MC:P414 The Brodie Collection of the Papers of Sir Herbert Warren (President 1885-1928)
[This biography is taken from President Warren’s entry in the Dictionary of National Biography.]
Thomas Herbert Warren was born on 21 October 1853, the second son of Algernon William Warren and Cecil Thomas. He was educated at Manilla Hall School, Clifton, and then Clifton College.
Warren studied at Balliol where he obtained Firsts in Classical Moderations (1873) and in Literae Humaniores (1876), and won the Hertford scholarship (1873), the Craven scholarship (1878), and the Gaisford prize for Greek verse (1875). His main influence was that of Benjamin Jowett (Master of Balliol), whose ideal of a college as not merely a home of learning but a training ground for public life, was destined to guide Warren’s policy in his direction of Magdalen.
In October 1877, Warren was elected to a prize fellowship at Magdalen and succeeded in the following term to a classical tutorship. On the death of Dr. Frederic Bulley in 1885 Warren, at the unusually early age of thirty-two, was elected President, and held the office until 1928, a period of forty-three years. He took on the task of developing the college, gathering round him a distinguished staff of teachers and welcoming as a new strength to the College the professorial fellows added by the royal commission of 1878. Meanwhile Warren was coming to hold a prominent position in University affairs. He was for many years a member of the Hebdomadal Council, a delegate of the University Museum, and a curator of the Taylor Institution. From 1906 to 1910 he was Vice-Chancellor.
Outside the university Warren’s services were employed on several government commissions and committees. The honorary degree of D.C.L. was conferred upon him at Lord Curzon’s first Encaenia in 1907, and he was also an honorary LL.D. of Birmingham University, an honorary D.Litt. of Bristol University, and an honorary fellow of Balliol (1924). The Prince of Wales was a student at Magdalen from 1912, and the King created Warren KCVO when the prince left Magdalen on the outbreak of war in 1914.
Warren was helped in his presidential duties by his wife, Mary Isabel, who was the youngest daughter of the chemist Sir Benjamin Collins Brodie, and whom he married in 1886. The years of World War I, when he received almost daily the news of the death of some Magdalen man, brought him great distress, but he steered the college through this time of anxiety and through the period of reconstruction which followed. In 1928 age and increasing infirmity made him decide to resign: he received many tokens of affection and gratitude, and was elected an Honorary Fellow of the College. He continued to live in Oxford, and died there suddenly on 9 June 1930. He had no children.
For further information on Warren’s life, please refer to Herbert Warren of Magdalen: President & Friend, 1853–1930 by Laurie Magnus, as well as Chapter 5 of Magdalen College, Oxford: A History, ed. L. W. B. Brockliss.
This collection of papers has been loaned to the College by the Brodie family as accession number 12/58. There were already some papers relating to Warren in the College archives. Their catalogue can be found here.
Catalogued October 2013 by Sean Rippington.
The Brodie/Warren papers is divided up into the following series: