Bishop Elliott – Dublin Orangeman

Bishop Cyril Elliott was born in November 1890, the son of Canon Anthony Lewis Elliott, Rector of Killiney, County Dublin. He was educated at Aravon School, Bray, Trent College, Derbyshire and Trinity College, Dublin.

His first appointment was at Whitehouse where he was ordained as curate in 1914. He was appointed Chaplain to the Forces in 1917, served through the war and was twice mentioned in despatches for performing duties under heavy shellfire. Dr. Elliott was with the Ulster Division at the Somme and was holder of the Somme Medal.

He returned there in 1967 with other veterans for a commemoration service. After Whitehouse he moved to Bangor and then was appointed Rector of All Saints’, Belfast. For eight years, from 1930, he was vicar of St Patrick’s, Ballymacarrett, Belfast.

Known affectionately as “The Big Vicar” – he was a slim 6’9”- his time there coincided with the ‘thirties depression, a difficult period for the many unemployed shipyard workers in his congregation. In 1938 he left Belfast for Downpatrick to become Dean of Down. But he was on the move again when, in 1945, he came back to Belfast as Dean of its Cathedral. In 1956, Dean Elliott became Bishop Cyril when, on 4th October 1956, he was enthroned in Lisburn Cathedral as Bishop of Connor.

He was chairman of a committee dealing with Diocesan Ordination Bursaries Fund which ensured that no one with qualifications and the vocation was debarred from the ministry for want of money. Post-ordination training of young ministers also occupied his attention.

Like his father, he avoided committee meetings when he could. He quoted his father as saying they were “a place where minutes are kept and hours wasted”! Cyril resigned in 1969 after 13 years as Bishop. He might have gone on had it not been compulsory in the Church of Ireland to retire on reaching 78. He continued to keep himself busy, saying that his engagement book was “just as full as ever”.

A bachelor, he had a keen interest in sport and was a life member of Belfast Boat Club. Golf was a favourite recreation. He was a member of the Masonic Order and was a champion of the Orange Order. He was a conspicuous figure each year during the Twelfth Celebrations.

At the Institution of  the Cross of St. Patrick LOL 688 in March 1968,  Bishop Elliott as Grand Chaplain complimented the new lodge on its name and said, “You cannot find any of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church in St. Patricks writings. There is nothing about indulgences, relics, the worship of the Blessed Virgin or about Papal infallibility”.

He died, aged 86, in 1977 and was cremated at Roselawn on the outskirts of Belfast after a funeral service in St. Polycarp’s, Finaghy. The Rector, Rev James Hall, officiated at the service with the Primate, Dr Simms, Bishop Arthur Butler of Connor and Bishop George Quin of Down. Archbishop Simms mentioned that Cyril Elliott had followed the great and highly valued tradition of a person-to-person ministry and lived, to a remarkable degree, in the lives of others.

For more information see the heritage section of the Belfast Cathedral website and Cross of St. Patrick LOL 688 website.