Reverand Canon George Maclear

(1833-1902)

Son of Rev. George Maclear, and nephew of Sir Thomas Maclear.


Dictionary of National Biography

Second Supplement Vol II, pp.538-539, Ed. Sidney Lee, London, 1893

"MACLEAR, George Frederick (1833-1902), theological writer, born at Bedford on 3 Feb, 1833, was the eldest son of the Rev. George Maclear, M.A., chaplain of Bedford county prison (1832-69), by his wife Isabella Ingle. Educated at Bedford grammar school, he obtained a scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1852 and had a distinguished academic career.

He won the Carus Greek Testament prize in 1854 and 1855, and after graduating B.A. with a second class in the classical tripos of 1855, he was placed in the first class in the theological tripos of 1856 (its first year). He gained the Burney prize in 1855, the Hulsean in 1857, the Maitland in 1858 and 1861, and the Norrisian in 1863. All five prize essays were published. His Maitland essay of 1858, 'The Christian Statesman and our Indian Empire; or the legitimate sphere of government countenance and aid in promoting Christianity in India,' reached a second edition. That of 1861, on 'Christian Missions during the Middle Ages,' was recast as 'Apostles of Medieval Europe' (1869), and was the first of a series of important volumes on missionary history. Maclear proceeded M.A. in 1860, B.D. in 1867, and D.D. in 1872. Ordained deacon in 1856 and priest in 1857, he held curacies at Clopton, Bedfordshire (1856-8), and St. Barnabas, Kennington (1858-60); was assistant-preacher at Curzon Chapel, Mayfair (1860-5); and reader at the Temple (1865-70); select preacher at Cambridge in 1868, 1880, and 1886, and at Oxford in 1882-2; and Ramsden preacher at Cambridge in 1890. He delivered the Boyle lectures at Whitehall in 1879-80 'On the Evidential Value of the Holy Eucharist' (1883; 4th edit. 1898).

Meanwhile Maclear was an assistant master at King's College School, London (1860-6), and headmaster (1867-80). He showed great ability as teacher and organiser, doubled the numbers and greatly raised the standing of the school. While headmaster he declined an offer of the see of Colombo in 1875. Eventually he accepted the post of warden of St. Augustine's Missionary College, Canterbury, in 1880, and held it til his death. In this capacity he worked untiringly as preacher, lecturer, and adviser on foreign mission work. In 1885 he was made an hon. Canon of Canterbury Cathedral. He died at St. Augustine's College, after a long illness, on 19 Oct. 1902, and was buried in St Martin's churchyard, Canterbury.

Maclear was twice married: (1) on 10 June 1857 to Christiana Susan, daughter of J. Campbell, rector of Eye, Suffolk (she died on 31 May 1874, being predeceased by an only daughter); and (2) on 27 Dec. 1878 to Eva, eldest daughter of William Henry D'Olier Purcell, vicar of Exmouth; she died on 1 March 1890, leaving three sons and a daughter. A portrait by Mr Sydney P. Hall, unveiled on 5 Dec. 1902, hangs in the hall of the new King's College School at Wimbledon.

Maclear enjoyed a wide reputation as a theological writer. His lucid and well-arranged text-books, which were long in general use, include the 'Class Books of Old and New Testament History' (1862), the 'Class Book of the Catechism' (1868), 'An Introduction to the Articles' (written with the Rev. Watkin Wynn Williams) (1895; new edit. 1909). To missionary history he contributed, besides the work mentioned, 'The Conversion of the West' (4 vols. 1878) and 'St Augustine's, Canterbury: its Rise, Ruin and Restoration' (1888); and he wrote on missions in the 'Encyclopaedia Britannica' (9th edit.). Maclear also published, with several devotional books, 'An Elementary Introduction to the Book of Common Prayer' (1868) and 'The Baptismal Office and the Order of Confirmation' (1902), in both of which he collaborated with Francis Proctor [q.v. Suppl. II]; he edited portions of the Cambridge Bible for Schools; and contributed to Smith's Dictionaries of 'Christian Antiquities' and 'Christian Biography,' and to Cassell's 'Bible Educator.' 'Lectures on Pastoral Theology,' a selection from his unpublished manuscripts, was edited by the Rev. R.J.E. Boggis, D.D., in 1904.

[Private information; Lectures on Pastoral Theology, with portrait and Dedication by Dr. Boggis, 1904; King's College School Magazine, Dec. 1902, by Prof. Hales, Rev. H. Belcher, and others; Crockford's Clerical Directory; Guardian, 22 Oct. 1902; Kentish Observer, 23 Oct; The Times, 20, 23 Oct, ; Brit. Mus. Cat.]"