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‘A Cloud of Witnesses’: Tractarians and Tractarian Ventures

Abstract and Keywords

The leaders of the Oxford Movement were supported by a cast of friends and disciples who made important contributions to the ideas and initiatives associated with the Movement. Most of them, until recently, have been given little attention by historians. However, recent studies of these personalities and their active involvement in Tractarian ventures have offered a more complete and complex perspective of the range of the Movement’s programmes and activities. Among those activities, of particular relevance was the work of the London Tractarians in the field of education, where they played a vital role in the extraordinary development of the National Society for the Education of the Poor in the late 1830s and 1840s.

Keywords: British Critic, Charles Marriot, Isaac Williams, Lyra Apostolica, National Society for the Education of the Poor, Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology, Library of the Fathers, London Tractarians, Samuel Francis Wood

Newman’s last sermon in the Anglican Church had the poignant title: ‘The parting of Friends’. It was an appropriate title. The Tractarians, particularly the first generation, did not only share a set of ideas and ideals, they were also bound by deep bonds of friendship. The genesis of the Movement and its intellectual vision had made it so. Newman’s sermon ‘Personal influence as the means of communicating truth’ described well the initial force that had brought them together and that had forged them into a band of friends. Keble’s personality had given the initial stimulus to a form of relationship between teacher and pupil that was to blur the formality which had usually characterized it, setting a tone of personal interest and familiarity between tutor and students which Newman, Hurrell Froude, and Robert Wilberforce, as Oriel tutors, tried to institutionalize.

The three tutors not only introduced a new approach in the relationship between tutor and students; they gave a new scope to the collegiate tutorial system. They conceived that the main aim of university education was the formation of that moral temper or ethos which would enable the person to think well and, as a result, to acquire right knowledge. The educational process could not therefore be separated from moral and religious formation. The tutors followed carefully their students’ individual progress, as Newman’s memorandum books in the Birmingham Oratory clearly show, and maintained a close and friendly relationship with the most promising of them. Those friendships, reinforced by intellectual affinity and shared religious convictions, were to endure beyond their university years.

The Oriel tutors were also preparing men who could stand by the Church in the moment of crisis which they saw fast approaching. In this they were particularly successful. The list of the Oriel tutors’ students, before their supply was stopped by Hawkins, includes many who were later to be active in Tractarian undertakings: Henry Wilberforce, Thomas Mozley, Samuel Francis Wood, Frederic Rogers, Sir George Prevost, George Dudley Ryder, Charles Page Eden (Tract 32), Robert Francis Wilson, (p. 112) John Frederic Christie, Mark Pattison, and others. Like-minded members of other colleges were also to join this group: Isaac Williams, from Trinity; his friend, William John Copeland, from the same college; and Richard W. Church from Wadham, the future historian of the Movement.

Newman and his fellow tutors not only had definite ideas about the education of their students, they also held that the collegiate system was in need of reform or rather restoration. At a time when government-inspired liberal reformers were seeking to modernize Oxford’s college statutes, Newman advocated a return to the spirit of Oriel’s fourteenth-century founder, Adam de Brome, with the provost and Fellows living together in spiritual brotherhood, sharing a common table, and all devoted to a life of study in the service of God. Oriel was their initial battlefield but their plan of campaign envisaged a general reform movement in the university, starting with their own college. Newman, Froude, and to a lesser extent Robert Wilberforce, tried to reinforce their position at Oriel and in the university by the appointment to fellowships of men who had been formed under them and shared their views. Mark Pattison later maintained that for about ten years, from 1830, elections to Oriel fellowships were protracted struggles between Newman endeavouring to fill the college with like-minded men and the provost, ‘endeavouring, upon no principle, merely to resist Newman’s lead’ (Pattison 1969: 99). Pattison felt that this led to some inferior elections, but he laid the blame for the worst elections on ‘the Provost’s party’.

