William Owen Chadwick
20 May 1916
Bromley, Kent, England, UK
|Died||17 July 2015 (aged 99)|
Cambridge, England, UK
|Alma mater||University of Cambridge, St John's College, Cambridge|
William Owen Chadwick OM KBE FBA FRSE (20 May 1916 – 17 July 2015) was a British Anglican priest, academic, rugby international, writer and prominent historian of Christianity. As a leading academic, Chadwick became Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History from 1958 to 1968 and Regius Professor of History from 1968 to 1983. From 1956 to 1983, Chadwick was elected and served as the Master of Selwyn College, Cambridge.
In his obituaries, Chadwick was described as "one of the great religious historians of our time" by The Independent, and as "one of the most remarkable men of letters of the 20th century" by The Guardian.
Early life and education
|University||University of Cambridge, Selwyn College, Cambridge, St John's College, Cambridge|
|Rugby union career|
Chadwick was born in Bromley in 1916, the third of six children of John Chadwick, a barrister, and his wife Edith (née Horrocks). His father died in 1925. He was an elder brother of the Very Reverend Henry Chadwick, also a distinguished professor and historian of the early Church, and a younger brother of Sir John Chadwick KCMG, a diplomat whose senior posting was as British Ambassador to Romania.
His eldest brother was sent to Eton College, but Chadwick was educated at Tonbridge School from 1929 to 1935. He was school captain and captain of the rugby team. He then studied classics at St John's College, Cambridge. He received three Blues in rugby playing as hooker for Cambridge University in the annual Varsity Match against Oxford University in 1936, 1937 and 1938 (as captain). In 1936, during his first year at Cambridge, he was selected to tour with a British Lions team in their third trip to Argentina. Although no caps were awarded on this tour, Chadwick did play in the one match against the full Argentina side, playing in his favoured position of hooker in a 23–0 victory. The British team won all ten of its matches. During the 1937/38 season, Chadwick played for invitational touring side, the Barbarians.
Chadwick graduated with a First in History in 1938. Having been influenced by Martin Charlesworth and Martin Niemöller in 1938, he took a First in theology at Cambridge in 1939. He then attended Cuddesdon College (a theological college) and was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood of the Church of England in 1940 and 1941 respectively.
He also played rugby during the war, for Blackheath, and for an England team that played against New Zealand.
After the war, he was made chaplain and Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, in 1947 and then Dean of Chapel. He became a university theology lecturer in 1949 and published his first book on the 5th-century monk John Cassian in 1950.
In 1958 he was named Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Cambridge University. He then became an honorary fellow at St John's College, Cambridge, in 1964. A few years later in 1968, he was elected to the position of Regius Professor of Modern History, an ancient chair which he held until 1982, and was President of the British Academy during the early 1980s. As vice-chancellor from 1969 to 1971, he guided Cambridge through turbulent times in the late 1960s, including the Garden House riot in 1970. He was also elected president of Cambridge University RFC in 1973.
In the 1960s and 1970s, he was suggested as a potential Archbishop of Canterbury, but is thought to have declined the offer of a bishop's mitre more than once. He chaired the Archbishops' Commission on Church and State (1966–1970), known as the Chadwick Commission, which recommended that Parliament should pass the regulation of the church to a General Synod rather than disestablishment.
He was Hensley Henson Lecturer in Theology at Oxford University in 1975-76, and Ford Lecturer in English History at Oxford in 1980-81. He retired as Regius Professor and Master of Selwyn College, Cambridge in 1983. He became Fellow of the British Academy in 1962, and was its President from 1981 to 1985. He was also a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery from 1978 to 1994, and was Chancellor of the University of East Anglia from 1984 to 1994.
His brother Henry was the first person in over four centuries to become head of house at colleges at both Oxford and Cambridge, serving first as Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford and Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, and then as Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge and Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge.
Selwyn College, Cambridge
He was elected Master of Selwyn College, Cambridge, in 1955, where he was close neighbour and friend of David Briggs, head of King's College School. Installed in 1956, he was the longest-serving Master of Selwyn by the time he retired after 27 years in 1983. During his time as master, Selwyn became a full college of the Cambridge University in 1958 (though it had been founded back in 1882), it ceased to require its students to be communicant members (Anglicans) of the Church of England. As master of Selwyn College, Chadwick undertook and completed several major building projects including the new Cripps Court (not to be confused with the similarly named Cripps at Queens' College, Cambridge). Selwyn College was not the first Oxbridge college to admit women students alongside men, but it adopted the practice relatively early on in 1976. Under Chadwick's Mastership of Selwyn College, the numbers of fellows and postgraduates were doubled, greatly increasing the research output of the college. He took a keen interest in sports at Selwyn College and was elected to membership of the infamous Hermes Club. He is fondly remembered by Selwyn College through a series of paintings and named-rooms as one of the greatest and longest serving masters ever.
