Frederick METCALFE (1815–1885)
His wife Mrs Rosamund METCALFE, née Robinson (1835–1860)
St Michael section: Row 13, Grave C47

Frederick Metcalfe



See the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for the full academic career of Frederick Metcalfe,
Church of England clergyman and Scandinavian scholar

Frederick Metcalfe was born in Gainsborough. Lincolnshire on 29 March 1815, the fifth son of Morehouse Metcalfe and Mary Richards, who were married at Willoughton, Leicestershire on 6 November 1799. His four older brothers included Charles and Edward, and he also had a younger brother Henry and five sisters: Caroline, Selina, Louisa, Augusta, and Sophia.

Frederick went up to St John’s College, Cambridge in 1834, and obtained his B.A. in 1838. He was then appointed Second Master at the Proprietary School at Sheffield, and then on 13 March 1844 was elected to the Assistant Mastership of the City of London School.

In 1844, when he was 29, he was incorporated at Jesus College, Oxford, and on 31 October that year was elected a Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford. He moved to Oxford in 1849 when he was appointed Vicar of St Michael’s Church (the living being a gift of Lincoln College). He remained both a Fellow of Lincoln College and Vicar of St Michael’s until his death.

In 1851 he was appointed Sub-Rector of Lincoln College. V. H. H. Green in Oxford Common Room wrote of him:

Frederick Metcalfe was a graduate of St. John’s, Cambridge, who had been a schoolmaster and a very fair Scandinavian scholar, though later frustrated in his attempts to secure the chair of Anglo-Saxon. But he was also an irascible egotist with something of the bully in his make-up. Rumour indeed asserted that he had once killed a man in a fight. At Oxford his long career, for he outlived Pattison [Rector of Lincoln from 1861], dying a fellow of the College in 1885, was a story of continuous opposition to all reform and constant altercation with his colleagues. In 1847 he was appointed chaplain of St Michael’s, where his pastorate was marked by similar antagonism; he was heard to observe complacently that when he first went to the parish there were only ten dissenters in it but that now there were eighty. This fiery, bumptious little man, scholar of some distinction as he was, lacked intellectual refinement and spiritual discernment. His relations with Pattison were at first courteous, but underneath there was restraint. “Metcalfe called on me — quieter and more subdued than first time.” Pattison ran into him at Brighton in the autumn of 1847: “piqued that I hadn’t called on him but asked me to dinner and not an unpleasant word — though vulgar and conceited fellow”.

Rosamond Robinson was born in Clifton, York in 1835, and baptised at St Olave's Church there on 16 July, the daughter of Henry Robinson and Rosamond Norcliffe Best. At the time of the 1851 census Rosamond (15) was living at Petergate, York with her father Henry (50), who was a retired solicitor, her mother Rosamond (42), and her nine siblings: Hugh (19), who was an Enseign on leave, and Ann (18), Ellen (14), Mary (13), Beatrix (11), Isabella (8), Charlotte (7), Thomas (5), and Emily (ten months). The family had nine servants: a governess, ladies maid, cook parlourmaid, two housemaids, a kitchenmaid, a nurse, and an under-nurse.

On 17 January 1859 in York, Frederick Metcalfe (43) married Rosamund Robinson (23), and they had two daughters:

  • Rosamond Mary Ulrica Metcalfe (born at York in 1859, reg. fourth quarter)
  • Frances Rosamond Hilda Metcalfe (born at Beaumont Street, Oxford on 23 November 1860 and baptised at St Michael’s Church on 10 February 1861).

His wife died just a week after giving birth to Frances:

† Mrs Rosamond Metcalfe, née Robinson died at Beaumont Street at the age of 25 on 1 December 1860 and was buried at St Sepulchre's Cemetery on 6 December (burial recorded in the parish register of St Michael’s Church).

Her death notice inserted in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 8 December read: “Dec 1, in Beaumont-street, aged 25, Rosamond, wife of the Rev. Frederick Metcalfe, Fellow of Lincoln College, and Incumbent of St. Michael’s, Oxford.” There is some uncertainty about whether she is actually buried in this vault, as when her husband died in 1885, it was reported that he was buried in a new vault.

