Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Oakeley, Frederick
OAKELEY, FREDERICK (1802–1880), tractarian, youngest child of Sir Charles Oakeley, bart. [q. v.], formerly governor of Madras, was born on 5 Sept. 1802 at the Abbey House, Shrewsbury, from which, in 1810, his family removed to the bishop's palace, Lichfield. Ill-health prevented his leaving home for school, but in his fifteenth year he was sent to a private tutor, Charles Sumner, afterwards bishop of Winchester [q. v.] In June 1820 he matriculated from Christ Church, Oxford. Though shyness and depression of spirits somewhat hindered his success in the schools, he gained a second class in literæ humaniores in 1824. After graduating B.A. he worked in real earnest, and won the chancellor's Latin and English prize essays in 1825 and 1827 respectively, and the Ellerton theological prize, also in 1827. In this latter year he was ordained, and was elected to a chaplain fellowship at Balliol. In 1830 he became tutor and catechetical lecturer at Balliol, and a prebendary of Lichfield on Bishop Ryder's appointment. In 1831 he was select preacher, and in 1835 one of the public examiners to the university. The Bishop of London (Dr. Blomfield) appointed him Whitehall preacher in 1837, when he resigned his tutorship at Balliol, but he retained his fellowship till he joined the church of Rome.
During his residence at Balliol as chaplain-fellow (from 1827) Oakeley became connected with the tractarian movement. Partly owing to the influence of his brother-fellow, William George Ward [q. v.], he had grown dissatisfied with the evangelicalism which he had at first accepted, and in the preface to his first volume of Whitehall Sermons (1837) he avowed himself a member of the new Oxford school. In 1839 he became incumbent of Margaret Chapel, the predecessor of All Saints, Margaret Street, and Oxford ceased to be his home.
Perhaps the most interesting years of Oakeley's life were the six that he passed as minister of Margaret Chapel (1839–45), where he became, according to a friend's description, the ‘introducer of that form of worship which is now called ritualism.’ He was supported by prominent men, among the friends of Margaret Chapel being Mr. Serjeant Bellasis, Mr. Beresford-Hope, and Mr. Gladstone. The latter wrote of Oakeley's services that they were the most devotional he had ever attended. Oakeley, like his friend Newman, had an intense inherited love of music, and paid much attention to the work of his choir.
The year 1845 was a turning-point in Oakeley's life. As a fellow of Balliol he had joined in the election to a fellowship there of his lifelong friend and pupil, Archibald Campbell Tait, the future primate; but his mind was disturbed by Tait's action in signing, with three others, the first protest against ‘Tract XC.’ The agitation against the famous tract led Oakeley, like Ward, to despair of his church and university; and in two pamphlets, published separately at the time both in London and Oxford, he asserted a claim ‘to hold, as distinct from teaching, all Roman doctrine.’ For this avowal he was cited before the court of arches by the Bishop of London. His license was withdrawn, and he was suspended from all clerical duty in the province of Canterbury until he had ‘retracted his errors’ (July 1845).
In September 1845 he joined Newman's community at Littlemore, and on 29 Oct. was received into the Roman communion in the little chapel in St. Clement's over Magdalen Bridge. On 31 Oct. he was confirmed at Birmingham by Bishop Wiseman. From January 1846 to August 1848 he was a theological student in the seminary of the London district, St. Edmund's College, Ware. In the summer of 1848 he joined the staff of St. George's, Southwark; on 22 Jan. 1850 he took charge of St. John's, Islington; in 1852, on the establishment of the new hierarchy under Wiseman as cardinal-archbishop, he was created a canon of the Westminster diocese, and held this office for nearly thirty years, till his death at the end of January 1880.
Of Oakeley's forty-two published works the more important before his secession were his volume of ‘Whitehall Chapel Sermons,’ 1837; ‘Laudes Diurnæ; the Psalter and Canticles in the Morning and Evening Services, set and pointed to the Gregorian Tones by Richard Redhead,’ with a preface by Oakeley on antiphonal chanting, 1843, and a number of articles contributed to the ‘British Critic.’ After his conversion he brought out many books in support of the communion he had joined, especially ‘The Ceremonies of the Mass,’ 1855, a standard work at Rome, where it was translated into Italian by Lorenzo Santarelli, and published by authority; ‘The Church of the Bible,’ 1857; ‘Lyra Liturgica,’ 1865; ‘Historical Notes on the Tractarian Movement,’ 1865; ‘The Priest to the Mission,’ 1871; ‘The Voice of Creation,’ 1876. He was a constant contributor to the ‘Dublin Review’ and the ‘Month,’ and to Cardinal Manning's ‘Essays on Religious Subjects’ (1865) he contributed ‘The Position of a Catholic Minority in a Roman Catholic Country.’ The last article he wrote was one in ‘Time’ (March 1880), on ‘Personal Recollections of Oxford from 1820 to 1845’ (reprinted in Miss Couch's Reminiscences of Oxford, 1892, Oxf. Hist. Soc.) His ‘Youthful Martyrs of Rome,’ a verse drama in five acts (1856), was adapted from Cardinal Wiseman's ‘Fabiola.’
[Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1888; T. Mozley's Reminiscences, passim; Newman's Letters, ed. Mozley; Liddon's Life of Pusey; J. B. Mozley's Correspondence; Church's Oxford Movement; E. G. K. Browne's Annals of the Tractarian Movement, i. 83; Simms's Bibliotheca Staffordiensis; Wilfrid Ward's W. G. Ward and the Catholic Revival; private information.]