A.H.C. Fargus

Born 15 December 1878, Clifton, Bristol

Died 6 October 1963, Eastville, Bristol

Born in Clifton in 1878, the son of Frederick John Fargus who was better known as the Victorian novelist Hugh Conway, Archibald Hugh Conway Fargus was educated at Clifton College, Haileybury and Pembroke College, Cambridge where he won his Blue for cricket in 1900 and 1901. Fourteen games for Gloucestershire during his debut season brought the following comment from the Bristol Mercury; “A.H.C. Fargus made an astonishing debut against Middlesex, when he took 12 wickets for 87 runs, but he has done little since” Perhaps that was why, the following season having finished at Cambridge he played only one further game, before concentrating on studying for the ministry, becoming ordained in 1906. Initially serving as parish priest at Forton in Hampshire, in 1907 he enlisted in the Royal Navy as a Chaplain, serving on board various ships until 1913 when he withdrew from the Service to become the vicar of Askham Richard in Yorkshire. At the outbreak of war, he felt called to re-join the Navy and was appointed as a temporary Chaplain on board H.M.S Monmouth, a ship that had been “mothballed” in January 1914, only to have been re-activated, crewed with inexperienced and partially trained men from the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and assigned to Admiral Craddock’s 4th Cruiser Squadron in the Pacific Ocean.

There are very few people who have been alive to read their own obituary. Fargus is one. Travelling from Yorkshire to join H.M.S. Monmouth before it sailed, he missed a train connection and by the time he arrived at the ship’s departure point it had already sailed for the Pacific where, on 1st November 1914 during the Battle of Coronel off the coast of Chile, it was sunk, going down with the loss of all the men on board. Wisden of 1915, unaware that he had not joined the ship reported his death; in 1916 it printed a retraction notice. He remained in the Navy until the end of the war, after which he became Chancellor of St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Malta, a position he held until 1923 before moving on to become Chaplain to the Anglican community in Huelva in southern Spain. By 1941 he was back in Bristol, living at Horfield Rectory and he died, aged 84 in Eastville on 6 October 1963. His second Wisden obituary eventually appeared in 1994, some thirty years after his death.

 

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