Clement Mansfield Ingleby was born in Edgbaston (Birmingham) on 29 October 1823. He is remembered as a Shakespearean scholar, but his interests included metaphysics, mathematics and philosophy as well as literature.
Ingleby suffered from ill health throughout his life and was privately educated, but in 1843 he entered Trinity College, Cambridge., He graduated BA in 1847, later receiving the degrees of MA (1850) and LLD (1859). Against his own inclination, he worked in the family firm as a solicitor until his father died in 1859.
On 3 October 1850 Ingleby married Sarah Oakes, and around 1860 they moved with their four children to live with Sarah’s uncle at Valentines in Ilford, Essex, her home as a teenager. Ingleby provided for his family by writing – his work in the British Library catalogue comprises 18 books in 29 editions, including 12 on Shakespeare with an edition of Cymbeline with notes for schools. He analysed Shakespeare’s use of words rather than writing a commentary on the meaning of his text, saying ‘The textual critic who discharges his true function is as one who, bearing torch or lantern, attempts to find his way through dark and devious lanes’.
In the 1850s Ingleby taught Metaphysics and Logic in the Industrial Department of the Birmingham and Midland Institute, and the British Library holds four books on these subjects. He also wrote many essays and contributed to publications like Notes & Queries. Apart from Shakespearean topics, his articles ranged from ‘The Principles of Acoustics and the Theory of Sound’ to ‘Miracles versus Nature’. Ingleby also composed poetry, both serious and amusing, some of which was published in periodicals. After his death, his verses were collected together and printed for private circulation. This volume has now been reprinted.
At the Annual Meeting of Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust at Stratford-upon-Avon on 5 May 1875, the Trustees unanimously agreed to elect Dr Ingleby one of the Life Trustees. He was also elected a Vice-President of the Royal Society of Literature, an honorary member of the Shakespeare Society of New York, and an honorary member of the German Shakespeare Society of Weimar.
In 1877 and 1881 he published the two volumes of his work Shakespeare – The Man and the Book. This was a compilation of his writings gathered from a number of sources, some published in magazines, some previously unpublished. In the introduction Ingleby says ‘It is useful to get one’s scattered papers together… the collection includes such of my smaller writings as I have deemed worthy of preservation’.
One of Dr Ingleby’s later books, Shakespeare’s Bones (1883) was a proposal to disinter the skull so that it could be considered in relation to its possible bearing on Shakespeare’s portraiture. The proposal was attacked in the press and firmly rejected by the town council, but it shows that he was a man who wanted facts, and his logical mind is evident in much that he wrote.
Ingleby was well liked in the Ilford area and had a particular fondness for children and animals, taking an interest in the fight against vivisection. He suffered a serious rheumatic attack in August 1886 and, although he seemed to recover, died on 26 September. His obituary in Shakespeariana said: ‘he died – honoured and mourned by all who knew him best and longest. . . . he probably never made an enemy and never lost a friend’.
Creative Commons Attribution licence
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Edgbastonia, Vol.III, No.25, May 1883
Shakespeariana, Vol.III 1886
Memoir of his father by Holcombe Ingleby in Poems and Epigrams (Trübner & Co, London, 1887) - Original in London Library, now available as a facsimile reprint.
Family papers donated to Redbridge Museum & Heritage Centre
History of Valentines Mansion