Page 1, 29th March 1940

29th March 1940
Page 1
Page 1, 29th March 1940 — "His Pen Was Blest"

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"His Pen Was Blest"


" An example of a true, energetic Catholic worker "—Cardinal Hinsley's tribute to the memory of Mr George Elliot Anstruther, assistant editor of the CATHOLIC HERALD, whose death at the age of seventy took place on Wednesday, March 20, at Clavering Newport, Essex, Other personal appreciations appearing below are from the Editor of the CATHOLIC HERALD (" his pen was blest "); Mgr. John Filmer (" Mr Anstruther was one of the earliest Ransomers "); and Mr John Boland (" the work which G. E. Anstruther did for the Catholic Truth Society was incalculable ").

The solemn Requiem Mass will take place at St. Dominic's, Haverstock Hill, on Saturday next, March 30, at 10.30 a.m.


With deep sorrow we hear of the death of Mr G. E. Anstruther. He was an example of a true, energetic Catholic worker. As a powerful and effective speaker he was ever ready to support movements that promised to be for the good of the Church In this country, and to defend the interests of religion.

He gave his services readily and enthusiastically as a writer to the

1 Catholic Press. When the Westminster Chronicle called for his help he came forward and gave of his best to keep it alive and to improve it. He is a great loss to us. His services to the Catholic cause will for long claim our grateful recognition and be a title to remembrance in our prayers. The Guild of Our Lady of Ransom, the CATHOLIC HaRALD. the Universe, the Tablet, the Catholic Truth Society all owe much to his ability and energy.

A good and great man has passed from earthly activity to the mending life of union with the Source of all gifts and of all energy. His work here gives us this assured hope of his present reward. May he rest in peace.


G. E. Anstruther joined the staff of the CATHOLIC HERALD as assistant editor four years ago. A veteran Catholic writer and journalist of the widest experience, his new job cannot have been altogether congenial. At the time the new CATHOLIC HERALD was in its infancy, little known among clergy and people, and, in so far as known, on trial for its life, with only a comparatively small circle of devoted supporters.

It is conceivable that a young and adventurous man might have been happy to leave the comforts and respectabillties of the Tablet for this rough voyage of discovery; but Anstruther was nearer seventy than sixty, nearly twice the age of the oldest of those with whom he would work for the last years of his

His value to the rising paper was, of course, immense. No one living probably had an equal knowledge of the personalities, organisations and churches of the country, no one could more rapidly and accurately relate contemporary news to origins and history so as to form the completest and most accurate " story." Moreover, hie name was a tower of strength to the pioneer venture, and many a letter was received in which the writer accepted the new paper on the sole ground that it must be a good and sound thing if Anstruther was associated with it.

Quality of Mind And his association was far from external. He very rapidly summed up the enterprise of those who were associated with it, and, having done so, gave to his new work the most complete and utter loyalty. He was ever ready with valuable criticism and advice, but he was, I think, happy to feel that he, so faithful a worker over so many years in the traditional fields of Catholic Journalism, was now having the good fortune to be co-operating with something new. In this the quality of his spirit was made very clear.

He had all the virtues of an age that is rapidly passing. A model of true dignity and urbanity, more regular than the clock, steadily hard working whether the matter were interesting or desperately boring, refusing to be disconcerted by the strange ways of younger journalists, covering page after page with his regular and fine handwriting—a joy to the type-setter—this living, but entirely unconscious, admonition to the rest of us succeeded in fitting in with the family, as a companion and not a grandfather.

He Kept a Young Mind

How he did it I don't know. We never thought of hint as old or as different, even when he insisted on rising whenever spoken to so that we did not quite know what the next stage in formal manners was to be. The truth, I suppose, was that he kept a young mind, a flexible mind, an intensely human and lovable mind in that old-world setting. And this only Shows how unnecessary it is for the moderns to have bad manners.

It was a great privilege to have known him so intimately towards the end of a Christian life made perfect by faith, ork, disappointments, hardship and, at best, only a moderate recognition of his talents and his service.

Just when he had to give up, through failing health, his regular work in Fleet Street, the Holy Father decorated him with the Knighthood of St. Gregory. I have never seen a person so moved by an honour, only too well merited, and those who were present at a little celebration in honour of the event will not easily forget the emotion under which he spoke, vowing to live the remainder of his days for the service of Our Lord, in the spirit of a Catholic knight, His Roving Causerie Despite an extremely severe heart attack some months ago which made him an invalid, Anstruther continued to do his regular weekly work for the paper. Sitting by his telephone he could be, and was, constantly consulted by the office; he wrote the greater number of obituaries and intereeted thousands of readers with his roving causerie of persons and places which, at their request, was printed of late on the main editorial page. More amazing still, he undertook the editorship of the WestMinater Cathedral Chronicle a few months ago.

Characteristically, his last note to myself was an apology for not being able to complete last week's contribution owing to illness, and for having to send it in pencil.

By a coincidence the last words he wrote for the paper were a description of Stephen Gwynn's family; "a family of 8011.9 and daughters in the Faith, One of them a priest, another a nun—surely such a connection helps to bless the nen." His pen was blessed in the same wag, and he was never happier than when talking of his priest son.

And if an epitaph is required for his brave and devoted life it should be found in those last words of his, for it may well be said of him, in his family, in his work for the Church and in his own great faith ; "His Pen was Blest."


George Elliot Anstruther was one of the earliest Ransomers. With Lister Drummond, Charles Rock and others he shared with Fr. Fletcher the early trials and triumphs of the Guild.

He was the most brilliant of the first outdoor lecturers; his clear, resonant voice, earnest delivery and power of prompt repartee impressed all who listened to him.

He remained a stalwart Ransomer to the end, always ready to help in any way he could. I always relied on him to take part in our gatherings, where we shall miss him sadly. The last time he spoke for us was at our general meeting last May, when in spite of illness he made a point of being with us and proposing the vote of thanks to the Apostolic Delegate. His voice was as resonant and his mind as clear as ever, but it was evidently a great effort for him, and I felt then that it would be the last time we should have him with Us.

Now he has gone to join the great men with whom he laboured for the Guild in its beginning; may his cheery, kindly soul quickly find peace, and may his reward be exceeding great,


The work which G. E. Anetruther did for the Catholic 'Truth Society was incalculable. He was on its staff for many years, but it was while he filled the post of organising secretary before the Great War that his genius for organisation was given an opportunity to display itself.

Not merely by personal visits to priests and to convents throughout England, but by speaking at gatherings which he arranged in different centres, he extended the society's membership and the sale of its publications. In addition he was a frequent contributor to Catholic Book Notes. It was the experience gained in those years, beginning nearly forty years ago, that made him such an admirable platform speaker and, working under James Britten, a, journalist with a distinctive style, His pamphlet, Catholic Answers to Protestant Charges, is still one of the society's best sellers, and several others by him are listed in our catalogue.

Obituary on Page 9.

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