Harold Loukes

Harold Loukes

Harold Loukes is my fourth cousin, twice removed and below are his obituaries.


Friends in Oxford, as elsewhere in the country, have suffered a great loss in the death of Harold Loukes, on August 7, at the age of 68. He had retired only a year ago and, though for most of that time he was aware that he had only a limited time to live, he continued his faithful service to the Society.

Harold Loukes was born and educated in Sheffield, and at JesusCollege, Oxford, where he took a First in English, followed by the Diploma in Education. Coming up to Oxford as a Methodist, he came in touch with Friends through Henry Gillet and became a member of the Society while still a student.

After Oxford, Harold went to St Stephen’s College, Delhi as a lecturer in English, and in 1937 he married Mary Linsell. He stayed in India until 1945, becoming Headmaster of the NewSchool at Calcutta and Darjeeling. Harold and Mary then returned to Britain with three sons. A daughter was born later- Harold gained experience at Oundle, LeightonPark and ThorneGrammar School before becoming lecturer (later Reader) in education at the Oxford Department of Education. There he taught for 30 years, entering fully into the ambitions and ideals of his students, and delighting many generations with his penetrating, experienced and witty lectures.

Throughout his many years in Oxford Harold was a loyal member of his meeting. He took a particular interest in Young Friends, and was for many years the ‘Senior Member’ (required by university regulations of the Oxford University Friends Society. Young Friends appreciated his combination of scholarship, spiritual depth, frankness and humility, and his keen sense of humour. The same qualities, together with his deep concern for the meeting, made him an outstanding elder. His ministry had a memorable beauty and calm, his spiritual insight was expressed in lovely and sometimes striking phrases. This was perhaps especially felt, when he spoke, as he often did, of the nature of Quaker worship, which he described as ‘ a living moment, a loving silence; the sound of the sea, the light behind the hills’. Meeting for worship, he told us in his last spoken message to Oxford Friends ‘is meant to be living, immediate, open to insight and interpretation. But there is a right ordering in the love of God, which we obey by quiet sensitivity and the holding in our tendered imagination of the needs of the other.’

Harold said that he found it a good discipline to think things out on paper. Throughout the postwar years that discipline has enriched the life of the Society of Friends and beyond with a series of books, study outlines, essays and articles. Apart from his extensive writings on the religious and other aspects of education, his books on

Quakerism, must have been instrumental in drawing many, especially younger readers, into the fellowship of the Society, and in deepening the beliefs of those born into it. He gave the 1959 Swarthmore Lecture, entitled The Castle and the Field, and the 1963 Rufus Jones Lecture in Philadelphia. He contributed countless reviews and articles to THE FRIEND, and was chairman of the Friends Home Service Committee from 1969 to 1973.

By careful planning Harold made full use of his life. Apart from his devotion to his family he had many public commitments. He was a JP for many years, and from 1975 to 1980 was chairman of Abingdon magistrates. He had been a governor of both maintained and independent schools and a member of Oxford Education Committee. He also had many friends and contacts in other churches.

Though he lived a very full life, Harold had time for friendship, and taking an interest in people. With all his experience he was a quiet, modest man. We loved him for the depth of his faith, but we loved also his jokes and the twinkle in his eye. We offer our deepest sympathy to his wife, Mary, and their family.


Harold Loukes, who died on August 7, was educated at the Central Secondary School, Sheffield and at Jesus College, Oxford, where he gained a First Class in the Honours School of English Language and Literature. After graduating in 1934 he spent 10 years in India teaching in the University of Delhi and later serving as Headmaster of the New School, Darjeeling.

He returned to this country in 1945 and after four years as a schoolmaster he was appointed in 1949 to a lectureship in the Oxford University Department of Education and, in 1951, he became University Reader in Education.

During his 30 years in the Department he contrived to sustain three successful careers: his published works furnish adequate evidence of his capacity for competent empirical research and meticulous scholarship; he involved himself in civic affairs, as a school governor, a member of the Oxford City Education Committee and as a Justice of the Peace; but it is for his effectiveness as a teacher that he will be chiefly and gratefully remembered.

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