Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sleath, John

SLEATH, JOHN (1767–1847), high master of St. Paul's school, son of William and Millicent Sleath, was born probably at Osgathorpe, Leicestershire, where he was baptised on 19 June 1767 (Parish Register). He entered Rugby school in 1776, his parents being then described as of Leighton, near Kimbolton, Bedfordshire. In 1784 he went up as a Rugby exhibitioner to Lincoln College, Oxford, but in 1785 was elected to a scholarship at Wadham. He was Hody exhibitioner in 1786–7, and in 1787, before taking his degree, was appointed to an assistant-mastership at Rugby. Among his pupils there was Walter Savage Landor, who writes with affectionate remembrance of ‘the elegant and generous Doctor John Sleath at Rugby’ (Works, ed. 1876, iv. 400 n.). He graduated B.A. in 1789, M.A. in 1793, B.D. and D.D. in 1814. He was elected F.S.A. 9 March 1815, and F.R.S. 23 March 1820.

On 16 June 1814 Sleath was appointed high master of St. Paul's, and held the office till 10 Oct. 1837. The honours gained at the universities by his pupils from the school were remarkable. Dr. Jowett, master of Balliol College, Oxford, was one of his scholars, and he could claim nine fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Sleath was made prebendary of Rugmere in St. Paul's Cathedral, 5 July 1822; chaplain in ordinary to the king in 1825; subdean of the Chapel Royal, St. James's, 28 June 1833; rector of Thornby, Northamptonshire, in 1841. He died 30 April 1847, and was buried in the crypt of St. Paul's. He was married, but left no family. A marble bust of him, by W. Behnes, was executed in 1841. His elder brother, W. Boultby Sleath, was headmaster of Repton school from 1800 to 1832.

[Registers of Osgathorpe Church, the Chapel Royal, St. James's, and the Royal Society; Gardiner's Registers of Wadham College, ii. 178; Rugby School Register, 1881, i. 46 n.; Gent. Mag. 1841 ii. 87; Le Neve's Fasti, ii. 435; Campbell and Abbott's Life of Jowett, i. 32, 39; private information.]

J. H. L.