Thomas Gaisford, portrait taken from the Imagines Philologorum
22 December 1779|
Iford Manor, Wiltshire
2 June 1855 (aged 75)|
Christ Church, Oxford
|Resting place||The nave of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford|
|Alma mater||Christ Church, Oxford|
|Occupation||Classical scholar, clergyman|
Thomas Gaisford (22 December 1779 – 2 June 1855) was an English classical scholar and clergyman. He served as Dean of Christ Church from 1831 until his death.
At Oxford, he became successively student and tutor of Christ Church. In 1811, he was appointed Regius Professor of Greek in the University. Taking orders, he held (1815–1847) the college living of Westwell, Oxfordshire, and other ecclesiastical preferments simultaneously with his professorship. In 1829, he was offered the position of Bishop of Oxford, but he turned it down. From 1831 until his death, he was Dean of Christ Church.
As curator of the Bodleian Library and principal delegate of the Oxford University Press, Gaisford was instrumental in securing the co-operation of distinguished European scholars as collators, notably Bekker and Dindorf. Among his numerous contributions to Greek literature may be mentioned, Hephaestion's Encheiridion (1810); Poëtae minores Graeci (1814–1820); Stobaeus' Florilegium (1822); Herodotus, with variorum notes (1824); Suidas's Lexicon (1834); Etymologicum Magnum (1848). Eusebius's Praeparatio evangelica (1843) and Demonstratio evangelica (1852).
On 11 May 1815 Gaisford married Helen Margaret Douglas (1791–1830) the daughter of the Rev. Robert Douglas. They had five children. After she died in 1830, he married Jane Catharine Jenkyns (1787–1863); she was the sister of Dr Richard Jenkyns, master of Balliol College and Dr Henry Jenkyns.
On 23 June 1843, Gaisford's 21-year-old son, William Gaisford, drowned while swimming in the river Thames at Sandford Lock – a notoriously dangerous spot. He got into difficulties and his friend, Richard Phillimore (the son of Joseph Phillimore), entered the water to save him. However, both men perished. They are buried in Christ Church Cathedral. They are commemorated by an obelisk at Sandford Lock and two memorial tablets in the north walk of the Cathedral cloisters.
- "Nor can I do better, in conclusion, than impress upon you the study of Greek literature, which not only elevates above the vulgar herd, but leads not infrequently to positions of considerable emolument." –Th. Gaisford, Christmas Day Sermon in the Cathedral, Oxford (Rev. W. Tuckwell, Reminiscences of Oxford, 2nd ed., 1907, p. 124)
- "It was said that Gaisford, on his visit to Germany, had some difficulty in escaping from the 'umarmung' [hug, embrace] of some of its scholars, exclaiming (in the apprehension of a 'kuss' [kiss] on both cheeks) 'Ohe ! jam satis, amice'." G.V. Cox, Recollections of Oxford, London : Macmillan, 1870, p. 411, fn. 3. 'Ohe ! jam [iam] satis, amice' means idiomatically : 'Oh, that's quite enough, my friend.' The quotation derives with amendment from Abraham Cowley's Naufragium Joculare [Ioculare] ('The Hilarious Shipwreck'.), 1638, Act 1, sc. 6. (Geoffrey Thomas, Birkbeck College, University of London.)
NB: The London Courier and Evening Gazette 13 July 1815 has the following marriage announcement:- On 'Tuesday last, at Oxford, the Rev. Thomas Gaisford, M.A. Regius Professor of Greek, and Rector of Westwell, Oxtordshire, Helen, second daughter of the late Rev. Robert Douglas