Henry Tresawna GERRANS (1858–1921)
His wife Anna Elizabeth GERRANS, née English (1858–1946)
St Mary Magdalen section: Row 36, Grave L59½

Henry Gerrans





BORN AUGUST 23. 1858

DIED JUNE 20. 1921




BORN DEC. 31. 1858

DIED AUG. 5. 1946


Henry Tresawna Gerrans was born in Plymouth on 23 August 1858. He was the son of Samson Tresawna Gerrans (born in Grampound, Cornwall in 1830/1) and Jane Dunne (born in Redruth, Cornwall in 1836/7), who were married in Plymouth in the fourth quarter of 1857 and had the following children:

  • Henry Tresawna Gerrans (born in Plymouth in 1859)
  • Amy Dunne Gerrans (born in Manchester in 1860, reg. Barton district third quarter)
  • Alfred Thomas Gerrans (born in Manchester in 1863, reg. Barton district second quarter with surname spelt Gerans).

Henry’s father Samson Gerrans was a commercial traveller selling drapery, and at the time of the 1861 census he was staying at Chubbs Hotel in Old Town Street, Plymouth.

In 1871 Henry (12), who was then attending Cheltenham Grammar School, was living at 370 High Street, Cheltenham with his parents and his younger siblings Amy (10) and Alfred (7): Henry’s father was still a commercial traveller, and his mother was a Berlin wool dealer, and also living with the family were two assistant berlin wool dealers and two general servants.

On 12 October 1877 Henry Tresawna Gerrans was matriculated at the University of Oxford from Christ Church at the age of 19. He gained his B.A. in 1880, and was appointed Fellow of Worcester College and Lecturer in Mathematics in 1882, two years before gaining his M.A.

Although described as a “gentleman” in Alumni Oxonienses, Henry’s father Samson Gerrans was still working as a commercial traveller at the time of the 1881 census, staying at the Royal Hotel in Truro, while Henry (22) , who was probably at home for the Easter vacation, was with his mother in Gloucestershire at Glenfall, Napier Road, Westbury-upon-Trym. His brother Alfred (17) was a draper's apprentice in Taunton.

In 1887 Gerrans was appointed to the Secretaryship of the Local Examinations Delegacy, and he also served on the Royal Commission for Secondary Education, and on the Secondary Schools Examination Council.

Anna Elizabeth English was born in Ontario, Canada in 1858.

In the third quarter of 1889 in the Winslow district of Buckinghamshire, Henry Tresawna Gerrans married Anna Elizabeth English. They had no children.

20 St John Street


Henry and Anna Gerrans are hard to find in the 1891 census and were probably abroad. Henry’s parents were now living at 11 Blackhall Road, Exeter.


Gerrans was one of the first people in Oxford to get a telephone line installed, and in 1895 he had the simple phone number 25.


By 1899 Gerrans and his wife had moved to 20 St John Street in St Mary Magdalen parish, Oxford (right).


At the time of the 1901 census Henry Gerrans (42) was alone with two servants at home at 20 St John Street. His parents were still living at the same address in Exeter as in 1901, and his father Sampson was still working as a commission agent at the age of 70. He died in Exeter at the age of 78 in the second quarter of 1909.


At the time of the 1911 census Henry (52) and his wife were both together at 20 St John Street with two servants, and Anna’s Canadian nephew, Walter Noble Sage, was paying them a visit.

Gerrans died in 1921:

† Henry Tresawna Gerrans died the Acland Home at the age of 62 on 20 June 1921 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 24 June (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

There was a report on his funeral in The Times of 25 June 1921:

The funeral of Mr. Henry T. Gerrans, Vice-Provost and Fellow of Worcester College, took place yesterday at Oxford. The first part of the service was conducted in the chapel of Worcester College, the Provost officiating, assisted by the Rev. E. M. Walker, of Queen’s College. The chief mourners were Mrs. Gerrans (widow), Dr. English, and Mr. and Mrs. Wrong. The Vice-Chancellor, the proctors, and many heads of colleges and other leading members of the University, and representatives of other bodies, were present. The burial took place at St. Sepulchre’s Cemetery, Oxford.

