Burrows, Montagu (DNB12)

BURROWS, MONTAGU (1819–1905), Chichele professor of modern history at Oxford, born at Hadley, Middlesex, on 27 Oct. 1819, was third son of lieutenant-general Montagu Burrows (1775-1848), by his wife Mary Anne Pafford, eldest daughter of Joseph Larcom, captain R.N., and sister of Sir Thomas Aiskew Larcom [q. v.]. Amongst the five other sons were the Rev. H. W. Burrows, canon of Rochester, and Major-general A. G. Burrows. The grandfather, John Burrows (1733-1786), the pluralist incumbent of the livings of Hadley in Middlesex, St. Clement Danes in London, and Christ Church in Southwark, preached to Dr. Johnson at St. Clement Danes and stood high in the estimation of literary ladies, including Hannah More and Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu ; the latter, an intimate friend, stood god-mother to his eldest son, Montagu, father of the Chichele professor.

The younger Montagu entered the Royal Naval College as a cadet in August 1832. Two years later, in October 1834, at the age of fifteen he joined the Andromache as a midshipman and passed through the college as a mate in 1 842. During his period of active service (1834-46) on this and other ships he was present at one engagement of importance, the bombardment of Acre, in November 1840, which brought Mehemet Ali, the rebellious Pasha of Egypt, to terms. For this he received the English and Turkish medals and clasp. For the rest of his time at sea he was engaged under (Sir) Henry Ducie Chads [q. v.] in suppressing piracy in the Straits Settlements and slavers on the west coast of Africa.

In November 1846 he was appointed gunnery lieutenant on the training-ship Excellent, and in 1852 he became commander. Immediately on his promotion he resolved to study at Oxford, till he should be called to active service. He had married in 1849, and early in 1853 entered Magdalen Hall, one of the few societies that then admitted married men. Rapidly passing responsions and pass moderations, he was left undisturbed by the Crimean war, for owing to a mistake his acceptance of a post, which had been offered him, came too late. In Michaelmas term, 1856, he was placed in the first class of literse humaniores, and after little more than four months' further reading took a first class in the newly created honour school of law and modern history (Easter term, 1857). Of the professors' lectures in his undergraduate days Burrows spoke with praise, more especially of those of Mansel for logic and classical philosophy, Rawlinson for ancient history, Wall for logic, and Wilson for modern philosophy. The college tutors proved in his opinion incompetent, and he mainly depended on private tuition. After graduating, Burrows engaged with much success in private teaching, mainly in law and modern history. In 1860 he published 'Pass and Class,' a useful handbook to all the Oxford schools (3rd edit. 1866). In 1862 he became a retired post-captain, and gave up the navy. His shortsightedness and slight deafness would have seriously interfered with his effectiveness as a captain of a ship.

At Oxford he attached himself to the party of moderate churchmen and political conservatives, and was always active in both church and political affairs. He contributed to the * Guardian ' till that paper adopted views too high for him in church matters and too liberal in politics. Afterwards he started new papers to enforce his views, the 'Church and State Review' in 1861 and the 'Churchman' in 1866, both of which soon failed. He was an original member of the English Church Union, acting as chairman of the Oxford branch till 1866, when its ' ritualistic ' tendencies led him to retire ; he was secretary to the Oxford branch of the Universities' Mission to Central Africa on its foundation in 1859, and acted as joint secretary of the Church Congress, which held its second meeting at Oxford in 1862. He materially assisted in the building, during the same year, of SS. Philip and James' church in North Oxford. Later he actively fought the cause of church denominational schools in Oxford, was for many years president of the Church Schools Managers and Teachers Association, and had much to do with the establishment of the Oxford diocesan conference. He was a member of the committee which founded Keble College in 1870.

Meanwhile in 1862 Burrows was elected to the Chichele professorship of modern history, which had been founded by the royal commission of 1852. His election was a surprise to himself and others. Stubbs, Freeman, and Froude, all three destined eventually to hold the chair of regius professor of modern history, and Pearson, the author of a 'History of Medieval England,' were among the candidates. Three of the five electors were liberals. But his candidature was warmly supported by Samuel Wilberforce, bishop of Oxford, and apparently by Gladstone, who was still burgess for the University of Oxford. The school of law and modern history was new ; none of the other more formidable candidates had had any experience of teaching, and Burrows' s reputation as a teacher and as the author of 'Pass and Class' carried weight. Thus, probably for the first time in the annals of Oxford, a naval officer sat in a professorial chair. Three years later Burrows was elected a fellow of All Souls College. As professor, Burrows lectured with exemplary regularity, but the attendance of undergraduates somewhat fell off as college lectures improved and the exigencies of the examination system increased.

Burrows published several courses of lectures, contributed to the 'Quarterly,' and made some reputation as an historical writer. Of his books the most important were: 'The Worthies of All Souls' (1874); 'The Cinque Ports' (1888; 4th edit. 1895); and 'The History of the Brocas Family of Beaurepaire and Roche Court' (1886), with which his wife's family was connected. In writing the last work he studied the Gascon rolls, and was created Officier de l'instruction publique by the French government for the help he gave in inducing the English government to cooperate with them in publishing these rolls in 1885. Meanwhile, he examined in the school of law and modern history in 1867-8, and was chairman of the modern history board from January 1889 to March 1893. In earlier years he had served on the Oxford extension committee which led to the foundation of the society of non-collegiate students in 1868. Owing to increasing deafness he transferred his professorial work to a deputy in the summer of 1900, but took as active an interest as ever in university, college, and city affairs until his death at Oxford on 10 July 1905. Burrows married on 13 September 1849 Mary Anna (d. 3 June 1906), third daughter of Sir James Whalley Smythe Gardiner, third baronet, of Roche Court, Fareham, a descendant of the Brocas family. Of six children three sons survived him. His eldest son, Edward Henry Burrows, born in 1851, was inspector of schools until his death in 1910. A pastel by Miss Nelly Erichsen is in the possession of his son, Mr. S. M. Burrows, at 9 Norham Gardens, Oxford.

Besides the works mentioned Burrows published:

  1. 'The Relations of Church and State, historically considered,' 1866.
  2. 'Memoir of Admiral Sir Henry Ducie Chads, K.C.B.,' 1869.
  3. 'Constitutional Progress,' 1869; 2nd edit. 1872.
  4. 'Parliament and the Church of England,' 1875.
  5. 'Imperial England,' 1880.
  6. 'Wiclif's Place in History,' 1882; 2nd edit. 1884.
  7. 'The Life of Lord Hawke,' 1883; 3rd edit. 1904.
  8. 'Commentaries on the History of Great Britain,' 1893.
  9. 'History of the Foreign Policy of Great Britain,' 1895.
  10. 'The History of the Family of Burrows of Sydenham and Long Crendon ' (printed for private circulation), 1877.
  11. 'The Families of Larcom, Hollis, and McKinley,' 1883.

He edited vols. ii. and iii. of 'Collectanea' (Oxford Historical Society), 1890, 1896; and wrote a few articles for this Dictionary. He was English correspondent of the 'American Churchman,' the organ of the American episcopal church.

[History of the Family of Burrows, by Montagu Burrows, printed for private circulation; the Autobiography of Montagu Burrows, edited by his son, S. M. Burrows, 1908; personal knowledge.]

A. H. J.