His father, William George, a Welshman of yeoman stock, had left Pembrokeshire for London at an early age and became a school teacher there, and afterwards in Liverpool and Haverfordwest, and then headmaster of an elementary school at Pwllheli, Carnarvonshire, where he married the daughter of David Lloyd, a neighbouring Baptist minister.
William Westbury, who left New College, "transferring himself to the king's service," in May 1442, and appears in the first extant Eton Audit Roll1444-1445as headmaster, was probably such from May 1442.
The headmaster of this school was Ernst Friedrich Poppo (1794-1866), a celebrated Grecian, and Ranke was entrusted with the teaching of history.
In 1842 he became an undistinguished but useful successor to Arnold as headmaster of Rugby; and a serious illness in 1848, the first of many, led him to welcome the comparative leisure which followed upon his appointment to the deanery of Carlisle in 1849.
It was his good fortune that he did go back, for he was subjected to a wholesome course of ridicule by the other boys, and was flogged by Dr Barnard, the headmaster.