Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Chalk, James Jell

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CHALK, Sir JAMES JELL (1803–1878), secretary to the ecclesiastical commission, second son of James Chalk of Queenborough in Kent, who married Mary, daughter of Edward Shove of the same place, was born there in 1803. He was educated at Wye College, Kent, and after passing several years of his early life in employments of a temporary character he entered, 4 Oct. 1836, into the service of the ecclesiastical commission, and in that position he spent the working years of life that were left to him. He was for some time the assistant secretary, but on the enforced resignation in 1849 of Mr. Charles Knight Murray, the secretary, Chalk succeeded to his place. In November 1839 he was called to the bar at the Middle Temple. On 4 Oct. 1871, having completed thirty-five years of service, he withdrew into private life, having a short time previously received the honour of knighthood. He died at 80 Warwick Square, Pimlico, 23 Sept. 1878. He was never married, but his old age was cheered by the company of his niece. His name is entered in the British Museum Catalogue, owing to the circumstance that many of the letters from the ecclesiastical commissioners to the corporation of London, which are printed in a volume entitled ‘ Bunhill Fields Burial Ground; Proceedings in reference to its Preservation, 1867,' bear his signature. For many years after the foundation of the commission its actions did not meet with the approval of the public, but for some time before Chalk's retirement the increased resources at its command and the improvement which ensued in the pecuniary condition of the clergy led to a change in opinion. His cautious and impassive demeanour was affected neither by censure nor by praise.

[Times, 27 Sept. 1878, p. 6; Dod's Peerage, 1872; personal information.]

W. P. C.