William Sewell (author)

Last updated

William Henry Sewell (23 January 1804 14 November 1874), English divine and author, helped to found two public schools along high church Anglican lines. A devout churchman, learned scholar and reforming schoolmaster, he was strongly influenced by the Tractarians.

Contents

Early life

Born at Newport, Isle of Wight, the second son of a solicitor and Fellow of The Queen's College, Oxford, he had six brothers, four of whom became national figures. Richard Clarke Sewell was a recognised poet, legal writer and Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford. Henry Sewell worked in the family firm before emigrating to become Premier of New Zealand. James Edwards Sewell was Warden of New College, Oxford (1860–1903). Elizabeth Missing Sewell wrote devotional religious books and children's stories. She founded Ventnor St Boniface School for girls.

Sewell was educated at Winchester, which he disliked as he was bullied. He went up to Merton College, Oxford, where he gained a postmastership and a first in Literae Humaniores. He was elected a Petreian Fellow of Exeter College in 1827, and then won both the Chancellor's English Essay Prize and the Chancellor's Latin Essay Prize. He was only 26 when he was ordained. From 1831 to 1853 he was a tutor at Exeter College, an Examiner in Greats, Librarian to the college, Sub-Rector, and by 1839 also Dean.

Tractarians

In 1835 Sewell applied for the Headmastership of Winchester, but was defeated by Dr Moberley by one vote. From 1836 to 1841 he was White's Professor of Moral Philosophy. Sewell, having taken holy orders in 1830, became a friend of Pusey, Newman, Keble and R. H. Froude in the earlier days of the Tractarian movement, but subsequently found that the Tractarians leant too much towards Rome and dissociated himself from them. The plot of his novel Hawkstone opposed to Newman's position at the time. When, however, in 1849, JA Froude published his Nemesis of Faith , Sewell denounced the wickedness of the book to his class, and when a pupil of his confessed to possessing a copy, he seized it, tore it to pieces and threw it in the fire. [1]

Sewell was a prolific writer of sermons, commentaries, poetry and translations. His many correspondents included William Gladstone. He contributed to the political Quarterly Review on various subjects. Sewell was supremely confident, had a winning manner, but lacked the droll humour of the cloistered academics. [2]

St Columba's

In April 1843, Sewell and his friends Monsell and Todd founded at Stackallan House, County Meath, St Columba's College, designed to be a sort of Irish Winchester and Eton "and something more than Winchester or Eton." It was set in beautiful countryside. In 1861 the Clarendon Commission defined it as a public school, but Sewell's aim was to provide an Anglican education for the ailing Church in Ireland, with emphasis on pastoral care and rigorous classical disciplines. The school was supported by the nobility and church. From Lord Boyne Singleton and Sewell rented the land with conspicuous approval from the Archbishop of Armagh, Lord George de la Poer Beresford, the college's Governor. Sewell hoped to inspire boys in locis parentis, giving them cubicles to live in and "strengthen, enlarge and purify their minds." [3] With the classics they were to teach modern languages, modern history and mathematics, drawing, architecture and the Irish language.

Sewell was disliked at St Columba's. Despite his trips to raise much-needed funds, his college showed bad faith towards a financial supporter who brought it much furniture and silver. [4] His connections at Oxford, particularly Magdalen College, were useful. Another substantial Sewell contribution was a large library collection. His colleagues wanted a more relaxed Irish Gaelic school, whereas he was known to have punished boys for failing to show table manners befitting young gentlemen. Cold showers and hard beatings were necessary, but Sewell believed the most dreaded exclusion to be from chapel. Emphasis on regular attendance at Evensong and Matins was central to his scholastic vision of a High Church interpretation of the Book of Common Prayer. While he also gained a reputation for high standards of cleanliness and medical health. Singleton agreed with Sewell that there must be fasting and feast days, but this offended Irish Protestant sensibilities. The Fellows Lord Adare and William Monsell converted to Roman Catholicism. In May 1846 he resigned with Warden Singleton to return to Oxford and Exeter College, having been outvoted by the Fellows of St Columba's.

Singleton met in Turl Street to discuss the opening of another college. On 9 June 1847, he helped to found Radley College, installing Singleton as Warden. Sewell's intention was that this school too should be conducted on strict High Church principles. [1]

Sewell was originally himself one of the managers of St Columba's, and later the third Warden of Radley, but his business management was unsuccessful in both cases, and his personal responsibility for the debts contracted by Radley caused the sequestration of his Oxford fellowship. In 1862 his financial difficulties compelled him to leave England for Germany, where he remained until 1870. [1]

Publications

Related Research Articles

John Henry Newman English cleric and cardinal (1801–1890), originally Anglican and later Roman Catholic

John Henry Newman was an English theologian, scholar and poet, first an Anglican priest and later a Catholic priest and cardinal, who was an important and controversial figure in the religious history of England in the 19th century. He was known nationally by the mid-1830s, and was canonised as a saint in the Catholic Church in 2019.

