Richardson, William

, a learned English divine, was the son of the rev. Samuel Richardson, B. D. vicar of Wilshamstead near Bedford, by Elizabeth, daughter of the rev. Samuel Bentham, rector of Knebworth and Paul’s Walden, in Hertfordshire. His grandfather was the rev. John Richardson, a nonconformist, who was ejected, in 1662, from the living of St Michael’s, Stamford, in Lincolnshire, and died in 1687. He was born at Wilshamstead, July 23, 1698, and educated partly in the school of Oakham, and partly in that of Westminster. In March 1716 he was admitted of Emanuel college, Cambridge, of which he afterwards was a scholar, and took his degrees of A. B. in 1719, and A. M. in 1723. In the mean time, in September 1720 he was ordained deacon by Gibson, bishop of Lincoln, at St. Peter’s, Cornhill, London, and priest, by the same, at Buckden, in Sept. 1722. He was then appointed curate of St. Olave’s Southwark, which he held until 1726, when the parish chose him their lecturer. About this time he married Anne, the widow of capt. David Durell, the daughter of William Howe, of an ancient family of the county of Chester. He published in 1727, 2 vols. 8vo, the “Priclectiones Ecclesiastical' of his learned uncle John Richardson, B. D. author of a masterly” Vindication of the Canon of the New Testament," against Toland. In 1724 he was collated to the prebend of Welton-Rivall, in the church of Lincoln.

In 1730 he published “The Usefulness and Necessity of Revelation; in four Sermons preached at St. Olave’s Southwark,” 8vo; and, in 1733, “Relative Holiness, a Sermon preached at the consecration of the parish church of St. John’s Southwark.” He next undertook, at the request of the bishops Gibson and Potter, to publish a new edition of “Godwin de Prassulibus.” On this he returned to Cambridge in 1734, for the convenience of the libraries and more easy communication with his learned contemporaries; and in 1735 proceeded D. D. After the death of Dr. Savage, he was chosen unanimously, and without his knowledge, master of Emanuel college, Aug. 10, 1736; a rare and almost unprecedented compliment to a man of letters, for he had never been fellow of the college. He served the office of vice-chancellor in 1738, and again in 1769. In 1746 he was appointed one of his majesty’s chaplains, which he resigned in 1768. In 1743 he published at Cambridge his new edition of Godwin, in a | splendid folio volume, with a continuation of the lives of the bishops to the time of publication; a work of unquestionable utility and accuracy. He was named in the will of archbishop Potter for an option, on condition that he cancelled a leaf of this work, relating to archbishop Tenison’s lukewarmness in the matter of the Prussian liturgy and bishops. Accordingly a new leaf was printed and sent to all the subscribers; “but,” in Mr. Cole’s opinion, “rather confirming the fact than disproving it.” Both the original and the substitute may be seen in the supplement to the old edition of the “Biographia Britannica,” art. Grabe, note, p. 78. The option, however, was not so easily obtained. It was the precentorship of Lincoln, and was contested by archbishop Potter’s chaplain, Dr. Chapman. The lord- keeper Henley gave it in favour of Chapman, but Dr. Richardson appealing to the House of Lords, the decree was unanimously reversed, and Dr. Richardson admitted into the precentorship in 1760. This affair appears to have been considered of importance. Warburton writes on it to his correspondent Hurd in approving terms. “I would not omit to give you the early news (in two words) that Dr. Richardson is come off victorious in the appeal. The precentorship of Lincoln is decreed for him; the keeper’s decree reversed with costs of suit. Lord Mansfield spoke admirably. It has been three days in trying.” Burn has inserted a full account of this cause in his “Ecclesiastical Law.

Dr. Richardson died March 15, 1775, at his lodgings at Emanuel college, at the age of seventy-seven, after a lingering decay, and was buried in the college chapel, in the same vault with his wife, who died March 21, 1759.

He was many years an honour to the Society of Antiquaries, and left in ms. some valuable collections relative to the constitution of the university; many biographical anecdotes preparatory to an “Athense Cantabrigienses,” which he once intended to publish, and an accurate alphabet in his own writing of all the graduates of the university from 1500 to 1735 inclusive. He printed also a sermon preached before the House of Commons in 1764.

His only son, Robert Richardson, D. D. F. R. S. and S. A. was prebendary of Lincoln, rector of St. Anne’s Westminster, and of Wallington in Hertfordshire, which last was given to him by sir Joseph Yorke, with whom he resided as chaplain many years at the Hague. Whilst in that | employment, the papers on both sides, previous to the trial of the great cause, Douglas against Hamilton, being sent over to his excellency, Dr. Richardson, for his own curiosity, digested them, and drew up the state of the question, which was printed in 4to for private distribution, and so well approved by the gentlemen of the bar, that it was put into the hands of the counsel for the party he espoused as their brief; of which perhaps there never was a similar instance. He had the honour to see the opinion he supported confirmed by the House of Peers. After the trial he was offered 400l. in the handsomest manner, but declined accepting it. He died Sept. 27, 1781, at his house in Dean-street, Soho, in his fiftieth year. He printed only two occasional sermons. 1


Cole’s ms Athenae in Brit. Mus. Nichols’s Bowyer.