Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Pocock, Nicholas (1814-1897)

POCOCK, NICHOLAS (1814–1897), historical writer, born at Falmouth in January 1814, was eldest son of Nicholas Pocock of Falmouth and grandson of Nicholas Pocock (1741?–1821) [q. v.] the marine painter. Isaac Pocock [q. v.] and William Innes Pocock [q. v.] were his uncles. He was educated at a private school in Devonshire by the Rev. John Manly, and on 3 Feb. 1831 matriculated from Queen's College, Oxford, as Michel exhibitioner; in 1834 he was elected scholar. He graduated B.A. in that year with a first class in the final mathematical school, and a second class in lit. hum. In 1835 he won the Johnson mathematical scholarship and the senior mathematical scholarship in 1836. In 1837 he graduated M.A., and in 1838 became Michel fellow of Queen's, where he was afterwards mathematical lecturer. He had the reputation of being the best mathematical tutor of his time, and among his pupils was Bartholomew Price [q. v. Suppl.]; he was public examiner in mathematics in 1839, 1844, and 1848, and in lit. hum. in 1842 and 1852. He was ordained deacon in 1838 and priest in 1855, but never held any ecclesiastical preferment. He married in 1852 a daughter of James Cowles Prichard [q. v.], and retired to Clifton, where he spent the remainder of his life with the exception of a year when he was in charge of Codrington College, Barbados. He died at Clifton on 4 March 1897, being survived by his widow and several sons and daughters.

Pocock edited in 1847 the third edition of Hammond's 'Miscellaneous Theological Works,' and in 1852 published 'The First two Books of Euclid … with additional figures.' Afterwards he devoted himself almost exclusively to the history of the Reformation in England. His great work was his monumental edition of Gilbert Burnet's ' History of the Reformation,' published in seven volumes by the Clarendon Press in 1864-5; the seventh volume consists entirely of Pocock's dissertations on Burnet's authorities, sources, and errors, and the whole work embodies the results of much careful and laborious research. He made an extensive collection of original records, two volumes of which were issued by the Clarendon Press in 1871 under the title 'Records of the Reformation;' they are very valuable so far as they go, but the publication was unfortunately stopped with the year 1535 on the ground of inadequate sale, and Pocock's collections remained for the most part in manuscript with the exception of those published in 'Troubles connected with the Prayer-Book of 1549' (Camden Soc. 1884, 4to). Pocock also edited for the Camden Society Harpsfield's ' Treatise of the Pretended Divorce of Catherine of Aragon,' 1878, and contributed numerous articles on Reformation history to the 'Saturday Review,' the 'Union Review,' 'Quarterly Review,' 'Church Quarterly' and 'English Historical' Reviews, and to the 'Athenæum' and 'Academy.' He also wrote a few articles for the earlier volumes of this 'Dictionary.' He did much to discredit the traditional protestant view of the Reformation, and, though his work is somewhat marred by theological bias, the masses of new material he brought to light have laid subsequent writers under a debt of gratitude to him.

His other works include:

  1. 'The Ritual Commission,' Bristol, 1872.
  2. 'The Abolition of the Thirty-nine Articles,' 3 parts, London, 1874.
  3. 'The Principles of the Reformation,' London, 1875.
  4. 'The Recovery from the Principles of the Reformation,' London, 1877.

[Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715-1886; Crockford's Clerical Directory, 1897; Times, 11 March 1897; Guardian, 1897, i. 396; Pocock's works in Brit. Mus. Library, esp. his preface to 'Troubles' (Camden Soc.); and information from the Rev. J. R. Magrath, Provost of Queen's College, Oxford.]

A. F. P.