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Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 729 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BARON RALPH ROBERT WHEELER LINGEN LINGEN (1819-1905), English civil servant, was born in February 1819 at Birmingham, where his father, who came of an old Hertfordshire family, with Royalist traditions, was in business. He became a scholar of Trinity College, Oxford, in 1837; won the Ireland (1838) and Hertford (1839) scholarships; and after taking a first-class in Literae Humaniores (1840), was elected a fellow of Balliol (1841). He subsequently won the Chancellor's Latin Essay (1843) and the Eldon Law scholarship (1846). After taking his degree in 1840, he became a student of Lincoln's Inn, and was called to the bar in 1847; but instead of practising as a barrister, he accepted an appointment in the Education Office, and after a short period was chosen in 1849 to succeed Sir J. Kay Shuttle-worth as its secretary or chief permanent official. He retained this position till 1869. The Education Office of that day had to administer a somewhat chaotic system of government grants to local schools, and Lingen was conspicuous for his fearless discrimination and rigid economy, qualities which characterized his whole career. When Robert Lowe (Lord Sherbrooke) became, as vice-president of the council, his parliamentary chief, Lingen worked congenially with him in producing the Revised Code of 1862 which incorporated " payment by results "; but the education department encountered adverse criticism, and in 1864 the vote of censure in parliament which caused Lowe's resignation, founded (but erroneously) on an alleged " editing " of the school inspectors' reports, was inspired by a certain antagonism to Lingen's as well as to Lowe's methods. Shortly before the introduction of Forster's Education Act of 187o, he was transferred to the post of permanent secretary of the treasury. In this office, which he held till 1885, he proved a most efficient guardian of the public purse, and he was a tower of strength to successive chancellors of the exchequer. It used to be said that the best recommendation for a secretary of the treasury was to be able to say " No " so disagreeably that nobody would court a repetition. Lingen was at all events a most successful resister of importunate claims, and his undoubted talents as a financier were most prominently displayed in the direction of parsimony. In 1885 he retired. He had been made a C.B. in 1869 and a K.C.B. in 1878, and on his retirement he was created Baron Lingen. In 1889 he was made one of the first aldermen of the new London County Council, but he resigned in 1892. He died on the 22nd of July 1905. He had married in 1852, but left no issue.

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