Six months later, at the time of the 1861 census, Frederick Metcalfe (45) was boarding at the Lion Inn in Front Street, Leintwardine, north Herefordshire, while Miss Ellen Robinson (24), his wife's sister, was living at 22 Beaumont Street looking after Rosamond (1) and Frances (6 months, but recorded in the census as being only 4 months), with the help of a cook, nurse, and housemaid.

At the time of the 1871 census Frederick (55) was at home in Beaumont Street with his daughters Rosamond (11) and Frances (10), and two servants.

In 1876 Frederick Metcalfe moved with his daughters to 45 St Giles’s Street, and they can all be seen there in the 1881 census. Four years later, he died in while on holiday in Norway, and his body was returned to Oxford for burial in St Sepulchre's Cemetery:

† The Revd Frederick Metcalfe died at Christiana, Norway at the age of 70 on 24 August 1885 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 3 September (burial recorded in the parish register of St Michael’s Church).

His wealth at death was £17,606 1s. 0d. His obituary in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 29 August 1885 read as follows:

DEATH OF THE REV. F. METCALFE.— The Rev. Frederick Metcalfe, B.D., Fellow of Lincoln College, and Vicar of St. Michael’s, in this city, to which he was appointed in 1849, died in Norway a few days since, after a short illness. Mr. Metcalfe was a distinguished Norse scholar, and was a candidate for the Rawlinsonian Professorship of Anglo-Saxon in 1876, on the death of Professor Bosworth, to which the Rev. J. Earle, M.A., late Fellow of Oriel College (who had previously held the Professorship, but whose tenure of office had expired in 1854, was re-elected. The deceased gentleman was in the habit of visiting Norway yearly for the purposes of sport and recreation; he was an accomplished salmon fisher in days when such an accomplishment was rare, and he retained his love for the sport to the last. His uniform courtesy and kindness will have endeared him to many, not only in his own parish, but in Oxford. He leaves two daughters and a numerous circle of attached friends to lament their loss.

Jackson’s Oxford Journal reported on his funeral on 5 September 1885:

FUNERAL OF THE REV. F. METCALFE.—The remains of the late Vicar of St. Michael’s in this City, were interred in a new vault in St. Sepulchre’s Cemetery, Walton-street, on Thursday last. The deceased was brought from Norway in a metal case, and on arrival at the residence, 45, St. Giles’s-street, on Monday evening, the whole was enclosed in a polished oak coffin, with massive brass furniture, the plate bearing the following inscription:— “Frederick Metcalfe: born 29th March 1815; died 24th August, 1885.” The funeral service was performed by the Rector of Lincoln College (Rev. W. W. Merry) and the Curate of St. Michael’s (Rev. H. R. Bently), and the mourners were Mr. F. M. Metcalfe, Inglesthorpe Hall, near Wisbeach, the nephew, and the two daughters. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs. Elliston, Cavell, and Co., Magdalen-street.

45 St Giles's Street

The two daughters of Frederick & Rosamond Metcalfe

At the time of the 1891, 1901, and 1911 censuses Rosamond and Frances were living on their own means with two servants at their father’s former house, 45 St Giles’s Street (right), and they were still there in 1936.

Rosamond Mary Ulrica Metcalfe (born 1859) died at Oxenford Hall, a hotel at 15 Magdalen Street, Oxford, at the age of 79 on 11 March 1939. Her burial is recorded in the parish register of St Michael’s Church on 14 March 1939, but it is uncertain where she is buried: she may be in this vault. Probate was granted to her sister, and her effects came to £2,580 15s. 8d.

Frances Rosamond Hilda Metcalfe (born 1860) must have moved to Nutwith House, Masham, Yorkshire after her sister’s death, as that is given as her permanent address when probate was granted, but she died in the Acland Nursing Home, Oxford on 12 March 1940. Her burial is recorded in the parish register of St Michael’s Church on 14 March 1940, but again her place of burial is uncertain. Probate was granted to her maternal cousin, George Aubrey Howard Vyse, a retired Lieutenant-Colonel, and her effects came to £6,711 8s. 9d.



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