Codrington, Christopher

, a brave soldier and a distinguished benefactor to All Souls college, Oxford, was born at Barbadoes in 1668, and had part of his education in that island. He afterwards came over to England, and was admitted a gentleman-commoner of Christ-church in Oxford, 1685; where having taken a degree in arts, he was elected a probationer fellow of All Souls college in 1639. He became perfect, it is said, not only in logic, history, and the ancient and modern languages, but likewise in poetry, physic, and divinity. Thus qualified, he went into the army, but without quitting his fellowship; and being a well-bred and accomplished gentleman, as well as a scholar, he soon recommended himself to the favour of king William. He was made captain in the first regiment of foot guards, and seems to have’been instrumental in driving the French out of the island of St. Christopher’s, which they had seized at the breaking out of the war between France and England: but it is more certain | that he was at the siege of Namur in 1695. Upon the conclusion of the peace of Ryswick, he was made captaingeneral and governor in chief of the Leeward Caribhee Islands, in which office he met with some trouble: for in 1701 several articles were exhibited against him to the house of commons in England, but he was honourably acquitted from all imputations. In 1703 he was at the attack upon Guadaloupe, belonging to the French, in which he shewed great bravery, though that enterprise happened to be unsuccessful. Some time after, he resigned his government of the Leeward islands, and led a studious and retired life. For a few years before his death, he chiefly applied himself to church history and metaphysics; and his eulogist tells us, that “if he excelled in any thing, it was in metaphysical learning, of which he was perhaps the greatest master in the world.” He died in Barbadoes, April 7, 1701, and was buried there the day following; but his body was afterwards brought over to England, and interred, June 19, 1716, in All Souls chapel, Oxford. Two Latin orations to his memory were spoken there by two fellows of that college; one by Digby Cotes, M. A. the university orator, at his interment; the other the next day by Edward Young, LL. B. at the laying the foundation stone of his library. Over his grave a black marble stone was soon after laid, with no other inscription on it but Codrington.

By his last will he bequeathed his two plantations in Barbadoes, and part of the island Barbuda, to the society for propagating the gospel in foreign parts; and left a noble legacy to All Souls college, of which he had been fellow. This legacy consisted of his books, which were valued at 6000l. and 10,000l. to be laid out; 6000l. in building a library, and 4000l. in furnishing it with books. He was the author of some poems in the Musse Anglicanoe, printed at London in 1741; and of a copy of verses inscribed to sir Samuel Garth upon his “Dispensary,” of which two lines have at least been uncommonly fortunate in having been adopted as the common-place compliment of all lovers.

Thou hast no faults, or I no faults can spy,

Thou art all beauty, or all blindness I.


Biog. Brit. Chalmers’s History of Oxford.