Thomas Rowley (headmaster)

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Portrait of Thomas Rowley Thomas Rowley sr.jpg
Portrait of Thomas Rowley

Dr Thomas Rowley (24 August 1796 – 11 November 1877) was a successful headmaster of Bridgnorth Grammar School between 1821 and 1850. He was a member of the Canterbury Association, was Dean-designate for the yet to be built ChristChurch Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand, but he never emigrated.

Bridgnorth Endowed School is a coeducational secondary school and sixth form with academy status, located in the market town of Bridgnorth in the rural county of Shropshire, England. Founded in 1503, The Endowed School is a state school and is a specialist Technology College. The age range of the school is 11–18 years. It was previously known as the Bridgnorth Grammar School, and the school celebrated the 500th anniversary of its foundation in 2003. Former pupils include Professor Peter Bullock, the inspirational soil scientist who was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Canterbury Association

The Canterbury Association was formed in order to establish a colony in what is now the Canterbury Region in the South Island of New Zealand.

Christchurch City in South Island, New Zealand

Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand and the seat of the Canterbury Region. The Christchurch urban area lies on the South Island's east coast, just north of Banks Peninsula. It is home to 404,500 residents, making it New Zealand's third-most populous city behind Auckland and Wellington. The Avon River flows through the centre of the city, with an urban park located along its banks.


Early life

Thomas Rowley was born in Middleton Scriven in Shropshire in 1796. His parents were the Rev. Richard Rowley (d. 1812) and Mary Rowley. He was educated at Shrewsbury and at Christ Church, Oxford, from where he obtained a BA (1819), BD and DD (1839). [1] [2]

Middleton Scriven Village in Shropshire, England

Middleton Scriven is a village and civil parish 20 miles (32 km) south east of Shrewsbury, in the Shropshire district, in the county of Shropshire, England. In 2011 the parish had a population of 143. In 2011 Nomis recorded a population of 146. The parish touches Stottesdon, Sidbury, Deuxhill and Chetton.

Christ Church, Oxford Constituent college of the University of Oxford in England

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University of Oxford university in Oxford, United Kingdom

The University of Oxford is a collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's second-oldest university in continuous operation after the University of Bologna. It grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled north-east to Cambridge where they established what became the University of Cambridge. The two 'ancient universities' are frequently jointly called 'Oxbridge'. The history and influence of the University of Oxford has made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

Bridgnorth Grammar School

Bridgnorth Grammar School - The Headmaster's House Bridgnorth Grammar School - Headmasters House.JPG
Bridgnorth Grammar School – The Headmaster's House

In 1821, when Rowley was twenty-four years old, he was appointed Headmaster of Bridgnorth Grammar School in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, on the recommendation of the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford. Under Dr Rowley's leadership Bridgnorth Grammar School's reputation increased. Dr Rowley's success as a teacher of the Classics soon attracted boarders (housed in the Headmaster's House in St Leonard's Close) from far and near. His pupils included not only Bridgnorth boys, but also those from further afield. The numbers rose to about 150. In 1841 Dr Rowley was attacked by some members of the Town Council who complained of the treatment of the day-boys by the boarders and of the Bridgnorth Grammar School's concentration on the Classics; but the Bridgnorth Borough Treasurer wrote in Rowley's defence that the day-boys can hardly not have benefited from the specialist teachers whom Rowley was able to engage.

Distinguished former pupils of Dr Rowley included Bishop James Fraser, the reforming Bishop of Manchester, [3] Lord Lingen, the influential civil servant,[ citation needed ] Henry John Roby, the classical scholar, writer on Roman law and Member of Parliament, [4] Rev. Robert William Eyton, Rector of Ryton and author of The Antiquities of Shropshire. [5] and Rev. Osborne Gordon, the influential Oxford don. [6]

James Fraser (bishop) Anglican Bishop of Manchester

James Fraser was a reforming Anglican bishop of Manchester, England. An able Church administrator and policy leader, he was active in developing the Church's approach to education and in practical politics and industrial relations. Though his views were ecumenical and he was respected within a wide variety of religions, against his own instincts he allowed himself to become involved in some unpleasant litigation under the Public Worship Regulation Act 1874.

Ralph Lingen, 1st Baron Lingen British civil servant

Ralph Robert Wheeler Lingen, 1st Baron Lingen was an English civil servant.

Dr Rowley's successors after 1850 had not his ability, and accordingly the School's numbers and reputation, and their own emoluments, declined. [7] The East Window of the St Leonard's Church in Bridgnorth was replaced in memory of Dr Rowley. Rowley House (red), one of the Bridgnorth Endowed School's three houses, is named after Dr Rowley.

St Leonards Church, Bridgnorth Church in Shropshire, England

St Leonard's Church is a redundant Anglican church in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, England. It is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II* listed building, and is under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.

Later life

Rowley joined the Canterbury Association on 10 April 1851 as a committee member. He purchased land from the association in Canterbury, New Zealand. He was assigned land at Barrys Bay at the head of Akaroa Harbour (technically, his son Thomas bought this land, but it is believed that Rowley Sr paid for it) and at Middleton in Christchurch. He was chosen as the Dean-designate for the yet to be built ChristChurch Cathedral, but he never came out to the colony. [8] His appointment upset Bishop Selwyn, and the proposed cathedral chapter was dropped again until the cathedral was built. [1]

Akaroa Harbour harbor in New Zealand

Akaroa Harbour is part of Banks Peninsula in the Canterbury Region of New Zealand.

George Selwyn (bishop of Lichfield) English clergyman

George Augustus Selwyn was the first Anglican Bishop of New Zealand. He was Bishop of New Zealand from 1841 to 1869. His diocese was then subdivided and Selwyn was Metropolitan of New Zealand from 1858 to 1868. Returning to Britain, Selwyn served as Bishop of Lichfield from 1868 to 1878.


Rowley's sons John Cotton Rowley and Thomas Rowley emigrated to New Zealand. [2] Thomas, who emigrated in 1853, became a Member of Parliament, [9] but returned to live in Guernsey. John remained in New Zealand. [2]

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  1. 1 2 Blain, Rev. Michael (2007). The Canterbury Association (1848–1852): A Study of Its Members' Connections (PDF). Christchurch: Project Canterbury. pp. 71–72. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 "Rowley Coat-of-Arms (Caithness Heraldry)". Rowley Muster. Retrieved 16 May 2011.[ permanent dead link ]
  3. "JAMES FRASER (1818–1885) – Online Information article about JAMES FRASER (1818–1885)". Retrieved 6 October 2012.
  4. "Henry John Roby facts". Freebase. 20 August 2008. Archived from the original on 8 August 2010. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
  5. "Reverend Robert William Eyton". The Peerage. Lundy Consulting Ltd. 18 April 2006. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
  6. "Osborne Gordon : a memoir with a selection of his writings". Retrieved 6 October 2012.
  7. J. F. A. Mason, The Borough of Bridgnorth 1157–1957 (Bridgnorth, 1957), 38
  8. "The Architectural Heritage of Christchurch : 5. Government Buildings" (PDF). Christchurch City Council : Town Planning Division. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  9. Scholefield, Guy (1950) [1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer. p. 136.