Law, Henry (DNB00)

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LAW, HENRY (1797–1884), dean of Gloucester, born 28 Sept. 1797 at Kelshall rectory, Hertfordshire, of which parish his father was then rector, was third son of George Henry Law [q.v.], bishop successively of Chester and of Bath and Wells, by his wife Jane, eldest daughter of General James Whorwood Adeane of Babraham, Cambridgeshire, formerly M.P. for that county. Archdeacon Paley, a great friend of his grandfather and father, was his godfather. He went first to a private school at Greenwich, kept by Dr. Charles Burney [q. v.], and, in 1812, to Eton, then under Dr. Keate. On 10 Oct. 1816 Law entered St. John's College, Cambridge, graduating B.A. in 1820 as fourth wrangler. In 1821 he was elected classical fellow of his college, and was soon after appointed assistant classical tutor, becoming tutor in due course; in 1823 he proceeded M.A. He took great interest in the establishment of the classical tripos, and was one of the first examiners (1824–5). In 1821 Law was ordained deacon and priest by his father, then bishop of Chester, who appointed him in 1822 to the vicarage of St. Anne, Manchester, which he resigned the next year on becoming vicar of Childwall, near Liverpool. In 1824 he was appointed archdeacon of Richmond; in 1825 vicar of West Camel, Somerset; in 1826 archdeacon of Wells and prebendary of Huish and Brent in Wells Cathedral, when he took up his residence at Wells; and in 1828 residentiary canon of Wells. The last office he held, with the archdeaconry, till his removal to Gloucester. As canon of Wells he took an active part in, and was a large contributor to, the restoration of Wells Cathedral. After holding for a short time the vicarage of East Brent, Law became in 1834 rector of Weston-super-Mare, then only a fishing village; and in 1838 accepted from the Simeon trustees the rectory of Bath. In this laborious and responsible post his health soon broke down; he resigned it in 1839, and for a time travelled on the continent. On his return in 1840 he was again appointed to Weston-super-Mare, and remained there twenty-two years. During that time the little village became an important watering-place, and Law was foremost in promoting the religious, educational, and social interests of the town. The parish church was thrice enlarged; three other churches were built and endowed, largely at Law's own expense; and excellent schools were built. A dispute having arisen among the townspeople about the purchase of a town-hall, Law bought the building at a cost of 4,000l. and presented it to the town. In 1862, on the death of Dean Rice, Law was nominated by Lord Palmerston to the deanery of Gloucester. The state of the cathedral at that time was far from satisfactory, and immediate steps for its improvement were taken. The deanery was restored at considerable cost; the restoration of the choir and chapels was successfully carried out under Sir G. G. Scott, the dean being the largest contributor; the beautiful reredos was erected; and the musical character of the services, which had fallen very low, was raised to high excellence. Law was a most liberal supporter of religious societies and public charities, and his private beneficence, for the most part secret, was munificent. He died 25 Nov. 1884, aged 87, and was buried in the Gloucester cemetery. He was unmarried.

Law was throughout his life one of the leaders of the evangelical party in the church, and one of the last of the old school. While at Weston he held from time to time large meetings of the chief members of his school of thought, at which were originated many institutions which have since become important. Among his intimate friends were the first Earl Cairns [q.v.] and the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury [see Cooper, Anthony Ashley]. Through the latter he was frequently consulted by Lord Palmerston as to episcopal appointments, his recommendations being almost invariably accepted; he himself refused a bishopric more than once.

Besides his mathematical attainments, Law was an admirable classical scholar, with a wide knowledge of English literature. His conversational gifts and powers of memory and quotation were remarkable, and were retained to the end of his long life. Besides a large number of tracts, leaflets, &c., Law wrote: 1. 'Christ is All:' vols. i–iv.—'The Gospel in the Pentateuch,' London, 1854–8. Of this work more than 120,000 copies were sold; vol. v. 'Gleanings from the Book of Life,' London, 1877. 2. 'Beacons of the Bible,' London, 1868. 3. 'Family Prayers,' London, 1868. 4. 'The Forgiveness of Sins,' London, 1876. 5. 'Family Devotion; the Book of Psalms arranged for Worship,' 2 vols. London, 1878. 6. 'The Song of Solomon, arranged for Family Reading,' London and Gloucester, 1879. 7. 'Meditations on the Epistle to the Ephesians,' London and Gloucester, 1884.

[Record, 28 Nov. and 5 Dec. 1884; Gloucestershire Chronicle, 29 Nov. 1884; autobiographical notes in the same in 1885; private information; personal knowledge.]

J. R. W.