Charles James Blomfield

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Charles James Blomfield
Bishop of London
Charles James Blomfield by Lawrence (follower).jpg
Church Church of England
Diocese London
Elected 1828
Term ended 1856 (ill health)
Predecessor William Howley
Successor Archibald Campbell Tait
Other posts Bishop of Chester
Ordination 1810
Consecration c. 1824
Personal details
Born (1786-05-29)29 May 1786
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, Great Britain
Died 5 August 1857(1857-08-05) (aged 71)
Buried All Saints Church, Fulham
Nationality British
Denomination Anglican
Residence Fulham Palace, London
Children 6 daughters & 11 sons including:
Arthur & Alfred
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge

Charles James Blomfield (29 May 1786 – 5 August 1857) was a British divine and classicist, and a Church of England bishop for 32 years.

Early life

Blomfield was born in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, and educated at the local grammar school and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he won the Browne medals for Latin and Greek odes, and the Craven scholarship.[1][2] In 1808, he graduated as third wrangler and first medallist, and in the following year was elected to a fellowship at Trinity College.[1][3] At Cambridge, Blomfield was tutored by John Hudson, mathematician and clergyman.


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, Choephori, and Agamemnon, of Callimachus, and of the fragments of Sappho, Sophron and Alcaeus.[1]

Blomfield, however, soon ceased to devote himself entirely to scholarship. He had been ordained in 1810, and held in quick succession the livings of Quarrington, Lincolnshire, Dunton, Buckinghamshire, Great and Little Chesterford, Tuddenham and The Chesterfords. In 1817 he was appointed private chaplain to William Howley, Bishop of London. In 1819 he was nominated to the rich living of St Botolph, Bishopsgate, and in 1822 he became archdeacon of Colchester. Two years later he was raised to the bishopric as bishop of Chester where he carried through many much-needed reforms.[3][1]

In 1828, he was appointed a Privy Counsellor[2] and translated becoming bishop of London, a post 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 (members of the Upper House of the Canterbury Convocation confessed to trimming their quill pens before his arrival!), 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.[3]

Funerary monument, All Saints, Fulham, London.

Later life

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.

Blomfield is buried in the churchyard of All Saints Church, Fulham, London and a memorial to him, by G. Richmond, can be seen at Saint Paul's Cathedral along the south wall of the ambulatory.

Published works

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.

Personal life

Charles James Blomfield was the eldest son of the ten children of Charles Blomfield (1763–1831), a schoolmaster (as was Charles James's grandfather, James Blomfield), a JP and chief alderman of Bury St Edmunds, and his wife, Hester (1765–1844), daughter of Edward Pawsey, a Bury grocer. His brother was Edward Valentine Blomfield a classical scholar.

He married Anna Maria Heath on 6 November 1810 at Hemblington, Norfolk and they had six children:

  • Anna Maria Blomfield (1811–1812)
  • Charles James Blomfield (1813–1813)
  • Charles William Blomfield (1815–1815)
  • Edward Thomas Blomfield (c.1817–1822)
  • Maria Blomfield (1817–c.1884)
  • Charles James Blomfield (1818–1818)

Anna Maria died on 16 February 1818 at Hildersham, Cambridgeshire.

Blomfield then married Dorothy (née Cox, widow of Thomas Kent of Hildersham, Cambridgeshire) on 17 December 1819 at St George, Hanover Square, London, and they had eleven children:

  • Charles James Blomfield (1820–1822)
  • Mary Frances Blomfield (1821–1869)
  • Frederick George Blomfield (1823–1879)
  • Isabella Blomfield (1824–1879)
  • Henry John Blomfield (1825–1900)
  • Francis Blomfield (1827–1860)
  • Arthur William Blomfield (1829–1899), architect
  • Lucy Elizabeth Blomfield (1830–1864)[4], children's author
  • Charles James Blomfield (1831–1915)
  • Alfred Blomfield (1833–1894), bishop of Colchester
  • Dorothy Hester Blomfield (1836–1886)

He was grandfather of the poet and hymn writer Dorothy Gurney (née Blomfield) (1858–1932), the architect Sir Reginald Blomfield (1856–1942) and the palaeontologist, geologist and malacologist Francis Arthur Bather (1863–1934).

Dorothy also had one son from her first marriage, Thomas Fassett Kent, who was born in 1817 in Ellough, Suffolk.


  1. ^ a b c d Blomfield, Alfred (1863). Memoirs of Charles James Blomfield, D. D., Bishop of London, with Selections from his Correspondence. John Murray.
  2. ^ a b "Blomfield, Charles James (BLMT803CJ)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ a b c Wroth 1886.
  4. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Dictionary of National Biography has 1836 for Lucy's date of birth

Further reading

  • Alfred Blomfield (editor), Memoirs of Charles James Blomfield, D. D., Bishop of London, with Selections from his Correspondence, (1863)
  • George Edward Biber, Bishop Blomfield and his Times (1857).

External links

  • Bibliographic directory from Project Canterbury
  • Bishop Blomfield's papers are deposited at Lambeth Palace Library
Church of England titles
Preceded by
Joseph Jefferson
Archdeacon of Colchester
Succeeded by
William Lyall
Preceded by
George Henry Law
Bishop of Chester
Succeeded by
John Bird Sumner
Preceded by
William Howley
Bishop of London
Succeeded by
Archibald Campbell Tait
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