Cross Fleury.

Time-honoured Lancaster ... Historic notes on the ancient borough of Lancaster online

. (page 22 of 55)
Online LibraryCross FleuryTime-honoured Lancaster ... Historic notes on the ancient borough of Lancaster → online text (page 22 of 55)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


of Protestant Dissenters the advantage of a university education, was formed. Dr.
Priestley was for some lime tutor in the languages and Belles Lettres, others of the
tutors at various times during its existence being Dr. John Taylor, author of the
Hebrew Concordance; Dr. John Aikin, the elder. Dr. Reinhold bolster, the
naturalist; Dr. Enfield, the Rev. George Walker, and the Rev. Gilbert Wakefield,
editor of Virgil, with notes and comments, and Dr. Nicholas Clayton. Disagreements
arose between Dr. Taylor and the trustees ; many of the patrons of the academy
became lukewarm and in the year 1786, the institution was dissolved.

Thomas Ashton, D.D.

The Rev. James Cron, Vicar of Sturminster Marshall,
Dorsetshire, has kindly forwarded the following particulars concern-



From an old file of the Lancaster Gazelle.



236 TIME-HONOURED LANCASTER.



ing Dr. Ashton, son of Dr. Ashton, some time usher of the Lancaster
Grammar School. The extracts are from Hutchins' " History of
Dorset," vol. Ill, p. 366, 3rd ed., and from Patson's " Provost and
College of Etom" "Thomas Ashton, M.A., Fellow ot Eton'
instituted April 8th, 1749, on the cession of William Cooke. Pre-
ferred to the rectory of St. Botolph, Bishopgate, London 1752.
D.D. 1759.

Thomas Ashton, an English Divine, the son of Dr. Ashton,
usher of the Grammar School at Lancaster (a position worth only
£32 per annum, which he held for nearly 50 years), was born in
1 7 16, educated at Eton and elected thence to King's College, Cam-
bridge, 1733. He was the person to whom Mr. Horace Walpole
addressed his epistle from Florence, in 1740, under the title of
" Thomas Ashton, Esq., tutor to the Earl of Plymouth." About
that time or soon after, he was presented to the Rectory of Alding-
ham, in Lancashire, which he resigned in March, 1749. On the
3rd of May following, he was presented by the Provost and Fellows
of Eton to this Rectory (i.e., Vicarage, J.C.). He was then M.A.,
and had been chosen a Fellow of Eton in December, 1745. In May,
1762, he was elected preacher at Lincoln's Inn, which he resigned
in 1764. In 1770 he published a volume of sermons, to which was
prefixed his portrait in mezzotinto by Spilsbury, from an original by
Sir Joshua Reynolds, and his motto, " Insto pncpositis oblitus
prcrteritorum." He died March 1st, 1775, at the age of 59, after
having for some years survived a severe attack of the palsy. His
discourses, in a style of greater elegance than purity, were rendered
still more striking by the excellence of his delivery. He preached a
sermon on the Rebellion in 1745, and one on the occasion of Thanks-
giving at the close, in 1746. In 1756 he preached before the
governor of Middlesex Hospital at St. Anne's, Westminster, a
Commencement sermon at Cambridge in 1759, one before the House
of Commons, 30th January, 1762, and a Spital sermon at St.
Bride's on Easter Wednesday in that year. All these are in the
volume above mentioned, which is closed by a concio ad clerum
habita Cantabrigioe in Templo Bealce Marice, 1759, pro gnidu



TIME-HONOURED LANCASTER. 237



doctoratus in Sacra theologid. He lived long- in habits of intimacy
with Horace Walpole, afterwards Earl of Oxford, who, Mr. Cole
informs us, procured him the Eton Fellowship, but a rupture
separated them.

In the first volume of Stephen's Biographical Dictionary I find
that Dr. Ashton married a Miss Amyard, in December, 1760, and
and that he died in March, 1775. In a letter to Richard West, Esq.,
Walpole speaks in high terms of Dr. Ashton's success as a preacher.
Unfortunately the doctor wrote against Dr. Middleton, and offended
Walpole so greatly that in a letter to Sir Horace Mann, Walpole
speaks of " having reason to complain of his (Ashton's) behaviour,"
and it further transpires that he forbade his former friend visiting
at his house.

Robert Housman, B.A.

