RepositoryJesuits in Britain Archives
TitleFr Cuthbert Cary-Elwes SJ (1867-1945)
LevelSub fonds
DescriptionContains correspondence, notebooks, photographs, maps and drawings, manuscript and some printed material, primarily relating to Cary-Elwes' time in Guyana. His 'Personal Papers' encompass linguistic material, including spiritual and liturgical texts for the instruction of the Guyanese; autobiographical material; a photographic collection; lecture notes; and further maps and illustrations. A separate section comprises printed material belonging to Cary-Elwes
Admin_HistoryCuthbert Cary-Elwes was born on 1 October 1867 in Boulogne. Educated at Downside School, Bath, and Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, he entered the novitiate of the then English Province of the Society of Jesus on 7 September 1887. Having completed his novitiate and 3 years of philosophy, he taught Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics at Beaumont College, Old Windsor, Berkshire from 1893-1895 and was then transferred to St Ignatius, Stamford Hill, where he taught for a further year. He began his study of theology at Jersey, moving to Lyons at the beginning of his second year to complete his studies. He was ordained at Farm Steet Church, London on 22 July 1900 and completed his tertianship at Tronchiennes, Wales in 1901.

Fr. Cary-Elwes joined the parish staff at Wimbledon from 1902 until 1904 and then sailed for Guyana, being stationed at the Cathedral, Georgetown until 1906, and at Morawhanna mission between 1907 and 1909. In November 1909, he left Georgetown with Bishop Galton to start a new mission in the interior: the headquarters of which (Saint Ignatius) were established on the Takutu River. Over the next fourteen years, Fr. Cary-Elwes worked to establish the mission, learning the language and customs of the indigenous population and making several journeys further into the interior: 1911-1912, 1916, 1917, 1919-1920, 1921 and 1922.

In May 1923, Fr. Cary-Elwes became ill and ultimately had to return to England. As he regained his health, he undertook mid-week lectures and retreats from Great Billing, Northamptonshire, and, in 1927, moved to the parish of Richmond, Yorkshire, and two years later to Boscombe, Bournemouth. From 1933 until 1940, Fr. Cary-Elwes was based at the Jesuit residence in Mount Street, London, and devoted his time to giving missions and retreats. He then moved first to Elsham Hall, Lincolnshire, and later to Craigarnhall, Stirlingshire.

During his latter years he spent much time rewriting his notes on the dialects of the indigenous population of Guyana; compiling comparative vocabularies, hymns and translations of scripture. He also focussed on writing his autobiography, focussing on his experiences, travels and discoveries during his years in Guyana. A heavily abbreviated version of this autobiography was published by Fr. John Bridges S.J. in 1986, under the title "Rupununi Mission".

Fr. Cary-Elwes died in Glasgow on 22 August 1945.
Related MaterialFor Fr Henry Davis SJ's biographical memoir of Cary-Elwes, based on his autobiography, see SJ/2
Pamphlet but HS de Caires SJ', 'The Life of Fr Cuthbert Cary-Elwes, SJ' #41
Letter from Demerara to Fr Hornyold DH/2
Letter 1913 DY/3
For an account of the founding of the Takutu mission by Cary-Elwes see GUY/3/2/1
For photographs see SJ/PH/180
AccessConditionsThe papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to archive material in the Jesuits in Britain Archives. Some items are available for viewing only at the Archivist's discretion due to their physical condition.
DS/UK/1Elwes Cary-; Cuthbert (1867-1945); Jesuit Priest1867-1945
NA1Guiana | South America xx Guyana | South America/Guiana/South America

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