Dawes, Sir William

, archbishop of York, the youngest son of sir John Dawes, baronet, by Jane his wife, the daughter and only child of Richard Hawkins, of Braintree, in the county of Essex, gent, was born Sept. 12, 1671, at Lyons, (a seat which came by his mother) near Braintree, and received the first rudiments of learning at Merchant-taylors’-school in London, from Mr. John Hartcliffe, and Mr. Ambr. Bonwicke, successively masters of that school; under whose care he made great proficiency in the knowledge of the classics, and was a tolerable master of the Hebrew tongue, even before he was fifteen years of age; which was chiefly owing to the additional care that Dr. Kidder, afterwards bishop of Bath and Wells, took of his education. In act term 1687, he became a scholar of St. John’s college in Oxford, and after his continuance there two years or upwards, was made fellow. But his father’s title and estate descending to him, upon the death of his two brothers, which happened about the same time, he left Oxford, and entering himself a nobleman in Catherine-hall, Cambridge, lived in his eldest brother’s chambers; and, as soon as he was of fit standing, took the degree of master of arts. His intention, from the | very first, was to enter into holy orders; and therefore to qualify himself for that purpose, among other introductory works, he seems to have made some of our late eminent divines a considerable branch of his study, even before he was eighteen years of age: and he shewed always a serious and devout temper of mind, and a true sense and love of piety and religion. After he had taken his master of arts’ degree, not being of age to enter into holy orders, he thought it proper to visit the estate he was now become owner of, and to make a short tour into some other parts of the kingdom, which he had not yet seen. But his intended progress was, in some measure, stopped by Ims happening to meet with Frances, the eldest daughter of sir Thomas Darcy, of Braxstead-lodge, in Essex, baronet, a fine and accomplished woman, to whom he paid his addresses, and, not long after, married. As soon as he came to a competent -age, he was ordained deacon and priest by Dr. Compton, bishop of London. Shortly after, he was created doctor in divinity, by a royal mandate, in order to be qualified for the mastership of Catherine-hall; to which he was unanimously elected, in 1696, upon the death of Dr. John Echard. At his coming thither he found the bare case of a new chapel, begun by his predecessor; to the completion of which he contributed very liberally, and, among other beneficial acts to his college, he obtained, through his interest with queen Anne, and her chief ministers, an act of parliament for annexing the first prebend of Norwich which should become vacant, to the mastership of Catherine-hall for ever. Not long after his election, he became vice-chancellor of Cambridge, and discharged that dignity with universal applause. In 1696, he was made one of the chaplains in ordinary to king William; and, shortly after, was presented by his majesty without interest or solicitation, and merely, as the king said, by way of pledge of his future favour, to a prebend of Worcester, in which he was installed August 26, 1698, On the 10th of November 1698, he was collated by archbishop Tenison to the rectory, and, the 19th of December following, to the deanery, of Bocking in Essex, and behaved in that parish in a very charitable and exemplary manner. After queen Anne’s accession to the throne, he was made one of her majesty’s chaplains, and became so great a favourite with her, that he had a reasonable expectation of being advanced to some of the highest dignities | in the church. Accordingly, though he happened accidentally to miss of the bishopric of Lincoln ,*


The reason of his missing of it, was this: being appointed to preach before queen Anne on the 30th of January, (whilst that bishopric was vacant by the death of Dr. James Gardiner) sir William was not afraid to utter some bold truths, which at that time were not so well relished by certain persons in power, who took occasion from thence to persuade the queen (contrary to her inclination) to give it to Dr W. Wake, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury. This, however, made no impression upon sir William: and, therefore, when he was told by a certain nobleman, that he lost a bishopric by his preaching, his reply was, “That, as to that he had no manner of concern upon him, because his intention was never to one by preaching.