John Keble English Anglican priest and poet (1792–1866)

John Keble (1792–1866) was an English Anglican priest and poet who was one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement. Keble College, Oxford, was named after him.

Henry Liddon

Henry Parry Liddon (1829–1890), also known as H. P. Liddon, was an English theologian. From 1870 to 1882, he was Dean Ireland's Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture at the University of Oxford.

Oxford Movement 19th-century English religious movement

The Oxford Movement was a movement of high church members of the Church of England which eventually developed into Anglo-Catholicism. The movement, whose original devotees were mostly associated with the University of Oxford, argued for the reinstatement of some older Christian traditions of faith and their inclusion into Anglican liturgy and theology. They thought of Anglicanism as one of three branches of the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic" Christian church. By the 1840s many participants decided that the Anglican Church lacked grace, and converted to Roman Catholicism.

Charles Gore

Charles Gore was a Church of England bishop, first of Worcester, then Birmingham, and finally of Oxford. He was one of the most influential Anglican theologians of the 19th century, helping reconcile the church to some aspects of biblical criticism and scientific discovery, while remaining Catholic in his interpretation of the faith and sacraments. Also known for his social action, Gore became an Anglican bishop and founded the monastic Community of the Resurrection as well as co-founded the Christian Social Union. He was the chaplain to Queen Victoria and King Edward VII.

Richard William Jelf

Richard William Jelf was the fourth Principal of King's College, London.

William Lockhart (priest)

William Lockhart was an English Roman Catholic priest; the first of the Tractarian Movement to convert from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism.

St Columbas College, Dublin Private secondary school in Whitechurch, Dublin, Ireland

St Columba's College is a co-educational independent day and boarding school founded in 1843 located in Whitechurch, County Dublin, Ireland. Among the founders of the college were Viscount Adare, William Monsell, Dr William Sewell and James Henthorn Todd.

Robert Wilson (priest, born 1840)

Robert James Wilson was an English Anglican priest and academic, who was Warden of Keble College, Oxford, from 1889 until his death.

Philip Shuttleworth

Philip Nicholas Shuttleworth was an English churchman and academic, Warden of New College, Oxford, from 1822 and Bishop of Chichester.

Edward Hawkins was an English churchman and academic, a long-serving Provost of Oriel College, Oxford known as a committed opponent of the Oxford Movement from its beginnings in his college.

Samuel Harvey Reynolds was the first pupil of Radley College and later became a renowned divine, journalist, and man of letters.

William Tuckwell

William Tuckwell (1829–1919), who liked to be known as the "radical parson", was an English Anglican clergyman well known on political platforms for his experiments in allotments, his advocacy of land nationalisation, and his enthusiasm for Christian socialism. He was an advocate of teaching science in the schools.

The Tracts for the Times were a series of 90 theological publications, varying in length from a few pages to book-length, produced by members of the English Oxford Movement, an Anglo-Catholic revival group, from 1833 to 1841. There were about a dozen authors, including Oxford Movement leaders John Keble, John Henry Newman and Edward Bouverie Pusey, with Newman taking the initiative in the series, and making the largest contribution. With the wide distribution associated with the tract form, and a price in pennies, the Tracts succeeded in drawing attention to the views of the Oxford Movement on points of doctrine, but also to its overall approach, to the extent that Tractarian became a synonym for supporter of the movement.

Edwin George Monk, English church organist and composer, who was Organist and Master of Choristers at York Minster for a quarter of a century, and was previously associated with St Columba's and Radley Colleges. He was born on 13 December 1819 at Frome, Somerset, and died on 3 January 1900 at Radley, near Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

Robert Corbet Singleton was Warden of St. Columba’s College, Dublin, subsequently First Warden of St. Peter’s College, Radley, and a noted writer and translator of hymns. He was born on 9 October 1810 in Ireland and died on 7 February 1881 in York, England.

Godfrey Faussett (c.1781–1853) was an English clergyman and academic, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford from 1827. He was known as a controversialist. As a churchman he exemplified the high-and-dry tradition.

George Williams (1814–1878) was an English cleric, academic and antiquary.

Richard Cowley Powles

Richard Cowley Powles (1819–1901), known often as Cowley Powles, was an English cleric, academic and founding headmaster of Wixenford School.

George Rundle Prynne

George Rundle Prynne (1818–1903) was a British Anglo-Catholic cleric in south-west England, known for his Tractarian and ritualist views. He is also notable as a hymn-writer: his "Jesu(s), Meek and Gentle" ranked with "Jesus Loves Me" and "Near the Cross" for American Protestants in the later 19th century".

References

  1. 1 2 3 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Sewell, William". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 24 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 735.
  2. Tuckwell, Oxford Reminiscences.
  3. Sewell, "Reminiscences".
  4. G. K. White, A History of St Columba's, p. 27.