Routh, Martin Joseph (DNB00)
|←Routh, Martha||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 49
Routh, Martin Joseph
|Routh, Randolph Isham→|
ROUTH, MARTIN JOSEPH (1755–1854), president of Magdalen College, Oxford, the eldest of the thirteen children of Peter Routh (1726–1802), rector of St. Peter's and St. Margaret's, South Elmham, Suffolk, was born in his father's rectory on 18 Sept. 1755 (Burgon). His mother was Mary, daughter of Robert Reynolds of Harleston, Suffolk, and a descendant of Dr. Richard Baylie (d. 1667), president of St. John's College, Oxford, and dean of Salisbury, who married a niece of Archbishop Laud. When Martin was about three years old his father, who was an excellent scholar, migrated to Beccles, Suffolk, and there kept a private school, at which Routh received his early education. Peter Routh was subsequently appointed master of the Fauconberge grammar school at Beccles.
Martin entered Queen's College, Oxford, as a commoner, and on 24 July 1771 was elected a demy at Magdalen College on the nomination of the president, Dr. George Horne [q. v.] He graduated B.A. on 5 Feb. 1774, and was elected to a fellowship at Magdalen on 25 July 1775. He continued to reside there, and did some tutorial work. He proceeded M.A. on 23 Oct. 1776, received deacon's orders on 21 Dec. 1777, was appointed college librarian in 1781, was junior dean of arts 1784–5, and senior proctor in 1784, and in 1786 took the degree of B.D. His learning in ecclesiastical matters was recognised outside the university. He had acted as tutor to one of Lord-chancellor Thurlow's nephews, and when the American delegates came to England in 1783 with reference to the foundation of a native episcopate, the chancellor advised them to consult Routh. He dissuaded them from applying to the Danish bishops, and recommended them to seek episcopal succession from the bishops of the disestablished church of Scotland (Burgon, Lives of Twelve Good Men, App. C, 2nd edit.) In 1784 he published an edition of the ‘Euthydemus’ and ‘Gorgias’ of Plato, with notes and various readings, and then turned his attention mainly to patristic learning, beginning to prepare his ‘Reliquiæ Sacræ,’ a collection of the fragmentary writings of the less known ecclesiastical authors of the second and third centuries. This work was interrupted about 1790, taken up again in 1805, and then pursued until the appearance of the first two volumes in 1814. Horne, the president of Magdalen, having been consecrated to the see of Norwich in 1790, resigned the presidentship in April 1791, and on the 28th Routh was elected president, and graduated D.D. on 6 July. His youngest sister, Sophia, came to live with him in 1793, and kept his house until her marriage to Dr. Thomas Sheppard. He was hospitable and sociable. Among his friends were Samuel Parr [q. v.] and Porson, and he took an active part in raising subscriptions for the benefit of both. He caused Parr's books to be received and kept in safety at Magdalen when the Birmingham people threatened to burn them. In 1810 he was instituted to the valuable rectory and vicarage of Tilehurst, near Reading, Berkshire, in succession to his friend Richard Chandler (1738–1810) [q. v.], on the presentation of his brother-in-law, Sheppard, and on 26 Aug. received priest's orders, thirty-three years after he had been ordained deacon. It was said that this delay was caused by conscientious scruples on his part, but he attributed it to his not having before accepted any church preferment. He resided at Tilehurst during three months of the Oxford vacations in each year, and made no secret of always preaching there from Townson's sermons, which he used to abridge to a quarter of an hour's length, telling his nephew, who was his curate, that there were no better sermons, and that the people could not hear them too often [see Townson, Thomas].
In old age his mental powers remained unimpaired. Although for many years before his death he did not appear in public at Oxford, his bodily powers were slow to decay; in his ninety-fourth year he could walk six miles. Never above the middle height, his frame had then shrunk to a small size, and he was much bent. In 1846 he had become slightly deaf. He died after a few days' illness in his lodgings at Magdalen, in full possession of his mental faculties, in his hundredth year, on 22 Dec. 1854, having been president of the college for sixty-three years. He was buried in the college chapel, where there is a portrait of him in a brass. On 18 Sept. 1820 he married, at the age of sixty-five, at Walcot church, Bath, Eliza Agnes, daughter of John Blagrave of Calcot Park, Tilehurst, aged 30. He left no children, and died intestate, not having signed a will that he had caused to be prepared. His wife survived him, and died on 23 March 1869. In 1847 Queen's College, Oxford, offered him 10,000l. for his library, but he refused to part with his books during his lifetime. In pursuance of a deed of gift executed in 1852 his printed books—chiefly theological or historical—which included many rarities, with a fine collection of pamphlets of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, passed on his death to the university of Durham. His manuscripts were sold by auction in July 1855, Sir Thomas Phillipps [q. v.] buying many of the most valuable.
