Fonds JEBB - Papers of Sir Richard Claverhouse Jebb

Identity area

Reference code



Papers of Sir Richard Claverhouse Jebb


  • 1874-1905 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

Fifteen gatherings, either 'Transfer Cases' of loose material or scrapbooks; contents include correspondence, press clippings, and ephemera such as menus.

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Richard Claverhouse Jebb was born near Dundee on 27 August 1841, eldest child of Robert Jebb, an Irish barrister (1809-1885) and Emily Harriet (1811-1883) third daughter of Heneage Horsley, dean of Brechin. His sister was the social reformer Eglantyne Louisa Jebb, (1845-1925); Eglantyne's daughters, Eglantyne and Dorothy, co-founded the Save the Children Fund. He attended St Columba's College at Rathfarnham and Charterhouse, whence he was admitted to Trinity College Cambridge on 22 February 1858 on the side of Joseph Lightfoot, later Bishop of Durham. Jebb had a sparkling undergraduate career, winning the Porson prize in 1859, the Craven Scholarship the following year and was in 1862 Senior Classic and first chancellor's medallist. In 1863 he was elected Fellow of Trinity where he helped reorganise classical teaching and introduce intercollegiate teaching in the classics. In 1869 Jebb was elected Public Orator. New Trinity statutes allowed holders of the post to marry while retaining their fellowship and Jebb took advantage of this, marrying in 1874 Caroline, (née Reynolds, 1840-1930) widow of American Civil War officer General Adam Slemmer (1828-1868).

In 1875, Jebb was elected to the chair of Greek at Glasgow, where he worked hard to win over his students, despite "Glasgow Scotch not being among his accomplishments". The affection of his charges was seen most clearly in their presentation to him on his return from serious illness.

In 1889 Benjamin Hall Kennedy died and Jebb was able to return to Cambridge to become Regius Professor of Greek, and was re-elected Fellow of Trinity. He retained both positions until his death in 1905. During this second Cambridge period Jebb was elected four times as Conservative MP for the University and was knighted in 1900, after declining the honour in 1897. He was appointed OM in 1905. Throughout his professional life he worked strenuously in the cause of ancient Greek studies. He helped found the British School at Athens and the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies and was a founder member of the British Academy. He received honorary degrees from Edinburgh, Cambridge, Dublin, Bologna, and Oxford, was a fellow of London University and a corresponding member of the German Institute of Archaeology. He was elected in 1898 as professor of ancient history to the Royal Academy and in 1903 as a trustee of the British Museum. After declining it in 1897 he accepted the honour of knighthood in 1900, and in 1905 he was appointed to the Order of Merit.

Jebb published regularly. He produced elementary editions of Sophocles' Electra and Ajax in 1867 and 1868 and of Theophrastus' Characters in 1870. In 1876 he published The Attic Orators from Antiphon to Isaeus. But it is his work on Sophocles for which he is justifiably remembered. Between 1883 and 1888 he produced editions of Oedipus Tyrannus, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone and, relocated to Cambridge, Philoctetes, Women of Trachis, Electra and Ajax between 1890 and 1896. In 1905 his edition of Bacchylides, expanding on work he had done on the British Museum papyrus was published.

He died at his home in Cambridge, Springfield on 9 December 1905, shortly after returning from a visit to South African to preside over a meeting of the educational section of the British Association. On 13 December he was buried in St. Giles's cemetery at Cambridge (now known as the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground) after a funeral service in the chapel of Trinity College.

Archival history

Compiled by R. C. Jebb's death and used by his wife for her posthumous memoir; then sold to C. K. Ogden and bought by Jebb's nephew, also Richard Jebb, from Ogden's shop in King's Parade and taken to the Jebb family home. In the 1930s, Richard Jebb began dismantling the scrapbooks to reduce their bulk, removing material such as press-cuttings and transferring material from disbound volumes to file cases; he sent items from the 1880s relating to his uncle's involvement with the establishment of the British School of Athens to the BSA. 'Servanda' 1-VIII were disbound by him. In 1984 a report on the papers was prepared, but not published, by the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts.

[Information from Stray, ed., Sophocles' Jebb (2013)]

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Donated by Lionel Jebb, 30 March 2010 (Accession No. 2010/1).

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The archive comprises Jebb's 'Servanda': scrapbooks of material 'to be kept'. Press clippings, correspondence, printed parliamentary and academic material, ephemera and so on are pasted in to numbered pages, sometimes with MS annotations by Jebb; loose material, such as correspondence, is interleaved. The first volumes are disbound and have been weeded, with remaining pages preserved in paper wrappings within 'transfer cases'.

Transfer case 1 contains papers from 'Servanda' scrapbooks I (Jul 1876-Nov 1879, with loose letter from 1874), II (Jan 1880–Nov 1881) and III (Nov 1881-Apr 1883); separate gatherings in paper covers also seem to have come from this volume: Nov 1881, ‘Mahuffy v R.C.J. (scant contents)’, ‘R.C.J.’s Life of Bentley’, 1882; ‘Controversy with Sayce, 1881-1882’; Transfer case 2 contains papers from 'Servanda' scrapbooks IV (Nov 1883-Jun 1884) and V; Transfer case 3 contains much loose material and scrapbook pages, presumably from 'Servanda' VI and VII, as well as papers from 'Servanda' VIII (1889).

The intact 'Servanda' volumes cover the following dates: IX, Mar 1890-Oct 1891; X, Oct 1891-Oct 1893; XI, Oct 1893-Aug 1894; XIA, 1894-Jun 1896; XII, Sept 1894-Nov 1896; XIII, Nov 1896-Jul 1898; XIV, Jul 1898-Jul 1899; XV, Jul 1899-May 1900; XVI, Jun 1900-Mar 1902; XVII, Mar 1902-Jul 1903.

There are also two bound volumes both labelled 'Newspaper Cuttings', one containing similar material to that contained in the 'Servanda' scrapbooks from 1903-1905, the other containing press cuttings relating to Jebb's death, letters regarding this mainly to Lady Jebb, material relating to Jebb's funeral service, and reviews of his edition of Bacchylides (1905-1906).

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • Ancient Greek
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Greek

Script of material

    Language and script notes

    Physical characteristics and technical requirements

    Finding aids

    Allied materials area

    Existence and location of originals

    Existence and location of copies

    Related units of description

    Add.Ms.a.249-269: lectures and notes for lectures by Jebb, 21 volumes, 1891-1905
    Add.Ms.c .109: typescript of lectures on Milton given by Jebb in 1872 (1 item)

    Cambridge University Library: Sir Richard Claverhouse Jebb: Correspondence to Francis Cavendish and Francis Jenkinson, MS Add.4251/716-717

    Amherst College Archives & Special Collections: Richard Claverhouse Jebb Papers, 1859-1917 (bulk 1882-1905), 4 boxes (correspondence, 28 notebooks and literary manuscripts)

    King's College London: Papers of Sir Richard Claverhouse Jebb, GB0100 KCLCA K/PP68. 1 box (1854-1884).

    Publication note

    Jebb, R., Stray, C. (ed.) "Sophocles' Jebb : A life in letters", "Cambridge Classical Journal" Supplementary Volume 38 (2013).

    Notes area

    Alternative identifier(s)

    Access points

    Subject access points

    Place access points

    Name access points

    Genre access points

    Description identifier

    Institution identifier

    Rules and/or conventions used


    Level of detail

    Dates of creation revision deletion




        Archivist's note

        Collection level record created by Rebecca Hughes in June 2019.

        Accession area