John William Burgon (1813-1888), English divine, was born at Smyrna on the 21st of August 1813, the son of a Turkey merchant, who was a skilled numismatist and afterwards became an assistant in the antiquities department of the British Museum. His mother was a Greek. After a few years of business life, Burgon went to Worcester College, Oxford, in 1841, gained the Newdigate prize, took his degree in 1845, and won an Oriel fellowship in 1846. He was much influenced by his brother-in-law, the scholar and theologian Henry John Rose (1800-1873), a churchman of the old conservative type, with whom he used to spend his long vacations. Burgon made Oxford his headquarters, while holding a living at some distance. In 1863 he was made vicar of St Mary's, having attracted attention by his vehement sermons against Essays and Reviews. In 1867 he was appointed Gresham professor of divinity. In 1871 he published a defence of the genuineness of the twelve last verses of St Mark's Gospel. He now began an attack on the proposal for a new lectionary for the Church of England, based largely upon his objections to the principles for determining the authority of MS. readings adopted by Westcott and Hort, which he assailed in a memorable article in the Quarterly Review for 1881. This, with his other articles, was reprinted in 1884 under the title of The Revision Revised. His biographical essays on H.L. Mansel and others were also collected, and published under the title of Twelve Good Men (1888). Protests against the inclusion of Dr Vance Smith among the revisers, against the nomination of Dean Stanley to be select preacher in the university of Oxford, and against the address in favour of toleration in the matter of ritual, followed in succession.
In 1876 Burgon was made dean of Chichester. He died on the 4th of August 1888. His life was written by Dean E.M. Goulburn (1892). Vehement and almost passionate in his convictions, Burgon nevertheless possessed a warm and kindly heart. He may be described as a high churchman of the type prevalent before the rise of the Tractarian school. His extensive collection of transcripts from the Greek Fathers, illustrating the text of the New Testament, was bequeathed to the British Museum.