January 21, 1803|
Tarrant Gunville, Dorset
|Died||June 2, 1891
Gower Street, London
|Stoke Minster (The Church of St. Peter ad Vincula)
|Alma mater||Christ's College, Cambridge|
|Occupation||Barrister, magistrate, Philologist|
|Known for||Writing on English Etymology|
Hensleigh Wedgwood (21 January 1803 – 2 June 1891) was a British etymologist, philologist and barrister, author of A Dictionary of English Etymology. He was a cousin of Charles Darwin - whom his sister Emma married in 1839.
He was educated at Rugby School, then entered St John's College, Cambridge in 1820 but switched to Christ's College the following year. Though he did well in maths, graduating as 8th wrangler, he finished bottom in the classical tripos at Cambridge in 1824, for which he was awarded the first "wooden wedge", equivalent to the wooden spoon, and jokingly named for him.
After leaving Cambridge, Wedgwood read for the chancery bar. In 1828, he qualified as a barrister, but never practiced. Between 1831 and 1837, he served as a Police Magistrate and sat at the Surrey Magistrates court at Union Hall, Southwark. A notable case that came before him during his tenure was that of James Pratt and John Smith in 1835, who he committed to trial after their arrest for homosexual acts. After their trial and conviction at the Central Criminal Court, the two became the last to be executed for sodomy in England. This was in spite of Wedgwood himself calling for a commutation of their death sentences in a letter to the Home Secretary.
Wedgwood resigned from the Magistracy after deciding that one of his duties, the administrations of oaths, was inconsistent with the commandments of the New Testament. Between 1838 and 1849, he held the post of Registrar of Metropolitan Public Carriage.
He married Frances Emma Elizabeth "Fanny" Mackintosh (1800-1889) in 1832, his first cousin, the daughter of Sir James Mackintosh and his second wife Catherine "Kitty" Allen. It was an open family secret that Hensleigh's cousin Erasmus Alvey Darwin was carrying on with Fanny. They had six children:
- Frances Julia Wedgwood (1833-1913), feminist philosopher and writer known as "Snow".
- James Mackintosh Wedgwood (1834-1874)
- Ernest Hensleigh Wedgwood (1837-1898)
- Katherine Euphemia Wedgwood (1839-1934), married Thomas Farrer, 1st Baron Farrer.
- Alfred Allen Wedgwood (1842-1892), father of J. I. Wedgwood.
- Hope Elizabeth (1844-1935) married her cousin Godfrey Wedgwood.
Partial list of works
- The Principles of Geometrical Demonstration, 1844
- On the Development of Understanding, 1848.
- On the Origin of Language, 1866.
- A Dictionary of English Etymology, Second Edition, 1872.
- Contested Etymologies in the Dictionary of Rev. W. W. Skeat, 1882.
- Herford, C. H.; rev. John D. Haigh (2004). "Wedgwood, Hensleigh (1803–1891)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2010-05-09.
- "Wedgewood (or Wedgwood), Hensleigh (WGWT820H)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
- Bristed, Charles Astor (1852). Five years in an English university. G. P. Putnam. p. 253.
- Cocks (2010) p.38
- Upchurch (2009), p.112.
- "The Hensleigh Wedgwood collection". University of Birmingham. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
- Cocks, Dr Harry (2010). Nameless Offences, Homosexual Desire in the 19th Century. I.B.Taurus & Co. ISBN 9781848850903.
- Upchurch, Charles (2009). Before Wilde: Sex between Men in Britain's Age of Reform. University of California Press. ISBN 0520258533.
- http://wardsbookofdays.com/2june.htm Hensleigh Wedgwood and The Wooden Spoon @ Ward's Book of Days
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