Routh was pre-eminently a man of learning; his life was spent in painstaking research. When requested in 1847 to give a younger man some precept which should represent the experience of his long and studious career, he replied ‘Always verify your references’ (Burgon, p. 73). His works are distinguished by profound erudition, critical ability, sagacity, accuracy, and clearness of expression. His opinions were strictly orthodox; his sympathies were with the high-church party; he admired J. H. Newman and Pusey, and rejoiced in the revival of church feeling with which they were connected. But he viewed ecclesiastical matters as a scholar rather than as a partisan, and though, after a long absence from public functions, he appeared in 1836 in the Sheldonian theatre—where he was greeted with general applause—at a meeting of convocation to petition against the appointment of Dr. Renn Dickson Hampden [q. v.] to the regius professorship of divinity, he did not take a prominent part in the religious questions that agitated the university. In early life, while strongly loyal, he professed a theoretical jacobitism; practically he was a tory, so far as he cared for politics. He was kindly, courteous, and cheerful, quick at repartee, and with much quiet humour. His temper, though choleric, was generous, and he was liberal in his gifts. A lover of old ways, he always clung to his wig and to the fashion in dress of his younger days. He was deeply grieved by the universities commission of 1854.
Portraits of Routh, besides the one in brass, are (1) by Thompson, without sittings, as he appeared in the college chapel, engraved by Lucas, in the college school; (2) by Thompson, from sittings, for Dr. J. R. Bloxam; (3) by Thompson, in possession of the president of Magdalen; (4) by Thompson, in the Bodleian Gallery; (5) by Harttman, in 1850, engraved, in private possession; (6) by W. H. Pickersgill, in 1850, in the college hall, engraved by Cousins; (7) a crayon drawing, from a daguerreotype (19 Sept. 1854) in possession of Baroness Burdett-Coutts, unsatisfactory; (8) the sketch for Pickersgill's picture, obtained by Bloxam, and used for the engraving in Burgon's ‘Lives of Twelve Good Men’ (Bloxam).
Routh's published works are: 1. His edition of the ‘Euthydemus’ and ‘Gorgias’ of Plato, 8vo, Oxford, 1784. 2. ‘Reliquiæ sacræ sive auctorum fere jam perditorum secundi tertiique seculi post Christum natum quæ supersunt,’ 4 vols. 8vo, Oxford, 1814–1818; the first two in 1814, the third in 1815, the fourth in 1818. Routh added a fifth volume in 1848, and brought out a second edition of the first four, the whole in 5 vols. 8vo, 1846–8. 3. An edition of Burnet's ‘History of his own Time,’ with notes by the Earls of Dartmouth and Hardwicke, and observations, 6 vols. 8vo, Oxford, 1823; a second edition, 1833. 4. ‘Scriptorum ecclesiasticorum opuscula præcipua quædam,’ 2 vols. 8vo, Oxford, 1832; a second edition, 1840, re-edited (anonymously) by Dr. William Jacobson [q. v.], bishop of Chester, 1858. 5. An edition of Burnet's ‘History of the Reign of James II,’ with additional notes, 8vo, Oxford, 1852. 6. ‘Tres breves Tractatus,’ containing ‘De primis episcopis,’ ‘S. Petri Alexandrini episcopi fragmenta quædam,’ and ‘S. Irenæi illustrata ῥήσις, in qua ecclesia Romana commemoratur,’ 8vo, Oxford, 1853. He wrote a large number of Latin inscriptions, four of which are given in the pages of Burgon's ‘Life’ and twenty-five in an appendix.[Burgon's Lives of Twelve Good Men, founded on art. in Quarterly Review, No. 146, July 1878; Bloxam's Register of Presidents, &c., of Magd. Coll. vol. vii.; Mozley's Reminiscences; Times, 25 Dec. 1854, 1 Jan. 1855.]