Chapter

‘A Young Man of Brilliant Parts’

Wilfrid Prest

in William Blackstone

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199550296
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720925 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199550296.003.0002
 ‘A Young Man of Brilliant Parts’

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This chapter covers Blackstone's ancestry, family background, childhood, and schooling. The premature death of his near-bankrupt shopkeeper father meant that Blackstone was born an orphan, although his widowed mother attempted to maintain the family silk mercery business until her own death twelve years later. Uncles and cousins from her minor gentry side of the family provided much-needed support for the upbringing of William and his brothers. The topography and social geography of William's Cheapside home, and the socio-economic standing of his parents receive due attention. The second half of the chapter moves on to consider William's education, first as a fee-paying day boy, then a scholarship holder at London's Charterhouse school. The classical curriculum and other influences on his intellectual, ideological, and psychological formation are discussed. By the age of fifteen, his outstanding academic and literary achievements had brought William Blackstone to the head of his school and paved his way to Oxford University.

Keywords: ancestry; family; childhood; education; London; Charterhouse; curriculum; poetry; classics; Oxford University

Chapter.  6653 words. 

Subjects: History of Law

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