Robert Henry Whitcombe (eminent Anglican Bishop and Schoolmaster), 1862-1922

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Not much is known about Robert’s early life. He won a scholarship and was educated at Winchester College – an independent boarding school established in 1382. And then later took a double first at New College, Oxford, established in 1379. Both colleges have colourful histories and are regarded as two of the best in the UK.

Robert, also known by his nickname ‘Henry’, originally trained as a barrister but later became schoolmaster at Wellington College – an independent boarding school established in 1859 and named after the first Duke of Wellington. He then later became schoolmaster (science) at Eton College – also an independent boarding school, established in 1440 by King Henry VI. Eton is well known for its former pupils including prime ministers, world leaders and royalty, as well famous writers, scientists, actors and musicians. Being a schoolmaster during these years required being a graduate of either Oxford or Cambridge university (the only two in England until the 19th century).

Robert then became Rector at St Mary’s Church, Hardwick in Buckinghamshire, and later Vicar of Romford, Essex. The titles Rector and Vicar, in the Anglicanism sense, are both a type of parish priest. It’s possible that during the years Robert presided, the clergy might have still been supported by tithes – a ten percent local tax paid on the personal and often agricultural output of the parish. His final role was as the fifth Bishop of Colchester.

His farther was Philip Whitcombe (born 1816), mother Sarah Maria Whitcombe (born Gowlland, 1841). He was married to Annie Maria Vernon Whitcombe (born Evans, 1872). His son was Philip Sidney Whitcombe (first-class cricketer and Major General).

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