George Rawlinson 407
- Born: 11 November 1812, Chadlington, Oxfordshire
- Marriage: Louisa Wildman Chermside on 7 July 1846
- Died: 6 October 1902, Cathedral Precincts, Canterbury, Kent aged 89
- Buried: 10 October 1902
From The Times, October 7, 1902
We regret to announce the death, which took place yesterday afternoon
at his residence in Cathedral Precincts, Canterbury, of Canon George
Rawlinson, who would next month have attained his 90th birthday. His
health had been precarious for the past two years, but his condition
fluctuated greatly. A week ago he was out in a bath-chair, and
yesterday he was up and dressed when siezed with a fatal attack of
The death of George Rawlinson removes a venerable and interesting
figure. He was not a man of genius, but a scholar of solid ability,
who early found a field of work for which he was specially fitted, and
devoted himself to it with success. In his "Herodotus" he turned to
good account the new discoveries in the East, in which his more
brilliant elder brother, Sir Henry Rawlinson, took so large a part,
and thenceforward became the historian of the ancient Eastern world
for English readers. His industry and extensive (if largely
second-hand) learning won for his books, especially the "Herodotus"
and "The Five Great Oriental Monarchies" a secure place in all English
George Rawlinson was born at Chadlington, in Oxfordshire, November 23,
1812. He was the third son of Abram Tysack Rawlinson, a noted breeder
of racehorses, one of which, Coronation - an object of great interest
to George Rawlinson while he was an undergraduate - won the Derby in
1841. Educated like his brother at Ealing School, he matriculated in
1834 as a commoner of Trinity College, Oxford, and won a First Class
in the Final School of Classics in 1838. He played in the first
cricket match against Cambridge in 1836, and showed something of his
character as "a fair longstop and a most heartbreaking bat who would
block by the hour". In 1840 he was elected to a Fellowship at Exeter
College, and served as president and treasurer of the Union. From
1841 he was a tutor of his college, took Holy Orders, and won the
Denyer Theological Prize in 1842 and 1843. He vacated his tutorship
in 1846 on his marriage with Louisa, daughter of Sir R. A. Chermside.
On the occasion of his golden wedding, in 1896, he presented a gold
and jewelled chalice and paten to Canterbury Cathedral, to which he
also presented other gifts. From 1846 to 1847 he held a curacy at
Merton, in Oxfordshire, but subsequently returned to Oxford, where he
lived the life of a scholar, examining the schools and taking an
active part in the movement for the expansion of the University. The
form finally taken by the Oxford University Act of 1854 was largely
due to the work of the Tutors' Association, on the committee of which
he served with Church and Marriott of Oriel, Lake and Edwin Palmer of
Balliol, Mansel of St. John's, Osborne Gordon of Christ Church, and
other tutors and ex-tutors, and in 1853 he and Dean Lake had an
interview with Mr. Gladstone on the subject.
In 1852-53 he was one of the first to examine in the new Classical
Moderations, among his colleagues being Gordon and Mansel, Scott and
Conington. A the same time he was hard at work on his "Herodotus",
which appeared in 1858 (with a dedication to Mr. Gladstone), and marks
an epoch in the study of that historian. It consisted of a
translation (which became the standard one) with short notes and many
essays on historical and racial questions connected with Herodotus, to
which the contributions of Sir H. Rawlinson and Sir Gardner Wilkinson
gave a special importance. The translation is still the only fully
annotated edition of the whole author in English, and in its abridged
form (2 volumes; 1897) is still probably the most used in Rawlinson's
old University. It would require more extensive revision than it has
ever received to bring it up to the level of the latest research,
particularly on the side of Oriental history and antiquities, but the
notes incluce much original information that will always be of value.
