George Whitaker (educator)

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George Whitaker
A plate of Whitaker taken in the last years of his term as Provost of Trinity
Born (1811-10-09)9 October 1811
Bratton, Wiltshire
Died 27 May 1882(1882-05-27) (aged 70)
Newton Toney
Education BA, MA
Alma mater University of Cambridge
Occupation clergyman and educator

George Whitaker (9 October 1811 – 27 August 1882) was an English-Canadian clergyman and educator.

Early life[edit]

Born into a Baptist farming family in Bratton, Wiltshire, England, he received his early education at Frome Grammar School and Charterhouse School.[1] He matriculated at Queens' College, Cambridge, in 1829 and graduated BA in 1833 and MA in 1836.[2] In the course of his early academic life he became a member of the Church of England and was baptized at Bratton Parish Church in 1832.[3] This came at the beginning of the Cambridge academic year in which he would need to subscribe to the Church of England's Thirty-Nine Articles in order to take his degree.[3]


Whitaker was elected a foundation fellow of his college in 1834[3][4] and the next year became a university lecturer in classics.[1] He was ordained a deacon on 4 June 1837. He took the orders of a priest on 27 May the following year.[1]

In 1840 he was appointed Vicar of Oakington, Cambridgeshire, a living in the gift of his college.[1]

He served as the first provost and professor of divinity of the University of Trinity College, now federated with the University of Toronto, from its opening in 1852 (when it had just thirty students) until his retirement in 1881.[1] From 1875 he was also Archdeacon of York, Toronto.[1]

After ending his career in Toronto, Whitaker retired to his home county of Wiltshire as Rector of Newton Toney, near Salisbury, England. He died in August 1882 and was buried at Newton Toney.[1]


Whitaker was the eighth child of Philip Whitaker, a farmer of Bratton, Wiltshire, and his wife Anne Andrews.[1] Two of the couple's older sons, Alfred and Edward, became solicitors, Alfred at Frome[5] and Edward in London.[3] On 22 October 1844, at Bath, Somerset, George Whitaker married Arundel Charlotte Burton, the daughter of the Rev. Richard Burton, born in Sumatra, where her father had been a Baptist missionary, and brought up in Somerset in the west of England.[6][7] George and Arundel Whitaker had at least eight children.[1][3]

An eighteenth-century member of the same Whitaker family of Bratton was Jeffery Whitaker, a local schoolmaster who left a diary for the years 1739-1741 which was published by the Wiltshire Record Society in 1993.[8]


  • Two letters to the lord bishop of Toronto, in reply to charges brought by the lord bishop of Huron against the theological teaching of Trinity College, Toronto (Toronto, 1860)
  • St John the Baptist, an exemplar to Christian ministers: a sermon preached in the chapel of Trinity College, Toronto, on Sunday, June 24, 1860 (Toronto, 1860)
  • Soberness of mind; a sermon preached in the chapel of Trinity College, Toronto, on Sunday, June 25, 1865 (Toronto, 1865)
  • The office of ritual in Christian worship: a sermon preached at St. George’s Church, St Catharines, on Wednesday, April 4, 1866 (Toronto, 1866)
  • The duty of mutual toleration by parties within the church (in Dominion Churchman, Toronto, 11 & 25 July, 22 August, 19 September, 17 October, and 5 December 1878)
  • Sermons preached in Toronto; for the most part in the chapel of Trinity College (London and Toronto, 1882)[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Whitaker, George, Church of England clergyman and educator at Dictionary of Canadian Biography online (accessed 16 October 2007)
  2. ^ "Whitaker, George (WHTR829G)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Westfall, William (2002). The Founding Moment: Church, Society, and the Construction of Trinity College, p. 54. McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 0-7735-2447-9. 
  4. ^ Fellows & Presidents 1800-99 at the web site of Queens' College, Cambridge (accessed 16 October 2007)
  5. ^ Alfred Whitaker (1799-1852) at (accessed 17 October 2007)
  6. ^ Lennox, Donald H: Country of Birth: Sumatra in Anglo-Celtic Roots, Summer 1997 (British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa, 1997)
  7. ^ British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa page 'Anglo-Celtic Roots' (accessed 17 October 2007)
  8. ^ Review in The English Historical Review, vol. 108 (January, 1993), pp 208-209 of The Diaries of Jeffery Whitaker, Schoolmaster of Bratton, 1739-41, ed. Marjorie Reeves and Jean Morrison (Wiltshire Record Society, Trowbridge, 1993) (accessed 16 October 2007)
  9. ^ Online text of Whitaker's Sermons preached in Toronto (accessed 16 October 2007)
  • Reeves, M. E. George Whitaker (1811–1882): a forgotten native of Bratton in Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine, 1980 (Devizes, 1980) pp 135–39
  • Thomson, C. E. The Reverend Geo. Whitaker, M.A., first provost, 1852–1881 (Trinity University Review, Toronto, 1902)
  • Reed, T. A. (ed.) A history of the University of Trinity College, Toronto, 1852–1952 (Toronto, 1952)

External links[edit]

Academic offices
New title
college founded
Provost of the University of Trinity College
Succeeded by
Charles W. E. Body