Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Jenkyns, Richard

JENKYNS, RICHARD, D.D. (1782–1854), master of Balliol College, born at Evercreech, Somerset, in 1782, was eldest son of John Jenkyns, prebendary of Wells, and for forty years vicar of Evercreech. He was admitted as a commoner to Balliol College, Oxford, 27 May 1800, and was afterwards elected scholar. As soon as he reached the statutable age of twenty he was elected fellow. He graduated B.A. in 1804, M.A. in 1806, and B.D. and D.D. in 1819, and acted as public examiner in 1811–12. He was appointed tutor of his college in 1813, bursar in 1814, and in 1819 was elected master. His ability and learning were moderate, but his devotion to the college and his zeal for its interests made his mastership remarkably successful. At the beginning of the thirty-five years during which he occupied the post the position of the college was not high; at the end it could claim to rank as the first college in Oxford. The change was chiefly due to the substitution of open competition for the old system under which scholars were elected on the simple nomination of each fellow in his turn. The first election to open scholarships took place in 1828, and the new practice was confirmed by a visitatorial decree in 1834. The credit of this reform has been generally ascribed to Jenkyns, but he himself afterwards said that he had done no more than acquiesce in it with the gravest doubts as to the probability of its success. The college was, however, undoubtedly greatly benefited by his exertions in obtaining fellows and scholars of ability and in raising the standard required from commoners on admission. The assumption of severity with which he covered a kind and indulgent disposition, the pompous appearance of his short figure, his strange accent and the eccentricity of his sayings, gave him an important place in the memories of members of his college, and led to many comical anecdotes of which he was the hero. Some of these relate to the tractarian movement, which he greatly disliked. He was one of the six doctors who condemned Pusey's sermon in 1843. He was vice-chancellor from 1824 to 1828, and held the deanery of Wells along with his mastership from 1845 till his death on 6 March 1854. Under provisions of his will were founded two exhibitions of 100l. a year for four years, open to members of Balliol College who have not exceeded sixteen terms of academical standing.

[‘Personal Recollections of an Old Oxonian’ (Canon F. Oakeley), No. iii. ‘Balliol under Dr. Jenkyns,’ in The Month for January 1866, iv. 50–9; Wilfrid Ward's W. G. Ward and the Oxford Movement, 2nd edit. 1890, pp. 27, 40, 174–5, 242, 325, and Appendix D by the Master of Balliol (Professor Jowett), pp. 440–1; Times, 7 March 1854; Annual Register, 1854, p. 278; Reminiscences of William Rogers, 2nd edit. 1888, pp. 21–8; information furnished by the master of Balliol (Professor Jowett).]

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