A fuller description of the funeral appeared in the Oxford Journal Illustrated on 29 June 1921:


The funeral of Mr. Henry Tresawna Gerrans, Vice-Provost and Fellow of Worcester College, took place at noon on Friday. The first part of the service was held in the Chapel of Worcester College, the Provost (Rev. F. J. Lys) officiating, assisted by the Rev. E. M. Walker, of Queen’s College, for many years associated with Mr. Gerrans in the Hebdomadal Council and other work. The musical portion of the service was as follows:— Played before the service: (a) “Ye now are sorrowful” (Brahms’ Requiem); (b) choral prelude on “Abide with me” (Parry). Motet (sung between the Psalm and Lesson), “Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord” (W. A. Pickard-Cambridge); hymn (to Dr. Basil Harwood’s tune), “Now the labourer’s task is o’er.” Played during procession from chapel: Choral preludes, “Liebster Jesu” (Bach). The chief mourners were Mrs. Gerrans (widow), Dr. English and Mr. and Mrs. Wrong. Prominent members of the University and other friends who were present included the Vice-Chancellor, who was accompanied by the senior and Junior Proctors, Sir Charles Oman M.P., Mr. J. A. R. Marriott, M.P., Sir William Schlich, Sir Gerald Conyngham, Sir Graham and Lady Balfour, Sir Henry Penson, Sir Archibald Garrod, the President of Magdalen, the Dean of Christ Church, the Master of University, the President of Trinity, the Principal of Brasenose, the Warden of Wadham, the Provost of Oriel, the Warden of New College, the President of S. John’s, the Master of Balliol, the Principal of Hertford, the Rector of Lincoln, the Warden of All Souls, the Principal of Mansfield, the Vice-Principal of Hertford, the Principal of St. Edmund Hall, the Principal of St Hugh’s, the Vice-Principal of Somerville, the Principal of Society of Home Students, Professors W. G. S. Adams, R. Coupland, E. P. Poulton, Thompson, Bowman, Dreyer, Zulueta, E. H. A. Love, Fielder, Rodgers (Leeds), J. A. Smith, Gelderd, Wright, A. S. Hunt, and Studer, Doctors Godley, R. W. M. Pope (formerly Censor of Non-Collegiate Students), Darwell Stone, Ernest Walker, Buchanan Gray, Ramsey Wright, Kerts, Arthur Rambaut (Radcliffe Observatory), Waggett (Christ Church), and Hogarth, Bodley’s Librarian, Mr. R. L. Poole (Keeper of the Archives), Mr. F. S. Craig (Assistant Registrar), Mr. Hendy (Director of Education), Mr. R. W. Chapman (Secretary, University Press), Mr. Walter J. Harte (University College, Exeter), Surgeon-General Sir A. F. Bradshaw, the Rev. C. H. Plummer (representing the Governors of Pate’s Grammar School, Cheltenham), Rev. Father Rickaby (Campion Hall), Rev. Canon Headlam, Rev. E. C. and Mrs Marchant (Lincoln College), Rev. E. C. And Mrs. Marchant (Lincoln College), Revs. G. B. Cronshaw, C. C. Inge, E. W. Lummis, E. Jones (Hoggeston), F. J. and Mrs. Brahant, the Vicar of St. Mary Magdalen, W. Warner (Christ Church), Colonel Farquharson, Mrs. J. A. R. Marriott, Messrs. Theodosius Fletcher (All Souls), Walden (New College), Nicol Smith (Worcester), Cyril Bailey (Balliol), F. Madan, J. C. B. Gamlen (Balliol), Macdonnell, P. E. Matheson, Hayes (New College, Wakelin (Brasenose), Lightfoot (Bursar, Corpus Christi), J. F. Stanning (Wadham), W. N. Stocker (Brasenose), R. C. Wylie, W. A. Pickard-Cambridge (Balliol), F. Harvey (Magdalen), Mr. and Mrs. Powell (St. John’s), Mr. and Mrs. Jenkinson, Mrs. Chapman, Mrs. Wright, Mrs. Berthon, Mrs. Walker, Mrs. Fielder, Mrs. Dreyer. Those representing the Examination Delegacy were Messrs. W. Barnett (assistant secretary), J. R. F. Turner, G. H. Diddams, J. W. Rhodes, and N. B. Robinson. The staff of Worcester College were represented by Messrs. W. Drake, F. J. Johnson, W. C. Wyatt, E. Allison, and W. Wale.

