John Andrew Gallagher, FBA


1919-80.  Historian; Dean and Vice-Master. Gallagher, by Ruskin Spear

Jack Gallagher was a distinguished historian of the British Empire who between 1963 and 1970 held the Beit Professorship of Commonwealth History at the University of Oxford and from 1971 until his death was the Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History at the University of Cambridge.

After schooling at the Birkenhead Institute, he proceeded to Trinity as a History Scholar; at the outbreak of the Second World War he joined the Royal Tank Regiment, eventually serving in Italy, Greece, and North Africa. After the end of the war, Gallagher returned to Cambridge to complete his studies and was elected a Fellow of Trinity.

Gallagher's extraordinarily influential work, Africa and the Victorians: The Official Mind of Imperialism, was co-authored with Ronald Robinson (with the help of Alice Denny) and first published in 1961. This was preceded by a widely-read article — also co-authored with Robinson — entitled The Imperialism of Free Trade. Published in 1953, the latter constitutes a groundbreaking essay among theorists of imperial expansion and "is reputedly the most cited historical article ever published". (W.R. Louis, Historians I Have Known, Perspectives (May 2001)

GallagherIn 1974 he delivered both the Ford Lectures at Oxford (on the Decline, Revival and Fall of the British Empire) as well as the Wiles Lectures at Queen's University Belfast. When a team of Trinity students (Christopher Vane, Frederick 'Wynn' Jolley, Simon Schaffer, and Paul Hopkins) won University Challenge in 1974 , Gallagher was part of a Trinity Fellows team (Sir James Lighthill, Dr John Bradfield, Tony Weir) which defeated them in a contest on live television.

In addition to being one of the most prominent theorists of imperial expansion, he also ensured a considerable legacy as a result of the large numbers of doctoral students at both Cambridge and Oxford whose work he either supervised or strongly influenced, including Christopher Bayly, Paul Kennedy and William Roger Louis.

Memorial inscription Translation


collegii socius sociorum amicus in utraque academia
professor res militiae gestas penitus novit eleganter descripsit
res domi gerendas tam vice-magister quam decanus callide
sensit diserte suasit.  Erant in eo sales litterae humanitas.
Obiit anno mcmlxxx aetatis suae lxi.

Fellow of the College and beloved of the Fellows, John Andrew Gallagher was a professor at both Oxford and Cambridge.  He had a profound knowledge of military history and wrote about it with elegance.  As Vice-Master no less than as Dean he well understood and dextrously persuaded others how to manage the business of the College.  He was a man of wit, learning and culture.  He died in 1980 at the age of sixty.

Jack Gallagher

Brass located on the north wall of the Ante-Chapel. 
Memorial text by Tony Weir.


Gallagher brass.  Click for enlarged view




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Otto Robert Frisch


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