Biography – Rectors and Parish Priests of St Vincent de Paul 1847 to 1980

Michael O’Reilly
Michael O’Reilly was born in Drumloman, in the Irish county of Cavan. He was Rector of St Vincent’s from 1847 to 1853. In 1853, O’Reilly decided to emigrate to the United States. When he finally left, parishioners were so upset they barricaded themselves in the church, to prevent the new priest from arriving. Provost Hall and Canon Firth were actually sent to the church to placate the angry congregation.

Thomas William Walton
He was Rector of St Vincent’s from 1855 to 1858. He actually bought the two houses on New Street, in Altrincham, where the first parish church was built.

Henry Alcock
He was Rector of St Vincent’s from 1857 to 1876. He built the New Street Church, which served the parish for 47 years. Two cottages at 71 and 73 New Street were bought, and a small gothic building erected in 1858. The cottages are still standing, and though residential, provide a link with our past. Father Alcock was also responsible for the establishment of a St Vincent’s parish in Knutsford, Cheshire. He actually built the first parish school at New Street and personally taught pupils. Local historian Don Bayliss believes Father Alcock discovered relatives of Louis Phillipe among his congregation. Phillipe was the King of France from 1830 to 1848.

Canon James O’Brien
He was born in County Claire in 1844. He was Rector of St Vincent’s from 1876 to 1898. He is buried at Flaybrick Hill, Birkenhead.

William Franicis Stanley
He was born in 1862 and died in 1908. He was Rector of St Vincent’s from 1898 to 1903.

Christopher Ryder
He was born in Crewe in 1857. He was Rector of St Vincent’s from 1903 to 1907.

Hugh Francis Welch
He was born in 1866. He was Rector of St Vincent’s from 1907 to his death in 1931. Hugh Welch actually met the infamous Mr Veno, who was responsible for the “lightening cough cure.” Mr Veno expressed the opinion that “one religion was as good as another.” Canon Welch replied: “How would you like it if I said that one cough mixture was as good as another.” Canon Welch was noted for his concern for the parish children, actually providing many with shoes. He also led an annual St Patrick’s Day trip to The Saracen’s Head in Warburton. Canon Welch died on the 22nd of July 1931 and is buried in Hale Cemetery.

Edward Dudsworth Kirby
He was born on the 22nd of November 1876 and educated at Stonyhurst and the Beda College in Rome. He was Curate of St Vincent’s from 1902 to 1906, returned to the parish in 1923 for one year. He was officially Parish Priest from 1931 to 1938. He retired to Knutsford, died on the 25th of February 1954 and is buried in Hale Cemetery.

Peter Lancelot Pear
He was born in Constantinople on the 1st of August 1883. He was educated at Stonyhurst and Merton College, Oxford. Peter also studied at the Beda College in Rome and served as a chaplain in the Great War. He won the MC at Gallipoli. He was the Parish Priest of St Vincent’s from 1938 to 1941. He retired to Italy in 1946 and died on the 21st of January 1965. He is buried in the English College Grave in Rome.

Josh Alphonsos Donnelly
Donnelly was born in Rostrevor, County Down on the 18th of July 1897. He was educated at Dovia and the English College, Rome. Donnelly gained a DD, PhD and BCL. He was curate of St Vincent’s from 1922 to 1925. He became parish priest of St Vincent’s in 1941. Donnelly had a strong interest in education, acquiring a 30 acre site in Hale Barns to build schools on. Today St Ambrose College is located on this land. He also bought a site for St Vincent’s Junior School. The church debt rose to £60,000 and parishioners raised £10,000 in a single year. Donnelly was made a Canon in 1944 and Provost in 1964. He died on December 29th 1964 and is buried in Kilbraney Cemetery, Rostrevor, County Down.

John Aloysius Lyon. He was born in Birkenhead on January 31st 1909.  John Lyons was educated at Ushaw and The English College, Rome, where he received a Phd. He was parish priest of St Vincent’s from 1965 to his death in 1980. Father Lyons was succeeded by Canon John Burgon.