Old ‘Furney’ – A Victorian Eccentric

Dr Frederick James Furnivall in a scull on his 85th birthday, in 1910.

In my April column ‘In this month’ in the Rowing & Regatta magazine, published by British Rowing, I am mentioning Dr Frederick James Furnivall who founded the Hammersmith Sculling Club for girls in April 1896. Furnivall, who was born in 1825, was a real character, an eccentric Victorian philologist who for certain is worth a much longer article than the 400 words that forms my monthly little column. As a matter of fact, in 2003, Simon Winchester published his The Meaning of Everything: the Story of the Oxford English Dictionary, which gives an entertaining picture of old ‘Furney’, who co-founded this famous dictionary and who during his whole entire life founded literary societies and rowing clubs.

‘Furney’ coaching and coxing an octuple with eight young women.

Some years after the 71-year-old Furnivall had founded the Hammersmith Sculling Cub for girls, in 1901, the club also allowed young men to join as members. The club would later change its name to Furnivall Sculling Club.

Furnivall and some club members.

The good Tim Koch was actually in contact with the club when he heard that I was working on a small piece for my column. Furnivall Sculling Club very generously put some of their old photographs of Furnivall to my disposal, and I am sorry that my magazine column is running without any illustrations. But, luckily, here at HTBS there is always room for entries with illustrations, so please enjoy these nice old pictures of Frederick James Furnivall and ‘his’ pretty club members. Furnivall died in 1910.

All the photographs in this entry belongs to Furnivall Sculling Club and are posted with the courtesy of the club. My warm thanks goes to the club and to Tim for their help!

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