Newman’s letters at that time are full of expectant references to Oriel fellowship elections. John Frederick Christie and Thomas Mozley who graduated BA in 1828, became fellows of Oriel in 1829; Frederic Rogers and Charles Marriott were elected to fellowships in 1833. Samuel Francis Wood, however, was beaten to one by Eden in 1832, on account of having prospects in life which were denied to the latter. Richard William Church, who had matriculated from Wadham College in 1833, was elected for an open fellowship at Oriel in 1838, becoming a tutor in 1839. He had been introduced to Newman earlier in 1835 and from 1838 he was one of his closest allies and confidants, resigning his tutorship in June 1841 as a gesture of solidarity with Newman. He was junior proctor in 1844, when the Tractarian crisis came to a head, and vetoed the proposal to censure Newman’s Tract 90, supported by his fellow proctor Guillemard of Trinity. Albany Christie, son of the auctioneer, was elected a Fellow in 1840, having been recommended by Blanco White, a friend of his father. Tractarians were also elected to fellowships of other colleges. Both Isaac Williams and Copeland were elected to Trinity College fellowships in 1832. There, Copeland would fill many college posts, while being involved in pastoral work within some of the Oxford parishes and helping Newman at St Mary’s. Charles R. Bloxam, who in the early 1840 was to correspond with Ambrose Phillips de Lisle about reunion, was elected a probationer Fellow of Magdalen in 1836, where he promoted the traditions of the college. James Mozley became a Fellow of the same college in 1840. Two Balliol College Fellows—Frederick Oakeley (1827) and William George Ward (1834)—were to declare their commitment to Tractarian ideas in the late 1830s. This latter pair had no part in the early years of the Oxford Movement but were to have a determining influence in the events that led to its breaking up.

(p. 113) The dismantling of Hooker’s ideal of a confessional state, started with Catholic Emancipation (1829) and continued by the interference of both Whigs and Tories in the affairs of the Church, marked a watershed in Church–state relations. Keble’s apostasy sermon of 1833 was a clarion call to rally in her defence. Newman expressed this new sense of mission in his poem ‘Lead, Kindly Light’, when, contemplating the growing intellectual and political ‘encircling gloom’, he set off on his journey back to England. By then there was a closely knit group of like-minded individuals in positions of influence—in the university, in politics, and in the professions—ready to support or set in motion different initiatives to promote the role of the Church on English society.

The printing-press had been the organ for mass diffusion of Reformation ideas; the Tractarians would use it now to spread Catholic ones. They poured on the reading public a continuous stream of publications. As Newman was to recall many years afterwards, in his Postscript to the 1879 edition of the Lyra, there was initially a three-pronged effort to recommend or recall to their readers important and neglected Christian truths: the Tracts for the Times, the Lyra Apostolica, and the Church of the Fathers. The last two were published in monthly instalments in the British Magazine. According to Newman, the Tracts took the theological and controversial side of Christianity, the Lyra the ethical, and the Church of the Fathers the historical (Newman 1879: vi–vii). It might, however, be questioned whether this neat distribution of functions among the different publications had been totally conscious at their inception or was the product of a later rationalization. To these publications should be added the first volume of Newman’s sermons which appeared in 1834. According to Wood, its aim was the ‘production of a certain moral temper—a temper, for the most part, in strong contrast with the prevalent one of the day’ (Pereiro 2008: 256).

Few of the younger Oriel Fellows contributed to the Tracts for the Times. Only two seem to have done so, Robert Wilson, who wrote Tract 51 on Dissent, and Eden, who authored Tract 32. The most prolific contributors, after Newman (about 30), were John Keble (8), Pusey (7), Samuel Bowden (5), and Thomas Keble (4). Froude contributed three Tracts, perhaps four. Isaac Williams published only three tracts in the series, but his two tracts on Reserve in Communicating Religious Knowledge were to have a considerable impact. Pusey thought them the most important of the series. Benjamin Harrison, who contributed four tracts, was Christ Church student from 1828 and Pusey’s assistant as Hebrew lecturer. Harrison was appointed in 1838 examining chaplain to Archbishop Howley, although the archbishop was initially somewhat wary about his Oxford Movement credentials. The Tractarians, particularly Pusey, hailed his appointment as a breakthrough into areas of higher influence. These expectations were soon disappointed, as Harrison distanced himself progressively from the Tractarians and moved in the direction of a more traditional High Churchmanship. The Tracts ceased publication in 1841, after the crisis of Tract 90.

