. He attended the Anglican theological college at Kelham, Newark-on-Trent and was made a Deacon in 1904 and Priest in 1905. After serving two curacies he became warden of the College of Clergy at Hartlebury. During the Great War he was appointed a Church of England Chaplain and entered the Egypt theatre of war on 24 January 1916. During May 1918 he contracted German Measles and was a patient in the 21st General Hospital in Alexandria. It was during this period of enforced inactivity that he came to a startling conclusion regarding his position as C. of E. Chaplain. In a letter to The Rev. The Principal Chaplain, E.E.F., he wrote on 3 May 1918, ‘I am in hospital for three weeks with German measles ... For some months now I have been considering my position as an Anglican, & have now clearly decided that I can no longer carry on as a C. of E. Chaplain; the reason being that I feel the necessity of being received into the R. Catholic Church. Under these circumstances I have no alternative but to resign my Commission, & I am writing this letter to you for advice as to how to proceed, & what steps to take. ...’ Having relinquished his commission, on 22 May 1918 Darby was ordered to return home. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest at Clifton on 14 May 1922 and served as a Priest at St. Catherine’s, Frome until his retirement due to ill health on in 1943. He died in 1967. The Rev. Darby is believed to be the only known instance of a chaplain on active service resigning his commission in order to join another church. Sold with a folder containing research details including copied letters from his service file.