Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Procter, Francis

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PROCTER, FRANCIS (1812–1905), divine, born at Hackney on 21 June 1812, was only son of Francis Procter, a warehouseman in Gracechurch St., Manchester, by Mary his wife. The son was of delicate health, and spent the early years of his life at Newland vicarage, Gloucestershire, under the care of an uncle, Payler Procter, who was vicar there. In 1825 he was sent to Shrewsbury school under Dr. Samuel Butler [q. v.], and thence passed in 1831 to St. Catharine's College, Cambridge, where another uncle. Dr. Joseph Procter, was Master. In 1835 he graduated B.A. as thirtieth wangler and eleventh in the second class of the classical tripos. In the following year he was ordained deacon in the diocese of Lincoln, and in 1838 priest in the diocese of Ely. He served curacies at Streatley, Bedfordshire, from 1836 to 1840, and at Romsey from 1840 to 1842, when he gave up for the time parochial work in order to become fellow and assistant tutor of his college. In 1847 he left the university for the vicarage of Witton, Norfolk. There the rest of his long life was spent. After serving the cure for nearly sixty years, he died at Witton on 24 Aug. 1905, and was buried in the churchyard there. In 1848 he married Margaret, daughter of Thomas Meryon of Rye, Sussex, and had issue five sons and three daughters.

Procter was author of 'A History of the Book of Common Prayer, with a Rationale of its Offices,' which was originally published in 1855. In many fresh editions Procter kept the work abreast of the liturgical studies of the day. Further revised with Procter's concurrence in 1901, it still remains in use. Later he projected an edition of the 'Sarum Breviary,' for which he transcribed the text of the 'Great Breviary' printed at Paris in 1531. Procter published the first volume at Cambridge in 1879 with Christopher Wordsworth as joint-editor and with the co-operation of Henry Bradshaw, W. Chatterley Bishop, and others; the second volume followed in 1882, and the concluding one in 1886.

Procter's liturgical work was careful and scholarly; his text-book followed the lines of sound exposition laid down by Wheatley and his followers, and his edition of the 'Sarum Breviary' was the most notable achievement of an era which was first developing the scientific study of medieval service-books. A portrait painted by an amateur is in the possession of his son.

[Information from Miss Procter (daughter); Shrewsbury School Register; Records of St. Catharine's College; Crockford's Clerical Directory.]

W. H. F.