Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wheare, Degory
WHEARE, DEGORY (1573–1647), professor of history at Oxford University, was born at the mansion of Berry Court, Jacobstow, about eight miles south of Stratton in North Cornwall. He matriculated from Broadgates Hall, Oxford, on 6 July 1593, as son of a commoner, graduated B.A. on 5 Feb. 1596–7, and proceeded M.A. on 16 June 1600. The date of his matriculation was identical with that of another Cornishman, Francis Rous [q. v.], his firm friend through life, and he was tutor at Broadgates Hall to John Pym (matriculated 18 May 1599), whose mother had married, as her second husband, Sir Anthony Rous, father of Francis Rous.
Wheare was admitted on 7 July 1602 as Cornish fellow of Exeter College, and became full fellow on 7 July 1603, resigning his fellowship on 30 April 1608. In that year he went abroad as travelling companion to Grey Brydges, fifth lord Chandos [q. v.], on whose return to England Wheare continued to live with him. He was then permitted to occupy lodgings with his wife in Gloucester Hall, Oxford, where he was admitted into close friendship with Thomas Allen (1542–1632) [q. v.], the mathematician.
Through the influence of Allen with Camden, the founder of the chair, Wheare was appointed on 16 Oct. 1622 the first professor of modern history at Oxford, and he became principal of Gloucester Hall on 4 April 1626. Both of these positions he retained for life. He raised that hall to an unprecedented pitch of prosperity. Wood was credibly informed that in Wheare's time it contained ‘an hundred students, and some being persons of qualitie, 10 or 12 went in their doublets of cloth of silver and gold’ (Life and Times, ii. 398). The chapel was finished, the hall repaired, and books and plate were acquired, but the books, ‘though kept in a large press, have been thieved away.’
Wheare died at Oxford on 1 Aug. 1647, and was buried under the eagle in Exeter College Chapel on 3 Aug., a large gravestone marking the place of burial. He left a widow and several children, who were reduced to poverty. Four of his sons had been educated at Oxford; Charles was an unsuccessful candidate on his father's death for the professorship of modern history. Anthony Wood says that Wheare ‘was esteemed by some a learned and genteel man, and by others a Calvinist.’
The great work of Wheare was his Latin dissertation ‘De Ratione et Methodo Legendi Historias,’ which was delivered at Oxford on 12 July 1623, and printed with a dedication to Camden in that year. The third edition, with an altered title-page to ‘Relectiones hyemales de Ratione et Methodo legendi historias,’ came out in 1637. The fourth edition, with an appendix by Rev. Nicholas Horseman, was published at Oxford in 1662, and it was reissued, with that and other additions, at Cambridge in 1684. An English translation by Edmund Bohun passed through several editions (1694, 1698, and 1710). This treatise was praised by Humphrey Prideaux in 1679, and was in use as a text-book at Cambridge until the beginning of the eighteenth century. A volume of accessions to it was compiled by J. C. Neu and published at Tübingen in 1704.
Verses by Wheare were printed in his friend Charles Fitzgeffery's poem on ‘Sir Francis Drake,’ and in four sets of verses by the university of Oxford (Bibl. Cornub. ii. 865). He published at Oxford in 1624 his opening address in the chair of modern history, and a volume entitled 'Camdeni In signum,' containing a record of Camden's life and death. This record, as well as his dedication of Camden's bust, 12 Nov. 1626, and a sheaf of his own letters, wre included in his 'Dedicatio imaginis Camdeniæ' (1626), and his 'Pietes erga benefactores' (1628). The letters included several to Lord Pembroke, Sir Benjamin Rudyard, Camden, John Pym, Francis Rous, and William Noy. The nine letters to Camden were included in the volume of letters to and from that antiquary (1691); the originals of five are in Cottonian MSS. Julius C. v. British Museum. His books and collection of manuscripts came to Francis Rous. The manuscript of his lectures on the Punic war of Lucius Florus is at the Bodleian Library, and his book on Gloucester Hall (1630) is at Worcester College, Oxford.
A Latin prayer-book formerly in use at Worcester College may have been composed by Wheare (Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. iii. 491).[Wood's Athenæ, ed. Bliss, vol. i. p. lxxvi, ii. 347, 448, iii. 104, 216–20, iv. 221, 617, and Fasti, i. 272, 285, 356, ii. 78; Wood's Oxford Colleges (1786), pp. 120, 635, 638; Wood's Oxford Univ. (1796), ii. pt. i. pp. 359, 513, 879–80; Trevelyan Papers (Camden Soc.), iii. 77; Prideaux's Letters (Camden Soc.), p. 63; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub. ii. 864–6; Boase's Ex. Coll. Fellows (Oxford Hist. Soc. 1894), pp. 90–1; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Macleane's Pembroke Coll. pp. 123–4; Clark's Oxford Colleges, pp. 431–4.]