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Dr Roger Highfield

Dr Roger Highfield 1922-2017

April 2017

It is with great sadness that the College announces the death of Emeritus Fellow Dr Roger Highfield on 13 April, following a stroke, at the age of 95. Roger came to Merton in 1948 as a Harmsworth Senior Scholar after study at Magdalen College and service in the Royal Artillery. In 1951 he became Tutor in History, a post he retained until his retirement in 1989, through a period of transformation in the College and its History school to which he made major contributions. He served nearly forty years as College Archivist and as Fellow Librarian and spells in other College offices.

He shaped the College’s sense of its own history with his History of Merton College (1997), jointly authored with Geoffrey Martin, with his editions of key documents from the College archives and other works. He was the anchor for a series of inspirational teams of History tutors who taught many leading historians of successive generations in Britain and beyond, and in 1953 he began the run of annual historians' reading parties which continues to this day.

After doctoral study and initial publications on the later medieval English church, his own scholarship came to focus on later medieval Spain, work for which he was awarded the Order of Isabella the Catholic in 1989. He will be remembered by generations of Merton historians with affection as an exacting but warm-hearted tutor and by all Mertonians as one of the defining figures of the College’s 20th-century history.


Dr Highfield's funeral will take place at 1:00pm on Tuesday 9 May at the Oxford Crematorium, Bayswater Road, OX3 9RZ. Following the funeral, there will be a Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Dr Highfield at 2:45pm in the College Chapel. Colleagues and friends are welcome to attend both services. A Memorial Service will be held later in the year.