Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Renouard, George Cecil
RENOUARD, GEORGE CECIL (1780–1867), scholar, born at Stamford, Lincolnshire, on 7 Sept. 1780, was youngest son of Peter Renouard (d. 1801) of Stamford, adjutant in the Rutland militia, by Mary, daughter of John Henry Ott, rector of Gamston, Nottinghamshire, and prebendary of Richmond and Peterborough. George entered St. Paul's school, London, in 1793, and in the same year, on the nomination of George III, was admitted on the foundation of the Charterhouse school. Thence, in 1798, he proceeded to Trinity College, Cambridge, whence, in 1800, he migrated to Sidney-Sussex. He graduated B.A. in 1802, and per literas regias M.A. in 1805, and B.D. in 1811. After obtaining a fellowship in 1804, he became chaplain to the British embassy at Constantinople. In 1806 he returned to England, and served as curate of Great St. Mary's, Cambridge. From January 1811 to 1814 he was chaplain to the factory at Smyrna. During his residence there he discovered on a rock near Nymphio a figure which he identified with the Sesostris of Herodotus. His priority of discovery was afterwards disputed, but it was finally vindicated by Dr. L. Schmitz in the ‘Classical Museum,’ No. 2, pp. 232–3. In 1815 he returned to Cambridge to fill the post of lord almoner's professor of Arabic, which he held till 1821. For a time he also acted as curate of Grantchester, near Cambridge, but in 1818 was presented to the valuable college living of Swanscombe, Kent. While at Smyrna in 1813 he baptised John William Burgon, with whom in after life he was very intimate. He looked over the manuscript of Burgon's prize essay on ‘The Life and Character of Sir Thomas Gresham,’ and publicly read the essay at the Mansion House, London, on 14 May 1836. Burgon corresponded with him, 1836–52, and dedicated to him his ‘Fifty Smaller Scriptural Cottage Prints’ in 1851. Renouard died unmarried at Swanscombe rectory on 15 Feb. 1867, and was buried in Swanscombe churchyard on 21 Feb.
Renouard was an admirable classical scholar, was acquainted with French, German, and Italian, and gained during his sojourn in the East an intimate knowledge of the Arabic, Turkish, and Hebrew languages. Although his publications were few, he obtained a wide reputation as a linguist, geographer, and botanist. During the forty-nine years that he resided at Swanscombe he maintained a voluminous correspondence with the most distinguished orientalists and geographers of Europe, and was an industrious contributor to the journals of learned societies. For the British and Foreign Bible Society he corrected the proofs of the translations of the scriptures into Turkish and other eastern languages. He was a leading member of the translation committee of the Royal Asiatic Society, to which he was elected in 1824, revising many of its publications. His paper on the language of the Berbers was communicated to the society in 1836 (Journal, 1836, iii. 131–160). From 1836 to 1846 he was honorary foreign secretary of the Royal Geographical Society, and actively interested himself in the Syro-Egyptian and Numismatic Societies. In the ‘Encyclopædia Metropolitana,’ third division, ‘History and Biography,’ he contributed to the ‘History of the Roman Republic,’ 1852, chapters vii., viii., and x., and to the ‘History of Greece, Macedonia, and Syria,’ 1852, chapter iii.
[Gent. Mag. April 1867, pp. 535–7; Proceedings of Royal Geographical Society, 27 May 1867, p. 188; Goulburn's John William Burgon, 1892, i. 51–5, ii. 21, 423, 426.]