Canon AlbertErnest Sorby b. 27th July 1859-1st October 1934
Albert Ernest Sorby was born on the 27th of July 1859 in Sheffield,So. Yorkshire, England.He was the 6th child and 3rd son of Thomas Austin andDorothy Martha (neé Heathcote- daughter of Arthur ShepleyHeathcote of Matlock, Derbyshire) Sorby who lived at Park Grange, Sheffield,England. Albert’s fatherwas the grandson of Robert Sorby the founder of Robert Sorby and Sons, asuccessful firm of Edge Tool Manufacturers, (See end note).
Accordingto his Cambridge University Alumni record he was schooled at Spondon and Gascoigne. In 1879 and at the age of 20 hedecided to become an Anglican clergyman and was admitted to CambridgeUniversity and received a B.A in1883 and an M.A. in 1886. In 1883 he was ordained deacon at Rochester,Kent and a priest in 1884and his duties until 1885 extended to Emmanuel Church, West Dulwichin London. From 1885-8 he obtaineda position at St. Anne’s parish in his home town of Sheffieldand then in 1889-9 in Sheffield itself. From 1889-92 hebecame vicar of St. Jude’s in the Moorfields area of Sheffield.
In 1892,and in succession to the Rev. Folliart Henry Pannant Cook, Albert was appointed Rector of all Saint’sChurch in Darfield, located in the 1stMediety (the parish was divided into two medieties, a situation which had existed since Anglo-Saxontimes (1200-1300) where by the parish had in the 1stMediety a Rector and the 2nd a Vicar.). In 1906, and in one of his notable achievement of his tenure heconsolidated the two Medieties by dissolving the 2ndMediety, the vicar of which (since 1890) was B TBarnes who became vicar of Wombwell. Albert becamethe Rector of Darfield in its entirety. Darfield in the 1800s,was a small coal mining town 15 or so miles North of Sheffield and 5 miles Eastof Barnsley. Starting with his time at Sheffield Albert became activelyinvolved in church affairs and in 1921 became an Honorary Canon of the Dioceseof Sheffield and the Cathedral.
The following is a transcript of some passagesfrom a chapter headed “Canon Sorby andsome Characters of Old Darfield” (See End notes)
“Brought upin the traditions of a country gentleman, Canon Sorby had his finger of pulseof rural life, and his parishioners recognized their good fortune in havingsuch a dedicated man as their Rector.
Althoughwell liked he could be extremely frank and possessed a strong individuality,qualities that commanded both admiration and respect, even duringdisagreements.
A tallerect man, he was a model of strong upright Christianity and a shining examplefor the Anglican ministry. That a man of considerable ability was content toremain in a depressed mining parish, when undoubtedly he could have moved on towork in wider pastoral fields, was a fitting tribute to his limitless devotionand courage. “Benign he was, and wondrous diligent; and in adversity fullpatient” was a fitting text by the Bishop of Sheffield at his well attendedfuneral.
Among hisclerical associates, Canon Sorby was recognized as a man of great worth, whoseeffects and influence were always on the side of preserving dignity andsanctity in church government. He was, in a way a very mild man, and yet sostrong and tenacious when ecclesiastical rights were challenged. His views wereoften sought on difficult problems affecting both the spiritual life and theadministration of the parish, diocese and province; and no one appreciated hisloyalty and sound judgment than the Bishop of Sheffield who there is reason tobelieve, frequently had recourse to him as a councilor and confident.
Canon Sorbyhad qualities and abilities that marked him as a scholar but he never lost the“common touch” or became preoccupied with “great things” as to loose concernswith his parishioners.. He had a kindly word for everyone.He was a perfect gentleman, having high regard for the courtesies of life, andwas a good host. Darfield Rectory entertained many notables, including Lady Haigh (widow of Field Marshall Haigh),and Lord Harewood who came to Darfield to open the BritishLegion Club.
He had anartistic mind, loved beautiful things such as flowers and pictures and waspassionately fond of children. Young people so difficult to retain for church work , rallied round him of their own accord: and one of themost successful features of his work was his Young People’s Bible Class, (Whichwas often held at Middlewood Hall).
Canon Sorbywas a fighter with a profound respect for the laws, and was always ready to availhimself o the ammunition of the constitution allowed him. This side of hischaracter was revealed shortly after he came to Darfield. The west ridingEducational authority took legal proceedings against a number of hisparishioners for withdrawing their children from school to attend religiousservices in the parish church on Ascension Day: and though he attended court todefend them, the decision of the justices was in favor of the prosecution. TheCanon was not prepared to accept defeat. He appealed to the King’s Bench, whereas a result of action; he won for parents throughout the country, the charterof religious liberty embodied by the celebrated judgment which became known asthe Ascension Day Case, (or Darfield Judgment). After that he took up manycauses, and was always treated with respect where legal matters were concerned.
It wasunder Canon Sorby’s ministry that a considerable amount of restoration work toplace to All Saint’s Church in Darfield. The first phase was the removal ofplaster from the walls of the sanctuary. The original workmanship and artistryof medieval stonemasons was revealed for the first time in many generations.