Few names are more widely known in Lancaster and district
than that of Housman. The subject of this brief sketch, Robert
Housman, the founder and for forty years minister of St. Anne's
Church, Lancaster, was born on the 25th of February, 1759, at
Skerton. His father was Robert Housman, Esq., and his mother,
Mrs. Housman, was a Miss Agnes Gunson, of Ulpha, in the parish
of Millom, Cumberland. Robert was the eldest of four sons who
lived to manhood. He was educated at the Free Grammar School,
under the Rev. James Watson. At the age of fourteen he was
apprenticed to Dr. Barrow, his parents intending that he should
adopt the medical profession. But the pursuit of surgery and
medicine was extremely distasteful to the youth whose earnest desire
was to become a clergyman. Eventually, owing chiefly to the
kindly interposition of his second sister, he was permitted to prepare
for the vocation of his choice, and accordingly placed himself under
the tuition of his former principal at the Grammar School, the Rev.
James Watson, with the object of preparing himself for Cambridge
University. On the 17th of March, 1780, he was entered at St.
John's College as a sizar, and his first letter to his parents after
arriving at the College in the ensuing October is extremely inter-



238 TIME-HONOURED LANCASTER.



esting", revealing', as it does, descriptive ability of a very superior
order. It is impossible to give lengthy accounts of the earlier
career of this valuable life in a work of so comprehensive a character
as this is intended to be. Suffice it, therefore, to state that on
Sunday, the 14th of October, 1781, not much more than a vear
after his arrival at Cambridge, Mr. Housman was admitted to
Deacon's Orders at a general ordination at Bishopthorpe, by Dr.
Markham, Archbishop of York, and he became curate to the Rev.
Mr. Croft, vicar of Gargrave, Yorkshire. Mr. Croft had been a
private pupil of Garrick's, with a view to his adopting the profession
of the stage, and it is to the advantages enjoyed by Mr. Housman
while residing at Gargrave that the excellence oi' his own mode of
reading and effective pulpit style may be attributed. From Gar-
grave the young minister returned to Cambridge, where he received
priest's orders from the hands of Dr. Hinchcliffe, Bishop of Peter-
borough, on the 26th of October, 1783, and shortly afterwards he
obtained a curacy in the immediate neighbourhood of Cambridge.
In 1785 he married a young lady of the name of Audley, a member
of a family of highly esteemed Dissenters. His brother-in-law, Mr.
John Audley, was a most exemplary man, and the author and
editor of several very important religious works. Mr. Audley died
in 1826, in his 77th year. In 1784 Mr. Housman took his B.A.
degree. Owing to his strong views on certain doctrinal points he
was deprived of the emolument and honour of a Fellowship of St.
John's College, a sermon he preached in Trinity Church being the
cause of determining against him those with whom the patronage
rested. He was fortunate in meeting frequently with Newton,
Romaine, Berridge, Riland, and Jones of Creaton ; and of Mr.
Berridge he held a very high opinion, though not endorsing the
views of the latter by any means on many matters, as is shown by
his biographer, Mr. R. F. Housman. During the spring and
summer of 1785 Mr. Housman resided with his wife in Lancaster,
performing the afternoon service on Sundays at St. John's Church.
In the winter of the same year (1785) Mrs. Housman died, and her
husband re-visited Lancaster and for some months resided with his
parents. In May, 1786, his engagement at St. John's terminated,



TIME-HONOURED LANCASTER. 239



and shortly we find him appointed to the cure of Church Langton,
about four miles from Market Harborough. In 1787 he repaired
to Leicester, and became assistant to the Rev. Thomas Robinson,
vicar of the parish of St. Mary de Castro. In 1788 he removed to
Markfield and had the entire charge of this parish for over two
years. He was threatened with consumption while officiating here,
and, acting upon medical advice, he came back to Leicester and
resumed duty at St. Mary's Church.

Whilst at Langton he became acquainted with Miss Jane
Adams, to whom he was subsequently united before settling at
Markfield, the marriage taking place at the Church of St. Nicholas,
in Leicester, on the 24th of September, 1788. Mrs. Housman was
the author of the " History of Susan Ward," a popular tract
published by the Religious Tract Society. The scene of the story
was Langton, and the clergyman who fills so prominent a part in it
was the subject of this memoir. Mrs. Housman's mother was an
intimate friend and companion of "the elect lady," Selina, Countess
of Huntingdon, the Countess being her godmother. Her house was
often the resort of such men of note as Wesley, Whitefield, Fletcher,
oi' Madeley, Newton, Berridge, Venn, Romaine, and Mason (the
author of the " Spiritual Treasury "), and of Jones, of St. Saviour's,
Southwark. Mrs. Housman distinctly remembered sitting when a
child on John Wesley's knee, and she used to speak with pleasure
of his patting her head and blessing her. In 1794 Mr. Housman
and his wife paid a visit to Lancaster, and the esteem and love oi'
the former for his native town was deepened and strengthened
during this visit, and he decided not without much deliberation and
fervent praying, to relinquish his duties in the midlands and build
a Church of his own in Lancaster and become its minister. The
idea of this bold and benevolent desig"n originated with Mrs.
Housman on the morning of their departure from Lune Bank, as
they stopped upon the higher part of the Greaves to take a final
look at the picturesque town and the magnificent landscape that
forms its background. Believing the Almighty was with him,
Mr. Housman made arrangements for leaving Leicester, and in the



