Freeman, Edward Augustus (1823 -1892)
Edward Augustus Freeman was born at Metchley Abbey in Harborne, near Birmingham. His parents, John Freeman and Mary Ann (Carless) both died while he was in infancy. He was brought up by a grandmother, and was educated at private schools and by a private tutor. He went on to Trinity College Oxford, where he was elected a fellow of the college in 1845. He married a daughter of his former tutor, the Rev. R. Gutch, in 1847, and entered on a life of study. Freeman’s reputation as a historian rests mainly on his studies in the early Middle Ages , particularly his The history of the Norman conquest of England (6 vols. Oxford, 1867-1879). He also wrote on Switzerland, church architecture, and comparative constitutional history. His output was prodigious, meticulously researched and extremely detailed. The high quality of his work was acknowledged by all. He was made D.C.L. of Oxford and LL.D. of Cambridge honoris causa, and when he visited the United States on a lecturing tour was warmly received at various places of learning. He served on the royal commission on ecclesiastical courts, convened in 1881. In 1884 he was appointed Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford, and was, for a time, a non-resident professor at Cornell University. From 1886 he was forced by ill-health to spend much of his time abroad. He died of smallpox at Alicante, while on a tour in Spain. Freeman's personal library of some 6,500 volumes was bought for Owens College, Manchester by the trustees of Sir Joseph Whitworth. Most of his collection eventually made its way to the John Rylands Library, University of Manchester, where it now resides together with his personal papers and manuscripts.