Charles Thorp

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For the English cricketer, see Charles Thorp (cricketer).
The Venerable
Charles Thorp
Archdeacon Charles Thorp.jpg
Warden of the University of Durham
In office
Preceded by New creation
Succeeded by George Waddington
Master of University College, Durham
In office
Preceded by New creation
Succeeded by Joseph Waite
Archdeacon of Durham
In office
Preceded by Richard Prosser
Succeeded by Edward Prest
Personal details
Born 13 October 1783
Gateshead, County Durham, Great Britain
Died 10 October 1862 (1862-10-11) (aged 78)
Durham, County Durham, Great Britain
Alma mater Peterhouse, Cambridge, University College, Oxford
Profession Priest and academic

Charles Thorp FRS (13 October 1783 – 10 October 1862) was an English churchman, rector of the parish of Ryton and, later, Archdeacon of Durham and the first warden of the University of Durham.


He was born in Gateshead, County Durham, the son of Robert Thorp, Archdeacon of Northumberland, and educated at the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle and Durham School. In 1799, he entered Peterhouse, Cambridge and then University College, Oxford, where he graduated BA (1803) and MA (1806). He became a Fellow and Tutor at University College, Oxford, in 1806, deacon in 1806 and priest in 1807.

He then became rector of Ryton in 1811, joining a prestigious group with previous rectors including Thomas Secker, later Archbishop of Canterbury. After his time as rector at Ryton, he became Canon (1829) and then Archdeacon of Durham in 1831 and, a year later, became the first warden of the University of Durham. Thorp remained heavily involved with the university, also being the first master, the most senior person in the SCR, of University College. This was a position he held until his death in Durham in 1862. He was buried at Ryton Church. He had married twice.


Charles Thorp's life was remarkable for a number of notable achievements: Regarding education for all as necessary and empowering, he was a prime mover in introducing free education to Ryton. A committed anti-slavery campaigner, he worked with the Church Missionary Society to set up a university in Freetown, Sierra Leone, to ensure that freed slaves had access to education. An environmentalist well ahead of his time, he planted Ryton's churchyard with oak, sweet chestnut and beech treees, now in their maturity. In a similar far sighted move, he arranged for his family to buy the Farne Islands, employing a wildlife warden to protect threatened bird species. As an innovator in alleviating poverty, he set up this country's fist 'penny bank', in Ryton, allowing those with small incomes to borrow at rates they could afford. [1]

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in May, 1839.[2]

His name was chosen as the identity of a secondary school in West Gateshead in 2011, Charles Thorp Comprehensive School (now Thorp Academy), following the amalgamation of Hookergate School and Ryton Comprehensive School, on the site of the school he sponsored in his lifetime.


  1. ^ "Charles Thorp". 
  2. ^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 25 October 2010. 

External links[edit]

Academic offices
New title Warden & Vice-Chancellor of the University of Durham
Succeeded by
George Waddington