BETTRIDGE (Betteridge), WILLIAM CRADDOCK, soldier and Church of England clergyman; b. Warwickshire, England, 30 Aug. 1791; d. Strathroy, Ont., 21 Nov. 1879.
William Craddock Bettridge joined the 81st foot as an ensign, 7 April 1813, and saw service in the Low Countries; he was town adjutant of Brussels during the battle of Waterloo. He became a lieutenant, 31 Aug. 1815, and was retired on half-pay, 25 Feb. 1816. After the war he travelled in Europe and was, by his own account, a student at the University of Jena (where he matriculated on 24 Oct. 1817), a soldier in the employ of Ferdinand I, king of the Two Sicilies, and an aide to General Sir Richard Church.
When Bettridge returned to England, he was made deacon by the archbishop of York, 18 July 1824, and was appointed assistant curate of Ecclesfield, near Sheffield, Yorkshire, where he had married Mary Hounsfield in 1823. He was admitted to St John’s College, Cambridge, on 15 June 1824 without coming into residence and was ordained 18 Dec. 1825, the day he went to his second curacy at Elvington, near York. From 1828 to 1833 he was in charge of the newly opened St Paul’s Church, Southampton. He was accepted in 1834 as a missionary for Upper Canada by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and went out that spring with Admiral Henry Vansittart and the other military and naval personnel who were founding the town of Woodstock. In 1836 he became rector of the parish and remained so until his death in 1879.
Determining to go home on private business in 1837, Bettridge accepted the additional duty of forming a deputation, along with Benjamin Cronyn, from the church of Upper Canada to the English people. He arrived in Liverpool 18 March 1837 and for the next 17 months toured England and preached the cause of the Canadian church. His A brief history of the church in Upper Canada, published in 1838, is less a history than a compilation of the deputation’s letters and appeals. While in England he paid the fees of £40 and proceeded to the degree of Bachelor of Divinity in the University of Cambridge in 1837.
The SPG and the newly formed Upper Canada Clergy Society both attested to the interest Bettridge was able to arouse in England. Collections in excess of £3,000 were received. Six months after his return to Canada, however, Bettridge reported that the sums raised were more than swallowed by his expenses. John Strachan*, just appointed bishop of Toronto, set up a commission of inquiry headed by George Okill Stuart*, archdeacon of Kingston, and weighted by the inclusion of William Henry Draper, attorney general of Canada West. Bettridge appeared before the commission in Toronto on and after 10 June 1840, and admitted the irregularity of his accounts, but “he had sufficient else to do, and . . . account keeping was and is his antipathy.” The commission found that he had made no distinction between church expenses and his own and that he could give no proper account of a sum in excess of £1,000.
The commission’s findings were reported to William Howley, archbishop of Canterbury, who stated that Bettridge “[had] not acted in such a manner as to bring himself under the cognisance of the Ecclesiastical or Civil Law.” Bettridge was not, therefore, disciplined, except by Strachan who refused to include the parish in his visitation for one year. After that, Bettridge made his peace with his bishop, and remained the respected rector of Woodstock. Bishop Cronyn appointed him rural dean in the diocese of Huron after its creation, and canon of St Paul’s Cathedral, London. He was an able clergyman, “very rubrical,” and of robust health. He retired in 1874 and died in Strathroy in 1879 at the home of his son, Dr William Bettridge.
PAO, John Strachan papers, “Bettridge case,” 10–18 June 1840, papers in connection with the commission appointed to enquire into and report upon charges against the Rev. Wm. Bettridge of Woodstock. Dom. ann. reg., 1879, 386–87. [John Morris], Old St. Paul’s Church, 100th anniversary, 1834–1934 ([Woodstock, Ont., 1934]).