The Rev. E. Bankes James

By the passing of the Rev. Edward Bankes James on February 20th, the Cambridge University Guild has lost its last link with the little group who were well-known members of the Exercise before the end of the last century, and the whole ringing fraternity has lost one who brought a powerful and original mind to bear on problems of composition. Together with his brother, the late Rev. H. Law James, he was a member of the well-known band at St. Michael's, Gloucester, before coming into residence at Cambridge in 1889. He took part in the Guild's first peal, Bob Triples on handbells in 1890, and from that time figured in many of the Guild peals, often as conductor or composer.

At the time when much attention was being paid to the composition of Grandsire Triples he produced several ten-part peals of great merit. As is well known, he produced Bristol Surprise, and Little Bob, conducting the first peal ever rung of the latter in 1911. He also produced Silchester, and was discussing it with the writer only a month before his death. These are by no means all the contributions he made to the theory of composition.

He was one of the party who toured Australia in 1934, and a peal of Bob Major (the Barrabool peal), composed by him in the Mediterranean, was rung on handbells in the Arabian Sea. It was rung half-muffled in his memory by the Cambridge University Guild on February 22nd at St. Andrew the Great, Cambridge.

In addition to his activities as a ringer he was a very fine chess player, representing Cambridge University against Oxford during his residence. He was very interested in printing and possessed a printing press with which he produced some very beautiful examples of printing.

It was always a pleasure to be in his company, for one could be sure of interesting conversation full of original ideas, and he was always willing to impart his knowledge and help any who brought problems to him. Most of his life was spent in teaching, among his pupils being C. W. Woolley, of Bushey.


The interment took place at the Church of St. Lawrence, Surfleet, on February 24th, when he was placed by the side of his brother, the Rev. H. Law James. The Rev. G. H. Clark (Vicar) conducted the service, at which the 23rd Psalm and the hymn, "For all the saints," were sung. After the committal prayers a course of Grandsire Doubles was rung by Mrs. E. M. Wayman 1-2, Edwin J. Lindley 3-4, Mrs. R. Richardson 5-6.

The family mourners were Miss B. Wasley (niece) and Miss Holland (housekeeper). Mr. and Mrs. Wasley (brother-in-law and sister) were unable to be present. Mr. E. J. Lindley represented the Cambridge University Guild, the Rev. F. B. Shepherd being unable to attend owing to clerical duties. Lincolnshire ringers were represented by Mr. A. J. Farr, Mr. W. A. Richardson and Mrs. R. Richardson, (captains of Spalding, Pinchbeck and Surfleet towers), Mrs. E. M. Wayman and Messrs. J. Ames, C. Rawding and N. King.

Later the same day the bells of St. Lawrence's were rung half-muffled and a peal of Bob Major was rung in the evening. The floral tributes included one from the Cambridge University Guild.

The Ringing World No. 1874, March 7th, 1947, page 103