George, Hereford Brooke (DNB12)

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GEORGE, HEREFORD BROOKE (1838–1910), historical writer, born at Bath on 1 Jan. 1838, was eldest of the three children (two sons and a daughter) of Richard Francis George, surgeon, by his wife Elizabeth Brooke. He entered Winchester as a scholar in 1849, and succeeded in 1856 to a fellowship at New College, Oxford. He obtained first classes in both classical and mathematical moderations in 1858, a second class in the final classical school in 1859, and a second class in the final mathematical-school in 1860. He graduated B.A. in 1860, proceeding M.A. in 1862. George was called to the bar at the Inner Temple on 6 June 1864, and followed the western circuit till 1867, when he returned to New College as tutor in the combined school of law and history. He was ordained in 1868, but undertook no parochial work. After the separation of the law and history schools in 1872 he became history tutor of New College, and filled that office till 1891. He played a prominent part in the establishment of the inter-collegiate system of lecturing at Oxford. He remained a fellow of New College till his death. His historical writing and teaching were chiefly concerned with military history (in which he was a pioneer at Oxford) and with the correlation of history and geography. His chief publications, 'Battles of English History' (1895), 'Napoleon's Invasion of Russia' (1899), 'Relations of Geography and History' (1901; 4th edit. 1910), and 'Historical Evidence' (1909), all show critical acumen and fertility of illustration, if no recondite research. His 'Genealogical Tables illustrative of Modern History' (1874; 4th edit. 1904) and 'Historical Geography of the British Empire' (1904; 4th edit. 1909) are useful compilations.

George took a large part in the work of the university as well as in the re-organisation of his own college, which he described in his 'New College, 1850-1906' (1906). He was one of the first members of the Oxford University volunteer corps, and for many years he took an important share in the work of the local examinations delegacy. George's interests received a new direction from his first visit to Switzerland in 1860, when he met Leslie Stephen at Zermatt and accompanied him up to the Riffel by the Gorner glacier. In 1862 he accompanied Stephen on the first passage by the Jungfrau Joch (Maitland's Life of Stephen, chap, vi.), and achieved a first ascent of the Gross Viescherhorn (Alpine Journal, i. 97). In 1863 he made a passage of the Col du Tour Noir with Christian Aimer as guide, and 'finally settled the long-debated question about the relative positions of the heads of the Argentine, Tour, and Saline glaciers, which every successive map had professed to explain in a different way' (ibid. pp. 125, 286). Though he enjoyed the physical exercise, his interest in climbing was chiefly geographical and scientific. He was one of the first Alpine climbers to employ photography. He joined the Alpine Club in 1861, and the establishment of the 'Alpine Journal' was suggested at a meeting in his rooms at New College; he edited its first three volumes (1863-7). In 1866 he published 'The Oberland and its Glaciers,' written 'to popularise the glacier theory of Tyndall' (Alpine Journal, xxv.). George was the founder of the Oxford Alpine Club.

George, who inherited a moderate fortune from his father, was director of the West of England and South Wales Bank at Bristol, although he took no active part in the management of its affairs. The failure of the bank in 1880 not only injured George financially but involved him with his fellow-directors in an abortive trial for irregularities in keeping the accounts (Annual Reg. 3 May 1880, p. 38). George died at Holywell Lodge, Oxford, on 15 Dec. 1910. In 1870 he married Alice Bourdillon (d. 1893), youngest daughter of William Cole Cole of Exmouth, by whom he had two sons.

[Personal information; College and University Records; Alpine Journal, vol. xxv. May 1911.]

R. S. R.