Open main menu


ORNSBY, ROBERT (1820–1889), classical scholar and biographer, born in 1820, was the third son of George Ornsby of Lanchester, Durham. George Ornsby [q. v.] was his eldest brother. He matriculated from Lincoln College, Oxford, on 8 Dec. 1836, and obtained one of Lord Crewe's exhibitions. He graduated B.A. on 3 Dec. 1840, after gaining a first class in literæ humaniores. In 1843 he was elected to a fellowship at Trinity College, and graduated M.A. Subsequently he held the college office of lecturer in rhetoric and the university office of master of the schools, and for four or five years he was actively engaged in private tuition. For a time he was curate of St. Olave's, Chichester, but he seceded from the church of England, and was received into the Roman catholic communion in May 1847 (E. G. K. Browne, Tractarian Movement, 1861, pp. 145, 151).

For some years subsequently he assisted Frederick Lucas [q. v.] in conducting the ‘Tablet’ newspaper, while it was published in Dublin. When Newman undertook the task of founding a catholic university for Ireland in 1854, Ornsby accepted his invitation to become professor of Greek and Latin literature in the new institution. Later on he became private tutor to the present Duke of Norfolk and his brother, whom he accompanied on a short tour through southern and eastern Europe. He was subsequently for a short time librarian at Arundel Castle, but he returned to his old post at the catholic university in 1874, at the request of the Irish bishops. In 1882, when the senate of the Royal University of Ireland were forming their first staff of examiners, Ornsby was elected a fellow of the university and an examiner in Greek. He died in Dublin on 21 April 1889. His publications, which display erudition and scholarship, are: 1. ‘The Life of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Prince of Geneva,’ London, 1856, 8vo. 2. ‘Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη. The Greek Testament, from Cardinal Mai's edition of the Vatican Bible, with Notes, chiefly philological and exegetical; a Harmony of the Gospels, Chronological Tables, &c.,’ Dublin, 1860, 8vo. 3. ‘Memoirs of James Robert Hope-Scott, Q.C., with Selections from his Correspondence,’ 2 vols., London, 1884, 8vo.

[Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Goudon, Les récentes Conversions de l'Angleterre, 1851, p. 228; Tablet, 27 April 1889, p. 656; Times, 24 April 1889, p. 7, col. 6.]

T. C.