Lavington, George

, an English prelate, and very eminent scholar, was descended from a family long settled in Wiltshire, and was born at the parsonage- house of Mildenhall, in the above county, and baptised Jan. 18, 1683, his grandfather, Constable, being then rector of that parish. Joseph, father to bishop Lavington, is supposed to have exchanged his original benefice of Broad Hinton, in Wiltshire, for Newton Longville, in Bucks, a living and a manor belonging to New college, in Oxford. Transplanted thither, and introduced to the acquaintance of several members of that society, he was encouraged to | educate the eldest of his numerous children, George, the subject of this article, at Wykeham’s foundation, near Winchester, from whence he succeeded to a fellowship of New college, early in the reign of queen Anne. George, while yet a schoolboy, had produced a Greek translation of Virgil’s eclogues, in the style and dialect of Theocritus, which is still preserved at Winchester in manuscript. At the university he was distinguished by his wit and learning, and equally so by a marked attachment to the protestant succession, at a period when a zeal of that kind could promise him neither preferment nor popularity. But if some of his contemporaries thought his ardour in a good cause excessive, still their affection and esteem for him remained undiminished by any difference of political sentiment. In 1717, he was presented by his college to their rectory of Hayford Warren, in the diocese of Oxford. Before this his talents and principles had recommended him to the notice of many eminent persons in church and state. Among others Talbot, then bishop of Oxford, intended him for the benefice of Hook Norton, to which his successor, bishop Potter, collated him. Earl Coningsby not only appointed him his own domestic chaplain, but introduced him in the same capacity to the court of king George I. In this reign he was preferred to a stall in the cathedral church of Worcester, which he always esteemed as one of the happiest events of his life, since it laid the foundation of that close intimacy which ever after subsisted between him and the learned Dr. Francis Hare, the dean. No sooner was Dr. Hare removed to St. Paul’s, than he exerted all his influence to draw his friend to the capital after him; and his endeavours were so successful that Dr. Lavington was appointed in 1732, to be a canon residentiary of that church, and in consequence of this station, obtained successively the rectories of St. Mary Aldermary, and St. Michael Bassishaw. In both parishes he was esteemed a minister attentive to his duty, and an instructive and awakening preacher. He would probably never have thought of any other advancement, if the death of Dr. Stillingfleet, dean of Worcester, in 1746, had not recalled to his memory the pleasing ideas of many years spent in that city, in the prime of life. His friends, however, had higher views for him; and, therefore, on the death of bishop Clagget, lord chancellor Hardwick, and the duke of Newcastle, recommended him to the king, to till the | vacancy, without his solicitation or knowledge. From this time he resided at Exeter among his clergy, a faithful and vigilant pastor, and died universally lamented, Sept. 13, 1762; crowning a life that had been devoted to God’s honour and service, by a pious act of resignation to his will; for the last words pronounced by his faultering tongue, were Ao<* in 0sa> “Glory to God.” He married Francis Maria, daughter of Lave, of Corf Mullion, Dorset, who had taken refuge in this kingdom from the popish persecution in France. She survived the bishop little more than one year, after an union of forty years. Their only daughter is the wife of the rev. N. Nutcombe, of Nutcombe, in Devonshire, and chancellor of the cathedral at Exeter. Bishop Lavington published only a few occasional sermons, except his “Enthusiasm of the Methodists and Papists compared,” three parts;*


The bishop of Exeter’s book against the Methodists is, I think, on the whole, composed well enough (though it be a bad copy of Stiltingfleet’s famous book of the ”Fanaticism of the Church of Rome)“to do the execution he intended. In pushing the Methodists, to make them like every thing that is bad, he compares their fanaticism to the ancient mysteries; but, as the mysteries, if they had ever been good, were not, in the bishop’s opinion, bad enough for this purpose, he therefore endeavours to show against me, that they were abominations even from the beginning. As this contradicts all antiquity so evidently, I thought it would be ridiculous in me to take any notice of him.” Warburton’s Letters to Hurd, p. 86, 4to edit.

which involved him in a temporary controvery with Messrs. Whitfield and Wesley. 1

Polwhele’s Hist. of Devonshire, vol. I. p. 313.