Name: Benjamin Heath
Prefix: Rev Dr
Birth: 27 SEP 1739 1
Death: 31 MAY 1837 in Walkerne Rectory, Herts
Burial: 1837 St. Leonard?s Exeter, Devon: family vault
Baptism: St. Stephen's Church, Exeter
Occupation: Master at Eton -1771. Headmaster, Harrow 1771-1785. Bibliophile.
Education: Eton. Cambridge (Fellow, King?s College) 2
Change Date: 13 JUN 2011
His famous collection of books was sold, together with that of his father, in 1810.
Abolished archery at Harrow and brought in cricket and public speaking in its place.
Was appointed headmaster of Harrow from his position as a master at Eton. This was in keeping with the pattern of the times.
Spencer Percival, an old Harrovian, wished to appoint Dr. Benjamin Heath Provost of Eton, but George III. would not hear of it. "No, he will never do," said the King, "for he ran away from Eton." "Farmer George" was more Etonian than any Old Etonian. Dr. Benjamin Heath was a reformer, but he was also a pluralist, and on the income derived from two rich livings he was able to indulge his bibliophile tastes to the full.
After his death his library sold in London for 9,000. "Never," says Dibdin, ''did the bibliomaniac's eye alight upon sweeter copies; and never did the bibliographical barometer rise higher than at this sale." J Boswellians will remember that Dr. Johnson's Library fetched only 247 gs.
Dr. Heath was not the only lover of books among the residents of Harrow. The Rev. Henry Drury and Mr. James Edwards, who lived in the old manor-house, had both fine libraries.
When in 1785 Dr. Heath retired to his books at Waikerne, his mantle fell on his brother-in-law, Dr. Joseph
Drury. Mr. Nicholas Carlisle states that on the elections of Dr. Heath, Dr. Drury, and Dr. George Butler, the votes of the Governors were evenly divided between the candidates, and that the casting vote was in each case given by the Archbishop of Canterbury. I was not aware that the Archbishop ever nominated any Head Master except Dr. George Butler. The family of Drury belong to Eton and Harrow, but the Hill can claim to have had as many Drurys as its rival. Dr. Sumner was famous among Harrow Head Masters for his brilliancy; Dr. Joseph Drury for his calm wisdom. He served the school for thirty-six years. He came as an Assistant Master in 1769, just in time for the rebellion, and just in time to decline Dr. Parr's offer of a
mastership at Stanmore. He lived to recommend Edmund Kean, then an obscure provincial actor, to one of the trustees of Drury Lane theatre, and to be hailed as "Probus" by Harrow's poet. "
(Our public schools: their influence on English history; Charter ... James George Cotton Minchin. 1901.)
Father: Benjamin Heath b: 20 APR 1704 in Exeter, Devon
Mother: Rose Marie Michelet b: 5 JUL 1718 in Switzerland
- Text: Susan Shaffer
- Text: A History of Harrow School 1324-1991
(Chapter 9: A Glittering Scene: Joseph Drury and Byron?s Harrow 1785-1805.)