Fyffe, Charles Alan (DNB01)

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FYFFE, CHARLES ALAN (1845–1892), historian, was the son of Lawrence Hay Fyffe, M.D. of Blackheath, by Mary Prudence, daughter of John Urd. He was born at Lee Park, Blackheath, on 3 Dec. 1845, and was educated at Christ's Hospital, whence he obtained an open exhibition at Balliol College, Oxford, 1864. He graduated B.A. in 1868 and M.A. in 1870. In 1871 he was elected a fellow of University College, and for many years acted as bursar. Fyffe early developed a strong bent for politics, adopting pronouncedly liberal views, and was president of the Union Society in 1867. He acted as correspondent to the 'Daily News' during the first part of the Franco-German war, and was in Paris during the commune, where he narrowly escaped execution, being taken for a spy.

He entered as a student at Lincoln's Inn (10 June 1873), but was transferred to the Inner Temple (26 May 1876), from which inn he was called to the bar on 10 May following; he joined the south-west circuit, but never practised. In 1875 he published a small school history of Greece in the form of a primer, which satisfied a need and sold largely. Thus encouraged, he entered upon a larger task in the writing of the 'History of Modern Europe.' The first volume appeared in 1880, the second in 1886, and the third and last in 1890. As a brilliant and skilful sketch of the political history of modern Europe this work has not yet been surpassed, and it passed through many editions.

Fyffe held decided views as a land law reformer, and was one of the founders of the free land league; he was an unsuccessful candidate for the city of Oxford in the radical interest at the general election in 1885.

Late in 1891 an unsubstantiated charge ruined his health, and his promising career was cut short by his death at his residence in Kensington on 19 Feb. 1892. He was buried at Buncton in Sussex.

He married, on 7 June 1883, Henrietta Frances Arnaud, only child of Waynflete Arnaud Blagden of Holmbush Ashington, Sussex, by whom he left three children.

[Times, 20 Feb. 1892; Academy, February 1892; private information.]

W. C.-r.