William Webb Ellis - Biography

Biography

Webb Ellis was born in Salford, Lancashire (some sources say he was born in Manchester as Webb Ellis himself said he was born there in the 1851 census as he later moved to the city). He was the younger of two sons of James Ellis, an officer in the Dragoon Guards, and Ann Webb, whom James married in Exeter in 1804. After his father was killed at the Battle of Albuera in 1811, Mrs Ellis decided to move to Rugby, Warwickshire so that William and his older brother Thomas could receive an education at Rugby School with no cost as a local foundationer (i.e. a pupil living within a radius of 10 miles of the Rugby Clock Tower). He attended the school from 1816 to 1825 and was recorded as being a good scholar and cricketer, although it was noted that he was 'rather inclined to take unfair advantage at cricket'. The incident in which Webb Ellis supposedly caught the ball in his arms during a football match (which was allowed) and ran with it (which was not) is supposed to have happened in the latter half of 1823.

After leaving Rugby in 1826, he went to Brasenose College, Oxford, aged 20. He played cricket for his college, and for Oxford University against Cambridge University in 1827. He graduated with a BA in 1829 and received his MA in 1831. He entered the Church and became chaplain of St George's, Albemarle Street, London and then rector of St. Clement Danes in The Strand. He became well known as a low church evangelical clergyman. In 1855, he became rector of Magdalen Laver in Essex. A picture of him (the only known portrait) appeared in the Illustrated London News in 1854, after he gave a particularly stirring sermon on the subject of the Crimean War.

He never married and died in the south of France in 1872, leaving an estate of £9,000, mostly to various charities. His grave in "le cimetière du vieux château" at Menton in Alpes Maritimes was rediscovered by Ross McWhirter in 1958 and has since been renovated by the French Rugby Federation.

Read more about this topic:  William Webb Ellis

Famous quotes containing the word biography:

    Just how difficult it is to write biography can be reckoned by anybody who sits down and considers just how many people know the real truth about his or her love affairs.
    Rebecca West (1892–1983)

    A great biography should, like the close of a great drama, leave behind it a feeling of serenity. We collect into a small bunch the flowers, the few flowers, which brought sweetness into a life, and present it as an offering to an accomplished destiny. It is the dying refrain of a completed song, the final verse of a finished poem.
    André Maurois (1885–1967)

    In how few words, for instance, the Greeks would have told the story of Abelard and Heloise, making but a sentence of our classical dictionary.... We moderns, on the other hand, collect only the raw materials of biography and history, “memoirs to serve for a history,” which is but materials to serve for a mythology.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)