Clement Ingleby

Clement Mansfield Ingleby was born on 29 October 1823 at Edgbaston, (at that time 'near Birmingham') only son of Clement Ingleby, a well-known solicitor, who became well-respected because of his work in connection with the construction of canals and railways at that time. He was a delicate child, not expected to survive, and suffered from ill-health most of his life. He was educated at home but entered Trinity College at Cambridge when he was twenty, becoming B.A., M.A., and LL.D. in 1859.

His early working life was spent with his father, eventually being taken into partnership as a solicitor in the family firm in Birmingham. However he did not enjoy the legal profession and in his spare time he studied metaphysiscs, mathematics and English literature.

Apparently Clement Ingleby first became interested in Shakespeare through an acquaintance with Howard Staunton with whom he played chess. Staunton was the champion chess player in 1843 and a Shakespearean scholar who produced an edition of Shakespeare in 1858-60. Clement Ingleby's first paper on Shakespeare was read before a literary society in Birmingham in 1850, the year he married.

Quite how he met Sarah Oakes is not known, but she had been brought up by her uncle, Charles Holcombe, and had lived at Valentines since 1838. She was just a few weeks younger than Clement and they were married on 3 October 1850 at the parish church of Great Ilford. They settled down together at their home in Edgbaston and had four children: Arthur born in September 1852, Holcombe in March 1854, Herbert born in May 1856 and Clementina Rose born just after Christmas 1857.

As well as his legal work, for a time Clement held the Chair of Logic at the Birmingham and Midland Institute, but an interest in Shakespeare was taking over as his main preoccupation. In 1859 he published a study of the 'Perkins Folio' which had been claimed as a newly discovered work of Shakespeare but was later acknowledged as a forgery. His legal training and logical mind were soon put to good use in setting out the facts in a more detailed work. For this 'he was a constant visitor to the library of the British Museum'. At about this time he moved away from Birmingham, taking his wife and their young family back to her earlier home at Valentines.

Dr Clement Ingleby became one of the members of the literary society of London - the Athenaeum Club - and his literary life was spent chiefly in its library, and his own pleasant library at Valentines. He wrote widely, contributing essays to learned periodicals and producing about twenty books. He was a Trustee of Shakespeare's Birthplace and he took an active part in the festivities held in Birmingham in 1864 to celebrate the tercentenary of Shakespeare's birth. He had a fine singing voice which he put to good use in performing some of Shakespeare's songs.

In 1877 and 1881 he published the two volumes of his work on 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. He also wrote poetry, some of which was published in periodicals. His verses were collected together after his death and printed for private circulation.

Clement Ingleby suffered a serious rheumatic attack in August 1886 and, although he seemed to recover, he died on 26 September. To quote from his obituary in Shakespeariana, 'he died - honoured and mourned by all who knew him best and longest. His cheerfulness and courtesy and kindness were extreme. He was a generous opponent, and a frank and candid friend. His manners were gracious, his temper unperturbable, and he met even a sarcasm with a smile. ... He had a bright and pleasant face, a kindly presence, a hearty laugh. Welcomed alike by children and by older folk, he probably never made an enemy and never lost a friend.'