Hussey, Robert (DNB00)

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HUSSEY, ROBERT (1801–1856), professor of ecclesiastical history at Oxford, born on 7 Oct. 1801, was fourth son of William Hussey, a member of an old Kentish family, who was for forty-nine years rector of Sandhurst, near Hawkhurst in Kent. (His eldest sister, Mrs. Sutherland, gave to the Bodleian Library in 1837 the magnificent collection of historical prints and drawings, in sixty-one folio volumes, illustrating the works of Clarendon and Burnet.) Hussey was for a time at Rochester grammar school; but in 1814 he was sent to Westminster School, in 1816 became a king's scholar, and in 1821 was elected to Christ Church, Oxford. There he resided for the remainder of his life. He obtained a double first-class in the B.A. examination, Michaelmas 1824, and proceeded M. A. in 1827 and B.D. in 1837. After a few years spent in private tuition, he was appointed one of the college tutors, and held that office until he became censor in 1835. He was appointed select preacher before the university in 1831 and again in 1846. He was proctor in 1836, in which year he was an unsuccessful candidate for the head-mastership of Harrow. In 1838 he was appointed one of the classical examiners at Oxford, and from 1841 to 1843 was one of the preachers at Whitehall. In 1842 he relinquished his college duties on his appointment to the newly founded regius professorship of ecclesiastical history. As the canonry of Christ Church, which is now attached to the professorship, was not then vacant, an annual payment of 300l. was made by the university.

The change of employment was thoroughly congenial. For the benefit of the students attending his lectures he edited the histories of Socrates (1844), Evagrius (1844), Bæda (1846), and Sozomen (3 vols. finished after his death, 1860). In a volume of 'Sermons, mostly Academical' (Oxford, 1849), Hussey published a 'Preface containing a Refutation of the Theory founded upon the Syriac Fragments of three of the Epistles of St. Ignatius,' then recently discovered and published by William Cureton [q. v.] His conclusion, which is now generally adopted, was that these fragments only contain certain extracts from the Epistles and not the whole text. In 1851, at the time of the 'papal aggression' he published a useful manual on 'The Rise of the Papal Power traced in Three Lectures' (reissued, with additions, in 1863). Hussey was in a general way opposed to the Oxford movement; but his egregia æguitas prevented his being a party man. He issued a pamphlet in February 1845 containing 'Reasons for Voting upon the Third Question to be proposed in Convocation on the 13th inst.,' in which he showed the unreasonableness of the proposal to condemn 'Tract 90' a second time, four years after its first appearance. In 1845 Hussey was presented by the dean and chapter of Christ Church to the perpetual curacy of Binsey, a very small parish, with a very small emolument, within a short walk of Oxford. He was subsequently appointed rural dean by Bishop Wilberforce, and was elected one of the proctors in convocation for the diocese of Oxford. In 1854, when the new hebdomadal council was appointed, Hussey was chosen one of the professorial members almost by general suffrage. Tall and strong, and fond of manly exercise, Hussey died rather suddenly of heart disease on 2 Dec. 1856. To the dean and chapter of Christ Church he bequeathed so much of his library as related to ecclesiastical history and patristic theology, for the use of his successors in the chair. He married Elizabeth, sister of his friend and contemporary at Christ Church, the Rev. Jacob Ley. She survived him with one daughter. Besides the works already mentioned and some academical pamphlets and sermons, Hussey wrote:

  1. 'An Essay on the Ancient Weights and Money and the Roman and Greek Liquid Measures; with an Appendix on the Roman and Greek Foot,' 8vo, Oxford, 1836, an accurate work of permanent value, the fruit of a diligent examination of ancient coins in museums at home and abroad.
  2. 'An Account of the Roman Road from Alchester to Dorchester, and other Roman Remains in the Neighbourhood,' 8vo, Oxford, 1841, in 'Transactions of the Ashmolean Society.'

[Memoir by his brother-in-law, the Rev. 'Jacob Ley, in the Advertisement to the 2nd edition of the Rise of the Papal Power, 1863; Preface to Dean Burgon's Lives of Twelve Good Men, 1888, p. xii; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; private information and personal knowledge.]

W. A. G.