Newdigate, Sir Roger, Bart.

, of Arbury in Warwickshire, an elegant scholar, and an eminent benefactor to the university of Oxford, was born May 30, 1719. He was the seventh and youngest son of sir Richard Newdigate, bart. by his second lady Elizabeth, daughter of sir Roger Twisden, bart. In his sixteenth year he succeeded, in title and estate, his elder brother, sir Edward. Sir Roger was at that time a king’s scholar at Westminster school, where by his own choice he continued three years, and then entered of University college, Oxford. Here he was created M. A. in May 1738, and afterwards set out on one of those continental tours which his classical knowledge and fine taste enabled him to turn to the best advantage, by accumulating a vast collection of monumental antiquities, and drawings of ancient ruins, buildings, statues, &c. Of these last there are two ample folios in his library at Arbury, the produce of his indefatigable and accurate pencil. He also brought home some curious antique marbles and vases of exquisite workmanship (some of which are engraved in Piranesi, where his name occurs several times), casts from the most admired statues at Rome and Florence, and copies of many celebrated paintings, particularly a fine one of the famous Transfiguration, by Raphael, which adorns the magnificent saloon at Arbury.

Shortly after his return in 1742, he was unanimously elected knight of the shire for the county of Middlesex; but, in the next parliament he was, on lord Cornbury’s | being called up to the house of peers, elected in 1751 to succeed him as representative for the university of Oxford, an honour which few men knew better how to appreciate. In no place, and on no occasion, is the purity of election more sacredly guarded than in the choice of members to represent that university, where to make declarations, to canvass, to treat, or even to be seen within the limits of the university during a vacancy, would be, in any candidate, almost a forfeiture of favour. In the case of our worthy baronet, he remained ignorant of being proposed and elected, until he received a letter from the vicechancellor, Dr. Browne, master of University college, by one of the esquire beadles. In the same independent manner he was re-elected in 1754, 1761, 1768, and 1774, during which last year, he was in Italy. On the dissolution of parliament in 1780, being advanced in years, and desirous of repose, he solicited his dismission, retired from public life, and was succeeded by sir William Dolben. He died at his seat at Arbury, Nov. 25, 1806, in the eighty-seventh year of his age.

He married twice, first in 1743, Sophia, daughter of Edward Conyers, of Copt-hall, in Essex, esq. who died in 1774; and secondly, in 1776, Hester, daughter of Edward Mundy, of Shipley, in Derbyshire, esq.; but having no issue by either, the title became extinct.

Although he retired from public life in 178O, his ample and richly-stored library appears to have afforded him sufficient employment, and he preserved his critical taste and acumen to almost the last period of his life. Among his employments, not many years before his death, was anexamination of Whitaker’s account of Hannibal’s passage over the Alps. He had himself twice crossed these stupendous mountains, and was much dissatisfied with some parts of the route which Whitaker had assigned to Hannibal, particularly where that author leads him from Lyons to Geneva (every step, as sir Roger said, out of his way) and therefore he drew up a succinct account of the march of the Carthaginian, conducting him from Lyons up the river to Seissel, thence to Martigni, and so to the great St. Bernard, and to Aouste (Auguste) of which in his own tour he had many drawings. Such had been his early application, and such his powers of memory, that the best classics seemed as familiar to him when he was past fourscore, as if just come from Oxford or Westminster. But these were | not his only studies. He was well acquainted with theology, particularly the writings of our elder divines, and was himself a man of a devout habit, and unremitting in; religious duties. One of his latest works was the composing of a “Harmony of the Gospels,” divided into short sections; but he never considered these works as more than the amusements of retired life, and they were consequently seen only by his frieads, am,png whom were Drs; Winchester and Townson, and the present worthy archdeacon Churton, to whose pen we owe the mos^ valuable part of this sketch.

To the university of Oxford he was a steady friend and frequent benefactor. The admired cast of the Florentine boar in Queen’s college library, the Florentine museum, and other books in the library of University college, Piranesi’s works in the Bodleian, and those exquisite spe r cimens of ancient sculpture, the Candelabra in the Radciiffe library (which cost 1800/,) were some of his donations. In 1755 he was honoured by the countess dowager of Pomfret (who was aunt to the first lady Newdigate) with a commission to intimate to the university her ladyship’s intention of presenting them with what are now called the Arundelian marbles. In 1805 sir Roger made an offer to the university of the sum of 2000l. for the purpose of removing them to the Radcliffe library, but some unexpected difficulties were started at that time, which prevented the plan from being executed, although it is to be hoped, it is not finally abandoned. He gave also 1000l. to be vested in the public funds, in the name of the vice-chancellor and the master of University college, for the time being, in trust, part of it to go for art annual prize for English verses on ancient sculpture, painting, and architecture, and the remainder to accumulate as a fund towards the amendment of the lodgings of the master of University college. His charitable benefactions in the neighbourhood of his estate were extensive, and have proved highly advantageous, in ameliorating the state of the poor, and furnishing them with education and the means of industry. But we must refer. to our authority for these and other interesting particulars of this worthy baronet. 1


Life by Mr. Archdeacon Churton in —Gent. Mag. vol. LXXVII.—Betham’s Baronetage, corrected by Beatson’s Index to the House of Commons.