Rham, William Lewis (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

RHAM, WILLIAM LEWIS (1778–1843), agriculturist, was born in Utrecht in 1778, his father being Dutch and his mother Swiss. When still young he came to England and afterwards attended Edinburgh University as a medical student, but, determining to seek holy orders, entered Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1806 (M.A. 1810), and was tenth wrangler. After taking holy orders he successively held the rectory of Fersfield, Norfolk, from 1803; the vicarage of Broad Hinton, Wiltshire, from 1804; a prebend of Bitton in Salisbury, from 1806; and the vicarage of Winkfield, Berkshire, from 1808. He remained at Winkfield till his death.

Rham was very popular with his rural parishioners, devoting himself to agricultural pursuits, upon which he became one of the greatest authorities of his day (cf. Donaldson, Agric. Biogr. p. 125). He was a member of the Royal Agricultural Society, and sat on its council and committees from its beginning in 1838.

To its journal Rham contributed several valuable papers on practical agriculture, including an ‘Essay on the Simplest and Easiest Mode of Analysing Soils’ (i. 46), which won a prize offered by the society. He maintained his connection with the continent by frequent visits, and his knowledge of continental methods is one of the features of his agricultural papers. As the result of one of these continental trips, when he walked from farm to farm and accepted the rough hospitality of the peasantry, he contributed to the agricultural section of the ‘Library of Useful Knowledge’ a manual on ‘Flemish Industry.’ He also contributed to publications like the ‘Gardeners' Chronicle’ and the ‘Penny Cyclopædia.’ A compilation of the articles which he wrote for the latter was published as ‘A Dictionary of the Farm,’ London, 1844, and went through five editions; the later ones being edited and supplemented by other hands. He also edited and revised an edition of Doyle's ‘Cyclopædia of Practical Husbandry,’ London, 1851.

His continental experience taught him the necessity of agricultural schools, and the school of industry which he opened at Wink- field in 1835 was conducted on principles which show that he anticipated later theories of education. The school, which accommodated fifty boys and fifty girls, was surrounded with four acres of land, upon which the pupils were taught manual labour and the science of agriculture. Workshops and workrooms adjoined, and there the boys were taught to handle tools and the girls had lessons in domestic work. The establishment was maintained by private subscription and the sale of produce.

Rham died at Winkfield on 31 Oct. 1843.

[Foster's Index Ecclesiasticus, p. 149; Dict. of the Farm, introductory notice; Journ. of the Royal Agricultural Society; Tremenheere's Report to the Council of Education, March 1843.]

J. R. M.