King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
F. D. Maurice - a life at King's

The Council decides

A handwritten extract of the first two council resolutions 27 October 1853 regarding Maurice. These outline that his beliefs ‘are of a dangerous tendency’ and that the council believes it is their ‘painful duty’ to declare that Maurice continuing at the college would be ‘detrimental to its usefulnessCouncil ResolutionsAfter a brief meeting on 14 October, the Council reconvened on 27 October to debate Maurice’s future.

Following an extensive discussion of the Theological Essays and the published correspondence between Maurice and Jelf, the Council concluded that the essays did indeed ‘contain points of belief regarding the future punishment of the wicked and the final issues of the Day of Judgment’ that were of ‘dangerous tendency and calculated to unsettle the minds of the Theological Students of King’s College.’

As such, it was their ‘painful duty’ to declare that the ‘continuance of Professor Maurice’s connexion with the College’ would be ‘seriously detrimental to its usefulness.’

A handwritten extract of the letter Maurice wrote to the Council after their initial decision, transcribed into the Council Minute Book. Maurice describes his indignation and says that the Council has acted beyond its scope.Maurice’s letter backInterestingly, an amendment tabled by William Gladstone (the future Prime Minister) calling for the matter to be investigated by a board of Theologians was rejected.

Maurice was indignant.

On 7 November he wrote to the Council questioning their right to execute ‘an ecclesiastical sentence’ on such matters.

Not only had the College ‘departed from its original principals’ but this had become a matter about the ‘liberties of the Church of England.’

‘I cannot, my Lords and Gentlemen, believe that, great as are the privileges which the Right Reverend Bench has conceded to the Principal of King’s College, their Lordships, the Bishops, ever intended to give him an authority superior to their own, superiors to that of the Articles by which they are bound; I cannot think that they wished to constitute him and the Council arbiters of the Theology of the English Church. Such a claim would be as alarming, I apprehend, to the public as to our ecclesiastical rulers.’

A handwritten entrance into the Council Minute Book showing the final decision of the Council that Maurice’s case should not be reviewed and that his chair should be declared empty.The Final DecsionHowever, despite such opposition, the Council proceeded to make the final decision and to ‘declare the two Chairs in this College lately Occupied by the Rev F. D. Maurice to be now vacant’ on 11 November 1853.

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