Chadwick wrote about such issues as the formation of the papacy in the modern world; about Lord Acton; about the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century; about the Church of England in the United Kingdom elsewhere, and about the secularisation of European thought and culture. He participated in the debate[clarification needed] about the role of Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust during World War II.
With his brother, Henry, Chadwick edited the Oxford History of the Christian Church (1981-2010), to which he contributed three of its twelve volumes: "The Popes and European Revolution" (1980), "A History of the Popes 1830–1914" (1998), and "The Early Reformation on the Continent" (2003). Chadwick was awarded the Wolfson History Prize in 1981.
Owen Chadwick was also General Editor of the Penguin (formerly Pelican) History of the Church, to which he contributed the third volume (The Reformation), the seventh (The Christian Church in the Cold War, 1992) and the last two chapters of the sixth ("A History of Christian Missions", second edition 1986). His brother Henry Chadwick wrote the first volume in the series (The Early Church, 1967).
Among Chadwick's other books are:
- John Cassian: A Study in Primitive Monasticism (1950)
- The Founding of Cuddesdon (1954)
- From Bossuet to Newman (1957)
- The Sayings of the Fathers (1958)
- Mackenzie’s Grave (1959) (on a bishop sent to the Zambesi in the 19th century)
- Victorian Miniature (1960) (based on parallel diaries of the squire and parson at Ketteringham in Norfolk covering several decades of the early 19th century)
- The Victorian Church (in two volumes, 1966 and 1970)
- The Secularization of the European Mind in the 19th Century (1975) (based on his Gifford Lectures in 1973-74)
- Newman (in the OUP's "Past Masters" series; 1983)
- Hensley Henson: A study in the Friction between Church and State (1983)
- A History of Christianity (1995)
- The Early Reformation on the Continent (2001) 
Chadwick was appointed Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) in the 1982 New Year Honours. As a priest he did not receive the accolade and so remained styled as "The Revd Owen Chadwick" rather than "Sir Owen Chadwick". He was appointed to the Order of Merit (OM) on 11 November 1983.
He married his wife Ruth (née Hallward) in 1949; she died before him, in January 2015. He was survived by two sons and two daughters. Chadwick died at the age of 99 on 17 July 2015.
- Owen Chadwick rugby profile ESPN Scrum.com
- Obituary, The Independent, 23 July 2015.
- The Rev Owen Chadwick obituary, The Guardian, 19 July 2015 (updated 20 July 2015).
- PHS (9 July 1969). "The Times Diary—Chadwick favourite for Dean, OAPs in TV licence rumpus, Holiday Inns here to stay". News. The Times (57607). London. col D, p. 10.
- The Reverend Professor Owen Chadwick, OM - obituary, The Daily Telegraph, 20 July 1915
- Marshall, Howard; Jordon, J.P. (1951). Oxford v Cambridge, The Story of the University Rugby Match. London: Clerke & Cockeran. p. 252.
- Owen Chadwick rugby profile ESPN Scrum.com
- "La Unión de Rugby del Río de la Plata". UAR.com. 1937. Retrieved 20 March 2011.[permanent dead link]
- Starmer-Smith, Nigel (1977). The Barbarians. Macdonald & Jane's Publishers. p. 219. ISBN 0-86007-552-4.
- "Owen Chadwick RIP". sel.cam.ac.uk.
- "No. 52987". The London Gazette. 10 July 1992. p. 11676.
- The Revd Professor W Owen Chadwick, St John's College, Cambridge
- Methuen, Charlotte. The Journal of Theological Studies, NEW SERIES, 54, no. 1 (2003): 388-91. https://www.jstor.org/stable/23969057.
- "No. 48837". The London Gazette. 30 December 1981. p. 8.
- Honours—Knighthoods from the official website of the British Monarchy. Retrieved 25 June 2008
- "No. 49543". The London Gazette. 18 November 1983. p. 15251.
- Grimes, William (23 July 2015). "Owen Chadwick, Eminent Historian of Christianity, Dies at 99". New York Times. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
- Worden, Blair, Derek Beales, and Geoffrey Best, eds. History, Society and the Churches: Essays in Honour of Owen Chadwick. (1985).
- Owen Chadwick interviewed by Alan Macfarlane 29 February 2008 (film)
- Gifford Lectures at the Wayback Machine (archived 2011-09-16)
- Reverend Professor Owen Chadwick (1916 -)[permanent dead link], Tonbridge School
| Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History, University of Cambridge
Ernest Gordon Rupp
| Regius Professor of Modern History, Cambridge
| Master of Selwyn College, Cambridge
Sir Alan Cook
Eric Ashby, Baron Ashby
| Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
William Alexander Deer
| Chancellor of the University of East Anglia
Sir Geoffrey Allen