Sorby waskeen sportsman, and had an inherent fondness to travel and open-air life.Moreover he had the gift of communicating impressions of his experience toothers. There may be some who remember with great pleasure stories of his eggcollecting expeditions: his journeys to the Faeroes, his voyage with trawler-mento the northern fishing grounds, and of his visit to Indiawhere he spent two or three absorbing months with his children traveling andsight seeing. It was typical of his indomitable spirit that at the age ofseventy three he was ready and willing to undertake such and arduous journey inthe hope of regaining strength. Though immaculate in bearing and manners he wasalways prepared to “rough it”; and in fact thoroughly enjoyed unconventionalexperience. In his trips to the Faeroes he associated freely with lonelyfisher-folk, and developed an expert knowledge on the subject of whaling. Hecould speak with some authority on the people and customs of northern lands”.
Asmentioned in the previous transcript Canon Albert E Sorby resided at theDarfield Rectory which was a solidly built stone building of contemporarydesign and at the time of his tenure and from accounts by a housemaid Lizzie Jobling, was a fairly cold and drafty place in the winterbut it did have some amenities such as gas lighting downstairs. The front roomwas fairly large and could accommodate eighty people in a gathering. There wasalso a full sized pool/billiards table in the entrance hall. The Canon had amaroon Crossley (an old English car) and a chauffeurcomplete with maroon uniform and peaked cap.
All Saints Church of Darfield dates back to Anglo Saxontimes although the first structure was destroyed, original stones from thatstructure can be found at the base of the Tower and Choir Vestry. The onlyrecent addition to the Church building was made during Albert Sorby’s tenurewhich was the addition of a small extension to the clergy vestry in 1905. Thisvestry has a lead covered roof, which acted as a tank to contain rain waterfrom the north aisle. This was used for cleaning purposes, and the heatingsystem. The Canon also commissioned the present Pulpit.
When proceeding down the south aisle, one seesthat the first window of three lights is plain glass. The second window was dedicatedin his memory on the 20th December 1938, commemorating his tenure as Rector ofDarfield. The subject is The Ascension. The words at the bottom are as follows:- In grateful and loving memory of Canon Sorby, M.A. for 42years, 1892-1934, the devoted Rector of this Parish, This window is placed hereby Parishioners and Friends, and by his Wife and Family.
As mentioned previously, the reasonfor this subject is that a parishioner named Timothy Marshall was summoned bythe Education Authority for the absence of his son John from school atDarfield, on Ascension Day in the year 1906. Canon Sorby supported the case forMr. Marshall, which eventually finished at the High Court. The decision wasthat, if a child attended Church on Ascension Day, he or she could take therest of the day as a holiday. This decision is known in law as "TheDarfield Judgment" May 25th 2006 represents the 100 year anniversary of thatsame ruling.
The third window in the south aisle is a memorial to the Rector’s son CharlesMalin Clifton Sorby. The first light represents St. George, the centre oneFortitude, and the third St. Louis. In the two small lights above these, one shows the badge of the Monmouthshire Regiment, and the other the arms of hiscollege. A brass plate underneath states the following :- To the Glory of God,and in memory of their dearly loved son, 2ndlieut.CharlesMalin Clifton Sorby, 3rd Monmouthshire Regt. Killedin action near Ypres, having just rescued his woundedSergeant under heavy shell fire 8th May, 1915 aged 20 years. This window wasgiven by his father and his mother. At the right of this window is the woodencross which was over Charles’s grave at Ypres before a stone one was erected.
AlbertErnest enjoyed sports and is recorded as being a member of the Upton ParkFootball (soccer) Club in 1883. He is listed as a clergyman, which he hadbecome that year. (See end notes).
During histime in London he must have metLydia Jane Walker who was the daughter of Charles Hay Walker a civil engineerfrom New Brunswick in Canadawho was residing in the West Dulwich area in London.On the 12th of December1888 he married Lydiaand starting in 1891 had four children by her, Annie Dorothy, Charles MalinClifton, John Ernest Heathcote, and Robert Arthur Clement.
On the 1st of Oct 1934, andfor reasons unknown, Albert died suddenly whilst starting out from the Rectoryat Darfield to his parish. He is buried in the All Saints’ Church, Churchyardnear the west door of the church he served and loved for nearly half a century.He was survived by his wife Lydiawho moved the Reading area in Berkshireto be nearer her children where she died on the 5th of January 1947.
Devoted husband AndFather
For 42 Years theBeloved Rector of This Parish
Who Died Suddenly On Oct 1st 1934
Also Of LydiaJane
Dearly Beloved Wifeof The Above
Who Died Jan 5th 1947
Blessed Are The Dead Which Die In The Lord
From Henceforth: Yea Saith The Spirit
That They May RestFrom Their Labours
And Their Works DoFollow Them
Albert’s father Thomas Heathcote Sorby was also notable inthe fact that he was the last Sorby family member to be actively involved withRobert Sorby and Sons, the edge tool manufacturer. Since that time the firmRobert Sorby has changed hands a number of times but still retains the nameRobert Sorby name to this day and is most noted as maker of high end chiselsand woodworking tools.
Aspects of Barnsley, DiscoveringLocal History, 7 compiled by Margaret Mann of Darfield and published in a localhistory book titled “Aspects of Barnsley 7” edited by Brian Elliott and Wharncliffe Books in 2002 ISBN 1-903425-24-7
All Saints Parish Church history:
The current rector of All Saints Parish Church is the Rev NeilRedeyoff and one of the two church Wardens is Aubrey Venables.web-site:
Upton Park Football Club