Henry Hart Milman
Dean of St Paul's Cathedral
The historian and ecclesiastic Henry Hart Milman was born in London on 10 November 1791, the third son of Sir Francis Milman, a physician to King George III. Educated at Eton and Brasenose College, Oxford, his university career was one of brilliance. In 1816 he was ordained and two years later became parish priest of St Mary’s, Reading.
As well as producing dramatic works, Milman also wrote various poems, including The Fall of Jerusalem (1820), The Martyr of Antioch (1822), later used as the basis for an oratorio by Arthur Sullivan, and Balshazzar (1822), which showed the influence of Byron. In 1821 he was elected professor of poetry at Oxford. Another tragedy, Anne Boleyn, followed in 1826. His poetical works were published in three volumes in 1839. Milman also wrote several hymns, and translated works by Aeschylus, Euripedes and Horace.
In another field, Milman published in 1829 his History of the Jews, which is memorable as the first work by an English clergyman which treated the Jews as a tribe, sifted and classified documentary evidence, and evaded or minimized the miraculous. In consequence, he was much criticized and his preferment was delayed. In 1835, however, Sir Robert Peel made him Rector of St Margaret’s, Westminster, and Canon of Westminster, and in 1849 he became Dean of St Paul’s, the cathedral seen here in a backdrop specially painted for this portrait.
By this time his work had achieved popularity. His History of Christianity to the Abolition of Paganism in the Roman Empire (1840) had been completely ignored, but the continuation of this work, his great History of Latin Christianity (1855) was well received and passed through many editions.
When Milman died on 24 September 1868, he had almost finished a history of St Paul’s Cathedral; it was eventually completed and published by his son, who also collected and published in 1879 a volume of his essays and articles. Dean Milman was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.