2 4 o TIME-HONOURED LANCASTER.



autumn of 1795 he took up his abode permanently in his native
town. The Bishop of the Diocese, Dr. Cleaver, and the Vicar of
Lancaster, Mr. White, cordially approved of the proposal to build
a new Church, and on the 19th of December, 1794, printed circulars
were issued concerning the project. In the erection of the new
Church Mr. Housman was generously aided by William Wilber
force, Esq., John Thornton, Esq., M.P., William Wilson Cams
Wilson, Esq., of Casterton, and by his old friend, the Rev. Charles
Simeon. Mr. Wilberforce contributed ^20, and Mr. Thornton
£50.

The particulars above given are taken from "The Life and
Remains of the Rev. Robert Housman,' - by Robert Fletcher
Housman, London, 184 1. In concluding this account I may add
that Mr. Housman was an admirable extempore preacher, his first
effort in this manner being made at St. James's Church, Warring-
ton. A good story deserves to be told of Mr. Housman and this
Church. The eminent Lancaster divine had been announced to
preach here one Sunday, but owing to a breakdown of the gig
conveying him he was unable to put in an appearance. The Rev.
Mr. Glazebrook was, therefore, obliged to ascend the pulpit and
preach the sermon. After the discourse, and during the singing of
a hymn, Mr. Housman entered the sacred edifice, and not knowing
that one sermon had just been preached, ascended the pulpit and
proceeded to declare the message of salvation to an attentive and
delighted assembly. A perusal of the " Life of Robert Housman "
will amply repay those who take pleasure in familiarising them-
selves with the pious labours of the staunch and true servants of
God. Mr. Housman suffered many severe trials in Lancaster, the
repugnance to what many persons termed his Dissenting style and
methodism being very pronounced. Indeed, St. Anne's was called
"the hot-bed of Dissent," and its minister was often publicly
sneered at and ridiculed by old and young. One of his best sermons
is entitled "The New Creation." "The Influences of the Holy
Spirit" and "None but Christ" are also powerful examples of their
author's deep spiritual conviction and earnestness on behalf of his



TIME-HONOURED LANCASTER. 241

Saviour. The rev. gentleman died on the 22nd of April, 1838, in
his 80th year.

By the kindness of W. Housman, Esq., I am able to give a
few additional particulars.

The Housmans have been settled in Skerton since the time
of Queen Elizabeth. Lune Bank, re-built in 1729 by Robert
Housman, Esq., upon the site of a house named Housman House,
received its present appellation from William Housman, the younger
brother of the Rev. Robert Housman, upon his coming- into
possession of the family property by purchase. Besides William,
the youngest brother, there were John and Thomas. John was a
member of the firm of Housman and Mashiter, merchants, of
Lancaster, their place of business being on the quay. Thomas
died without issue. The above-named William married Sarah,
daughter of the Rev. Robert Fletcher, of Halton Hall, whose eldest
son took the surname of Bradshaw. William was a West India
merchant, residing some years in Dominica and afterwards at Lune
Bank. He was a Justice of the Peace for the County of Lancaster,
and Lieut. -Colonel of the local militia.

Professor Whewell.

A few particulars concerning Dr. Whewell will not be
unacceptable. This eminent scholar, who though dead still lives,
was born at 16, Lucy Street, on the 24th May, 1794. His father
was a joiner, and it was his intention to bring his son up to the
bench, and make him a genuine "bencher" likewise. But man
proposes and God disposes. William Whewell's genius was
moulded for something far dffferent from shaping tree trunks into
doors and windows, and from spending a life in company of the
saw and the plane. His mother was a Miss Bennison, and from
her he undoubtedly inherited the splendid gifts so remarkably
displayed in riper years. A friend who could see the distinguished
man foreshadowed in the boy came forward, and was the means of



