William Rowe Lyall (11 February 1788 – 17 February 1857) was an English churchman,[1] Dean of Canterbury from 1845 to 1857.[2]


He was born in Stepney, Middlesex, the fifth son of John Lyall and Jane Comyn.[3] He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge (M.A. 1816).[4] In 1817 he married Catherine Brandreth (1792–1863), daughter of Dr. Brandreth of Liverpool.[5]

Lyall was editor of the British Critic 1816–17[6] and associated with the Hackney Phalanx, the high-church group.[7] He became editor of the Theological Library (1832–46).[8] He early recognized a Catholic tendency in John Henry Newman's writing.[9] His appointment as Warburton Lecturer led to a major work, Propædia Prophetica (1840).[10] Lyall's abilities and potential came to the attention of William Howley, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who shaped his career.[11]

Lyall became Archdeacon of Colchester (1824–1842),[12] Archdeacon of Maidstone (1842–1845),[13] simultaneously Canon of the Ninth Prebend, Canterbury Cathedral (1841–1845),[14] and finally Dean of Canterbury (1845[15]–1857).[16] He died at Canterbury, Kent. There is a monumental tomb in the north aisle of the nave at Canterbury, said to be designed after a model by the sculptor John Birnie Philip (1824–1875),[17] but his remains are in fact buried at the parish church of St Michael in the nearby village of Harbledown, alongside his wife's.[18]

Literary works

He wrote a number of dissertations on religious topics, and was a regular contributor to the Quarterly Review, albeit anonymously. His major published work was Propædia Prophetica (Preparation of Prophesy), in 1840.[19] It was re-published in 1854 and again posthumously in 1885, this time with a preface by his nephew George C. Pearson.[20] He also contributed to the Encyclopædia Metropolitana, an ambitious enterprise to disseminate knowledge: he was invited to write sections of the History Division, in particular: History of Greece, Macedonia and Syria.[21] Co-authors of this work were Jacob Henry Brooke Mountain, George Cecil Renouard and Michael Russell.[22]


His eldest brother was George Lyall, Snr, sometime MP for the City of London (UK Parliament constituency), and Chairman of the East India Company.[23] One of his famous nephews was Alfred Comyn Lyall, the Indian civil servant (1835–1911).[24] Another was James Broadwood Lyall (1838–1916), also an Indian civil servant, who became Governor of the Punjab.[25]


  1. ^ Clergy of the Church of England database
  2. ^ 'The Dean of Canterbury' The Times Wednesday, Feb. 18, 1857 Issue 22607 p. 1
  3. ^ JJHC
  4. ^ "Lyall, William Rowe (LL804WR)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  5. ^ Garfield, Simon (2002). The Last Journey of William Huskisson. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-21048-1.
  6. ^ Murphy, G. Martin. "Lyall, William Rowe". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/17237. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  7. ^ Gibson, William (1994). Church, State and Society, 1760–1850. New York: St. Martin's Press. doi:10.1007/978-1-349-23204-8. ISBN 978-0-333-58757-7.
  8. ^ Robert Wilson Evans (1839). Biography of the Early Church. M. Aurel, Fr. p. 6.
  9. ^ Christopher John Murray (13 May 2013). Encyclopedia of the Romantic Era, 1760-1850. Routledge. p. 803. ISBN 1-135-45579-1.
  10. ^ William Rowe Lyall (1840). Propædia Prophetica: A View of the Use and Design of the Old Testament. Followed by Two Dissertations : I. On the Causes of the Rapid Propagation of the Gospel Among the Heathen. II. On the Credibility of the Facts Related in the New Testament. J.G.F. & J. Rivington. p. vi.
  11. ^ The Passing of Barchester, Dewey, C. Hambledon Press, London (1991).ISBN 9781847250490
  12. ^ "Classical Victorians: Scholars, Scoundrels and Generals in Pursuit of Antiquity" Richardson,E p196: Cambridge, CUP, 2013 ISBN 978-1-107-02677-3
  13. ^ Horn, Joyce M. (1974), Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541–1857, vol. 3, p. 17
  14. ^ British History On-line
  15. ^ 'The New Dean of Canterbury' The Times Saturday, Nov. 29, 1845 Issue 19094p. 7 Article
  16. ^ "Lyall, William Rowe (LL804WR)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge., consulted 14/7/2011
  17. ^ Katharine Eustace, 'The Post-Reformation Monuments', in: A History of Canterbury Cathedral, ed. P. Collinson, N. Ramsay, M. Sparks, (OUP: 1995, revised edition 2002) p.539–40; illustration, plate 154.
  18. ^ "Life of the Right Hon. Sir Alfred Comyn Lyall, P. C., K. C. B., G. C. I. E., D. C. L., LL. D" Durand, M p20 William Edinburgh; Blackwood and Sons; 1913
  19. ^ Google Books
  20. ^ Foster, Joseph (1888–1892). "Pearson, George Charles" . Alumni Oxonienses: the Members of the University of Oxford, 1715–1886. Oxford: Parker and Co – via Wikisource.
  21. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Encyclopaedia s.v. Encyclopaedia Metropolitana". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 9 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 381.
  22. ^ "Scottish Episcopal Clergy, 1689-2000" Bertie, D.M: Edinburgh T & T Clark ISBN 0-567-08746-8
  23. ^ Creffield, C. A. "Lyall, Alfred". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/17234. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  24. ^ Dewey, Clive (1993). Anglo-Indian Attitudes: Mind of the Indian Civil Service. A. & C. Black. ISBN 978-0-82643-254-4.
  25. ^ "University of the Punjab - Former Vice Chancellors". University of the Punjab. Archived from the original on 6 July 2016. Retrieved 8 February 2018.