Newton, Richard

, D. D. founder of Hertford college, Oxford, was descended from a family that had long been of considerable repute, and of good fortune, but much injured during the civil wars. His father enjoyed a moderate estate at Lavendon Grange, in Bucks, (which is now in the family,) and lived in a house of lord Northampton’s in Yardlv-chase, where Dr. Newton is said to have been born about 1676. He was educated at Westminsterschool, and elected from that foundation in 1694 to a studentship of Christ-church, Oxford, where he executed the office of tutor very much to his own and the college’s honour and benefit. Here he became M. A. April 12, 1701; and B. D. March 18, 1707. He was inducted principal of Hart-hall, by Dr. Aldrich, in 1710, and took the degree of D. D. Dec. 7, that year. He was received into lord Pelham’s family, to superintend the education of the late duke of Newcastle, the minister, and his brother Mr. Pelham, who ever retained a most affectionate regard for him. Of this, however, he was long without any substantial proofs. Being a man of too independent and liberal principles ever to solicit a favour for himself, he was overlooked by these statesmen, till, in 1752, a short time before his death, when he was promoted to a canonry of Christ-church, which he held with his principalship of Hertford-college. He was honoured with the esteem of | the late lord Granville, than whom none at that timfe a better judge of merit and men of learning. He was aU lowed to be as polite a scholar and as ingenious a writer as any of the age. In closeness of argument, and perspicuity and elegance of language, he had not his equal. Never was any private person employed in more trusts, or discharged them with greater integrity. He was a true friend to religion, the university, and the clergy; a man of exemplary piety, and extensive charity. No one man was called forth so often to preach, in the latter end of queen Anne’s time, and in the beginning of king George I. as Dr. Newton.

Bp. Compton, who had a kind affection and just esteem for him, collated him to the rectory of Sudbury in Northamptonshire, where, during a residence of some years, he discharged the duties of his office with exemplary care and fidelity. Amongst other particulars, he read the eveningprayers of the liturgy at his church on the week-day evenings, at seven of the clock, hay-time and harvest excepted, for the benefit of such of his parishioners as could then assemble for public devotions. When he returned to Oxford, about 1724, he enjoined his respective curates successively, to keep up the same good rule; which they faithfully observed. He exerted also his best endeavours, from time to time, to prevail with the succeeding bishops of London (Gibson particularly) to bestow this rectory on his curate for the time being, and on each successively, and he would resign the charge; but these applications were without success. His lordship’s successor, Bp. Sherlock, however, readily consented to Dr. Newton’s proposal; and Mr. Saunders, one of his curates, accordingly succeeded the doctor in the rectory. Dr. Newton died at Lavendon Grange, April 21, 1753, aged about seventyseven.

The Mss. of Mr. Jones, published in the Gentleman’s Magazine for 1783, have furnished the following detached memoranda concerning him: " A very sensible, thoughtful, judicious, and a truly honest man. His writings shew his learning, judgment, and integrity; and his life exemplified every Christian virtue. He was my very good friend; and a promoter of my studies. I entirely loved and respected him living, and I shall always revere his memory now he is dead. Most orderly and exact in his family at Lavendon Grange (where I often visited him), as well as | In his college. Discreet and punctual in every part of his conduct. Highly and justly esteemed by all the wise and good. He lamented the indolence and inactivity, and was grieved to observe the secular views and ambitious schemes, of some of the heads of colleges and halls; but he, for his own part, resolved to do his duty, as became a good governor, and a friend to useful discipline and learning. An example of temperance and decency in every part of his behaviour; and of great moderation also, in respect of the different sentiments of his fellow-protestants. He valued, and occasionally visited, and would converse, and sometimes dine with, Dr. Doddridge, when he came to Northampton. He saw that they both aimed at the same great and good end, in fitting up hopeful young students for the Christian ministry. He usually made excursions, in the long vacations, into various parts of the kingdom, most commonly taking with him, for company and improvement, one or more young gentlemen of fortune in his college, at the request, and with the approbation, of their parents. He was himself, in every respect, a gentleman, and a mail of refined good breeding. You might see this in every part of his conversation. At evening, upon such journeys, he would, a little before bed-time, desire his young pupils to indulge him in a short vacation of about half an hour, for his own private recollections. During that little interval they were silent, and he would smoke his pipe with great composure, and then chat with them again in am useful manner for a short space, and, bidding them a good night, go to his rest.

He died at Lavendon Grange, extremely lamented by all the poor of that neighbourhood, to whom he was a kind benefactor, and by all his friends and acquaintance throughout the kingdom. Upon his death-bed, he ordered all his writings to be destroyed, as his worthy widow informed me; and she was a conscientious person. His friend, Dr t Hunt, advised her to be cautious, and to be sure she did not mistake his meaning, especially with regard to some articles. I also, to whom she paid a favourable regard, presumed to suggest the same caution. How far that good lady proceeded in the proposed destruction of the worthy doctor’s papers, I am not able to say; but do hitherto suppose she reduced them to ashes.*

*

His Sermons were excepted, and some of them published after his death, as will be hereafter noticed.