242 TIME-HONOURED LANCASTER.



his being" placed in a sphere congenial to his tastes. That friend
was the Rev. Joseph Rowley, then master of the Grammar School.
A generous patron enabled him to enter Trinity College, Cambridge,
about 1813, and in 1816 he took his B.A. Fond of crystallography,
mathematics, and mineralogy, he became so skilled in these subjects
that in 1828, he was appointed professor of mineralogy, a post which
he held four years. In 1838, he was made professor of moral
philosophy, and he retained this chair until 1855, when he was
elected vice-chancellor of the University. In 1841, he succeeded to
the high position of Master of Trinity, and for four and twenty
years he remained principal of that noted college. He had been
sizar, scholar, fellow, tutor, dean, and master. As has been aptly
said "Trinity was to him what a ship might be to a sailor who had
risen in her from cabin boy to captain ;" or " what a cathedral might
be to a bishop who had filled every office within it from the day
when he first sang amidst it choristers," and none owed less to
interest, friends, family, or fortune than did he. Dr. Whewell was
married twice. First to Miss Marshall, sister oi' Lady Monteagle ;
this lady died in 1854; secondly, in 1S58, to Lady Affleck widow of
Sir Gilbert Affileck and sister of Mr. Leslie Ellis. This lady died on
the 1 st. April, 1865. The brain of Dr Whewell weighed 49 ozs.
and not half as much again as that of ordinary men, as was stated
soon after his death in the Record. Despite the immense knowledge
of this distinguished man and the variety of it, his brain was only
of what may be termed average size, and this goes far to prove
what an average brain may accomplish.

The Mastership of Trinity College is worth ^,3,000 per
annum and is a crown gift.

Dr. Whewell's Library was a very extensive one. There
were 12.000 volumes sold at Cambridge ; the catalog'ue of them was
an octavo of 107 pages compiled with much care. There were also
many valuable autograph letters brought to the hammer, and rare
" out of print " works and valuable mathematical instruments. The
sale lasted about a week, there being no less than 47 lots. The



TIME-HONOURED LANCASTER 243



doctor's will was proved on the 3rd May, 1866, personalty under
;£ 70,000. For the use of succeeding- Masters of Trinity College, he
left certain books and directed 1,000 volumes to be selected \\n- the
use of the library of the college, and a bust and portrait of himself
to be kept in the master's lodge.

To the master and fellows of his college he also bequeathed
property in Cambridge in order that courts or hotels could be erected
for the reception of students, the income thereof among other
purposes, to be applied to the endowment of a stipend of a
" Professorship of International Law," of the annual value of ^,500,
and also for founding scholarships for the encouragement of the
study of such law. The testator was one who did not believe in
war, but in aiming at a settlement of all international disputes more
in accordance with the dictates of humanity, religion, and common
sense. To his sister, Ann Whewell, he left a legacy of ^6,000, and
^"2,000 each to the five children of his late sister, Martha Statter,
and several legacies to other relatives and friends, and to each of
his executors ^200. Under the will of his first wife, Mrs. Cordelia
Whewell, he had a power of disposition of the residue, about
^10,000, of a sum of ,£'20,000, which he bequeathed for the purpose
of founding additional scholarships in the University of Cambridge.
The residue of the personalty he left to the master and fellows of
Trinity College, and that of the real estate to his before-mentioned
sister, Ann Whewell.

A correspondent to the JVestmorttnid Gazette oi February
28th, 1891, remarks that: —

''To the Rev. Ids. Rowley, Head Master of Lancaster School, belongs
the credit of discovering the gem (William Whewell) and inducing his father (a joiner)
to allow him to go to the Lancaster School, undertaking to teach and find him books,
etc., free. There were no scholarships or exhibitions at Lancaster School, so Mr.
Rowley subscribed liberally and induced others to subscribe for his board and
education to make a stepping-stone of Heversham School Exhibitions i<> gel to the
University. He was a few months at Heversham and then he undertook the duties
of Head Master of the school, and had no one to teach him during that time, and
rained his honours."



244 TIME-HONOURED LANCASTER

What the Master of Trinity thought is recorded in a speech
he made, in which he said — ■" In the drama of my life there are but
two scenes — Lancaster and Cambridge."

