Bloxam, John Rouse (DNB01)

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BLOXAM, JOHN ROUSE (1807–1891), historian of Magdalen College, Oxford, born at Rugby on 25 April 1807, was the sixth son of Richard Rouse Bloxam, D.D. (d. 28 March 1840), under-master of Rugby school for thirty-eight years, and rector of Brinklow and vicar of Bulkington, both in Warwickshire, who married Ann, sister of Sir Thomas Lawrence, P.R.A. All the six sons were foundationers at Rugby school, and all attended, as chief mourners, the funeral of Lawrence in St. Paul's Cathedral (D. E. Williams, Sir T. Lawrence, ii. 524-568).

Bloxam was sent in 1814 to Rugby school, where he was a school-fellow of Roundell Palmer, lord Selborne (Selborne, Memorials, 1. i. 74-5,311-15), and obtained an exhibition for the university in 1826. He matriculated from Worcester College, Oxford, on 20 May 1826, and was bible clerk there from that year to 1830. From 1830 to 1835 he held a demyship at Magdalen College, and graduated B.A. from that college on 9 Feb. 1832, having been in the fourth (honorary) class in classics in 1831. He was ordained by the bishop of Oxford deacon in 1832 and priest in 1833, and took the further degrees of M.A. in 1835, B.D. in 1843, and D.D. in 1847.

In July 1832 Bloxam became chaplain and classical master in the private school at Wyke House, near Brentford, of which Dr. Alexander Jamieson was principal, and from 1833 to 1836 he was second master at Bromsgrove school. He was elected probationer fellow of Magdalen College in 1835, and came into residence in 1836. He served as pro-proctor of the university in 1841, and he held at his college the posts of junior dean of arts (1838 and 1840), bursar (1841, 1844, 1850, 1854, and 1859), vice-president (1847), dean of divinity (1849), and librarian (1851 to 1862). From 1837 to February 1840 Bloxam was curate to John Henry Newman at Littlemore. He was in full sympathy with the tractarians. A carriage accident in a Leicestershire lane introduced him to Ambrose Phillips de Lisle. They corresponded in 1841 and 1842 on a possible reunion of the Anglican and Roman churches (Purcell, Life of De Lisle, i. 178–298, ii. 9–10, 225–7). In 1842 he proposed going to Belgium to ‘superintend the reprinting of the Sarum breviary’ (ib. i. 234–5). He was well acquainted with William George Ward [q. v.] (Wilfrid Ward, W. G. Ward and the Oxford Movement, 2nd ed. pp. 111, 153–5, 190–201, 305, 338). He continued to live at Oxford until 1862, where he was conspicuous as ‘a striking figure, spare and erect, with reverent dignity.’

Bloxam was appointed by his college to the vicarage of Upper Beeding, near Steyning in Sussex, in February 1862, and vacated his fellowship in 1863. Newman paid several visits to him in this pleasant retreat, and he was probably the last survivor of the cardinal's Oxford associates. By Lord Blachford he was called ‘the grandfather of the ritualists.’ He died at Beeding Priory, Upper Beeding, on 21 Jan. 1891, having enjoyed wonderful health almost until the end of his days, and was buried in Beeding churchyard. A crayon drawing by Laurence of Bloxam and his brother Matthew when children is in the school museum at Rugby. He is a prominent figure in Holman Hunt's picture of the ceremony on Magdalen College tower on Mayday morning.

The labours of Bloxam in illustration of the history of his college were inspired by deep affection, and he worked at his task with unflagging zeal. His ‘Register of the Presidents, Fellows, Demies, Instructors in Grammar and in Music, Chaplains, Clerks, Choristers, and other Members of St. Mary Magdalen College, Oxford,’ came out in seven volumes, describing the choristers, chaplains, clerks, organists, instructors in grammar, and demies. Their publication began in 1853 and ended in 1881, and an index volume was issued by the college in 1885. His collections ‘for the history of the fellows, presidents, and non-foundation members were left by him to the college, together with much of his correspondence,’ and on them the Rev. W. D. Macray has based his ‘Register of the Members of St. Mary Magdalen College, Oxford,’ two volumes of which have been published. The appendix to the third volume of E. M. Macfarlane's catalogue of the college library contains a ‘Catalogus operum scriptorum vel editorum’ by its chief alumni which Bloxam had gathered together. In that library is a ‘Book of Fragments,’ privately printed by him in 1842, which gives a series of extracts from various books on ecclesiastical rites, customs, &c. It ends abruptly at p. 286, having been discontinued on account of a similar publication entitled ‘Hierurgia Anglicana’ brought out by the Cambridge Camden Society.

Bloxam edited for the Caxton Society in 1851 the ‘Memorial of Bishop Waynflete, by Dr. Peter Heylyn,’ and he collected the series of documents entitled ‘Magdalen College and James II,’ which was published by the Oxford Historical Society in 1886. He assisted Dr. Routh in his 1852 edition of Burnet's ‘Reign of James II;’ he possessed many relics of Routh, and gave much information on his life to Burgon (Twelve Good Men, i. 47). E. S. Byam dedicated to Bloxam the memoir of the Byam family (1854), and he assisted W. H. Payne Smith in editing the volume of M. H. Bloxam's collections on ‘Rugby, the School and Neighbourhood.’

He possessed four volumes of ‘Opuscula,’ containing many letters of Newman and prints of the chief persons at Oxford, which are now among the manuscripts in Magdalen College Library. He was also the owner of several curiosities belonging to Addison which had been preserved at Bilton, near Rugby; they are now the property of Dr. T. H. Warren, the president of Magdalen College.

[Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Rugby School Reg. i. 120; Magdalen Coll. Reg. vii. 323–4; Guardian, 28 Jan. 1891, p. 131, 11 Feb. p. 224; Newman's Letters, ii. 298–324; Macray's Magdalen Coll. Reg. vol. i. preface.]

W. P. C.