Hensleigh Wedgwood

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Hensleigh Wedgwood
Born (1803-01-21)January 21, 1803
Tarrant Gunville, Dorset
Died June 2, 1891(1891-06-02) (aged 88)
Gower Street, London[1]
Resting place
Stoke Minster (The Church of St. Peter ad Vincula)
53°00′15″N 02°10′53″W / 53.00417°N 2.18139°W / 53.00417; -2.18139
Nationality English
Alma mater Christ's College, Cambridge
Occupation Barrister, magistrate, Philologist
Known for Writing on English Etymology
Spouse(s)
  • Frances Emma Elizabeth Mackintosh
  • Catherine (Kitty) Allen
Children six
Parents
Relatives

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.[1]

Early life[edit]

Wedgwood was born at Tarrant Gunville in Dorset, the fourth son of Josiah Wedgwood II and Elizabeth Allen of Cresselly, Pembrokeshire.[1]

He was educated at Rugby School, then entered St John's College, Cambridge in 1820 but switched to Christ's College the following year.[2] 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,[1] and jokingly named for him.[3]

Career[edit]

After leaving Cambridge, Wedgwood read for the chancery bar. In 1828, he qualified as a barrister, but never practiced.[1] 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.[4][5]

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.[1]

His main field of study Philology and Etymology. Publishing his Dictionary of Etymology in 1857. He was also a founding member of the Philological Society.[1]

In later years he became interested in Spiritualism, holding seances and once sent a hoax photograph of himself in the presence of "spirits" to T.H. Huxley.

Personal life[edit]

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.[1] It was an open family secret that Hensleigh's cousin Erasmus Alvey Darwin was carrying on with Fanny. They had six children:

Wedgwood died on 2 June 1891 at his house at 94 Gower Street, London.[1] He was buried at the Church of St. Peter ad Vincula, Stoke on Trent, now known as Stoke Minster.

Legacy[edit]

A collection of around 550 books from his library is held by the library of the University of Birmingham. They were donated to the university by his daughter, Frances Julia Wedgwood.[6]

Partial list of works[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Herford, C. H.; rev. John D. Haigh (2004). "Wedgwood, Hensleigh (1803–1891)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2010-05-09. 
  2. ^ "Wedgewood (or Wedgwood), Hensleigh (WGWT820H)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  3. ^ Bristed, Charles Astor (1852). Five years in an English university. G. P. Putnam. p. 253. 
  4. ^ Cocks (2010) p.38
  5. ^ Upchurch (2009), p.112.
  6. ^ "The Hensleigh Wedgwood collection". University of Birmingham. Retrieved 31 May 2014. 
Bibliography
  • 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. 

External links[edit]