The success of Keble’s Christian Year (1827) in fostering a renewal of Christian spirituality inspired the publication of the Lyra Apostolica, published in volume form in 1836. Keble considered that religion and poetry were closely related. He described poetry’s mission as ‘the awakening of some moral or religious feeling, not by direct instruction (p. 114) (that is the office of morality or theology)’, but by a process of imaginative associations (Keble 1814: 579). In this respect, the Tractarians acknowledged the influence that the Romantic poets had had on the renewal of contemporary religious sensibility. The Lyra was again the work only of a few among those associated with the Movement. It included pieces by Keble, Froude, Newman, Isaac Williams, a major contributor this time, plus a few by Samuel Bowden and Robert Wilberforce. Although most of those around the nucleus of the Movement did not contribute to the Tracts and the Lyra, or did so in a very minor way, most of them would be active in the distribution of the Tracts among the clergy and their acquaintances, encouraged by frequent letters from Newman. It is difficult to estimate the effect these publications had in disseminating the Movement’s ideas but they sowed them far and wide across the country.

The year 1836 marked the opening of new channels for Tractarian intellectual influence. The Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, anterior to the Division f East and West, to give it its full title, was conceived by Pusey and Newman in 1836, as a means of spreading Catholic theology. The Fathers witnessed to Vincent of Lerins’s rule of faith: what has been believed always, everywhere, and by all defines the faith of the Church. The Tractarians thought that the Church of England had lost much Catholic doctrine in the foregoing three hundred years by its neglect of the Fathers. The Prospectus of the Library mentioned that it was necessary to make recourse to them in order to bring to mind the teaching of the Primitive Church, the professed guide of Anglicanism in faith and practice. It was not possible to claim continuity with antiquity and, at the same time, be ignorant of its representative writers. Besides, the knowledge of Christian antiquity was necessary to understand and maintain orthodox doctrine and resist heretical error.

To their surprise, the Archbishop of Canterbury agreed to be the Library’s patron, and even some Evangelicals, like Bickersteth, supported the project. The first volume, St Augustine’s Confessions, saw the light in 1838. Some twenty volumes appeared before 1845. The Library of the Fathers counted among its contributors some High Churchmen and a good number of those associated with the Movement: Church, Copeland, Prevost, Hubert Kester Cornish, R. G. Macmullen (of St Saviour’s fame), Charles Marriott, and others. Some of the contributors, for different reasons, did so anonymously: J. D. Dalgairns, Samuel Francis Wood, and Mark Pattison among them. From 1841 onwards, Marriott took up the editorship of the Library of the Fathers, together with Pusey and Keble, although it was Marriott who undertook most of the work, preparing many of the prefaces to the published works, checking the translations and even doing the index to the different volumes. The last volume—St Cyril’s commentary on the gospel of St John—was published in 1885. By then, the appeal to the Fathers—to their doctrine and ethos—had lost the prescriptive character that it had for the early Tractarians, as expressed in the preface to Froude’s Remains: ‘Ancient Consent binds the person admitting it alike to all the doctrines, interpretations, and usages, for which it can be truly alleged’ (Froude 1839: I.xiii). Patristic learning tended now progressively to view the Fathers’ writings as mere historical records, with little bearing on the present.

(p. 115) In 1838 Pusey had taken a house in St Aldate’s to lodge there some young scholars without college fellowships, in order to avoid their giving up their academic careers. The plan was for them to help with some Tractarian initiatives, like the Library of the Fathers, while waiting for college fellowships to become available. James Mozley, who had failed in his attempt to gain one because of the reluctance of Oriel College to have two brothers as Fellows, was to be in charge of the house. He was joined by Albany Christie, Charles Seagar, and Mark Pattison, who cooperated with Newman on the edition of Thomas Aquinas’s Catena Aurea. The House of Writers, as they called it, did not operate for long. Pattison left it in late 1839, just in time to present himself for the Yorkshire fellowship at Lincoln College without the negative public association with the Tractarians; Christie was elected to an Oriel fellowship the following year; and James Mozley, who was its only resident from November 1839, obtained a Lincolnshire fellowship at Magdalene in July 1840.

Also in 1836, the Tractarians started collaborating with the British Critic. This time the younger Tractarians were to take their full share in the publication of the review, especially after Newman took over the editorship in 1838. Wood, Copeland, Rogers, Marriott, Henry Wilberforce, Thomas and James Mozley, and a number of others, were among its contributors. Thomas Mozley soon became the most prolific of them all, publishing no less than fifteen articles over the next three years. He was, therefore, an obvious choice as editor when Newman resigned the editorship after the April 1841 issue. After his appointment as editor, Thomas Mozley continued providing the largest number of contributions to the British Critic. The other more regular contributors were his brother James, Frederick Oakeley, and William George Ward. Newman soon felt concerned about the direction of the review. The first issue of Mozley’s editorship carried Oakeley’s blistering attack on Bishop Jewell and the Reformation, together with an article by Thomas Mozley himself against Henry Godfrey Faussett, the Lady Margaret Professor. Ward’s articles about the Tractarian theory of religious knowledge and development, in spite of their prodigious length and dense prose, soon attracted considerable attention and many of the British Critic readers looked forward to them as the main source of interest in each issue. Newman—in his University Sermons—recommended those of 1841–2 as giving an idea of the Tractarian theory on the subject.

