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Charles James Blomfield

Charles James Blomfield (1786-1857), English divine, was born on May 29 1786 at Bury St Edmunds. He was educated at the local grammar school and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he gained the Browne medals for Latin and Greek odes, and carried off the Craven scholarship. In 1808 he graduated as third wrangler and first medallist, and in the following year was elected to a fellowship at Trinity College.

The first-fruits of his scholarship was an edition of the Prometheus of Aeschylus in 1810; this was followed by editions of the Septem contra Thebas, Persae, Choephorae, and Agamemnon, of Callimachus, and of the fragments of Sappho, Sophron and Alcaeus.

Blomfield, however, soon ceased to devote himself entirely to scholarship. He had been ordained in 1810, and held in quick succession the livings of Chesterford, Quarrington, Dunton, Great and Little Chesterford, and Tuddenham. In 1817 he was appointed private chaplain to Wm. Howley, Bishop of London. In 1819 he was nominated to the rich living of St Botolph's, Bishopsgate, and in 1822 he became archdeacon of Colchester. Two years later he was raised to the bishopric of Chester where he carried through many much-needed reforms.

In 1828 he was translated to the bishopric of London, which he held for twenty-eight years. During this period his energy and zeal did much to extend the influence of the church. He was one of the best debaters in the House of Lords, took a leading position in the action for church reform which culminated in the ecclesiastical commission, and did much for the extension of the colonial episcopate; and his genial and kindly nature made him an, invaluable mediator in the controversies arising out of the tractarian movement. His health at last gave way, and in 1856 he was permitted to resign his bishopric, retaining Fulham Palace as his residence, with a pension of £6000 per annum. He died on August 5 1857.

His published works, exclusive of those above mentioned, consist of charges, sermons, lectures and pamphlets, and of a Manual of Private and Family Prayers. He was a frequent contributor to the quarterly reviews, chiefly on classical subjects.

See Memoirs of Charles James Blomfield, D. D., Bishop of London, with Selections from his Correspondence, edited by his son, Alfred Blomfield (1863); GE Biber, Bishop Blomfield and his Times (1857).

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.