Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Monk, James Henry

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MONK, JAMES HENRY (1784–1856), bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, born early in 1784 at Buntingford, Hertfordshire, was the only son of Charles Monk, an officer of the 40th regiment, and nephew of Sir James Monk, chief justice of Montreal; his mother was the daughter of Joshua Waddington, vicar of Harworth, Nottinghamshire. He was first taught at Norwich by Dr. Foster, and in 1798 entered the Charterhouse, where, under Dr. Raine, he laid the foundation of his accurate classical scholarship. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, in October 1800, and was elected scholar in 1801. He graduated B.A. as seventh wrangler in 1804, in which year he was also second chancellor's medallist, M.A. 1807, B.D. 1818, D.D. per Lit. Reg. 1822. On 1 Oct. 1805 he was elected fellow of Trinity. In October 1807 he became assistant-tutor of his college, and during the fifteen years of his tutorship his pupils carried off the greater part of the higher classical honours at Cambridge. In January 1809, being then only twenty-five, he was elected to the regius professorship of Greek, in succession to Porson. In this position he published several tracts advocating the establishment of a classical tripos, with public examinations and honours open only to those who had obtained a place in the mathematical tripos. His first edition of the classics, the ‘Hippolytus’ of Euripides, appeared in 1811, and was favourably noticed in the ‘Quarterly Review’ by his friend C. J. Blomfield [q. v.], afterwards bishop of London. In conjunction with Blomfield he edited Porson's ‘Adversaria’ in 1812, and in 1813–14 was joint editor with Blomfield of the ‘Museum Criticum,’ a publication to which several scholars of repute contributed, though only eight numbers were issued. Monk resigned his Greek professorship in June 1823.

Monk had been ordained deacon in 1809 and priest in 1810. In 1812 he was Whitehall preacher, and attracted the attention of the premier, Lord Liverpool, who afterwards bestowed on him the deanery of Peterborough, 7 March 1822. In right of his deanery Monk nominated himself to the rectory of Fiskerton, Lincolnshire, 12 July 1822, afterwards holding the rectory of Peakirk-cum-Glinton, Northamptonshire, 27 March 1829. As dean he collected 6,000l. for the restoration of Peterborough Cathedral, himself contributing liberally. In 1830 he was given a canonry at Westminster, and in the same year he published his ‘Life of Richard Bentley,’ a work which was praised in the ‘Quarterly Review’ for November 1831, and in ‘Blackwood's Magazine’ by Professor Wilson.

On 11 July 1830 Monk was consecrated bishop of Gloucester. In 1836 the see was amalgamated with that of Bristol, in accordance with the recommendation of the ecclesiastical commission, of which Monk was an original member. Monk was not a good speaker, and in the House of Lords seldom did more than record his vote in the conservative interest. He had a severe skirmish with Sydney Smith, who ridiculed his toryism in his ‘Third Letter to Archdeacon Singleton’ on the ecclesiastical commission (S. Smith, Works, 1854, pp. 642–3). On religious questions Monk observed ‘a safe and cautious line, as his easy and open nature probably inclined him.’ His favour, however, was generally shown to the high-church rather than to the evangelical party, whose influence at Bristol, Clifton, and elsewhere in the diocese occasionally proved a source of trouble to him. He expressed a qualified approval of the Bristol Church Union, and supported its demand for the revival of convocation. In 1841 he severely censured Isaac Williams's ‘Tract for the Times’ on ‘Reserve in communicating Religious Knowledge’ (cp. Mozley, Reminiscences of Oriel, i. 436), and was one of the bishops who in 1848 protested against the appointment of Dr. Hampden to the see of Hereford. Monk gave largely to charities, and for many years devoted part of his income to the augmentation of small livings in his diocese. For some years before his death he suffered from partial blindness, and during the last six months of his life was physically almost prostrate. He died at the Palace, Stapleton, near Bristol, on 6 June 1856, aged 72. His wife Jane, only daughter of H. Hughes of Nuneaton, rector of Hardwick, Northamptonshire, survived him. By this marriage, which took place in 1823, he had three daughters and one son, Charles James (born in 1824), who graduated at Trinity College, Cambridge, became chancellor of Bristol (1855) and M.P. for Gloucester.

Monk's principal publications are:

  1. Euripides, ‘Hippolytus,’ with notes, 1811, 8vo; 1813, 1821, 1823, 1840.
  2. ‘R. Porsoni Adversaria,’ edited by Monk and C. J. Blomfield, 1812, 8vo.
  3. ‘Museum Criticum, or Cambridge Classical Researches,’ edited by Monk and C. J. Blomfield, 1814, 8vo.
  4. Euripides, ‘Alcestis,’ Greek with Latin notes, 1816, 8vo; 1818, 1823, 1826, 1837.
  5. ‘A Vindication of the University of Cambridge from the Reflections of Sir J. E. Smith,’ &c., London, 1818, 8vo.
  6. ‘A Letter … respecting an additional Examination of Students in the University of Cambridge,’ by ‘Philograntus’ (i.e. Monk), London, 1822, 8vo.
  7. ‘Cambridge Classical Examinations,’ edited by Monk, &c., 1824, 8vo.
  8. ‘The Life of R. Bentley,’ London, 1830, 4to; 2nd edit. 1833, 8vo.
  9. Euripides, ‘Iphigenia in Aulis,’ 1840, 8vo.
  10. ‘Correspondence between [Monk] and H. Hallam,’ 1844, 8vo. Privately printed (as to a note respecting Le Clerc in Hallam's ‘Literature of Europe’).
  11. Euripides, ‘Iphigenia in Tauris,’ 1845, 8vo.
  12. Various publications relating to Horfield Manor, 1848, 1852, &c.
  13. Various sermons and charges published from 1832 to 1854.
  14. ‘Euripidis Fabulæ quatuor scilicet Hippolytus Coronifer, Alcestis, Iphigenia in Aulide, Iphigenia in Tauris,’ 1857, 8vo (posthumous).

[Memoir in Gent. Mag. 1856, pt. ii. pp. 115–117; J. Foster's Index Ecclesiasticus, ‘Monk;’ Luard's Graduati Cant.; Life of Bishop S. Wilberforce; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

W. W.