High Churchmen, however, would soon become seriously alarmed by Ward’s and Oakeley’s articles, in which the Reformation was denigrated and Roman doctrine and practice set as a model for the reform of the Anglican Church. Thomas Mozley later confessed in his Reminiscences that, because of temperament and pressure of time, he had been unable to keep a close oversight over the review and control his two ‘run-away horses’. Still, he did not use this fact to exculpate himself from responsibility in the content of what was being published, confessing that he was inclined to go along with the ideas expressed in Ward’s and Oakeley’s articles (Mozley 1882: II.225–54, 393). Mozley’s own temporary Roman doubts and episcopal disapproval led him to resign the editorship. His resignation and the considerable High Church pressure exerted on Rivington led to the termination of the British Critic’s publication in 1843. A second Tractarian publishing venture ended under a cloud.

(p. 116) James Mozley, aware for some time of Newman’s doubts about the Anglican Church, had started in the early 1840s to take an independent line. In 1844 he brought out, with William Scott as joint editor, the Christian Remembrancer, where he was to publish his long critical analysis of Newman’s Development of Christian Doctrine. From then on, he started to move theologically towards a Latitudinarian stance on some dearly held Tractarian doctrines like baptismal regeneration. James Mozley, with Frederick Rogers and Richard Church, was also involved in the foundation of the moderately Tractarian Guardian. Both, the Christian Remembrancer and the Guardian, aimed at offering an intellectual secure harbour to those Oxford Movement sympathizers buffeted by its crisis in the 1840s.

Another Tractarian literary project was the Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology. The idea of the Library had been mooted in 1839, urged by some traditional High Churchmen wishing to stress their Anglican credentials and those of the ideas put forward by the Tractarians. It was intended as High Church ballast to the Movement. The committee overseeing the Library was made up of traditional High Church representatives, heavily outnumbering the few Tractarians included in it. Newman, Keble, and even Pusey were to approach the project in a rather lukewarm way. They preferred not see in print some of the authors suggested for publication in the original list, thinking that it would be necessary to add explanations to the ambiguous expressions in some of their works. The Tracts had used Catenae of texts from Anglican divines in support of Catholic ideas but they had used them rather selectively. Copeland, who was well regarded by traditional High Churchmen, was appointed superintending editor of the Library. After his ordination in 1829, he had moved to Hackney, where he came into contact with the Hackney Phalanx and, under their influence, became acquainted with the Anglican divines of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He was to be the reluctant factotum of the project from 1840 to 1843.

The first volume of the Library was published in 1841. The Library represented a serious trial for Copeland, who on becoming better acquainted with their works, found that they did not go far enough for him in Catholicity. The Tractarians had delved deep into Catholic antiquity in the intervening years and moved far beyond the standard High Church divines. Besides, the treatises suggested for publication also contained objectionable passages. Copeland was loath to bring them to light and he considered giving up the editorship. Still, on reflection, he thought that the good in them far outweighed the evil. The fear that the Parker Society would inundate the market with pure and undiluted Protestantism led the Tractarians to continue supporting the project. Isaac Williams and Copeland, also in 1839, started the publication of the series of Plain Sermons by Contributors to the Tracts for the Times. Like the Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology, the sermons aimed at presenting a more moderate image of the Oxford Movement, after the furore created by the publication of Froude’s Remains. Ten volumes appeared from 1839 to 1848. These, however, did not manage to change the general perception of the movement or to slow down the progression of many Tractarians towards Rome.

