Open main menu

PERRY, WALTER COPLAND (1814–1911), schoolmaster and archaeologist, born in Norwich on 24 July 1814, was second son of Isaac Perry (1777–1837), who was at first a congregational minister at Cherry Lane, Norwich (1802–14), then a unitarian minister, Ipswich (1814–25) and at Edinburgh (1828–30), and afterwards a schoolmaster at Liverpool. Walter's mother was Elizabeth, daughter of John Dawson Copland. He had his early education from his father, a fine scholar. In 1831 he was entered, as Walter Coupland Perry, at Manchester College, then at York (now at Oxford), remaining till 1836. He distin guished himself as a classical scholar, and on the advice of John Kenrick [q. v.], who had studied at Gottingen, he went thither in 1836, gaining (25 August 1837) the degree of Ph.D. with the highest honours. In his ninetieth year he received from this university, unsolicited, a document recording his services to letters (16 Nov. 1903). Returning to York, he supplied (1837-8) Kenrick's place as classical tutor. His first publication consisted of two letters on ’German Universities,' contributed to the 'Christian Reformer' (1837). From 1838 to 1844 he was minister at George's Meeting, Exeter, as colleague with Henry Acton [q. v.]. His pulpit services had more of a scholarly than a popular character. In 1844 he conformed to the Anglican church as a layman ; his 'Prayer Bell' (1843) suggests that his views were more evangelical than was common in his previous denomination.

On 12 January 1844 he entered as a student at the Middle Temple, but was not called to the bar till 31 Jan. 1851. Settling as a schoolmaster at Bonn (end of 1844) he obtained great reputation as a teacher, in which capacity he was ably seconded by an admirable wife. On 17 Sept. 1860, Perry, along with nine other English residents at Bonn, was put on trial in the Bonn police court in consequence of their published protest against language used by the public prosecutor in presenting a charge against Captain Macdonald, arising out of a dispute at the railway station on 12 Sept. On 24 Sept. Perry, who stated during the trial that he ' had been in the habit of acting as the organ and representative of the English visitors at Bonn,' was sentenced to a fine of 100 thalers, or five weeks' imprisonment in default ; the sentence was not carried out, owing to the general amnesty on the death of Frederick William IV (1 Jan. 1861). Among Perry's pupils were Edward Robert Bulwer, first earl of Lytton [q. v.], Sir Francis Bertie, British ambassador in Paris, and Sir Eric Barrington. The Crown Prince Frederick, who was, through the late Prince Consort, brought into connection with Perry in 1852, twice gave him his portrait, and at Buckingham Palace in 1887 produced the English Prayer Book which Perry had given him in 1867.

Returning to this country in 1875, Perry settled in London, where he was a member of the Athenæum Club, and employed his leisure in the production of works on classical and mediæval subjects. On 29 April 1876 his former pupils made a large presentation of plate to Dr. and Mrs. Perry. By his efforts, initiated at a meeting in Grosvenor House on 16 May 1877, followed by his paper 'On the Formation of a Gallery of Casts from the Antique in London' (1878), he succeeded in furnishing the country with a large collection of casts, installed at first in a special gallery at the South Kensington Museum. He strongly resented a rearrangement by which they were relegated to a badly lighted gallery, and welcomed their transference to the British Museum.

Perry, who had great charm of manner, was a mountaineer, an excellent horseman, a sportsman with rod and gun, and a good amateur actor. He retained his eyesight and hearing to the last. On 21 June 1904, anticipating his ninetieth birthday, he entertained at dinner a number of his pupils. He lived over seven years longer, dying at his residence, 25 Manchester Square, London, W., on 28 Dec. 1911 ; he was buried in Hendon parish churchyard. He married (1) on 23 June 1841 Hephzibah Elizabeth (d. 1880), second daughter of Samuel Shaen of Crix Hall, Hatfield Peverel, Sussex, by whom he had five sons, who all survived him, and one daughter (d. 1898) ; (2) in 1889 Evelyn Emma, daughter of Robert Stopford, who survived him. His portrait was painted in water-colour and in oils; both are in the possession of his widow.

Perry's period of authorship covered no less than seventy-one years, his literary energy being maintained to the age of ninety-four. He published : 1. 'A Prayer Bell for the Universal Church . . . Reflections preparatory to . . . Prayer . . . Addresses . . . for . . . Holy Communion,' 1843, 16mo. 2. 'German University Education,' 1845, 12mo ; 2nd edit. 1846, 12mo (expanded from letters (1837) in the 'Christian Reformer '). 3. 'The Franks ... to the Death of King Pepin,' 1857. 4. 'Greek and Roman Sculpture : a Popular Introduction,' 1882 (illustrated). 5. 'A Descriptive Catalogue of . . . Casts from the Antique in the South Kensington Museum,' 1884, 1887. 6. 'Walter Stanhope,' 1888 (a novel published under the pseudonym 'John Copland'). 7. 'The Women of Homer,' 1898 (illustrated). 8. 'The Revolt of the Horses,' 1898 (a story, suggested by Swift's 'Houyhnhnms'). 9. 'The Boy's Odyssey,' 1901, 1906 (edited by T. S. Peppin). 10. 'The Boy's Iliad,' 1902. 11. 'Sancta Paula : a Romance of the Fourth Century,' 1902. 12. 'Sicily in Fable, History, Art and Song,' 1908 (maps). He translated H. C. L. von Sybel's 'History of the French Revolution,' 1867-9, 4 vols. Some works of fiction additional to the above were published without his name.

[The Times, 1 and 3 Jan. 1912; Christian Life, 6 Jan. 1912; Browne, Hist. Cong. Norf. and Suff., 1877, pp. 271, 392; Hist. Account, St. Mark's Chapel, Edinburgh, 1908; Roll of Students, Manchester College, 1868; Foster, Men at the Bar, 1885, p. 361 (needs correction); Trial of the English Residents at Bonn, 1861; information from Rev. T. L. Marshall, Exeter, Rev. J. Collins Odgers, Liverpool, and Col. Ottley Lane Perry.]

A. G.