Southgate, Richard

, a late worthy divine and antiquary, was born at Alwalton, in Huntingdonshire, March 16, 1729. He was the son of William Southgate, a considerable farmer of that place, and of Hannah, the daughter of Robert Wright, of Castor, in Northamptonshire, a surveyor and civil engineer. He was the eldest of ten children, three of whom died in infancy, and all the rest survived him. He was educated for some time at a private school at Uppingham, but chiefly at the free grammar-school at Peterborough, under the rev. Thomas Marshall, an excellent scholar, who became afterwards his cordial friend. The rapidity of his acquisitions at this school gained him the esteem of many, particularly of Dr. John Thomas, bishop of Lincoln, an intimate friend of his father. Under the patronage of this prelate, and with an exhibition from Peterborough, he removed to Cambridge, where he was entered of St. John’s college in 1745, under Mr. (afterwards the learned Dr.) Rutherforth, to whom he was recommended with great warmth by his friend and late master, Mr. Marshall.

At the university he studied hard, and lived retired, delighted with the opportunities for improvement which a college life affords, and in Easter term, 1749, took his degree of A. B. and was on the list of honours on the first tripos. Some unpleasant occurrences in his family, however, obliged him to leave the university, after a residence of little more than four years; and he now retired to his father’s house at Alwalton, where, by the assistance of books from the library of Dr. Neve, who was rector of the parish, he was enabled to continue his studies. In Sept. 1752, he was ordained deacon, and in the same month, 1754, priest, by his friend and patron, Dr. Thomas, bishop | of Lincoln, who in the last mentioned year gave him the rectory of Woolley, in Huntingdonshire, worth about 120l. a year. The circumstances attending this preferment are too highly honourable to the character of Mr. Southgate to be omitted in even a short sketch of his life. This living became vacant during the minority of a Mr. Peacock, who was the patron, and was himself intended for the church. His guardians, not being able to agree as to the person they should present, suffered it to lapse to the bishop; who mentioned these circumstances to Mr. Southgate when he presented htm to the living; and although the bishop left him entirely clear of any promise or restraint respecting it; as soon as Mr. Peacock had taken orders, Mr. Southgate went to his lordship, and resigned the living. During the time that he held it, he had to rebuild a considerable part of the premises, and to make such repairs, that he may be said rather to have acted like a faithful steward to Mr. Peacock than the real rector of the parish; so that when he resigned it, after possession for more than five years, he had not saved out of the income one shilling. The bishop, on his resignation, said, “You have done, Richard, what I knew you would do; you have behaved like a Christian and a good man; and I have this additional motive for thinking myself bound to provide for you.

This obligation, however, appears to have been forgotten, for although the bishop lived till 1766, and had various opportunities of fulfilling his promise, Mr. Southgate received no other promotion from him, and never shewed the least sign of disappointment, but on the contrary endeavoured to apologize for the bishop, which perhaps few of our readers will be inclined to do, as the only plea was “a constitutional weakness which too easily yielded to the incessant requests of the importunate, or the powerful solicitations of the great.