Tractarian activity soon expanded beyond Oxford after 1833. By then, some of Newman’s friends and disciples had already moved to London for professional reasons; (p. 117) his close friend Samuel Bowden, who had become Commissioner of Stamps and Taxes, was one of the first. Samuel F. Wood had also left the university for London to study for the Bar, as had done Frederick Rogers and Thomas Dyke Acland. They, however, continued in contact with Oxford and got involved from the first in Tractarian undertakings. Newman, who had been encouraged by some High Churchmen to exert Tractarian influence in London, was soon interested in extending the activity of the Movement there. In April 1836, in a letter to Acland, he expressed his conviction that there was a harvest to be reaped in London, ‘if anyone would set himself to the work’ (LDN V.290). Wood, Rogers, Bowden, and Acland heard the call and set their hands to the plough without delay. Rogers, on 2 July 1836, reported to Newman: ‘Wood is most sanguine, and eager to know everyone who holds prospects of being bettered’ (Rogers 1896: 30). The first obvious targets were their Oxford friends and acquaintances. James Hope, later Hope-Scott, was approached earlier in the campaign. Hope soon made his own the ideas put forward by the Oxford divines and, in his turn, introduced Gladstone and Roundell Palmer to them. The group was growing. Newman encouraged them to counteract the influence of the Evangelicals and to break the ‘stranglehold’ that the ‘Peculiars’ had gained in London, and in many Church societies. Their early aims seem to have included the setting up of a more Catholic paper, which they failed to do; the reform of the SPCK, almost paralyzed by Evangelical pressure; and reform of the Pastoral Aid Society, founded to provide resources and personnel to churches, which, according to them, had fallen under Evangelical control.

The efforts and dynamism of the new men soon came to the attention of an older generation of High Churchmen, who before long looked for the support of the young Tractarians in their battle against Evangelical inroads into Church societies. The failure of previous High Church efforts to free the Pastoral Aid Society from the stranglehold the Evangelicals had on it spurred some of them, led by Joshua Watson, to set up in 1837 the Additional Curates Society. Wood, Acland, Gladstone, and Bowden were appointed, as lay members to its Committee. ‘This shows’, Newman confidently wrote to Manning on 30 January 1838, ‘how the current is setting’ (LDN VI.195).

The contemporary debate about creating a national system of general education—as had been done in Prussia, Holland, and, more recently, in France—opened a new front for the operation of the London Tractarians. Convinced of the role of the Church as educator of the people, they wanted to steal a march on the government by setting up a national system of public instruction—from infant schools to universities—inspired by Church principles and under the supervision of its ministers. Gilbert Farquhar Graeme Mathison, Secretary of the Mint, was the prime mover of the plans to establish it. His interest in education had already led him to set up a school at the Mint. In 1836, attracted by the spirit then stirring at Oxford, Mathison had got in contact with Newman and, through him, with Samuel Francis Wood. The National Society for the Education of the Poor, promoted by High Churchmen, had done good work since its foundation in 1811 but school expansion had lost its initial momentum, the running of the Society’s business had fallen into a complacent routine, and those who ran it had been drawn into a false sense of security by the granting of state subsidies since 1833. However, as Acland (p. 118) told Pusey on 2 April 1838, Mathison and his friends thought that, in spite of the parlous condition of the National Society, the way forward was to re-energize and develop it rather than creating a new society (LBV: 38). Their intention was to make state intervention unnecessary by creating a system of public instruction—from infant schools to university—essentially and intricately connected with the principles and ministers of the Church. They formed a committee for this purpose which would originally incorporate men of different ecclesiastical persuasions, including the Evangelical Lord Ashley. Their approach to the National Society, conveying their plans, was successful and some of them were to be incorporated into the governing bodies of the Society—Wood and Acland taking the initiative, after Mathison’s mental breakdown.

The years 1838–9 were a time of incessant activity for this small group, especially for Wood, on whom—through Joshua Watson’s recommendation—would fall much of the business of the National Society. The expansion of the Church’s system of education in those years was remarkable, in spite of efforts on the part of the Whig government to control its extension. Acland and Gladstone, who were already MPs—with James Hope, as parliamentary lawyer, and Wood’s support—would also be active in the defence in Parliament of the Church’s interests, as they saw them. In this they were not always in full sympathy with some of the bishops, Bishop Blomfield in particular. Wood’s work in the law and his involvement in diverse Tractarian and High Church initiatives did not prevent him from making significant contributions to the Movement’s theology. He was the first, among the Tractarians, to put forward a coherent theory of doctrinal development and also explored the doctrine of justification. Theology remained his first love. He died of overwork in 1843.

