He was educated at Norwich School, and at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, becoming a fellow in 1849. After holding a chair in King's College London, he became, in 1862, the fourth vice-principal of St Davids College, Lampeter, a college with which he was already familiar, for he had been external examiner between 1851 and 1852. The ageing Principal of the college took a backseat, and Perowne effectively 'took the reins' until his departure from Lampeter in 1872.
He was elected canon of Llandaff in 1869, dean of Peterborough 1878, and in 1891 succeeded Henry Philpott as bishop of Worcester. Whilst at Lampeter, Perowne had gained a great respect for the theology of his predecessor in the role of Vice-Principal, Rowland Williams, and when he became a bishop, he went to great lengths to avoid taking action against modernists in the church. Indeed, a work by one of his incumbents, which denied the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, the Divinity of Christ, the Atonement, and the concepts of the Resurrection of Christ and the Ascension was described by Perowne as 'an honest attempt to deal with great spiritual problems' . He resigned his see in late 1901.
Perowne was a respected Hebrew scholar of the traditional type and sat on the Old Testament Revision Committee. He is best remembered as the general editor of the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. His chief works were a Commentary on the Book of Psalms (2 vols., 1864–1868) and a life of Bishop Thirlwall (1877–1878).
Perowne married Anne Maria, daughter of Humphry William Woolrych, before moving to Wales in 1862. His son Arthur William Thomson Perowne, became the first Bishop of Bradford, and subsequently Bishop of Worcester. Another son was John Thomas Woolrych Perowne, a British Army officer, King's Messenger and Gold Staff Officer. One of his grandsons, Stewart Perowne, married Freya Stark and was the more famous as Head of Education in British Palestine, archaeologist, explorer, and writer. Stewart's brother Leslie was sometime Head of Music at the BBC and was responsible for bringing Albert Ketèlbey out of retirement to conduct a huge BBC Ketèlbey Concert at the Royal Albert Hall prior to World War II.
- "Perowne, John James Stewart (PRWN841JJ)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
- Wood, Stella. "Perowne, John James Stewart". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/35483. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- D T W Price, A History of Saint David's University College, Lampeter, University of Wales Press, Cardiff. Volume One, to 1898 (ISBN 0-7083-0606-3)
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
|Church of England titles|
|Vice-principal of St Davids College, Lampeter
William Harrison Davey
|Bishop of Worcester