Son of Mr Serjeant Goulburn, M.P., recorder of Leicester, and nephew of the Right Hon. Henry Goulburn, chancellor of the exchequer in the ministries of Sir Robert Peel and the Duke of Wellington, he was born in London, and was educated at Eton and at Balliol College, Oxford. In 1839 he became fellow and tutor of Merton, and was ordained in 1842. For some years he held the living of Holywell, Oxford, and was chaplain to Samuel Wilberforce, bishop of the diocese. In 1850 he delivered the Bampton Lectures at Oxford on The Resurrection of the Body. In 1849 he had succeeded Tait as headmaster of Rugby, but in 1857 he resigned, and accepted the charge of Quebec Chapel, Marylebone.
In 1858 he became a prebendary of St Paul's, and in 1859 vicar of St John's, Paddington. In 1866 he was made Dean of Norwich, and in that office exercised a long and marked influence on church life. A strong Conservative and a churchman of traditional orthodoxy, he was a keen antagonist of higher criticism and of all forms of rationalism.
His Thoughts on Personal Religion (1862) and The Pursuit of Holiness were well received; and he wrote the Life (1892) of his friend Dean Burgon, with whose doctrinal views he was substantially in agreement. He resigned the deanery in 1889, and died at Tunbridge Wells on 3 May 1897. There is a memorial to him at Aynho.
See Life by B. Compton (1899).
- NPG details
- “Who was Who” 1897-2007 London, A & C Black, 2007 ISBN 978-0-19-954087-7
- Ordination. The Times Thursday 26 May 1842; pg. 6; Issue 17993; col A 1889
- "The Clergy List, Clerical Guide and Ecclesiastical Directory" London, Hamilton & Co 1889
- Rugby School The Times Tuesday 11 December 1849; pg. 5; Issue 20356; col A
- The Times, Thursday 17 June 1897; pg. 11; Issue 35232; col F Court Circular