Another correspondent to the same journal of March 7th,
1 89 1, says : —

"Happily Ileversham, with its opportunities, and its proximity to blind Mr.
Gough as a private teacher, and the prospects of the Dallam Tower Exhibition, did for
the future Master of Trinity all that was needed after he left Lancaster School. It is
a reasonable source of pride to Lancaster and Ileversham to know that the great man
had obtained advantages from both, and done them both honour. As far as we can
now learn. Mr. Rowley first met him probably about T808, when he was fourteen
years of age; he was born in 1794, and was just about to leave school, the "Blue
School," when Mr. Rowley and he met ; and before leaving the " Blue School " he
had made some acquaintance with his father's business of a joiner, and his knowledge
of arithmetic was such as to strike Mr. Rowley very favourably. Mr. Rowley
urged his father to let him go to the Lancaster Grammar School, and promised to find
him needful books, and there would be no expense for teaching. The sort of
knowledge he had got before he went to the Grammar School, with the fact that he
was just going to be apprenticed to his father, seems to fix the age ; and, if this is
correct, Whewell would be perhaps two years at the Lancaster School, for in August,
1809, he came to see Mr. Hudson, afterwards Vicar of Kendal, to be examined with
a view to his future steps. This visit resulted in his coming to Ileversham School,
and, on condition of his remaining not less than two years, he was to have the Dallam
Tower Exhibition, in case no parishioner applied for it. The Master of Heversham
was Mr. Strickland, who died at the close of 181 1, when Whewell would have been
about two years at the school. He was then about 17 years of age, and for a few
months he took charge of the Heversham Grammar School, until a new master was
ready to take the place. At this time, and to the time he went to Cambridge, he
seems to have taken lessons from Mr. (lough, of whose rare abilities he was given to
speak very highly, and under whom he received lessons in algebra, trigonometry,
and other branches of scientific education. He afterwards read conic sections,
fluxions, and mechanics. He appears to have entered on residence at Cambridge in
October, 1812, and this gives reasonable ground to think that he was nearly, or
perhaps quite, three years at Heversham. One of the promising features in his career
was the ease with which he treated matters of literary importance at so early an age as
16 or 17 years, one letter, to a little brother of eight years, showing that not only the
future professor, but others of his family, had faculties which under proper opportunities
would have led to great success.



TIME-HONOURED LANCASTER. 245



It was a great success for Mr. Rowley's protegi and for the scholar of
Heversham, with not very large resources, to win in time the highest honours of
Cambridge ; to have the world waiting for his books and listening for his voice, on
matters of the first importance to learning and to all that interests a student world,
lie became the companion and friend of the first men of his age : he was aide to
forecast the promise of young lives which came before him, as he did in the case of
the present venerable Duke of Devonshire, and during the time he was Master of
Trinity he received and entertained her Majesty the Queen in a manner that won the
warmest approval, not only of her gracious Majesty, but of compeers who had
knowledge of the difficulties due to the entertainment of royalty at a seat of learning
like Cambridge.

The letter referred to above was written from Deepthwaile, the little hamlet
near the river Beela, a stiff mile from Heversham, where he resided ; and the school
was the old place nestling under the west of Heversham Head, and the school days
were before the railway had crossed between the school and the little river. The
beautiful scenery must have had a good influence on the youth, and it i.-> delightful to
see in -his letters a kindly and ever affectionate regard for his parents and all the
family ; a feature that speaks volumes in the life of any man, and blesses it with never
ceasing satisfaction, when the friends are with us, and when they have gone to the
better land. The letters of Whewell to his sister, who resided at Hincaster, are very
numerous, and in them and others we find a value that does more to please us than
his more stately labours. Much more could be said of his visits in mature years to
both Lancaster and Heversham, of the dining at Lancaster, and of his coming on one
or two occasions to preach at Heversham, when, alas, years had Rilled on since his
school-days, and the faces he knew, the old familiar faces at Deepthwaite and
Heversham he no longer found in the pleasant places he had seen them.'"

A " Life of Whewell " has been published by Mrs. Stair
Douglas.

The principal works of the late Dr. Whewell are as follow: —
" History of Inductive Sciences", (1837) ; "Anatomy and General
Physics, considered in reference to Natural Theology, " (1838) ;
" Philosophy of Inductive Sciences," (1840) ; " Elements of Morality
including- Polity," (1845) ; " Lectures on the Results of the Great
Exhibition of 1851," (Whewell and others); " Plurality o\ Worlds,'
(1853); "History of Ideas," (1858).

I have heard several good stories of the distinguished Master
of Trinity. One was that while on one occasion dining at B



246 TIME-HONOURED LANCASTER.



near Lancaster, with several prominent clergymen and gentlemen,
he was so much pleased with the contents of the table, especially
with a ham, that he congratulated one of the serving women and
spoke highly of the ham. The old lady remarked, " Eh, I'm glad
you liked it, Dr. Whewell, I knew it would be good for I bought
it at your aunt's in Penny Street." The doctor came in for a bit of
good natured chaff.

Thomas Hathornthwaite, L.L.D.

Thomas Hathornthwaite was the fourth issue of Robert
Hathornthwaite, master mariner of the port of Lancaster. He was
born about the 26th of June, 181 2. In early youth he evinced a
strong inclination to literature, and after attending the Lancaster



Online LibraryCross FleuryTime-honoured Lancaster ... Historic notes on the ancient borough of Lancaster → online text (page 22 of 55)