The year 1838 was an annus mirabilis for the Tractarians. They had published the first volume of the Library of the Fathers, had taken over the running of the British Critic, and become deeply involved in the running of the National Society. Besides, in that same year, a new field of operation was opened where they could exercise their influence: the creation of the first theological college in England for the formation of the clergy. Chichester Theological College was the fruit of Bishop Otter’s concern for the doctrinal and spiritual formation of his clergy. In a letter to Newman, dated 2 March 1838, Henry Edward Manning reported: ‘My bishop excessively wishes to establish in Chichester a college for candidates for Holy Orders—to take them for six or twelve months, and indoctrinate, and break them in. He has begged me to think of some scheme.’ Manning looked for premises, money, and, as he wrote to Newman, for ‘some good Catholic who will live on £100 a year to poison them up to the crown of their heads’ (LDN VI.209). Charles Marriott was appointed as the first Rector of the Theological College, starting his tenure in February 1839—an appointment over which Bishop Otter hesitated for long, because of Marriott’s Tractarian credentials. Marriot carefully prepared the curriculum of studies and the corresponding bibliography, including many High Church authors.

The College, however, had an uncertain start, and barely survived Otter’s death in the summer of 1840. Marriott, who had absented himself because of ill health in Michaelmas term 1840, finally resigned in early 1841. Forty-six students had passed through it by (p. 119) 1845. Marriott returned to Oxford, becoming sub-dean at Oriel, where he would occupy Newman’s old room. He was particularly active in the editorship of the Library of the Fathers and, from 1850 to 1855, as vicar of the University Church, he tried to fill some of the vacuum left by Newman’s departure from Oxford and the Church of England. He was one of the few old Tractarians left at the university, Copeland having resigned his fellowship and moved into parish ministry in 1849. Marriott’s long illness and final death in 1858 represented another step in the waning of Tractarian influence at Oriel and in the university.

The setting up of training colleges by the National Society offered a new field for Tractarian influence. The Tractarians, however, found themselves hampered by the reticence to appoint men tainted even slightly by Tractarianism. Henry A. Jeffreys applied unsuccessfully for the Mastership of the Training College at Gloucester. Robert F. Wilson, Keble’s curate, suffered a similar fate: he applied for the Mastership of the London Training College but his appointment was blocked by Bishop Blomfield. Newman would complain to Mozley (12 December 1839) that, after Wood’s and Acland’s efforts to set up the educational system, the training colleges had come to a deadlock at London, Gloucester, and Oxford because none were ‘found selfdenying enough to become schoolmasters except those whom the rest call Puseyites, and therefore reject’ (LDN VII.192).

The dissemination of the Oxford Movement’s spirit and ideas in the parishes, at least in its early years, is a phenomenon difficult to evaluate in all its extent. Newman, John and Thomas Keble, Isaac Williams, George Prevost, Thomas Mozley, and others associated with the Movement had long been in parish ministry. But the spreading of the spirit and ideas of the Movement at parish life level, and with the reading public in general, is only now being properly researched. Much of it, by its very nature, has left little or no record in history. Oxford was the main provider of clergy for the Church of England, and many of those who moved into parish life after finishing their studies at the university had been influenced to a greater or lesser extent by the ideas of the Movement while there. Others read their way into Tractarian ideas or had received them through personal contacts with other clergy. Perhaps the most remarkable among these country Tractarians was the learned and pugnacious William Thomas Allies who was to clash repeatedly with the bishops of London and Oxford before his conversion to Rome.

Robert Isaac Wilberforce, the third Oriel tutor, had also moved into parish ministry and would not be directly involved in Tractarian ventures. He left Oxford soon after Hawkins’s intervention to curb the influence of the Oriel tutors and before the agitation of 1833. He had married in June 1832 and received the offer of the substantial living of East Farleigh in Kent, where he was to minister until August 1840, when he took up the living of Burton Agnes, near Beverley. In January 1841 he was appointed archdeacon of the East Riding. Robert’s ministrations at East Farleigh were followed, from 1843, by those of his brother Henry, a more ardent supporter of the Tractarian movement and more advanced than Robert in his liturgical ideas. Robert has been described as a shy, self-effacing man, unambitious, studious, slow to commit himself. While in agreement with the Tractarian attempt to define the via media between Protestantism and Romanism, (p. 120) Robert was uneasy about Pusey’s tract on baptism and disapproving in respect to Froude’s and Newman’s attacks on the Reformers. Robert’s main contributions to the Oxford Movement would take place after Newman had crossed the Tiber. He shared with Henry Edward Manning the conviction that Catholic Anglican doctrine was in need of a theological synthesis. Manning and Gladstone considered that Robert was the man to undertake it, and their insistence bore fruit in a series of powerful theological treatises: The Doctrine of the Incarnation (1848), The Doctrine of Holy Baptism (1849), and The Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist (1853). These works systematized and developed Tractarian ideas on central dogmatic doctrines and were to exert considerable influence on Anglo-Catholic theological thought. Robert, challenging the Evangelical emphasis on the centrality of the atonement, presented the Incarnation as ‘the great objective fact of Christianity’, its very essence, and the sacraments as the natural continuation of the Incarnation, effecting the union and identification of the Christian with Christ.

