Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Jebb, John (1775-1833)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

JEBB, JOHN, D.D. (1775–1833), bishop of Limerick, younger son of John Jebb, alderman of Drogheda, by his second wife, Alicia Forster, was born at Drogheda on 27 Sept. 1775. His grandfather, Richard Jebb, came to Ireland from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, where the family had been settled for several generations. His father's circumstances became embarrassed, and Jebb at two years old was entrusted to his aunt, Mrs. M'Cormick. In 1782 he returned to his father at Leixlip, co. Kildare, and went to school in the neighbouring village of Celbridge. His elder brother, Richard (see below), succeeded in 1788 to the estate of Sir Richard Jebb, M.D. [q. v.] who undertook the cost of his education. At the Londonderry grammar school he formed a lifelong friendship with Alexander Knox [q. v.] In 1791 he entered Trinity College, Dublin, where he obtained a scholarship. He lived with his brother, who on their father's death (1796) gave him 2,000l. He was a member of the Historical Society, and, by the part which he took in its proceedings, acquired readiness in public debate. In February 1799 Matthew Young, bishop of Clonfert, ordained him deacon. In July 1799 he obtained through Knox the curacy of Swanlinbar, co. Cavan, and was ordained priest in the following December by Charles Brodrick, bishop of Kilmore. In 1801 he graduated M.A., and in December of that year was instituted by Brodrick, archbishop of Cashel, to the curacy of Mogorbane, co. Tipperary. In 1805 he became Brodrick's examining chaplain.

Jebb visited England with Knox in 1809, and made the acquaintance of Wilberforce and Hannah More. In the course of the summer he was instituted to the rectory of Abington, co. Limerick, where Charles Forster, his biographer, was his curate. In 1812 he was thrown from a gig and dislocated his left shoulder, an accident made more serious by the unskilfulness of a village bonesetter. He was in London in 1815, and again in 1820, when he published his ‘Essay on Sacred Literature,’ which made his name. At the close of 1820 he became archdeacon of Emly, and in February 1821 accumulated the degrees of B.D. and D.D. During the disturbances which followed the famine of 1822 his is said to have been the only quiet parish in the district, and this owing to his personal exertions. He was rewarded in December 1822 by the bishopric of Limerick, Ardfert, and Aghadoe, vacated by the translation of Thomas Elrington, D.D. [q. v.]

Jebb raised the standard of examination for candidates for orders, adopting a maxim from the puritan divine, Anthony Tuckney [q. v.], ‘They may deceive me in their godliness; they cannot in their scholarship.’ On 10 July 1824 he made a speech in the House of Lords on the Tithe Commutation Bill, which Wilberforce described as ‘one of the most able ever delivered in parliament;’ it was a very powerful defence of the position of the Irish establishment. In 1827 he was seized with paralysis at Limerick, and incapacitated for active duty. He left Ireland altogether, and devoted himself to literary work, residing chiefly at Leamington, Warwickshire, with Forster, his chaplain, as his companion. A second stroke in 1829 confined him to his chair, but he was still able to use his pen. He removed to East Hill, near Wandsworth, Surrey. A lingering jaundice attacked him in 1832. He died unmarried on 9 Dec. 1833. He was a writer of sound and varied learning, a churchman of strong convictions and broad sympathies; in conjunction with Knox he was a pioneer of the Oxford movement, which began about the date of his death. John Henry Newman, in letters dated between 1833 and 1836, expressed his sympathy with Jebb's views on daily services and frequent communions, but it is an exaggeration to credit him with suggesting to Newman, Pusey, and Keble the line of thought which is associated with their names (cf. Professor Stokes in Contemp. Rev. August 1887, and Dean Church in Guardian, 7 Sept. 1887). He was a fellow of the Royal Society.

He published, besides a sermon in 1803: 1. ‘Sermons,’ &c., 1815, 8vo; reprinted 1816, 8vo, 1824, 8vo, 1832, 8vo. 2. ‘An Essay on Sacred Literature,’ &c., 1820, 8vo; 2nd ed. 1828, 8vo; also 1831, 8vo. 3. ‘Practical Theology,’ &c., 1830, 8vo, 2 vols. 4. ‘Biographical Memoir’ prefixed to ‘Remains of William Phelan, D.D.,’ 1832, 8vo, 2 vols. Posthumous was: 5. ‘Thirty Years' Correspondence between … Bishop Jebb … and Alexander Knox,’ &c., 1836, 8vo, 2 vols. He edited Townson's ‘Practical Discourses,’ 1828, 8vo; Burnet's ‘Lives of Rochester and Matthew Hale,’ 1833, 8vo; part of Knox's ‘Literary Remains,’ 1834–7, 8vo, 4 vols.; and made a selection from practical writers under the title ‘Piety without Asceticism,’ 1831, 8vo.

Jebb, Richard (1766–1834), Irish judge, born at Drogheda in 1766, was the bishop's elder brother. While a student at Lincoln's Inn he inherited, in 1787, the property of his cousin, Sir Richard Jebb, M.D. [q. v.]; he was called to the Irish bar in 1789. He supported the union, and published ‘A Reply to a Pamphlet entitled “Arguments for and against an Union,”’ 1799, which attracted attention, and led the English government to offer him a seat in the united parliament, but this he declined. He was appointed successively king's counsel, and third and second serjeant, and in December 1818 fourth justice of the Irish court of king's bench. He was a firm, although humane and impartial, judge. He died suddenly at his house at Rosstrevor, near Newry, on 3 Sept. 1834. He married Jane Louisa, eldest daughter of John Finlay, M.P. for Dublin, by whom he had five sons and a daughter (Gent. Mag. 1834, pt. ii. p. 532). Canon John Jebb (1805–1886) [q. v.] was his eldest son.

[Life and Letters, by Forster, 1836, 2 vols.; Wills's Lives of Illustrious Irishmen, 1847, vi. 425 sq.; Mant's Hist. of the Church of Ireland, 1840, ii. 787; Newman's Letters (Mozley), 1891, i. 440, 470; see also art. infra [[Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Knox, Alexander {1757-1831)|Knox, Alexander]].]

A. G.