ENGLISH-OBITS-L ArchivesArchiver > ENGLISH-OBITS > 2006-05 > 1146494397
From: "Peter_McCrae" <>
Subject: BRIGGS: George Cardell Briggs--d.15/3/2004>UK
Date: Mon, 1 May 2006 15:39:57 +0100
The Rt Rev George Briggs
The Daily Telegraph and the telegraph.co.uk
The Right Reverend George Briggs, who has died aged 93, was Bishop of
Seychelles from 1973 to 1979 after 36 years as a missionary priest in
He belonged to a company of unmarried Anglo-Catholic clergy who, in the
years before the 1939-45 war, felt drawn to sacrificial service in the
Universities' Mission to Central Africa, which had been formed in response
to an appeal made by David Livingstone in 1857.
Although Briggs never lost his missionary vocation, he was among those who
saw the need to prepare for the withdrawal of British missionaries from
Africa by training indigenous priests to become church leaders. From 1969 to
1973 he was Warden of St Cyprian Theological College, Masasi, where many
future African bishops passed through his hands.
When he left Africa in 1973 to become Bishop of the Seychelles it was to
play an important part in establishing a new Anglican province of the Indian
Ocean and again helping the Church, as well as the wider community, to
prepare for independence.
George Cardell Briggs was born at Latchford, Cheshire, on September 6 1910.
He went from Worksop College to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, and then
to Cuddesdon Theological College to prepare for Holy Orders. He already
recognised a missionary calling to Africa, but first he was required to
serve a curacy in England, which he did at St Alban's Church, Stockport,
from 1934 to 1937.
The next three years were spent at Masasi, in what was then Tanganyika, and
served as the main base of the universities' mission in East Africa. By the
time Briggs arrived in 1937 it had been a diocese with its own cathedral for
10 years. His first task was to learn Swahili and become acquainted with a
country in which life was still primitive and where poverty ran deep.
He was well suited to missionary work, combining the devotion of a dedicated
priest with the gifts of a pastor and teacher.
From 1940 to 1943 he was at Mikindani, a missionary station north of Masasi,
and then moved to Newala, on a plateau to the east, where he remained until
1964, having become archdeacon in 1955. This involved much travelling to
missionary outposts where he was always warmly welcomed, though it
distressed him that in some places language difficulties made it necessary
for him to conduct separate services in English as well as Swahili.
In 1960, to Briggs's great joy, Father Trevor Huddelston, a leading figure
in the South Africa's anti-apartheid campaign, was elected Bishop of Masasi.
The two men worked closely in helping both the Church and the nation to
prepare for independence two years later.
From 1964 to 1969, Briggs was rector of St Alban's, Dar-es-Salaam, the
capital of Tanzania, where his experience was needed for the large
congregation of the fine church built in 1934 and also for the support of
the first African bishop of the newly-created diocese of Dar-es-Salaam. This
task completed, he spent four years as warden of the theological college
which trains priests for many parts of East Africa.
It was from there that he was appointed Bishop of the Seychelles in 1973, a
diocese which embraces 115 islands, only very few of which are inhabited,
spread across 400,000 square miles of the Indian Ocean. The total Anglican
membership was then about 5,000 in a population of 66,000, some 90 per cent
being Roman Catholic; but there were important church schools and social
work which Briggs strongly supported.
Besides helping to create a new province, incorporating six other dioceses
in Madagascar and Mauritius, he was immediately caught up in the
preparations for national independence scheduled for 1976. Little time
remained and Briggs, by virtue of his office, had an important role in the
entire community; he was therefore all the more disappointed when, just a
year after the independence celebrations, a coup d'etat established
Throughout this period Briggs offered strong but sensitive leadership and,
soon after his retirement in 1979, his notable ministry during the closing
years of the British Empire was recognised by appointment as CMG. At various
times he had held canonaries of the cathedrals in Masasi, Zanzibar and
On his return to England he was for a short time an honorary curate at
Matlock and an assistant bishop in Derby diocese. He died on March 15 in a
home for retired clergy in Sussex.
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