Margaret Street Chapel, where Frederick Oakeley ministered from 1839 to 1845, was to epitomize the new spirit of liturgical worship coming from Oxford. The previous incumbent, William Dodsworth, had made Tractarian ideas his own and, as a popular preacher, introduced many to them, his chapel becoming a centre for Tractarian sympathizers in London. Oakeley brought in some of John Rouse Bloxam’s innovations in liturgical furniture at Littlemore: candlesticks, altar Bible, and so on (Middleton 1947: 43–4). The preaching, the music, and the reverent way of conducting the services were also the objects of his attention. He achieved remarkable results. In the words of Richard W. Church, Oakeley was ‘the first to realize the capacities of the Anglican ritual for impressive devotional use, and his services … are still remembered by some as having realized for them in a way never since surpassed, the secrets and consolations of the worship of the Church’ (Church 1891: 321). He attracted a large and select congregation, including those who were involved in diverse Tractarian-inspired initiatives in London: Samuel F. Wood, Thomas D. Acland, Edward Bellasis, Alexander Beresford-Hope, James Hope, William E. Gladstone, and others. Some of those associated with Margaret Street Chapel—the Aclands, Frederic Rogers, Gladstone, and Roundell Palmer among them—were later to establish a religious lay association inspired by the Tractarian ethos: ‘The Engagement’. It had a similar character to a Catholic ‘Third Order’ and its members committed themselves to a rule of prayers and charitable works.

In the summer of 1842 Newman had conceived the plan of publishing a series of Lives of the English Saints. He told Keble (18 May 1843) that the project ‘would be useful, as employing the minds of persons who were in danger of running wild, and bringing them from doctrine to history, from speculation to fact; again, as giving them an interest in the English soil and English church, and keeping them from seeking sympathy in Rome as she is; and further, as tending to promote the spread of right views’. He considered it ‘a practical carrying out of No 90’ (LDN IX.349). The series aimed to show the Catholic principle present at the heart of the national Church in the pre-Reformation period, illustrating Anglicanism’s historical continuity with the medieval Church. Newman also wanted to prove that the Anglican Church possessed the note of sanctity, his last line (p. 121) of defence in his apologia for the Church of England. It was not a popular project with some Tractarians.

Pusey expressed from the first doubts about its wisdom, and his doubts were reinforced after seeing some proofs of the Life of Stephen Harding by John Dobree Dalgairns, the first one to be published. Newman, after consulting Gladstone, who concurred with Pusey’s opinion, and also Hope, decided to go ahead with the publication of the lives which had already been written or were in advanced state of composition as individual and independent volumes, not as part of a series. Rivington, however, withdrew his offer of publishing the series and Newman arranged for James Toovey to publish the lives. They were published anonymously but their authorship is known. Dalgairns was the principal contributor to the series and also edited or completed some lives prepared or started by others; Newman contributed three of the shorter ones; Pattison—who, on his own testimony, ‘spent an amount of research, of which no English historian at that time had set the example’ (Pattison 1969: 186)—contributed a couple of lives, and so did Oakeley, John Barrow, and Faber. Other contributors included R. W. Church, Thomas Mozley, Robert A. Coffin, William Lockhart, Thomas Meyrick, Robert Ornsby, and John Walker. James Anthony Froude, a Fellow of Exeter since 1842, accepted Newman’s invitation to be part of the project and wrote the life of St Neot, his first incursion into historical research. The whole series, edited in six volumes by William Holden Hutton, would be reprinted in 1900 by S. T. Freemantle.

