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Renn Hampden

Renn Dickson Hampden (1793 – 23 April 1868), was an English Anglican clergyman whose selection as Bishop of Hereford formed a minor cause celebre in Victorian religious controversies.


He was born in Barbados, where his father was colonel of militia, in 1793, and was educated at Oriel College, Oxford.

Having taken his B.A. degree with first-class honours in both classics and mathematics in 1813, he next year obtained the chancellor's prize for a Latin essay, and shortly afterwards was elected to a fellowship in his college, Keble, Newman and Arnold being among his contemporaries. Having left the university in 1816 he held successively a number of curacies, and in 1827 he published Essays on the Philosophical Evidence of Christianity, followed by a volume of Parochial Sermons illustrative of the Importance of the Revelation of God in Jesus Christ (1828).

His liberal ideas attracted the opposition of the leaders of the new Oxford Movement. In 1829 he returned to Oxford and was Bampton lecturer in 1832. Although a charge of Arianism was brought against him by the Tractarian party,citiation needed he in 1833 passed from a tutorship at Oriel to the principalship of St Mary's Hall. In 1834 he was appointed White's Professor of Moral Philosophy, and despite much university opposition, Regius Professor of Divinity[1] in 1836.

Upon the publication of his Observations on Religious Dissent in August 1834, in which he defended the right of non-Anglicans to attend Oxford, John Henry Newman responded with the Elucidations. Debate via published works and personal acrimony between the two scholars continued for two years.[2] After the subsidence of the controversy, he published a Lecture on Tradition, which passed through several editions, and a volume on The Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England.

From 1842 (after the disputed election of 1841) to 1847 he was the second member of parliament for the borough of Great Marlow.

His nomination by Lord John Russell to the vacant see of Hereford in December 1847 was again the signal for organized opposition; and his consecration in March 1848 took place in spite of a remonstrance by many of the bishops, and the resistance of John Merewether, the dean of Hereford, who voted against the election.

As bishop of Hereford Dr Hampden made no change in his long-formed habits of studious seclusion, and though he showed no special ecclesiastical activity or zeal, the diocese certainly prospered in his charge. Among the more important of his later writings were the articles on Aristotle, Plato and Socrates, contributed to the eighth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, and afterwards reprinted with additions under the title of The Fathers of Greek Philosophy (Edinburgh, 1862). In 1866 he had a paralytic seizure, and died in London on the 23rd of April 1868.

His daughter, Henrietta Hampden, published Some Memorials of R. D. Hampden in 1871.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.


  1. ^ Pole, Herbert (1899). "The Oxford Movement". The Church of England, Its Catholicity and Continuity. London: Skeffington & Son. p. 171. 
  2. ^ Stephen Thomas. Newman and Heresy: The Anglican Years. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-52213-7. 
Academic offices
Preceded by
Edward Burton
Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford
Succeeded by
William Jacobson
Church of England titles
Preceded by
Thomas Musgrave
Bishop of Hereford
Succeeded by
James Atlay


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