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Garrett, Alexander Charles (1832–1924)

Richard Morgan Biography Entry

Alexander Charles Garrett, Episcopal bishop, son of John G. and Elizabeth (Fry) Garrett, was born in Ballymonte, County Sligo, Ireland, on November 4, 1832. Following several forebears in the work of the Protestant Episcopal Church, he took his B.A. degree in 1852 and his Divinity testimonium in 1855 at Trinity College, Dublin University. He was ordained a deacon in 1856 and a priest in 1857 and became curate of East Woldham, Hampshire. On June 29, 1854, he married Letitia Hope. In 1859 Garrett went to British Columbia, where he was pastor, doctor, lawyer, and teacher among both Whites and Indians. He went to St. James Church, San Francisco, in 1869 and in 1872 was made dean of Trinity Cathedral, Omaha, Nebraska. As delegate to the General Convention in New York in November 1874, he appealed earnestly for missions and was selected bishop of the new missionary district of northern Texas. He was consecrated at Omaha on December 20, 1874. When he reached Dallas on December 31, 1874, he found that he had five coworkers to aid him in a diocese that covered 100,000 square miles and included twelve stations. In 1895 and again in 1910 the growing diocese had to be divided.

Garrett's writings included Historic Continuity (1875), The Eternal Sacrifice (1881), and The Philosophy of the Incarnation (1891). The universities of Dublin, Nebraska, and Mississippi gave him honorary degrees. In 1889 he established St. Mary's College. He also encouraged other educational institutions within and without the church. Bishop Garrett's vitality was such that he never missed an appointment. At the age of seventy-one he preached the commencement sermon for the University of Texas. In spite of becoming blind, he continued to address anniversary gatherings until he was ninety. He received high honors in the Masonic order, and in civic affairs he was appreciated by men of various creeds and classes. His unselfishness and eloquence won wide respect and hearing. He was sometimes called the Chrysostom of the American Church. He died at Dallas on February 18, 1924, and was survived by one son.

Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography (7 vols., New York: Appleton, 1888–91). Ellis A. Davis and Edwin H. Grobe, comps., The Encyclopedia of Texas (2 vols. 1922?). Elizabeth York Enstam, "St. Mary's College: A Modern Education for Women," Heritage News, Fall 1986. Memorial and Biographical History of Dallas County (Chicago: Lewis, 1892; rpt., Dallas: Walsworth, 1976). DuBose Murphy, Short History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Texas (Dallas: Turner, 1935). Scottish Rite Herald, November 1921. Texas Churchman, Lent 1924. University of Texas Record, August 1903.


  • Peoples
  • Irish
  • Religion
  • Protestant Episcopal

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Richard Morgan, “Garrett, Alexander Charles,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 27, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.