which became vacant in 1705; yet her majesty, of her own accord, named him to the see of Chester, in 1707, upon the death of Dr. Nicholas Stratford: and he was consecrated February 8, 1707-8. In 1713-4, he was, by the recommendation of his worthy predecessor Dr. John Sharp, translated to the archiepiscopal see of York, being elected thereto February 26, and enthroned by proxy the 24th of March following. He continued above ten years in this eminent station, honoured and respected by all. At length a diarrhoea, to which he had been subject several times before, ending in an inflammation of his bowels, put a period to his life April 30, 1724, in the fifty-third year of his age. He was buried in the chapel of Catherine-hall, Cambridge, near his lady, who died December 22, 1705, in the twenty-ninth year of her age. By her he had seven children, William, Francis, William, Thomas, who all died young; and Elizabeth, Jane, and Darcy, who survived him. In person he was tall, proportionable, and beautiful. There was in his look and gesture something easier to be conceived than described, that gained every one’s favour, even before he spoke. His behaviour was easy and courteous to all; his civility free from formality; his conversation lively and cheerful, but without any tincture of levity. He had a genius well fitted for a scholar, a lively imagination, a strong memory, and a sound judgment. He was a kind and loving husband, a tender and indulgent parent, and so extraordinary good a master, that he never was observed to be in a passion; and took care of the spiritual as well as the temporal welfare of his domestics. In his episcopal capacity, he visited his large diocese with great diligence and constancy, Nottinghamshire one year, and Yorkshire another; but every third year he did not hold any visitation. He performed all the offices of his function with becoming seriousness and gravity. He took great care and | caution, to admit none but sufficient labourers into the Lord’s harvest; and when admitted, to appoint them stipends adequate to their labour. He administered justice to all with an equal and impartial hand; being no respecter of persons, and making no difference between the poor and rich, but espousing all into the intimacy of his bosom, his care, his affability, his provision, and his prayers.

So strict an observer was he of his word, that no consideration whatever could make him break it; and so inviolable in his friendship, that without the discovery of some essential fault indeed, he never departed from it. A great point of conscience it was with him, that his promises should not create fruitless expectances; but when, upon proper considerations, he was induced to do it, he always thought himself bound to employ his utmost interest to have the thing effected; and till a convenient opportunity should present itself, was not unmindful to support the petitioner (if in mean circumstances) at his own expence: for charity indeed was his predominant quality. Both as a bishop and peer of the realm, he considered himself as responsible for the souls committed to his charge in one respect, and as intrusted with the lives and fortunes of his fellow subjects, in the other. If in some parliamentary debates (in which he made a very considerable figure), he happened to dissent from other great men, who might have the same common good in view, but seemed to pursue it in a method incongruous to his sentiments, this ought to be accounted his honour, and a proof of his integrity, but cannot, with any colour of justice, be deemed party prejudice, or a spirit of contradiction in him; because those very men, whom he sometimes opposed, at other times he joined himself to, whenever he perceived them in the right. He associated himself with no party, it being his opinion, that whoever enters the senate house, should always carry his conscience along with him; that the honour of God, the renown of his prince, and the good of his fellow subjects, should be, as it were, the polar-star to guide him; that no multitude, though never so numerous; no faction, though never so powerful; no arguments, though never so specious; no threats, though never so frightful; no offers, though never so advantageous and alluring; should blind his eyes, or pervert him to give any the least vote, not directly answerable to the sentiments of his own breast. | After his death appeared “The whole Works of sir William Dawes, bart.” &c. 3 vols. 8vo, with a preface and life, 1733, including those published by himself, viz.

1. “An Anatomy of Atheism,London, 1693, 4to, a poem, dedicated to sir George Darcy, bart. This poem was written by the author, before he was eighteen years of age.

2. “The Duties of the Closet,” &c. written by him before he was twenty-one years of age. 3. “The Duty of Communicating explained and enforced,” &c. composed for the use of his parish of Bocking, in order to introduce a monthly celebration of the Holy Communion; which used to be administered, before his coming thither, only at the three great festivals of the year. 4. “Sermons preached upon several occasions before king William and queen Anne,London, 1707, 8vo, dedicated to queen Anne.

3. He also drew up the preface to the works of Offspring Blackall, D. D. late bishop of Exeter, London, 1723, fol. 2 volumes.

On account of sir William Dawes’s “Anatomy of Atheism,” Mr. Gibber has assigned him an article in his “Lives of the Poets.” But the worthy prelate had very little title to be ranked in that catalogue. The piety of his work is unquestionable, and it is probably not defective in good sense; but it has no claim to poetical excellence, nor has it even the merit of harmonious versification. 1


Preface to his Works. JBiog. Brit. Nicolson’s Letters, vol. II. p. 473.