Bolton, Robert

, dean of Carlisle, was born in London in April 1697, and was the only surviving child of Mr. John Bolton, a merchant in that city, whom he lost when he was but three years old. He was first educated in a school at Kensington, and was admitted a commoner at Wadham college, Oxford, April 12, 1712. He was afterwards elected a scholar of that house, where he took his degree of B. A. in 1715, and of M. A. June 13, 1718, expecting to be elected fellow in his turn; but in this he was disappointed, and appealed, without success, to the bishop of Bath and Wells, the visitor. In July 1719 he removed to Hart Hall; and on the 20th December following, was ordained a deacon, in the cathedral church of St. Paul, by Dr. John Robinson, bishop of London. He then went to reside at Fulham, and seems to have passed two years there: for he was ordained priest by the same bishop in the chapel of Fulham palace, April 11, 1721. While at Fulham he became acquainted with Mrs. Grace Butler of Rowdell in Sussex, on whose daughter Elizabeth he wrote an epitaph, which is placed in Twickenham church-yard, where she was buried. This epitaph gave occasion to some verses by Pope, which appear in Uuff’head’s life of that poet, and were communicated to the author by the hon. Mr. Yorke, who probably did not know that they first appeared in the Prompter, a periodical paper, No. VIII. and afterwards in the works of Aaron Hill, who by mistake ascribes the character of Mrs. Butler to Pope.

Being chosen senior fellow of Dulwich college, he went to reside there, March 10, 1722, where he remained three years, and resigned his fellowship May 1, 1725. About this time he removed to Kensington, living upon a small fortune he possessed; and here he appears to have become acquainted with the celebrated Whiston; and partly, as it is said, by his recommendation, became known to sir Joseph Jekyll, master of the rolls, by whom he was appointed his domestic chaplain, and, in 1729, preacher at the Rolls, on the resignation of Dr. Butler, afterwards bishop of Durham. This connection introduced him to | the patronage of lord Hardwicke, by whose means, in 1734, he was promoted to the deanery of Carlisle, and, in 1738, to the vicarage of St. Mary’s Reading. He had his degree of doctor of civil law from the archbishop of Canterbury, Jan. 13, 1734, and went to reside at Carlisle in 1736. Both these preferments, the only ones he ever received, he held until the time of his death. He was an excellent parishpriest, and a good preacher, charitable to the poor, and having from his own valetudinary state acquired some knowledge of physic, he kindly assisted them by advice and medicine. He was greatly beloved by his parishioners, and deservedly; for he performed every part of his duty in a truly exemplary manner. On Easter Tuesday in 173y he preached one of the spital sermons at St. Bride’s, Fleet‘ street, which was afterwards printed in 4to, but we do not find that he aspired to the character of an author, though so well qualified for it, until late in life. His first performance was entitled “A Letter to a lady on Cardplaying on the Lord’s day, 8vo, 1748; setting forth in a lively and forcible manner the many evils attending the practice of gaming on Sundays, and of an immoderate attachment to that fatal pursuit at any time. In 1750 appeared” The Employment of Time, three essays,“8vo, dedicated to lord Hardwicke; the most popular of our author’s performances, and, on its original publication, generally ascribed to Gilbert West. In this work two distinguished and exemplary female characters are supposed to be those of lady Anson and lady Heathcote, lord Hardwicke’ s daughters. The next year, 1751, produced” The Deity’s delay in punishing the guilty considered on the principles of reason,“8vo; and in 1755,” An answer to the question, Where are your arguments against what you call lewdness, if you can make no use of the Bible?“8vo. Continuing to combat the prevailing vices of the times, he published in 1757,” A Letter to an officer of the army on Travelling on Sundays,“8vo; and, in the same year,” The Ghost of Ernest, great grandfather of her royal highness the princess dowager of Wales, with some account of his life,“8vo. Each of the above performances contains good sense, learning, philanthropy, and religion, and each of them is calculated for the advantage of society. The last work which Dr. Bolton gave the public was not the least valuable. It was entitled” Letters and Tracts on the Choice of Company, and other subjects,“1761, 8vo. | This he dedicated to his early patron, lord Hardwicke, to whom he had inscribed The Employment of Time, and who at this period was no longer chancellor. In his address to this nobleman he says,” An address to your lordship on this occasion in the usual style would as ill suit your inclinations as it doth my age and profession. We are both of us on the confines of eternity, and should therefore alike make truth our care, that truth which, duly influencing our practice, will be the security of our eternal happiness. Distinguished by my obligations to your lordship, I would be so by my acknowledgments of them: I would not be thought to have only then owned them when they might have been augmented. Whatever testimony I gave of respect to you when in the highest civil office under your prince, I would express the same when you have resigned it; and shew as strong an attachment to lord Hardwicke as I ever did to the lord chancellor. Receive, therefore, a tribute of thanks, the last which I am ever likely in this manner to pay. But I am hastening to my grave, with a prospect which must be highly pleasing to me, unless divested of all just regard to those who survive me."

Dr. Bolton was originally of a valetudinarian habit, though he preserved himself by temperance to a considerable age. In the preface to the work now under consideration, he speaks of the feeble frame he with so much difficulty supported; and afterwards says, “My decay is now such, that it is with what I write as with what I act; I see in it the faults which 1 know not how to amend.” He however survived the publication of it two years, dying in London, where he came for Dr. Addington’s advice, on the 26th Nov. 1763, and was buried in the porch between the first and second door of the parish-church of St. Mary, Reading. Since his death a plain marble has been erected to his memory.

Dr. Bolton was a very tall man, very thin, very brown. He understood well, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Spanish, Italian, and French. Mr. Whiston, jun. says that it was a long time before he could prevail on himself to subscribe to the thirty-nine articles for preferment; but at last, as articles of peace, and so far as authorised by scripture, he did; for it was generally supposed he did not approve of all the Athauasian doctrine. There is nothing of this, however, to be deduced from his works, and he appears to have accepted his preferments when offered. He | married Mrs. Holmes, a widow-lady, with whom he lived about twenty-five years in great domestic happiness, but left no children by her. Besides the several performances already mentioned, he wrote and printed a “Visitation sermon” in 1741; and under his inspection, Mr. David Henry, then printer at Reading, abridged “Twenty Discourses” from Abp. Tillotson’s works, to which Dr. Bolton is said to have prefixed a preface, and added a sermon of his own, but the sermon on Sincerity is supposed to have been abridged by Mr. Wray, his son-in-law. Mr. Wray, now rector of Darley, in Derbyshire, published “A Sermon occasioned by the death of Robert Bolton, LL. D. &c.” 1764, with an affectionate tribute to his memory. 1

1

Coates’s Hist, of Reading.—Former edition of this Dict. principally from a ms account by the late Mr. John Winston.