University of Cambridge, 4 Mill Ln, Cambridge CB2 1RZ
Auckland Castle Bishop Auckland, Durham Unitary Authority, County Durham, England
Brooke Foss Westcott (12 January 1825 – 27 July 1901) was an English bishop, biblical scholar and theologian, serving as Bishop of Durham from 1890 until his death. He is perhaps most known for co-editing The New Testament in the Original Greek in 1881. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the British Empire.
He was born in Birmingham. His father, Frederick Brooke Westcott, was a botanist. Westcott was educated at King Edward VI School, Birmingham, under James Prince Lee, where he became friends with Joseph Barber Lightfoot, later Bishop of Durham. The period of Westcott's childhood was one of political ferment in Birmingham and amongst his earliest recollections was one of Thomas Attwood leading a large procession of men to a meeting of the Birmingham Political Union in 1831. A few years after this Chartism led to serious disturbances in Birmingham and many years later Westcott would refer to the deep impression the experiences of that time had made upon him. In 1844, Westcott entered Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was invited to join the Cambridge Apostles. He became a scholar in 1846, won a Browne medal for a Greek ode in 1846 and 1847, and the Members' Prize for a Latin essay in 1847 and 1849. He took his BA degree in January 1848, obtaining double-first honours. In mathematics, he was twenty-fourth wrangler, Isaac Todhunter being senior. In classics, he was senior, being bracketed with Charles Broderick Scott, afterwards headmaster of Westminster School.
After obtaining his degree, Westcott remained in residence at Trinity. In 1849, he obtained his fellowship; and in the same year he was made deacon by his old headmaster, Prince Lee, later Bishop of Manchester. In 1851 he was ordained and became an assistant master at Harrow School. As well as studying, Westcott took pupils at Cambridge; fellow readers included his school friend Lightfoot and two other men who became his attached and lifelong friends, Edward White Benson and Fenton Hort. The friendship with Lightfoot and Hort influenced his future life and work.
Westcott married, in 1852, Sarah Louisa Mary Whithard (ca 1830–1901), daughter of Thomas Middlemore Whithard, of Bristol. Mrs Westcott was for many years deeply interested in foreign missionary work. She became an invalid in her later years, and died on 28 May 1901. They had seven sons and three daughters, including Frederick, who followed his father into the ministry in the Church of England, was headmaster of Sherborne School, Archdeacon of Norwich, and author of multiple books on the Letters of Saint Paul; George, Bishop of Lucknow; and Foss, who became Bishop of Calcutta and Metropolitan of India.
In 1883, Westcott was elected to a professorial fellowship at King's. Shortly afterwards, having previously resigned his canonry at Peterborough, he was appointed by the crown to a canonry at Westminster Abbey, and accepted the position of examining chaplain to Archbishop Benson.
In March 1890, he was nominated to follow in the steps of his beloved friend Lightfoot, who had died in December 1889. His election was confirmed by Robert Crosthwaite, Bishop of Beverley (acting as commissioner for the Archbishop of York) on 30 April at York Minster and he was consecrated on 1 May at Westminster Abbey by William Thompson, Archbishop of York, Hort being the preacher, and enthroned at Durham Cathedral on 15 May.
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