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I HAVE endeavoured to prepare and collect in this volume
a series of memoirs of the most eminent men who have been
connected with Eton, by education or office, during the four centuries that have elapsed since the foundation of the College to the present time.
The project is one which Rawlinson and many others have, in the course of the last eighty years, undertaken and announced, but it has never before been completed.
It is, indeed, more difficult than it would appear at first sight. The “ Alumni Etonenses” of Harwood, the
Registrum Regale ” of the Rev. G. H. Dupuis, and Allen's Manuscripts, which are preserved in Eton College Library, make it easy to ascertain all the eminent Etonians who have been educated on the foundation, and who afterwards became members of the sister foundation of King's College, Cambridge.
From the same works, especially from the “
“Registrum," the names of all the Provosts and Fellows of Eton may be learned, with brief but useful epitomes of their lives. But there are no similar catalogues of the Oppidans,—that is to say, of the great majority of those who have been educated at Eton for the last three centuries ; nor do the works to
which I have referred, at all notice the students on the
foundation, who, by being superannuated, or other causes, did not succeed to scholarships at King's.
After collecting and arranging the information which I obtained from these sources, and adding the names of the great men who are familiarly known to have been Etonians, such as Wotton, Waller, Walpole, Gray, Porson, Canning, &c., I found it necessary to examine a very large number of biographical collections, such as “ Johnson's Lives of the Poets ;” the “ Biographia Britannica ;" Chambers's, Gorton's, and Cunningham's Biographical Dictionaries; the “Biographie Universelle ;” several Cyclopædias, and many more works of various kinds, in order to collect the names of those, whose eminence in life is well known, but whose Eton education is not equally notorious.
I have also largely (and, I fear, wearisomely) availed myself of the kindness of my Eton friends in making researches on the subject.
All this was preliminary to the composition of the
I fear that, notwithstanding the labour which I have employed, and the valuable information which has been supplied to me by others, the following enumeration of our
“Heroes Etonenses" is not free from omissions. I fear this
especially with regard to the Eton Prelates of the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries.
In a work which I published a few years ago, I investigated, and fully discussed, the details of the education, discipline, &c., that have existed, and now exist, at Eton. The same work contained a brief historical account of the
foundation of the College, and of its early fortunes. I have incorporated in this volume some of the archæological information which I then compiled ; but I have not felt it necessary in these pages to re-write the modern history of Eton,—to describe the present condition and system of
I beg to take this opportunity of thanking the numerous friends who have kindly aided me in the preparation of this work. I wish more particularly to express my gratitude to the Rev. Edward Craven Hawtrey, D.D., Head Master of Eton ; to the Rev. G. R. Green, one of the Fellows of Eton ; to the Rev. W. G. Cookesley, one of the Assistant Masters; to Spencer Walpole, Esq., M.P.; to Dr. R. G. Latham, late Fellow of King's College, Cambridge ; and to W. Wakeford Attree, Esq., Barrister-at-law. I also beg to tender my respectful thanks to the Provost and Fellows of Eton College, for their permission to avail myself of the manuscripts and other sources of information which are preserved in the College Library