Lake, William Charles (DNB01)

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LAKE, WILLIAM CHARLES (1817–1897), dean of Durham, born in London on 9 Jan. 1817, was the eldest son of Captain Charles Lake of the Scots fusilier guards. Educated at Rugby under Dr. Arnold, he became the lifelong friend of his school-fellow, Arthur Penrhyn Stanley [q. v.] From Rugby he went to Oxford as scholar of Balliol in November 1834, and was a fellow-pupil under Archibald Campbell (afterwards archbishop) Tait of Sir Benjamin Brodie, Edward Meyrick Goulburn, and Benjamin Jowett. In 1838 Lake was elected fellow of his college at the same time as Jowett, and became tutor four years later. In 1852-3 he was senior proctor in the university. He acted with the moderate party who opposed the action taken against William George Ward [q. v.], and against the proposal that the vice-chancellor should have power to impose a certain form which a member of the university should be required to use in subscribing the articles. He became very intimate with Tait, with whom he generally spent his long vacation travelling on the continent, and was one of the first who urged him to stand for the head-mastership of Rugby. Lake himself had been an unsuccessful candidate in 1849 when Goulburn was elected. He had taken orders in 1842, and in 1858 he left Oxford to become rector of Huntspill in Somerset. Two years later he was named prebendary of Wells. Meanwhile Lake's linguistic abilities had led to his appointment by Lord Panmure as a member of the commission of 1856 to report on military education on the continent. He had won the prize at Oxford in 1840 for his Latin essay on the Roman army as an obstacle to civil liberty. He also served on the Newcastle commission of 1858 to inquire into popular education, and on the royal commission upon military education of 1868. On 9 Aug. 1869 Lake was nominated by Gladstone for the deanery of Durham. In 1881 he was a member of the ecclesiastical court's commission. His theological position was that of a moderate high churchman, and in 1880 he joined Dean Church and others in endeavouring to induce Gladstone and Archbishop Tait to bring forward legislation modifying the Public Worship Regulation Act.

During Lake's decanate Durham Cathedral was restored. He exercised an important influence over Durham University of which he was warden, and education in the north of England generally owed much to his efforts. The foundation of the College of Science at Newcastle in 1871 was very largely his work. He resigned the deanery, owing to failing health, in 1894, and went to live at Torquay. There he died suddenly on 8 Dec. 1897. He married, in June 1881, Miss Katherine Gladstone, a niece of the premier, who survived him.

Lake published nothing separately but a few sermons and a pamphlet, 'The Inspiration of Scripture and Eternal Punishment, with a preface on the Oxford Declaration and on F. D. Maurice's Letter to the Bishop of London,' 1864. But he contributed to the 'Life' of his friend Tait some highly interesting recollections, and especially a valuable picture of the independent position he held at Oxford, and an account from intimate knowledge of his life as head of Rugby, bishop of London, and primate. Lake also supplied to Mr. Wilfrid Ward's 'W. G. Ward and the Oxford Movement '(1889) some reminiscences of Ward, who was for some time his mathematical tutor at Balliol and exercised some influence over his tone of thought.

[Men of the Time, 13th edit.; Times, 9-14 Dec. 1897; Guardian, 15 Dec. 1897; Ill. Lond. News, 18 Dec. 1897 (with portrait); Benham and Davidson's Life of Tait, i. 102-9, 111, 128, 137-40, ii. 603-7; Prothero's Life of Dean Stanley, i. 47, 87, 197, 212; Life and Letters of Dean Church, pp. 255, 273, 283-4; Ward's W. G. Ward and the Oxford Movement, pp. 100-2, 119, and appendix; Abbott and Campbell's Life of Jowett, i. 97; Brit. Mus. Cat.; F. Arnold's Our Bishops and Deans, ii. 310. Letters from Dr. Arnold to Lake between 1835 and 1840 are in Stanley's Life of Arnold.]

G. Le G. N.