Frederick Denison Maurice

1805-1872. Christian Socialist. He was son of a Unitarian minister; the religious conflicts of the home partly explain his later preoccupation with a search for unity. In 1823 he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, but being a Nonconformist was unable to take a degree. He moved to London and wrote in criticism of Benthamite materialism and developed an interest in social reform. Influenced by Coleridge's writings, he accepted Anglicanism and, deciding to be ordained, went to Exeter College, Oxford, where he was attracted to Tractarianism.* In 1834 he was ordained to a country curacy in Worcestershire and in 1836 became chaplain at Guy's Hospital, London, by which time he had broken with the Tractarians over baptism, which he saw as assuring every man that he is a child of God.

In 1838 he published his most enduring work, The Kingdom of Christ, in which most of his fundamental beliefs are expressed-the basic tenets of incarnational theology and, in particular, his belief in Christ as the head of every man, and universal fellowship and unity being possible in Christ alone. While at Guy's, he was doing practical work in the cause of education, and later in 1848 he was associated in the founding of Queen's College, London, the first higher educational establishment for women. In 1840 he was appointed professor of English literature and history at King's College, London, and in his Warburton Lectures (1846) he replied to J.H. Newman's* theory of development. In 1846 Maurice was appointed chaplain at Lincoln's Inn and also professor of theology at King's.

The political events of 1848 restirred his concern in the application of Christian principles to social reform, and with J.M.F. Ludlow* and Charles Kingsley,* he formed the Christian Socialists,* aiming at a Christian reform of the social bases of society, not just charity to the sufferers in society. At King's his orthodoxy was being questioned, and in 1853 the publication of his Theological Essays, in which he attacked the popular view of eternal punishment, resulted in his expulsion from the college. In 1854 he started the first Working Men's College in London. He came to prominence again in 1859 with his book What is Revelation?, a reply to H.L. Mansel's* Bampton Lectures of 1858. In 1860 Maurice was appointed to St. Peter's, Vere Street, London; in 1866, Knightsbridge professor of moral philosophy at Cambridge; and in 1870 also incumbent of St. Edward's, Cambridge. Throughout his ordained life he was unwilling to attach himself to any church party, yet remarkably he represented the unity those parties lacked. He was a prolific writer and one of the seminal, though much misunderstood, thinkers of the nineteenth century.

F. Maurice, Life and Letters of F.D. Maurice (2 vols., 1884); F. Higham, Frederick Denison Maurice (1947); A.M. Ramsey, F.D. Maurice and the Conflicts of Modern Theology (1951); W.M. Davies, An Introduction to F.D. Maurice's Theology (1964); A.R. Vidler, F.D. Maurice and Company (1966).