Stonhouse, Sir James

, a pious and worthy baronet, originally a physician and afterwards a divine, was the son of Richard and Caroline Stonhouse, of Tubney, near Abingdon, in Berkshire, and was born July 20, 1716. His father, who died when his son was ten years old, was, as sir James informs us, “a country squire, kept a pack of hounds, and was a violent Jacobite.” Our author succeeded to the title of baronet late in life, by the death of his collateral relation sir James Stonhouse cf Radley.

He was educated at Winchester-school, and was afterwards of St. John’s college, Oxford, where he took his master’s degree in 1739, and his degrees in medicine, M. B. in 1742, and M. D. in 1745. He had his medical education under Dr. Frank Nichols (See F. Nichols), whom he represents as a professed deist, and fond of instilling pernicious principles into the minds of his pupils. Mr. Stonhouse resided with him in his house in Lincoln’s. innfields for two years, and dissected with him, which, he says, was a great and an expensive privilege. He also attended St. Thomas’s hospital for two years under those eminent physicians sir Edward Wilmot, Dr. Hall, and Dr. Letherland. Two years more he devoted to medical study and observation at Paris, Lyons, Montpellier, and Marseilles. On his return, he settled one year at Coventry, where he married Miss Anne Neale, the eldest of the two daughters of John Neaie, esq. of Allesley, near Coventry, and member of parliament for that city. This lady, who died in 1747, soon after their marriage, in the twenty-fifth year of her age, is introduced as one of the examples of frail mortality in Hervey’s “Meditations,” and is farther commemorated there in a note.

From Coventry, Dr. Stonhouse removed, in 1743, to Northampton, where and through the neighbourhood for many miles, his practice became most extensive; and his benevolence keeping pace with his profits, he was acknowledged in all respects a great benefactor to the poor. Among other schemes for their relief, he founded the county-infirmary at Northampton, but amidst much opposition. During his residence here the celebrated Dr. Akenside endeavoured to obtain a settlement as a practitioner, but found it in vain to interfere with Dr. Stonhouse, who then, as Dr. Johnson observes in his life of Akenside, “practised with such reputation and success, that a stranger was not likely to gain ground upon him.| After practising at Northampton for twenty years, he quitted his profession, assigning for a reason that his practice was become too extensive for his time and health, and that all hi- attempts to bring it into narrower limits, without giving offence, and occasioning very painful reflections, had failed. But neither the natural activity of his mind, nor his unceasing wish to be doing good, would permit him to remain unemployed, and as his turn of mind was peculiarly bent on subirets of divinity, he determined to go into the church, and was accordingly ordained deacon by the special favour of the bishop of Hereford, in Hereford cathedral, and priest next week by letters dimissory to the bishop of Bristol, in Bristol cathedral, no one, he informs us, being ordained at either of those times but himself. In May 1764 lord Radnor found him very ill at Bristol-wells, and gave him the living of Little-Cheverel; and in December 1779 his lordship’s successor gave him that of Great Cheverel.

About ten years before this, he married his second wife Sarah, an heiress, the only child of Thomas Ekins, esq. of Cb,<ester-on-the-water, in Northamptonshire. She was left by her father under the guardianship of Dr. Doddridge, who died before she came of age, at which last period Dr. Stonhouse married her. Dr. Stonhouse’s piety, for which he was most admired, had not always been uniform. He tells us, that he imbibed erroneous notions from Dr. Nichols, and that he was for seven years a confirmed infidel, and did all he could to subvert Christianity. He went so far as to write a keen pamphlet against it; the third edition of which he burnt. He adds, “for writing and spreading of which, I humbly hope, as I have deeply repented of it, God has forgiven me: though I never can forgive myself.” His conversion to Christianity, which he attribute.-, to some of Dr. Doddridge’s writings, and the various circumstances attending it, were such, that he was advised to write the history of his life, which he accordingly did, and intended it to have been published after his death: but in consequence of the suggestion of a friend, and his own suspicions lest a bad use might have been made of it, he was induced to destroy the manuscript.

After being settled at Cheverel, he applied himself to the duties of his station with fervour and assiduity, and became very popular as a preacher. Much of his general character and conduct, his sentiments and the vicissitudes | of his professional employment, may be learned from his correspondence lately published. He died at Bristol- Wells Dec. 8, 1795, in the eightieth year of his age, and was buried in the Wells chapel, in the same grave with his second wife, who died seven years before, over which, on an elegant monument, is an epitaph, in verse, by Miss Hannah More.

Among other ways of doing good, sir James Stonhouse was convinced that the dispersion of plain and familiar tracts on important subjects, was one of the most important, and accordingly wrote several of these, the greater part of which have been adopted by the Society for promoting Christian knowledge. The others are, 1. “Considerations on some particular sins, and on the means of doing good bodily and spiritually.” 2. “St. Paul’s Exhortation and motive to support the weak or sick poor, a sermon.” 3. “A short explanation of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, &c.” 4. “Hints to a curate fo i- tue management of a parish.” 5. “A serious address to the parishioners of Great Cheverel,” &c. 1

1

Letters from the Rev. Job Orton, and the Rev. Sir James Stonhouse, &c. 1805, '2 vols. 12mo. Gent. AJag. LXV. LXVI. and LXXXI.