Frederick Lewis Donaldson

The ashes of Christian socialist and clergyman Frederic(k) Lewis Donaldson (known as Eric in his family) are buried in the vault of the Islip chapel in Westminster Abbey. He was Canon of Westminster from 1924-1951 and held the offices of steward, treasurer and archdeacon as well as being Sub Dean and he became the first Canon Emeritus of Westminster after his retirement. There is a small stone in front of the chapel altar which reads:

F. LEWIS DONALDSON 1860-1953 Sub-Dean

He was born at Ladywood, Birmingham on 10th September 1860, a son of Frederick William Donaldson and his wife Elizabeth (Lewis). He was educated at Christ Church cathedral school and Merton college Oxford. On 31st December 1885 he married Sarah Louisa Eagleston and they had two sons and four daughters. Son Cuthbert was a doctor and married Ruth Arkwright in the Abbey in 1925. Son Evan was ordained. Daughter Lesley was unmarried, Eanswythe married Ralph Thompson and Aldyth married Reverend George Stevenson. Sarah was a prominent socialist herself and she was buried with her husband on 15th March 1950 but is not mentioned on the stone. After ordination Donaldson was an assistant curate to Henry Shuttleworth at St Nicholas Cole Abbey in London and he went on to work with the poor in the city. He was one of the first members of the Christian Social Union and a member of the militant Church Socialist League. In 1905 he took part in the march of the unemployed to London where a service was held at the Abbey. He was well known as the Red Vicar of St Mark's Leicester and was greatly opposed to war and was later Canon of Peterborough. A small man with a fine speaking voice he died on 7th October 1953.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004


10th September 1860


7th October 1953




Islip Chapel

Memorial Type


Frederick Lewis Donaldson
Frederick Lewis Donaldson

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