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Thomas Gaisford

Thomas Gaisford
Thomas Gaisford, portrait taken from the Imagines Philologorum
Born (1779-12-22)22 December 1779
Iford Manor, Wiltshire
Died 2 June 1855(1855-06-02) (aged 75)
Christ Church, Oxford
Resting place The nave of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford
Nationality British
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford
Occupation Classical Scholar, Clergyman
  • Helen Margaret Douglas, 1815-1830 (her death)
  • Jane Catharine Jenkyns, 1832-1855 (his death)
Children Five
  • John Gaisford
  • Sarah Bushall

Thomas Gaisford (22 December 1779 – 2 June 1855) was an English classical scholar and clergyman. He served as Dean of Christ Church from 1831 until his death.


  • Early life 1
  • Academic career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Legacy 4
  • Quotations 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7

Early life

Gaisford was born at Iford Manor, Wiltshire, and educated at Hyde Abbey School, Winchester before entering the University of Oxford in 1797,

Academic career

At Oxford, he became successively student and tutor of Christ Church. In 1811, he was appointed Regius Professor of Greek in the University. Taking orders, he held (1815–1847) the college living of Westwell, Oxfordshire, and other ecclesiastical preferments simultaneously with his professorship. In 1829, he was offered the position of Bishop of Oxford, but he turned it down. From 1831 until his death, he was Dean of Christ Church.

As curator of the Bodleian Library and principal delegate of the Oxford University Press, Gaisford was instrumental in securing the cooperation of distinguished European scholars as collators, notably Bekker and Dindorf. Among his numerous contributions to Greek literature may be mentioned, Hephaestion's Encheiridion (1810); Poëtae Graeci minores (1814–1820); Stobaeus' Florilegium (1822); Herodotus, with variorum notes (1824); Suidas' Lexicon (1834); Etymologicum Magnum (I848). Eusebius's Praeparatio evangelica (1843) and Demonstratio evangelica (1852).

Personal life

On 11 May 1815 Gaisford married Helen Margaret Douglas the daughter of the Rev. Robert Douglas. They had five children. After she died in 1830, he married Jane Catharine Jenkyns (1787–1863); she was the sister of Dr Richard Jenkyns, master of Balliol College and Dr Henry Jenkyns.

On 23 June 1843, Gaisford's 21-year-old son, William Gaisford, drowned while swimming in the river Thames at Sandford Lock - a notoriously dangerous spot. He got into difficulties and his friend, Richard Phillimore (the son of Joseph Phillimore), entered the water to save him. However, both men perished. They are buried in Christ Church Cathedral. They are commemorated by an obelisk at Sandford Lock and two memorial tablets in the north walk of the Cathedral cloisters.[1]


The Gaisford Prize was founded in Gaisford's honour in 1856, shortly after his death. Gaisford Street in Kentish Town, north London, was named in his honour.


  • "Nor can I do better, in conclusion, than impress upon you the study of Greek literature, which not only elevates above the vulgar herd, but leads not infrequently to positions of considerable emolument." –Th. Gaisford, Christmas Day Sermon in the Cathedral, Oxford (Rev. W. Tuckwell, Reminiscences of Oxford, 2nd ed., 1907, p. 124)
  • "It was said that Gaisford, on his visit to Germany, had some difficulty in escaping from the 'umarmung' [hug, embrace] of some of its scholars, exclaiming (in the apprehension of a 'kuss' [kiss] on both cheeks) 'Ohe ! jam satis, amice'." G.V. Cox, Recollections of Oxford, London : Macmillan, 1870, p.411, fn. 3. 'Ohe ! jam [iam] satis, amice' means idiomatically : 'Oh, that's quite enough, my friend.' The quotation derives with amendment from Abraham Cowley's Naufragium Joculare [Ioculare] ('The Hilarious Shipwreck'.), 1638, Act 1, sc. 6. (Geoffrey Thomas, Birkbeck College, University of London.)


  1. ^ Michael Popkin (2001). "Brave Deeds and Tragedies". OXFORD INSCRIPTIONS - Inscribed Stones and Plaques in Oxford. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 


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