Le Bas, Charles Webb (DNB00)

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LE BAS, CHARLES WEBB (1779–1861), principal of the East India College, Haileybury, was born in Bond Street, London, on 26 April 1779. He was descended from a Huguenot family at Caen, from which city his great-grandfather fled to England in 1702. His grandfather, Stephen le Bas, was a brewer in St. Giles-in-the-Fields, and his father, Charles le Bas, a shopkeeper in Bond Street. His mother was the daughter of Captain Webb of the East India Company's mercantile marine. She died when her son was only six years of age; about four years later the father settled at Bath, and afterwards at Margate. Charles was educated at Hyde Abbey school, near Winchester, where he was a contemporary of Thomas Gaisford [q. v.], afterwards dean of Christ Church. In 1796 he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, where he obtained a scholarship, and was afterwards Craven scholar, members' prizeman, and senior chancellor's medallist in the university. In 1800 he graduated as fourth wrangler, and was soon afterwards elected fellow of Trinity. In 1802 he was admitted a student at Lincoln's Inn, and in 1806 was called to the bar; but his constitutional deafness compelled him to abandon the legal profession. In 1808 he became tutor to the two sons of the Bishop of Lincoln (Dr. Pretyman, who afterwards took the name of Tomline), took holy orders in 1809, was presented to the rectory of St. Paul's, Shadwell, in 1811, and in 1812 became a prebendary of Lincoln Cathedral. In 1813 he was appointed mathematical professor and dean in the East India College, Haileybury, and in 1837 he became principal of the college as successor to the Rev. Dr. Batton. Increasing deafness and other infirmities led him to resign the principalship on 31 Dec. 1843. He retired to Brighton, where he died on 25 Jan. 1861. The sum of 1,920/. was raised in 1848, chiefly among his old Haileybury pupils, to found the well-known Le Bas Erize at Cambridge for the best essay on an istorical subject. Le Bas married in 1814 Sophia, daughter of Mark Hodgson of the Bow brewery, inventor of the famous India pale ale. The marriage was most happy. There was a large family, of which the Rev. H. V. Le Bas, preacher, of the Charterhouse, is the sole surviving son. Le Bas was distinguished both as a preacher and as a writer. He belonged to that theological school which formed a link between the Caroline divines and the nonjurors and the Oxford movement of 1833, and included such Cambridge men as Hugh James Rose [q. v.], Christopher Wordsworth, the master of Trinity College, Professor J. J. Blunt, and W. H. Mill. Christopher Wordsworth, afterwards bishop of Lincoln, in a journal kept during his undergraduate days, frequently speaks of the large congregations which assembled in the university church to hear Le Bas preach.

Le Bas was one of the principal contributors to the 'British Critic.' and wrote nearly eighty articles for it between 1827 and 1838. In the latter year John Henry Newman became editor, and he accepted four articles by Le Bas. Le Bas also contributed to the 'British Magazine' in 1831-2, which was founded and edited by Hugh James Rose for the purpose of inculcating church principles.

Le Bas's principal works are: 1. 'Considerations on Miracles.' 1828, which was a reprint, with large additions, of an article in the 'British Critic' on Penrose's 'Treatise on the Evidence of the Christian Miracles.' 2. 'Sermons on various occasions.' 3 vols. 1822-34; chiefly delivered in the chapel of the East India College; they are plain and practical sermons of a distinctly Anglican type. 3. 'The Life of Thomas Fanshaw Middleton, late Bishop of Calcutta.' in 2 vols. 1831; a valuable biography of an intimate friend, with whom Le Bas was in agreement on theological questions but he omits mention of the influence which Dr. Middleton exerted upon S. T. Coleridge. 4. 'Memoir of Henry Vincent Bailey, Archdeacon of Stow.' 1846, another old. friend. To the 'Theological Library.' edited by Hugh James Rose and W. R. Lyall, afterwards dean of Canterbury, Le Bas contributed, vol. i., 'Life of Wiclif' (1831), vols. iv. and v. 'Life of Cranmer' (1833), vol. xi. 'Life of Jewel' (1835), and vol. xiii. 'Life of Laud.' He was also author of some tracts for the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, and published several single sermons.

[Le Bas's Works passim; private information from the Rev. H. V. Le Bas; Life of Bishop Christopher Wordsworth; Burgon's Lives of Twelve Good Men; Works of S. T. Coleridge.]

J. H. O.