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Male, Arthur Hodson
1850-1902; e.m. 1874

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Army chaplain, born in Luton on 10 December 1850, the third son of the Rev. Matthew Trevan(t) Male, a missionary in Madras, India 1837-1847 and then in South Africa.

His son Arthur was educated like his brothers at Kingswood School and trained for the mission field at Richmond College. He too served as a missionary in India, first in Calcutta and then at Lucknow. He was one of the first Wesleyan ministers to serve as an army chaplain: in Lord Roberts’ campaign in Afghanistan (the second Afghan War, 1878-9) and under Lord Wolseley in Egypt, following the Mahdist revolt (1882-84). He earned the nickname of ‘the fighting parson’ by his propensity for being in the front line of battle, and was able to give dramatic eye-witness accounts of the capture of Kabul and the fighting at Tel-el Kebir in the lectures he later gave back in England and in his book Scenes through the Battle Smoke (1891). He was awarded three medals: Afghan 1877-80, Egypt, 1882 and the Egyptian Star.

After serving in several English circuits, he died at Portsmouth on 18 November 1902, while serving at Buckland WM church. There is a life-size statue of him in the Army Chaplains’ Museum at Amport House, Andover.

Quotations

'One man always stands out clear in my mind, out of the many excellent workers I have met, that is the Rev. Arthur Male, a Wesleyan minister, whom I met first of all in Afghanistan. He was always at the front whenever he could get a chance, ministering to the spiritual comfort of the fallen soldier. He, like the surgeons of the British army, not only risked his life in actual battle, but in the more dangerous duty of the cholera camp, or the numerous infectious diseases of the Base Hospital. He was always to the fore and better testimony it would be impossible to bring.'

Frederick Villiers (freelance war artist) in The Slough Observer , August 27 1898


‘His experiences in Egypt were of a unique nature for a chaplain and he had many hair’s breadth escapes from death. He was an excellent horseman and was ever to be found right on the line of fire and so conspicuous was his careless [dis]regard of danger that to the men he was known as “The Fighting Parson”. At Tel-el-Kebir he displayed conspicuous gallantry in carrying a wounded comrade from the line of fire and an endeavour was made to secure for him the Victoria Cross but without success. During the same engagement, at the request of one of Sir Baker Russell’s staff, Mr. Male undertook to deliver some important despatches to General Willis who was encamped a distance of about six miles away. The ride was to be accomplished by night and seated on his favourite Arab horse he set off with a written despatch carefully secured and a verbal one in his head, on his desolate journey through the desert. The ride was accomplished in about two hours, and after the despatches were safely delivered, the Duke of Connaught, who was with the General, interviewed the plucky chaplain and after hearing him relate his experiences congratulated him on his pluck...

‘One of the greatest difficulties the troops had to encounter was bad water and on one occasion when the Rev. Male was drinking from a pond he was told to stop as there was a dead Egyptian in the water. He, however, finished his drink and then, discovering the man was not dead, helped him out and tended his wounds.’

Hampshire Telegraph, 22 November 1902

Sources

  • Hampshire Telegraph, 22 November 1902
  • O.S. Watkins, Soldiers and Preachers Too (1906), pp.191-2, 243
  • Helen McKenny, A City Road Diary (1978), p. 32
  • Kingswood School Magazine, December 1890

Entry written by: SB
Category: Person

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