Newman held that the propagation of an idea in the world was not by means of a system, by books or by argument, but by the personal influence of those who were at once the teachers and the patterns of it. That personal influence within the close contact of college and university forged Tractarianism as a force to be reckoned with in England. By 1843, however, the tight bonds of friendship were beginning to unravel. Friends were blown asunder as events and intellectual and religious developments took them in different directions. This parting of the ways would represent, in some cases, a permanent fracture. The relationship of those who later renewed their contact with former friends was to be marked by an awkwardness that prevented the old easy intimacy from being renewed. Time, the great healer, could only go so far.

References and Further Reading

Burgon, John William (1889). Lives of Twelve Good Men, 2 vols. London: John Murray.Find this resource:

    Church, Richard W. (1891). The Oxford Movement: Twelve Years, 1833–1845. London: Macmillan.Find this resource:

      Froude, Richard Hurrell (1839). The Remains of the late Rev. Richard Hurrell Froude, ed, John Keble and John Henry Newman, 2 vols. Derby: Mozley.Find this resource:

        Galloway, Peter J. (1999). A Passionate Humility: Frederick Oakeley and the Oxford Movement. Leominster: Gracewing.Find this resource:

          Jones, O. W. (1971). Isaac Williams and his Circle. London: SPCK.Find this resource:

            Keble, John (1814). ‘Praelectiones Academicae: Oxonii habitae ab Edward Copleston’, British Critic, NS 1 (June).Find this resource:

              (p. 122) MacNab, Kenneth. ‘William John Copeland’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn. <>.Find this resource:

                Middleton, R. D. (1947). Newman and Bloxam. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Find this resource:

                  Mozley, Thomas (1882). Reminiscences, chiefly of Oriel College and the Oxford Movement, 2 vols. London: Longmans, Green & Co.Find this resource:

                    Newman, John Henry (1879). Lyra Apostolica. Oxford and Cambridge: Rivington.Find this resource:

                      Newman, John Henry (1913). Apologia pro vita sua, being a History of his Religious Opinions. London: Longmans, Green & Co.Find this resource:

                        Newman, John Henry (1961–2008). Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman [LDN], ed. C. S. Dessain et al., 32 vols. London: Thomas Nelson; Oxford: Oxford University Press.Find this resource:

                          Newsome, David (1966). The Parting of Friends: A Study of the Wilberforces and Henry Manning. London: John Murray.Find this resource:

                            Nockles, Peter B. (1997). ‘Lost Causes and … Impossible Loyalties: The Oxford Movement and the University’, in M. C. Brock and M. C. Curthoys (eds.), History of the University of Oxford, vol. VI: Nineteenth-Century Oxford, Part 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 195–267.Find this resource:

                              Nockles, Peter B. (2013). ‘A House Divided: Oriel in the Era of the Oxford Movement, 1833–1860’, in Jeremy Catto (ed.), Oriel College: A History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 328–70.Find this resource:

                                Pattison, Mark (1969). Memoirs. Fontwell: Centaur Press.Find this resource:

                                  Pereiro, James (2005). ‘Tractarians and National Education, 1838–1843’, in Sheridan Gilley (ed.), Victorian Churches and Churchmen. Woodbridge: Boydell, 249–78.Find this resource:

                                    Pereiro, James (2008). Ethos and the Oxford Movement: At the Heart of Tractarianism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Find this resource:

                                      Rogers, Frederic (1896). Letters of Frederic Lord Blachford, ed. G. E. Marindin. London: John Murray.Find this resource:

                                        Skinner, Simon A. (2004). Tractarians and the ‘Condition of England’: The Social and Political Thought of the Oxford Movement. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Find this resource:

                                          Smith, B. A. and Lamb, Lynton (1958). Dean Church: The Anglican Response to Newman. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Find this resource:

                                            Tristam, Henry (1933). Newman and his Friends. London: John Lane.Find this resource:

                                              Tuckwell, W. (1907). Reminiscences of Oxford, 2nd edn. London: Smith, Elder, and Co.Find this resource:

                                                Ward, Wilfrid W. (1889). William George Ward and the Oxford Movement. London: Macmillan & Co.Find this resource:

                                                  Williams, Isaac (1892). The autobiography of Isaac Williams, B.D., ed. G. Prevost. London: Longmans, Green & Co.Find this resource:


                                                    Copeland, William J. (n.d.). ‘Narrative of the Oxford Movement’. Pusey House, Oxford.Find this resource:

                                                      LBV: Liddon Bound Volumes, Pusey House, Oxford.Find this resource: