James John Hornby

Last updated

James John Hornby CVO (18 December 1826 – 2 November 1909) was an English rower and headmaster of Eton College from 1868 to 1884. [1]


J J Hornby "The Head" (Vanity Fair caricature by Spy) Hornby JJ Vanity Fair 1901-01-31.jpg
J J Hornby "The Head" (Vanity Fair caricature by Spy)

Early life

Hornby was born at Winwick, the third son of Admiral Sir Phipps Hornby and his wife Sophia Maria Burgoyne, eldest daughter of Sir John Burgoyne. [2] He was educated at Eton, where he did not row, but played in the Eton cricket eleven in 1845. [3]


Hornby matriculated at Balliol College, Oxford, before being appointed a Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford in 1849. Whilst at Brasenose, he had the rare distinction of rowing in the college Eight while also being a Fellow. He rowed bow for Oxford in the second Boat Race of 1849, which Oxford won on a foul by bumping Cambridge when Cambridge were in Oxford's water. He was No. 3 in the O.U.B.C. crews that won the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta in 1850 and 1851 when there was no Boat Race on the Tideway in either year. In 1850, he won the University Pairs and Fours, and the Silver Goblets at Henley with J.W. Chitty. In 1851 he rowed again for Brasenose in the Ladies' Challenge Plate, Stewards' Challenge Cup, and Visitors Challenge Cup. [4] He was a member of the Brasenose College crew which was Head of the River at Oxford in 1852. He had also become known as a fine skater and one of the best Alpine climbers of the day. [2]

Academic career

In 1853, Hornby went to Durham University as Principal of Bishop Cosin's Hall until 1864 when he returned to Brasenose as classical lecturer. Students long after recalled with pleasure the animation of his Virgil lectures and his excellent way of teaching Latin prose. He was also made Senior Proctor. In 1865 Hornby was the first to ascend the northwest ridge of the Silberhorn. [5] In 1867, he was appointed Second Master of Winchester College, which was seen as a stepping stone to the headmastership of Eton, which had become vacant. He remained at Winchester little more than a year, and was then appointed Headmaster of Eton, in succession to Balston. [2] His appointment was made possible by the conclusions of the Northcote Commission which had removed restrictions among educational endowments, among which was the tradition that the Eton headmaster should come from King's College, Cambridge. [4]

Eton headmaster and provost

With the restrictions gone, Hornby was the first to exercise the increased independent authority of the headmaster. He "taught Eton the art of self-government" and his sixteen years' Headmastership was very successful. As he had not been an Eton master, he had to overcome a certain amount of resentment by his good work, sympathetic temper and his pleasant manners. [2] Guy Nickalls, at Eton in the early 1880s, recalled: "In spite of the swishings I got, I liked the headmaster, Hornby, the perfectly mannered and sonorously-voiced old English gentleman. Handsome, alert, witty, a great athlete in his day, a good judge of wine, and the finest after-dinner speaker I ever listened to, with a charm of manner I have never forgotten." [6] Hornby retired in 1884 to take the post of provost of Eton and was succeeded by another Etonian and Balliol oarsman, Edmond Warre. Hornby had also become a Doctor of Civil Law and a Queen's Chaplain. As chairman of the Governing Body, he presided over the meetings at the time of Warre's resignation, when Edward Lyttelton was elected Warre's successor. He remained provost until his death in 1909, to be succeeded again by Warre. [2]

Personal life

Hornby married the daughter of J. C. Evans of Eton in 1859. She was associated with the whole of his headmastership at Eton until she died in 1891. He also lost one son, but others and two daughters survived him. He was the brother of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Geoffrey Hornby. [2]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Joseph William Chitty</span> English cricketer, rower, and judge

Sir Joseph William Chitty was an English cricketer, rower, judge and Liberal politician.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Oliver Russell, 2nd Baron Ampthill</span> British peer, rower, and civil servant

Arthur Oliver Villiers Russell, 2nd Baron Ampthill was a British peer, rower, and civil servant. He served as Governor of Madras from October 1900 to February 1906, and as acting Viceroy of India from April to December 1904.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stanley Muttlebury</span> English rower

Stanley Duff Muttlebury was an English rower notable in the annals of rowing and the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race.

Arthur Stanley Garton was a British rower who competed in the 1912 Summer Olympics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Raymond Etherington-Smith</span> English doctor and rower

Raymond Broadley Etherington-Smith was an English doctor and rower who competed for Great Britain in the 1908 Summer Olympics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Guy Nickalls</span> British rower

Guy Nickalls was a British rower who competed in the 1908 Summer Olympics as a member of the British eight that won gold, won 22 events at Henley Royal Regatta and won the Wingfield Sculls three times.

Guy Oliver Nickalls, also known as Gully Nickalls, was a British rower who competed in the 1920 Summer Olympics and in the 1928 Summer Olympics.

Charles Ryves Maxwell Eley was a British rower who competed in the 1924 Summer Olympics, winning a gold medal with the British coxless four.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James MacNabb</span> British rower

James Alexander MacNabb was a British rower who competed in the 1924 Summer Olympics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brasenose College Boat Club</span> British rowing club

Brasenose College Boat Club (BNCBC) is the rowing club of Brasenose College, Oxford, in Oxford, England. It is one of the oldest boat clubs in the world, having beaten Jesus College Boat Club in the first modern rowing race, held at Oxford in 1815. Although rowing at schools such as Eton and Westminster School Boat Club predates this, the 1815 contest is the first recorded race between rowing clubs anywhere in the world.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Walter Bradford Woodgate</span>

Walter Bradford Woodgate was a British barrister and oarsman who won the Wingfield Sculls three times, and various events at Henley Royal Regatta including the Silver Goblets five times and the Diamond Challenge Sculls once. He founded Vincent's Club as an undergraduate at Brasenose College, Oxford, in 1863, and in 1868 created the first coxless four by persuading Brasenose's cox to jump overboard after the start of Henley's Stewards' Challenge Cup.

Frederick (Freddie) Islay Pitman was a British rower who rowed in the Boat Race three times and won the Diamond Challenge Sculls and the Wingfield Sculls in 1886.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Balliol College Boat Club</span>

Balliol College Boat Club (BCBC) is the rowing club for members of Balliol College, Oxford, England. It is one of the college boat clubs at the University of Oxford.

Tom Cottingham Edwards-Moss,, was a British amateur oarsman who rowed in the Boat Race four times and twice won the Diamond Challenge Sculls, and a Conservative politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1885 to 1892.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Douglas McLean (rower)</span> English rower and cricketer

Douglas Hamilton McLean was a British rower who rowed in the Boat Race five times and won Silver Goblets at Henley Royal Regatta. He was also a cricketer who played one match for Somerset in 1896. McLean was born in Sydney, the son of John Donald McLean, colonial treasurer of Queensland, Australia. He went to England where was educated at Eton College and made his first appearance at Henley in the Eton eight winning the Ladies' Challenge Plate in 1882. He went on to New College, Oxford where he rowed in the Oxford crew in the Boat Race five times between 1883 and 1887, winning the 1883 and 1885 races. He won the University Pairs for New College in 1885 and also Silver Goblets at Henley with his brother, Hector McLean. In 1886 the McLean brothers were beaten in the final of the Silver Goblets by Stanley Muttlebury and Fraser Churchill. McLean was Australia in December 1886 when he played a match for Geelong Cricket Club and then in India at the start of 1887, but returned in time to take part in his fifth boat race. During the race McLean's oar broke. Oxford were behind at Barnes Railway Bridge, but Cambridge moved into rougher water too far over to the Surrey bank and Oxford were expecting to push through when the disaster struck. Guy Nickalls, then in his first Boat Race, recorded "Then, 'Ducker' McLean broke his oar off short at the button. With the station in our favour and him out of the boat we could have won even then, but 'Ducker' funked the oncoming penny steamers and, instead of jumping overboard as he should have done, we had to lug his now useless body along, to lose the finish." At Henley the McLeans were again runners up in Silver Goblets to Muttlebury and Charles Theodore Barclay.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edmond Warre</span>

Edmond Warre was an English rower and Head Master of Eton College from 1884 to 1905.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vivian Nickalls</span>

Vivian Nickalls (1871–1947) was a British rower who won the Wingfield Sculls three times and the Diamond Challenge Sculls at Henley Royal Regatta in 1891.

Felix Walter Warre, OBE, MC (1879–1953) was an English rower who won the Silver Goblets at Henley Royal Regatta.

Humphrey Blake Playford was an English rower distinguished by rowing in three successful races against Oxford University and rowing Head of the River for Jesus College, Cambridge in the same three years.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Trinity College Boat Club</span>

Trinity College Boat Club (TCBC) is the rowing club of Trinity College, Oxford in Oxford, United Kingdom. The club's members are students and staff from Trinity College and, occasionally, associate members from other colleges.


  1. Lionel Henry Cust (1912). "Hornby, James John"  . Dictionary of National Biography (2nd supplement). London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 The Times James John Hornby, Obituary 3 November 1909
  3. Wisden Obituaries in 1909
  4. 1 2 The Rowers of Vanity Fair J J Hornby
  5. Dumler, Helmut and Willi P. Burkhardt, The High Mountains of the Alps, London: Diadem, 1994
  6. G Nickalls Life's a pudding
Academic offices
Preceded by Head Master of Eton College
Succeeded by
Preceded by Provost of Eton
Succeeded by