Before Mr. Southgate settled in London, he successively served several curacies in the country, and was frequently in the habit of reading prayers and preaching at three different churches: and it appears from his journal that he Ik:i unfreqnently served four different churches in one day. During this time he found the want of books, and of persons of literature to converse with, were insurmountable obstacles to his improvement in knowledge, and had to lament that small country villages could not supply these; on which account he formed the resolution of coming to | London. Accordingly. Jan. 2, 1763, having received a recommendation from bishop Thomas to Dr. Nicolls, rector of St. James’s, Westminster, became to London, and was immediately engaged by that gentleman as one of the subcurates of St. James’s, and served this cure till 1766. In December of the preceding year he entered upon the curacy of St. Giles’s, to which he was oppoiuted by Dr. Gaily, on the recommendation of Dr. Parker, the successor of Dr. Nicolls in St. James’s, and this last cure he reilined till the time of his death. In serving it, he is universally acknowledged to have exhibited the portraiture of a learned, pious, and most iudeiatigably conscientious parish priest. The duties of this extensive parish were not more urgent than the wants of its numerous poor, and in works of charity Mr. Soutligate was eminently distinguished. “If,” says one oi his. biographers, “hi any parts of his pastoral office, more than in others, he was particularly laborious, it was in visiting, catechising, and exhorting the poor. In the parish of St. Giles’s, the baptisms at the font are daily, and very numerous; on which occasions, he constantly catechised, or lectured, the sponsors, awfully impressing upon them the high importance of an attention, not only to the ge there undertaken, but to the various obligations and privileges of the Christian life: and the good seed so judiciously and season.;bly sown, at those times, could not but be eminently fruitful. In visiting the sick, and particularly the sick poor, he was almost every day engaged, as his iniimate friends well know, and his journal testifies; praying with, and exhorting the afflicted to submit patiently to the chastising hand of God, counselling the profane, and inconsiderate, to reflect upon, and amend their ways, and admonbhing all to flee from the wrath to come, and accept the salvation tendered in the gospel, on the terms it prescribes. When he became able, his prayers and exhortations were frequently accompanied with his alms, administering at once to the spiritual and bodily wants of his poor parishioners,” &c. &,c.

From the time of Mr. Sonthgatc’s coming to London to 1783, though he hau little more than the profits of his enracy (fifty guineas a year), yet so great was his oeconomy, that he had- made a very considerable collection of books, and had got together no inconsiderable number of coins and medals. But, in order to increase his income, and to iusist him in this, he had several times young gentlemen | under his care, with whom he read the Greek and Roman classics. Even when at college he began to be a collector of books and coins, and though what he then bought of the latter were of little value, yet so nice was his taste, that he never purchased any which were not in the highest preservation and perfection. It was not until a considerable time after he had been in London, that he was enabled to increase his library and museum, by purchasing articles of value and ornament.

In May 1783 he received his first preferment since coming to London, the small rectory of Little Steeping in Lincolnshire, from the duke of Ancaster; and the following year he was appointed assistant librarian of the British Museum, on the death of Dr. Giftbrtl. In 1786 he became, by the death of a near relation, possessor of an estate of 100l. a year in Whitechapel; and in HJo his income was farther increased by the valuable living of Warsop, in the diocese of York, and county of Nottingham, to which he was presented by John Gaily Knight, of Langold, esq. son of his old friend Dr. Gaily. These promotions came late, but in time to afford him for a few years the only enjoyments he prized, that of exerting his benevolence among his poor parishioners, and that of adding to his library and collection of coins. In the same year he became a member of the society for propagating Christian knowledge; and of the society for the support of the widows and orphans of the clergy within the bills of mortality and the county of Middlesex. In 171H he was elected a fellow of the society of Antiquaries, and was afterwards made a member of the Linneean society. He died Jan. 25, 1795, in the sixtysixth year of his age, and was interred in St. Giles’s church, where a marble tablet is inscribed to his memory.

Mr. Soutbgate never committed any of his writings to the press, but had made preparations for a work much wanted, and for which he xvas thoroughly qualified a new “History of the Saxons and Danes in this country,”’ illustrating and illustrated by their coins. His general knowledge was very great, and in medallic science perhaps few were to be compared to him. He left a choice and valuable collection of books, coins, medals, shells, and other natural curiosities, which in April and May 1795, were sold by auction, by Messrs. Leigh and Sotheby, the sale continuing twenty-one days. Prefixed to the catalogue was a life of Mr. Southgate, written by Dr. Charles Combe, to | which we must refer for many other interesting particulars and also to a biographical preface by Dr. Gaskin, prefixed to 2 vols. of Mr. Soutbgate’s “Sermons,” published by that tlivine in 1793.1

1 Lives as abore. Nichols’s Bowyer.