Hepburn Baynes Certificate

Scope and Content

Certificate of election of Baynes as a corresponding member of the Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaft, 1937.

Administrative / Biographical History

Baynes, Norman Hepburn (1877-1961), historian, was born at Putney, London, on 29 May 1877, the elder child and only son of Alfred Henry Baynes (1838-1914), general secretary of the Baptist Missionary Society, and his wife, Emma Katherine Bigwood (d. 1935). He lived in London, then in Eastbourne, moving to Northwood in Middlesex on his father's retirement in 1906. He never married and after his father's death in 1914 he continued to live in Northwood with his mother until she died in 1935, when he eventually settled in London.

He went to Eastbourne College, and later New College, Oxford, where he took a first class in classical honour moderations (1898), but a second in literae humaniores (1900). Baynes won the Lothian prize (1901) and the Arnold essay prize (1903).

Baynes first chose as his profession the bar, studying in the chambers of R J.Parker (later Lord Parker of Waddington); he was called to the bar by Lincoln's Inn in 1903; and until 1916 he was a tutor under the Law Society. During the First World War, Baynes worked on intelligence matters at Watergate House. It was at this time that he finally decided to abandon the law and turn to the teaching of history. He had already refused an invitation to stand for a Liberal seat in the London area, and in 1913 he had forged his first link with University College, London, when he was appointed assistant in the department of history. After the war he refused an invitation to return as a don to his Oxford college. In 1919 he became a reader in the history of the Roman empire in the University of London and from 1931 he held a personal chair of Byzantine history; in 1936 he was elected a fellow of University College; from 1937 he gave up all duties in ancient history and was reappointed to an honorary professorship of Byzantine history and institutions. On his retirement in 1942 he was given the title of emeritus professor by the university and was presented by his friends with an Address and Bibliography of his writings (privately printed).

During the last years of his academic career Baynes worked in Oxford in the foreign research and press service. From 1939 to 1945 he used his historical training in the field of modern German history and produced two large, fully annotated volumes of Hitler's pre-war speeches (1942). On his seventieth birthday the Journal of Roman Studies (vol. 37, 1947, with a bibliography of his writings) was dedicated to him. He edited a volume of essays on Byzantium (1948), planned more than twenty years earlier, and he collaborated with E A S Dawes to translate the lives of three early Byzantine saints (1948).

Baynes is perhaps best known for his work on Constantine I (Raleigh lecture, 1929) and the 'Historia Augusta' (1926). He contributed chapters on the sixth- and seventh-century Byzantine emperors to the 'Cambridge Medieval History' (vols. 1 and 2) and was one of the editors of the 'Cambridge Ancient History '(vol. 12), as well as a contributor on Constantine. Much of his work took the form of reviews or bibliographical notes (many for the 'Byzantinische Zeitschrift').

Baynes was elected FBA in 1930, an honorary fellow of Westfield College, London (1937), and of New College, Oxford (1947), a corresponding member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences (1937), and later of the Belgian (1952) and Serbian (1959) academies. He was doctor honoris causa of the universities of St Andrews (1934), Oxford (1942), Durham (1946), Cambridge (1949), and London (1951). He died at his home, 4B Abercorn Place, St John's Wood, London, on 12 February 1961.

Access Information


The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Acquisition Information

Possibly transferred from the College Collection, Dec 1988.

Other Finding Aids

Collection level description