Robert Cyril Hamilton Glover Elliot
Robert Cyril Hamilton Glover Elliott was born in November 1890, the son of Canon Anthony Lewis Elliott, Rector of Killiney, County Dublin. He was educated at Aravon School, Bray, Trent College, Derbyshire and Trinity, Dublin.
His first appointment was at Whitehouse where he was ordained as curate in 1914. He was appointed Chaplain to the Forces in 1917, served through the war and was twice mentioned in despatches for performing duties under heavy shellfire. Dr Elliott was with the Royal Irish Rifles at the Second Battle of the Somme in 1918 and was awarded the Somme Medal by the French. He returned there in 1967 with other veterans for a commemoration service.
After Whitehouse he moved to Bangor and then was appointed Rector of All Saints’, Belfast. For eight years, from 1930, he was vicar of St Patrick’s, Ballymacarrett, Belfast. Known affectionately as “The Big Vicar” – he was a slim 6’9”- his time there coincided with the ‘thirties depression, a difficult period for the many unemployed shipyard workers in his congregation.
In 1938 he left Belfast for Downpatrick to become Dean of Down. But he was on the move again when, in 1945, he came back to Belfast as Dean of its Cathedral. Here he was confronted with the enormous task of resuming the building work while at the same time enhancing St. Anne’s position as the spiritual and ceremonial centre of the community. At his installation, the then Bishop of Connor, Rt Rev Dr Charles King Irwin preached that “the Deanery of Belfast may be a modern creation but it has been adorned with very gifted men, and the present Dean is the eighth of a very remarkable list” and he hoped that “under his charge the cathedral would reach the full glory of its completion”. The Dean gave unstinting support to a £100,000 Building and Appeal Fund, expressing the hope that people of all denominations would find a spiritual home in the cathedral.
In 1956, Dean Elliott became Bishop Cyril when, on 4th October 1956, he was enthroned in Lisburn Cathedral as Bishop of Connor. He was chairman of a committee dealing with Diocesan Ordination Bursaries Fund which ensured that no one with qualifications and the vocation was debarred from the ministry for want of money. Post-ordination training of young ministers also occupied his attention. Like his father, he avoided committee meetings when he could. He quoted his father as saying they were “a place where minutes are kept and hours wasted”!
As Bishop, he was present at the Consecration of the Cathedral’s Apse and Ambulatory on 17th April 1959. At the Lambeth Conference in 1958 he accepted the Coventry Cross from the Provost of Coventry which hangs in a frame in the Ambulatory of the Cathedral. The cross was fashioned from 600-year-old nails from the roof timbers of the Cathedral which was destroyed in 1940 during an air raid.
Cyril resigned in 1969 after 13 years as Bishop. He might have gone on had it not been compulsory in the Church of Ireland to retire on reaching 78. He continued to keep himself busy, saying that his engagement book was “just as full as ever”. A bachelor, he had a keen interest in sport and was a life member of Belfast Boat Club. Golf was a favourite recreation. He was a member of the Masonic Order and was a champion of the Orange Order. He was a conspicuous figure each year on the walk to Finaghy, where he lived.
He died, aged 86, in 1977 and was cremated at Roselawn on the outskirts of Belfast after a funeral service in St. Polycarp’s, Finaghy. The Rector, Rev James Hall, officiated at the service with the Primate, Dr Simms, Bishop Arthur Butler of Connor and Bishop George Quin of Down. Archbishop Simms mentioned that Cyril Elliott had followed the great and highly valued tradition of a person-to-person ministry and lived, to a remarkable degree, in the lives of others.