By Tim Newark & Angus McBride
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Extra resources for Ancient Celts
It is impossible to describe the enormous effect’, wrote Pattison, ‘produced in the academical and clerical world, I may say throughout England, by one man’s changing his religion. 73 Many expected that Pattison would be one of them, and so some comment is needed here on the nature of his recoil from the Oxford Movement. It was widely believed among his friends that Pattison had been on the verge of converting to Rome in 1845–6. 74 Whether or not the legend is true, Fergal Nolan has shown why it was reasonable for his friends to have expected him to convert.
Any fellow would jump at the opportunity to be elected head. Pattison had evidently formed aspirations to the headship even before Radford’s death. The field of potential candidates was small, being limited by statute to present and former fellows of the college. 100 His successful service as an examiner in 1848 and the cogent and forceful evidence he gave to the 1850 Royal Commission had made him a significant figure in the University too. His only rival in terms of ability was Richard Michell, who, having vacated his fellowship on marriage, had 97 98 100 [Pattison], ‘The Oxford Bede’, Christian Remembrancer 11 (1846,), 331.
99 The election that followed was to scar Pattison’s mind and spirit for the rest of his life. In the Victorian period – much more than today – a college headship was a position to which it was natural for a fellow to aspire. Within the University the heads had real power, and nationally they had access to social elites. Their income greatly exceeded that of a fellow, even a fellow who held a college office such as tutor or bursar. And unlike fellows they were allowed to marry. Any fellow would jump at the opportunity to be elected head.
Ancient Celts by Tim Newark & Angus McBride