Charles James Blomfield

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

Charles James Blomfield
Bishop of London
Charles James Blomfield by Lawrence (follower).jpg
ChurchChurch of England
Term ended1856 (ill health)
PredecessorWilliam Howley
SuccessorArchibald Campbell Tait
Other postsBishop of Chester
Consecrationc. 1824
Personal details
Born(1786-05-29)29 May 1786
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, Great Britain
Died5 August 1857(1857-08-05) (aged 71)
BuriedAll Saints Church, Fulham
ResidenceFulham Palace, London
Children17, including:
EducationKing Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge

Early lifeEdit

Blomfield was born in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, and educated at the grammar school at Bury St Edmunds, declining a scholarship to Eton College after a brief stay there.[1]

Blomfield matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1804. At Cambridge, he was tutored by John Hudson, mathematician and clergyman. Blomfield won the Browne medals for Latin and Greek odes, and the Craven scholarship.[2][3] He graduated B.A. (3rd wrangler and 1st Chancellor's medal in classics) in 1808, M.A. in 1811, B.D. in 1818, D.D. (per lit. reg.) in 1820.[3]


Blomfield was elected to a fellowship at Trinity College in 1809.[2][4] 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.[2]

Blomfield, however, soon ceased to devote himself entirely to scholarship. Ordained deacon in March 1810 and priest in June 1810,[3] he held a curacy at Chesterford, then the following livings:[3][5]

Whilst at Dunton he educated George Spencer (later Ignatius Spencer), and they corresponded for several years after. 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-without-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.[4][2]

In 1828, he was appointed a Privy Counsellor[3] 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.[4]

Funerary monument, All Saints, Fulham, London.

Later lifeEdit

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 worksEdit

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 lifeEdit

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)
  • Maria Blomfield (1814-1884)
  • Charles William Blomfield (1815–1815)
  • Edward Thomas Blomfield (1816–1822)
  • 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), rector
  • Isabella Blomfield (1824–1879)
  • Henry John Blomfield (1825–1900), Royal Navy
  • Francis Blomfield (1827–1860), drowned in the SS Northerner steamer disaster off the Californian coast
  • Arthur William Blomfield (1829–1899), architect
  • Lucy Elizabeth Blomfield (1830–1864),[6] children's author
  • Charles James Blomfield (1831–1915), emigrated to Canada in 1858
  • 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 (1817-1871), barrister.


  1. ^ Johnson, Malcolm (2001). Bustling Intermeddler? The Life and Work of Charles James Blomfield. Gracewing Publishing. p. 16. ISBN 0852445466.
  2. ^ a b c d Blomfield, Alfred (1863). Memoirs of Charles James Blomfield, D. D., Bishop of London, with Selections from his Correspondence. John Murray.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Blomfield, Charles James (BLMT803CJ)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  4. ^ a b c Wroth 1886.
  5. ^ Persons: Blomfield, Charles James (–) in "CCEd, the Clergy of the Church of England database" (Accessed online, 5 June 2019)
  6. ^   Dictionary of National Biography has 1836 for Lucy's date of birth

Further readingEdit

  • 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 linksEdit


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