Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Harrison, Benjamin (1808-1887)

1386747Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 25 — Harrison, Benjamin (1808-1887)1891William Henry Fremantle

HARRISON, BENJAMIN, the younger (1808–1887), archdeacon of Maidstone, born on 26 Sept. 1808, was son of Benjamin Harrison [q. v.], treasurer of Guy's Hospital. He matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, 17 May 1826, and was elected a student in 1828 (B.A. 1830, M.A. 1833). Harrison had a distinguished career at Oxford, where he was contemporary with Mr. Gladstone and other remarkable men. He was placed in the first class for classics and in the second class for mathematics (1830); gained the Ellerton theological essay prize, the Kennicott and the Pusey and Ellerton Hebrew scholarships, in 1831–2, and the chancellor's English essay prize in 1832. The subject of the last was ‘The study of different languages as it relates to the philosophy of the human mind’ (printed Oxford, 1833). He took part in the Oxford movement, and wrote Nos. xvi. xvii. xxiv. and xlix. of the ‘Tracts for the Times,’ mostly on the scriptural authority for the episcopalian organisation of the church. But he was deterred from the Romeward movement both by his ecclesiastical connections and by his conservative temperament. He was select preacher to the university (1835–7), domestic chaplain to Howley, archbishop of Canterbury (1843–8), canon of Canterbury and archdeacon of Maidstone (1845–1887). He had a considerable knowledge of Hebrew, and was one of the Old Testament company of revisers who produced the version of the Bible issued in 1885.

At Canterbury he was distinguished by his zeal in his archidiaconal work, his intimate knowledge of the clergy, his regularity at the cathedral services, his activity in the business of various church societies, and also by his geniality, wit, and tolerance, and by his readiness to take part by sympathy and hospitality in gatherings like those of the Canterbury cricket-week or the meetings of the agricultural and archæological societies. He inherited from Archbishop Howley a valuable library, and after his death his widow presented it, with the addition of a collection of Bibles and liturgical works made by his father, and many other books acquired by himself, to Canterbury Cathedral, where it forms the Howley-Harrison Library. He was intimate with Dean Stanley during his tenure of a canonry at Canterbury, and to him Stanley dedicated the ‘Historical Memorials of Canterbury.’

Harrison died on 25 March 1887, at 7 Bedford Square, London, a house which he had inherited from Sir Robert Inglis, M.P. for Oxford University, a connection by marriage. He married in 1841 Isabella, daughter of Henry Thornton, M.P., of Battersea Rise, but had no issue.

Harrison published, besides the ‘Tracts for the Times’ and many single sermons and charges, one of which gives a life of Archbishop Howley: 1. ‘Historical Inquiry into the true Interpretation of the Rubrics,’ London, 1849. 2. ‘Prophetic Outlines of the Christian Church, and the Anti-Christian power as traced in the Visions of Daniel and St. John; in twelve lectures preached in the Chapel of Lincoln's Inn on the foundation of Bishop Warburton,’ London, 1849. 3. ‘Privileges, Duties, and Perils in the English Branch of the Church of Christ,’ six sermons, London, 1850. He also edited: 1. Sermons of William Grant Broughton [q. v.], bishop of Sydney, with a prefatory memoir, 1857; and 2. ‘Christianity in Egypt. Letters and papers concerning the Coptic Church,’ 1883.

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W. H. F.