Dictionary of National Biography, 1927 supplement/Kitchin, George William

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KITCHIN, GEORGE WILLIAM (1827–1912), dean of Winchester and of Durham, was born at Naughton, Suffolk, 7 December 1827, the fifth child of the Rev. Isaac Kitchin, rector of St. Stephen's, Ipswich, by his wife, Mary, daughter of the Rev. J. Bardgett, rector of Melmerby, Cumberland. He went to Ipswich grammar school and King's College School, London, and in 1846 was elected to a studentship at Christ Church, Oxford. In 1850 he graduated, with first classes in classics and mathematics; two years later he took orders and became a tutor of his college. In 1861, after some years as head master of a preparatory school at Twyford, Hampshire, he was appointed censor of Christ Church, a post which he held until 1863, when he married. During the next twenty years he lectured for several colleges, mainly on history. He also did good work for the University Press; he was secretary from 1866 to 1868 to the board of delegates, and for many years to the school-books committee; in the latter capacity he organized the first Clarendon Press editions of English classics, which did much to promote the serious study, if not the sympathetic appreciation, of English literature in schools. It was, however, as the first censor of non-collegiate students that Kitchin rendered his greatest services to Oxford. He held the position from 1868 to 1883; the organization which he established has been little altered, and it is largely due to his energy and tact that the experiment of admitting such students to the university has proved successful.

In 1883 Kitchin was appointed to the deanery of Winchester, and eleven years later to that of Durham. In both places he threw himself with characteristic ardour into the duties of his office, but he seems to have found Durham the more congenial, partly because of the close association of the cathedral and the university. Kitchin was ex-officio warden of University College, Durham, and after 1908 he was chancellor of the university. He died 13 October 1912.

Kitchin was a man of handsome presence and much charm of manner. His habitual zeal in the performance of the daily task was doubtless in part responsible for his failure to produce a great work of learning. His most ambitious literary undertaking—a History of France, in three volumes (1873–1877)—is interesting and still useful, but too slight in texture to be placed in the highest class of historical writings. While at Oxford he also wrote a Life of Pope Pius II (1881). At Winchester and Durham he busied himself largely with local history and archaeology. Among his later writings were a history of Winchester (1890) and a Life of E. Harold Browne, Bishop of Winchester (1895); he also edited several volumes of records for the Hampshire Record Society and the Surtees Society. Kitchin was a strong liberal in politics, and incurred much public disfavour by his outspoken support of the Boers during the South African War.

Kitchin married in 1863 Alice Maud, daughter of Bridges Taylor, British consul for Denmark, by whom he had three sons and two daughters.

[Notices in the Guardian, 18 October 1812, and other newspapers; Foster's Alumni Oxonienses; private information.]

W. T. W.