An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Grafton, Charles Chapman

(Apr. 12, 1830-Aug. 30. 1912). Co-founder of the Society of St. John the Evangelist and Anglo-catholic bishop. He was born in Boston. Grafton came under the influence of William Croswell, the founder of the Church of the Advent, Boston, which was a leading Anglo-catholic parish. He was confirmed in the Episcopal Church in 1851. In 1853 he graduated from Harvard with a degree in law but found himself drawn toward the ordained ministry. Grafton studied theology under Bishop William Whittingham of Maryland and was ordained deacon on Dec. 23, 1855. He began his ordained ministry as assistant at Reisterstown, Maryland. On May 30, 1858, he was ordained priest and served as curate at St. Paul's Church, Baltimore, and chaplain of the deaconesses of the Diocese of Maryland. At the close of the Civil War he went to England and with Richard Meux Benson and Simeon Wilberforce O'Neill founded the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE), also known as the Cowley Fathers. SSJE is the oldest Anglican monastic order for men. Grafton returned to the United States, and in 1872 became the head of the American Province of SSJE as well as the rector of the Church of the Advent, Boston. A jurisdictional dispute concerning Grafton's overseas religious superior led to his withdrawal from SSJE. In 1888 he was a founder of the Sisterhood of the Holy Nativity, along with Mother Ruth Margaret. On Apr. 25, 1889, Grafton was consecrated Bishop of Fond du Lac, where he served until his death. Grafton's publications included Plain Suggestions for a Reverent Celebration of the Holy Communion (2d ed., 1898), and A Journey Godward of a Servant of Jesus Christ (1910). The fullness of ceremonial accompanying the consecration of Grafton's bishop coadjutor led to a controversy known as the “Fond du Lac Circus.” Grafton died in Fond du Lac. See Church of the Advent, Boston; see Society of St. John the Evangelist, The (SSJE) (Cowley Fathers); see Fond du Lac Circus.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.