Raven, John James (DNB12)

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RAVEN, JOHN JAMES (1833–1906), archæologist and campanologist, born on 25 June 1833 at Boston, Lincolnshire, was eldest son of eight children of John Hardy Raven, of Huguenot descent, rector of Worlington, Suffolk, by his wife Jane Augusta, daughter of John Richman, attorney, of Lymington, Hampshire. A younger brother, the Rev. John Hardy Raven (1842–1911), was headmaster of Beccles school. John, after early training at home, entered St. Catharine's College, Cambridge, on 18 Oct. 1853, and migrated on 17 Dec. following to Emmanuel College (where he was awarded first an Ash exhibition and subsequently a sizarship). He graduated B.A. as a senior optime in the mathematical tripos of 1857, proceeding M.A. in 1860 and D.D. in 1872. In 1857 he was appointed second master of Sevenoaks grammar school, and was ordained curate of the parish church there. In 1859 he became headmaster of Bungay grammar school, an office which was for nearly 300 years in the gift of Emmanuel College. He improved the working of the school and raised money for a new building, which was opened in 1863. A commemorative tablet testifies to his share of the work. From 1866 to 1885 he was headmaster of Yarmouth grammar school. He served for some time as curate of the parish church, Yarmouth, and was from 1881 to 1885 vicar of St. George's in that town. In 1885 he was presented by the Master of Emmanuel to the consolidated vicarage of Fressingfield and rectory of Withersdale in Suffolk, and was admitted on 23 March 1895 (under a dispensation from the archbishop of Canterbury) to the vicarage of Metfield in the same county. He was chosen honorary canon of Norwich in 1888, and rural dean of Hoxne in 1896, and a co-opted member of the County Education Committee on its formation in 1902.

While a youth Raven began his lifelong archæological study by examining the bells of the churches near his home at Worlington and by contributing to Parker's 'Ecclesiastical History of Suffolk' in 1854. He served from 1881 till his death on the committee of the Norfolk and Norwich Archæological Society, which he joined in 1871, was a vice-president of the Suffolk Institute of Archæology, and was elected F.S.A. on 23 April 1891. The best English campanologist of his time, he was president of the Norwich Diocesan Association of Ringers, and published books on 'The Church Bells of Cambridgeshire' (Lowestoft, 1869; 2nd edit. Camb. Antiq. Soc. 1881), 'The Church Bells of Suffolk' (1890), and ’The Bells of England' (in the 'Antiquary's Books' series, 1906). He died at Fressingfield vicarage on 20 Sept. 1906, and was buried in the churchyard, A reredos was erected to his memory in the church. His pupils at Yarmouth presented him with his portrait by Alfred Lys Baldry (now belonging to his eldest son at Fressingfield), and a tower at Yarmouth school commemorated his successful headmastership. His fine library of county and bell literature was sold at Fressingfield in Nov. 1906.

He married on 19 March 1860, at Mildenhall parish church, Suffolk, Fanny, youngest daughter of Robert Homer Harris of Botesdale, and had, with two daughters, seven sons, of whom three took holy orders.

Besides the works already mentioned, separate sermons, and contributions to periodicals, including 'Emmanuel College Magazine,' Raven published 'The History of Suffolk' (in the 'Popular County Histories' series, 1895), and 'Mathematics made easy: Lectures on Geometry and Algebra' (1897). He also compiled the 'Early Man' section of the 'Victoria County History of Suffolk,' and projected a volume, 'Sidelights on the Revolution Period,' for which he transcribed Archbishop Sancroft's commonplace book.

[Athenæum, 29 Sept. 1906; Emmanuel Coll. Mag., vol. xvii. no. 1; private information.]

T. C. H.