Romilly, Joseph (DNB00)

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ROMILLY, JOSEPH (1791–1864), registrary of the university of Cambridge, born in 1791, was son of Thomas Peter Romilly of London, by his cousin Jane Anne, second daughter of Isaac Romilly. Sir Samuel Romilly [q. v.] was his uncle. He entered at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1809, became a scholar of the college, and graduated B.A. in 1813 as fourth wrangler. He was elected fellow in 1815, and proceeded M.A. in 1816. He took holy orders, but he never held any preferment, excepting that he was chaplain to Thomas Musgrave [q. v.], archbishop of York, who had been a friend at Trinity. From the first he belonged to the liberal party in the university, led by Peacock and Adam Sedgwick [q. v.], Romilly's intimate friend. In 1821 he joined the committee for promoting a subscription in the university to aid the Greeks in their war of independence. He was one of the party who successfully opposed the petition which it was designed should be presented in 1829 against catholic emancipation. He opposed Christopher Wordsworth, then master of Trinity, on the question of Thirlwall's dismissal in 1834. On 23 March 1832 he was elected registrary after a competition with Temple Chevallier [q. v.], and remained in this office until 1861, when he retired, and was presented with a testimonial. His great work as registrar was the proper arrangement and cataloguing of all the university papers. From 1832 till his death he kept a diary, which has been largely used by the authors of the ‘Life of Adam Sedgwick,’ inasmuch as it contains nearly as much about Sedgwick as about himself. The closeness of their intimacy can be gathered from Sedgwick's letters. On 10 Nov. 1861 he writes: ‘Romilly comes every morning before breakfast to help me with my letters. He is the oldest friend I have in Cambridge, and the kindest. He has a great deal of French blood in his veins, which makes him a merry, genial man; and to such gifts he has added a vast store of literature.’ Again, just before his death on 20 March 1864, Sedgwick wrote: ‘Romilly is still here, but he lives in a house on the outskirts of Cambridge, and never dines in hall. I now and then go and drink tea with him.’ He died very suddenly at Yarmouth, of heart disease, on Sunday 7 Aug. 1864, and was buried in a vault in Christ Church, Barnwell. He edited the ‘Graduati Cantabrigienses,’ 1760–1856, which was published at Cambridge in 1856, 8vo.

[Information kindly furnished by Mr. J. W. Clark; Gent. Mag. 1864, ii. 389; J. W. Clark and Hughes's Life of Adam Sedgwick, i. pref. and pp. 235, 281, 309, 336, 427, ii. 374, 402, 405, 406, 499; Douglas's Life of Whewell, p. 167; Cambridge University Calendars.]

W. A. J. A.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.239
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
187 ii 23 Romilly, Joseph: for Whewell read Peacock
38  for registrar read registrary
188 i 4  for Willis, Clark, read J. Willis Clark