The interment took place in St. Sepulchre’s Cemetery.

The funeral arrangements were entrusted to the care of Messrs. Elliston and Cavell.

His obituary in The Times on 22 June 1921 was as follows:


Mr. Henry Tresawna Gerrans, Fellow, Vice-Provost, and Lecturer of Worcester College, Oxford, died on Monday night at the Acland Home, Oxford.

He was a well-known mathematical tutor and lecturer and a pivot of University business. Born in Plymouth in 1858, he was educated at Cheltenham and Bristol Grammar Schools, and went up to Christ Church as a Junior Student in 1877. Besides taking first classes in Mathematical Moderations and the Final School, he was elected Junior (University) Mathematical Scholar in 1878 and won the Senior Mathematical Scholarship in 1882. He was said to have been the ablest mathematician who had been at Oxford for several generations, but in after life he was much diverted into University business. As it was, he was always regarded as one of the best teachers in Oxford; he had, indeed, an encyclopaedic knowledge of mathematics. But he was no “mere mathematician” he had taken also a second in Natural Science; he kept up his classics, and was one of the ablest and most learned students of modern languages in Oxford. He spoke German as fluently and correctly as English. He also had close family connexions with America and Canada, which were cemented by his marriage in 1889 with Miss A. Elizabeth English, of Toronto. He was a rapid but very accurate worker.

In 1882 he was elected a Fellow of Worcester and served as Pro-Proctor in 1880. In 1895 he was Proctor. As a member of the Hebdomadal Council his sound judgment and accuracy were invaluable. He was a leading member of most of its important Committees, and was responsible for much of the legislation of the University. His special charge was the development of the Examination machinery of the University. Outside Oxford Gerrans was perhaps best known as the indefatigable Secretary of the Local Examinations Delegacy; he saw that the examination kept pace with modern developments and methods: to the last he had complete control of the complicated machinery.

His activities knew no bounds. He sat on many delegacies; to each and all he gave of his best, and on every one of them his will be a place impossible to fill. He was a delegate of the University Press since 1896, and was especially active in promoting the publication of useful educational books and in regard to the finance of the Press. As Chairman of the Finance Committee he rendered services of great value. In 1900 he visited New York on behalf of the Delegates, and was always keenly interested in the fortunes of the various branches overseas, particularly those in New York and Toronto. He had many friends in the Universities of the United States and Canada, and a Rhodes Scholar from the States or Canada always had a warm welcome at his house.

Methodical and punctual, he was never late for a meeting; he rose early and for many years took his pupils before breakfast. He knew music thoroughly, and hardly ever missed a meeting of the University Musical Club. Slightly reticent in manner, he readily received those who came to him for advice and he gave it unstintingly: his friends knew well the deep loyalty of his nature and his unfailing kindness and generosity. The feeling in Oxford at his death is that it is almost impossible to think of the University going on without him — he was the ideal “permanent official”.

The first part of the funeral service will be held at Worcester College Chapel on Friday, at 12 o’clock, and the burial will take place at St. Sepulchre’s, Walton-street.

His effects came to £33,998 4s. 3d., and his executors were his wife and William Cliffe Burnet. Thanks to a bequest in his will, there is still a Gerrans Fund at the University of Oxford for the promotion of the study of the German Language and Literature.

Henry’s mother Mrs Jane Gerrans outlived him, dying in Exeter at the age of 87 in 1924.

His wife Anna remained at their Oxford home and died 25 years after her husband in 1946:

† Mrs Anna Elizabeth Gerrans died at 20 St John Street at the age of 87 on 5 August 1946, and was buried in St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 10 August (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

Her effects came to £4,133 12s., and her executor was the retired solicitor Thomas Webb Williams.



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