Thenceforward his literary activity was continuous, but he found time
for much else. All sides of Oxford life interested him. He was a
guardian of the poor (1860-63), an original member of the Oxford
Political Economy Club and its first treasurer, and a perpetual
Curator of the University Galleries. He was Examiner in Greats in
1854, 1856, and 1857, and in 1868-69, and in the School of Theology in
1874-75. He gave the Brampton Lectures in 1859 (the year after
Mansel), and in 1861 succeeded Dr. Cardwell and Camden Professor of
Ancient History. He held the chair till 1889, but his professional
lectures were not largely attended, and as professor he found many
opportunities for writing. From 1862 to 1871 appeared the successive
volumes of "The Five Great Monarchies of the Eastern World", followed
by volumes on the sixth great monarchy in 1873, and on the seventh in
1876. New editions of this work and of the "Herodotus" have come out
from time to time, and he dealt with the same and kindred subjects in
more compendious forms-"A Manual of Ancient History" in 1869, "A
History of Ancient Egypt" in 1881, a "History of Phoenicia" in 1889,
and a "History of Parthia" in 1893. He also contributed to the
"Speaker's Commentary", Dean Spence's "Homiletic Commentary", Smith's
"Dictionary of the Bible", and wrote a number of present-day tracts.
Besides the "Bampton Lectures" and a volume of sermons preached before
the University (1861) on "The Contrast of Christianity with Heathen
and Jewish Systems", he published many miscellaneous articles,
biographical and historical.
Canon Rawlinson belonged to a class of scholars, happily not rare in
England, who, without possessing the highest gifts, by good sense and
industry and a happy use of opportunity, do much to promote the cause
of education and to popularize the results of learning. He was a
Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a corresponding member of
the Royal Acadmey of Turin and of the American Philosophical Society,
and in 1870 he was selected as a member of the Athenĉum as a
representative of literature.
Canon Rawlinson naturally figured more as a scholar than as an
ecclesiastic. For anything in the way of public speaking and
exhortation he was hampered by a singular indistinctness of utterance.
He owed his appointment to a canonry of Canterbury in 1872 to his
frient Mr. Gladstone, who no doubt intended it as a recognition of the
learning of his nominee rather than of his services to the Church.
There was thus some comment when in 1888 Canon Rawlinson, then 76
years of age, and already possessed of a canonry and a professorship,
permitted himself and his colleagues on the Chapter of Canterbury. It
is true that the pastoral responsibilities were small, but for some
years they have had to be undertaken by deputy. However, in the year
following his induction to All Hallows, Canon Rawlinson resigned the
Camden Professorship and left Oxford. In the recent return made to
the House of Lords of the annual value of the City incumbencies, it is
stated that the stipend of the rector of All Hallows' is no less than
£2,005 a year. Happily, at the instigation of the Archdeacon of
London, an arrangement has been made to divide this large sum among a
number of poorer benefices, while still leaving an ample income for
the next incumbent.
An admirable portrait of Canon Rawlinson by his son-in-law, Mr. Wilson
Forster, in which he is represented in the act of copying out letters
for his memoir of his brother Sir Henry, hangs in the hall of his old
College of Trinity, to which it was presented in 1890.
1848: his mother's will To my dear son George RAWLINSON two silver ??
and ??, one silver stand and Lamp, one thread pattern Gravy spoon
without division, one soup tureen ladle unless my said son Abram
Lindow RAWLINSON gives him one which he has in which case I bequeath
both my soup tureen ladles to my said son Abram Lindow RAWLINSON as
before mentioned, four sauce ladles marked E.S., six wine labels, one
pair of plated Candlesticks, and two plated light ??.
To my said Son George RAWLINSON a China Dinner Service ... table
painted by myself and a book entitled "Memorials of Oxford".
Noted events in his life were:
1. He appeared on the census in 1841 in Chadlington East, Oxfordshire.
2. Census UK 1881: 1881, Cathedral Precincts, Canterbury, Kent.
3. Resided: 6 October 1902, Cathedral Precincts, Canterbury, Kent. 13
4. He had an estate probated on 29 October 1902 in London. 13
George married Louisa Wildman Chermside on 7 July 1846. (Louisa Wildman Chermside was born on 10 February 1827 in Paris, France and died on 2 August 1915 in Bedford Park, London 13.)