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

Trial by public - Maurice and the press

A handwritten letter from Maurice addressed to his friends at King’s College London in which he thanks them for their ‘affectionate’ words.A letter from Maurice to his friendsThe Council’s decision did not, however, bring the saga to any sort of conclusion. Amongst Maurice’s friends there was much consternation.

J. C. Hare, whose lectures Maurice had attended whilst he was at Cambridge, angrily argued that both the act and the way it had had been handled was ‘disgraceful’ and ‘disastrous to the Church’, and tried ‘to get up a Protest in opposition.’

Meanwhile, many of Maurice’s friends sent him ‘affectionate’ words, whilst the Committee of Queen’s College wrote to affirm ‘the great reverence and affection’ with which Maurice was regarded at their institution.

The event also became a major issue outside of Maurice’s immediate circle of friends and associates. As an anonymous ‘Barrister from Lincoln’s Inn’ wrote one year later:

`An extract from <i>The</i> <i>Morning Advertiser</i> proclaiming that sympathy towards Maurice was undeserved and indicative of an ‘unhealthy state of moral opinion.’The Morning Advertiser‘The removal of a Professor, by the authorities of the College to which he belongs, would seem but a small matter amidst the great events which were taking place around us, or impending over us, in the latter end of the year 1853. And yet I, for one, cannot recollect any matter, seemingly so small and personal, which fastened so sudden a hold on public attention as Professor Maurice’s dismissal from King’s College.’

The media was split over the issue.

Some papers like the Guardian, English Churchman, John Bull, Church and State Gazette backed the actions of the university. The Morning Advertiser went as far as to proclaim that ‘never was public sympathy more underserved than it would be in the case of the Rev. Gentleman,’ who was a ‘traitor to those principles on the profession of which [he] obtained certain appointments.’

`An extract from <i>The Nonconformist </i>praising Maurice and describing King’s as a ‘not very forward educational institution.’The NonconformistHowever, other papers like the Globe, Daily News, Examiner and Spectator came out in support of Maurice, with The Nonconformist suggesting that the university’s reaction was less to do with his exact theological opinions but rather his tendency to take an interest in those who were suffering from the age of social dislocation.

King’s they argued was a ‘not very forward educational institution.’

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