Upon a | vacancy of the public orator’s place at Oxford, Newton offered himself a candidate; but Digby Cotes, then fellow of All Souls-college, and afterwards principal of Magdalenhall, carried the point against him. Newton’s friends thought him to be by far the more qualified person for that eminent post; though orator Digby was also, I think, a man of worth as well as reputation. Newton survived him. Dr. Newton was well skilled in the modern foreign languages, as well as in the ancient ones of Greece and Rome. A well-polished gentleman, and, at the same time, a sincere Christian. He carried dignity in his aspect, but sweetened with great modesty, humility, and freedom of conversation. This I know, having carefully observed bim, and having always found him even and uniform, both in his temper and in his conduct. One thing comes novr into my mind. Being a guest for a night or two at his house at Lavendon, in the summer-1749, and in my way to Oxford and London, &c. I had much familiar and free discourse with him, and particularly upon the subject of a reasonable reform in some particulars relating to our ecclesiastical establishment a reform, to which he was a hearty welt- wisher. One evening, there being present his worthy vice-principal Mr. Saunders, and an ingenious young gentleman of fortune, a pupil of Saunders, the doctor was pleased to propose to us this question: What share are ifce to allow to Common Sense and Reason in matters of lieKgion? Those two gentlemen and myself being silent, he addressed himself particularly to me, who was, in pqiuT-qf age, superior to them both. I freely answered, that, in my poor opinion, the due exercise of common sense and reason^ and private judgment in all matters of religion, ought to be allowed to all Christians. He said, he was of the same mind. He read prayers in his family at Lavendon, morning and evening, being select parts of the public liturgy. On Wednesdays and Fridays the litany only. He appointed to his studious guests several separate apartments (being parlours) for private study, with pen, ink, and paper, for each, and the use of his library, which was near those apartments, &c. When Pelham was minister, that station corrupted the man, and made him like other ministers; for when he was asked why he did not place, in proper station, the able and meritorious Dr. Newton, he said, `How could I do it? he never asked me’ forgetting his tutor. Mr. Pelham more than once employed Dr. Newton to furnish king’s speeches.” | His foundation of Hertford-college, for which chiefly he is now remembered, was an unfortunate speculation, ft was preceded by some publications calculated to make known his opinions on academic education. The first of these, which appeared in 1720, was entitled “A Scheme of Discipline, with Statutes intended to be established by a royal charter for the education of youth in Hert-hall;” and in 1725, he drew up the statutes of Hertford -college, which he published in 1747. In 1726, or 1727, he published his “University Education,” which chiefly relates to the removal of students from one college to another, without the leave of their respective governors, or of the chancellor. This appears to have involved him in some unpleasant altercations with his brethren. His application, for a charter to take Hert-hall from under the jurisdiction of Exeter- college, and erect it into an independent college, occasioned a controversy between him and Dr. Conybeare, then rector of Exeter, and afterwards bishop of Bristol and dean of Christ church. In August 1740, however, he obtained the charter for raising Hert-hall into a perpetual college, for the usual studies; the society to consist of a principal, four senior fellows or tutors, eight junior fellows or assistants, eight probationary students, twenty-four actual students, and four scholars. He contributed an annuity of 55l. 6s. Sd. issuing out of his house at Lavendon, and other lands in that parish, to be an endowment for the four senior fellows at the rate of 13l. 6s. Sd. each yearly. He then purchased some houses in the neighbourhood of Hert-hall for its enlargement, and expended about 1500l. on building the chapel and part of an intended new quadrangle. Very few benefactors afterwards appeared to complete the establishment, which, by the aid of independent members subsisted for some years, but has of late gradually fallen off, and it is but within these few months that a successor could be found to the late principal Dr. Bernard Hodgson, who died in 1805. Dr. Newton’s radical error in drawing up the statutes, was his fixing the price of every thing at a maximum, and thus injudiciously overlooking the progress of the markets, as well as the state of society. He seems indeed to have been more intent on establishing a school upon rigid and ceconomical principles, than a college which, with equal advantages in point of education, should keep pace with the growing liberality and refinement of the age. | Besides some single sermons, Dr. Newton published in answer to the learned Wharton on pluralities, a volume entitled “Pluralities indefensible,1744; and in 1752 issued “Proposals for printing by subscription 4000 copies of the Characters of Theophrastus, for the benefit of Hertford-college;” but this did not appear until a year after his death, when it was published by his successor Dr. William Sharp, in an 8vo volume. The produce to the college is said to have amounted to 1000l., which we much doubt, as the price was only six shillings each copy. In 1784, a volume of his “Sermons” was published by his grandson, S.Adams, LL. B. 8vo. 1
1

Gent. Mag. see Index.—Chalmers’s Hist. of Oxford.