Stukeley, William

, an antiquary of much celebrity, descended from an antient family*


His father, John, was of the family of the Stukeleys, lords of Great Stukeley, near Huntingdon. His mother, Frances, daughter, of Robert Bullen, of Weston, Lincolnshire, descended from the same ancestors with Anne Bullen.

in Lincolnshire, was born at Holbech in that county, November 7, 1687. After having had the first part of his education at the free-school of that place, under the care of Mr. Edward Kelsal, he was admitted into Bene’t-college in Cambridge, Nov. 7, 1703, under the tuition of Mr. Thomas Favvcett, and chosen a scholar there in April following. While an under-graduate, he often indulged a strong propensity for drawing and designing; and began to form a collection of antiquarian books. He made physic, however, his principal study, and with that view took frequent perambulations through the neighbouring country, with the famous Dr. Hales, Dr. John Gray of Canterbury, and others, in search of plants; and made great additions to Ray’s “Catalogus Plantarum circa Cantabrigiam;” which, with a map of the county, he was solicited to print; but his father’s death, and various domestic avocations, prevented it. He studied anatomy under Mr. Rolfe the surgeon attended the chemical lectures of signor Vigani and taking the degree of M. B. in 1709, made himself acquainted with the practical part of medicine under the great Dr. Mead at St. Thomas’s hospital. He first began to practise at Boston in his native county, where he strongly recommended the chalybeate waters of Stanfield near Folkingham. In 1717 he removed to London, where, on the recommendation of his friend Dr. Mead, he was soon after elected F. R. S. and was one of the first who revived that of the Antiquaries in 1718, to which last he was secretary for many years during his residence in town. He was also one of the earliest members of the Spalding society. | He took the degree of M. D. at Cambridge in 1719, and was admitted a fellow of the College of Physicians in the year following, about which time (1720) he published an account of “Arthur’s Oon” in Scotland, and of “Graham’s dyke,” with plates, 4to. In the year 1722, he was appointed to read the Gulstonian Lecture, in which he gave a description and history of the spleen, and printed it in folio, 1723, together with some anatomical observations on the dissection of an elephant, and many plates coloured in imitation of nature. Conceiving that there were some remains of the Eleusinian mysteries in free-masonry, he gratified his curiosity, and was constituted master of a lodge (1723), to which he presented an account of a Roman amphitheatre at Dorchester, in 4to. After having been one of the censors of the College of Physicians, of the council of the Royal Society, and of the committee to examine into the condition of the astronomical instruments of the Royal Observatory of Greenwich, he left London in 1726, and retired to Grantham in Lincolnshire, where he soon came into great request. The dukes of Ancaster and Rutland, the families of Tyrconnel, Gust, &c. &c. and most of the principal families in the country, were glad to take his advice. During his residence here, he declined an invitation from Algernon earl of Hertford, to settle as a physician at Marlborough, and another to succeed Dr. Hunter at Newark. In 1728 he married Frances daughter of Robert Williamson, esq. of Allington, near Grantham, a lady of good family and fortune. He was greatly afflicted with the gout, which used generally to confine him during the winter months. On this account, for the recovery of his health, it was customary with him to take several journeys in the spring, in which he indulged his innate love of antiquities, by tracing out the footsteps of Caesar’s expedition in this island, his camps, stations, &c. The fruit of his more distant travels was his “Itinerarium Curiosum; or, an Account of the Antiquities and Curiosities in his Travels through Great Britain, Centuria I.” adorned with one hundred copper-plates, and published in folio, London, 1724. This was reprinted after his death, in 1776, with two additional plates; as was also published the second volume, (consisting of his description of the Brill, or Caesar’s camp at Pancras*

This is more a work of imagination, conjecture, and unfounded asser­ tion than any thing that ever came from Dr. Stukeley’s pen, but Mr. Ly-


sons thinks that as he withheld it from the public in his life-time, it is probable he was conrinced that his imagination had carried him too far. He was an old and early acquaintance of bishop Warburton, whose character of him, heightened, perhaps, a little by that piehite.‘s peculiarity of manner, is not far from the literal truth. “There was in. him,” says Warburton, “such a mixture of simplicity, drollery, absurdity, ingenuity, superstition, and antiquarianism, that he has often afforded me that kind of well-seasoned repast which the French call an ambigu, from a compound of things never meant to meet together. I have often heard him laughed at by fools, who had neither his sense, his knowledge, nor his honesty though it must be confessed that in him they were all strangely travestied. Not a week before his death he walked from Bloomsbury to Grosvenor-square, to pay me a visit was cheerful as usual, and as full of literary projects. Bui his business was (as he heard Geekie was not likely to continue long) to desire I would give him the earliest notice of his death, for that he intended to solicit for his prebend of Canterbury, by lord chancellor and lord Cardigan, ‘For,’ added he, ’ one never dies the sooner, you know, for seeking prefermerit.” Warburton’s Letters to Kurd, letter CLXIX.

,“IterBoreale,1725, and his edition of Richard | of Cirencester ,*

Published in 1757, under this title: “An Account of Richard of Cirencester, monk of Westminster, and of his Works: with his antient Map of Roman Britain, and the Itinerary thereof.

with his own notes, and those of Mr. Bertram of Copenhagen, with whom he corresponded, illustrated with 103 copper-plates engraved in the doctor’s lifetime. Overpowered with the fatigue of his profession, and repeated attacks of the gout, he turned his thoughts to the church; and, being encouraged in that pursuit hy archbishop Wake, was ordained at Croydon, July 20, 1720; and in October following was presented by lord-chancellor King to the living of All-Saints in Stamford .

He had the offer of that of Holbech, the place of his nativity, from Dr. Reynolds, bishop of Lincoln and of another from the earl of Winchelsea but he declined them both.

At the time of his entering on his parochial cure (1730), Dr. Rogers of that place had just invented his Oleum Artbriticum; which Dr. Stukeley seeing oihers use with admirable success, he was induced to do the like, and with equal advantage for it not only saved his joints, but, with the addition of a proper regimen, and leaving off the use of fermented liquors, he recovered his health and limbs to a surprising degree, ind ever after enjoyed a firm and active state of body, beyond any example in the like circumstances, to a good old age. This occasioned him to publish an account of the success of the external application of this oil in innumerable instances, in a letter to sir Hans Sloane, 1733; and the year after he published also, “A Treatise on the Cause and Cure of the Gout, from a new Rationale;” which, with an abstract of it, has passed through several editions. He collected some remarkable particulars at Stamford in relation to his predecessor bishop Cumberland; and, in 1736, printed
| an explanation, with an engraving, of a curious silver plate of Roman workmanship in basso relievo, found underground at Risley Park in Derbyshire; wherein he traces its journey thither, from the church of Bourges, to which it had been given by Exsuperius, called St. Swithin, bishop of Toulouse, about the year 205. He published also the same yea.- his “Palæographia Sacra, No. I. or, Discourses on the Monuments of Antiquity that relate to Sacred History,” in 4to, which he dedicated to sir Richard Kllys, bart. “from whom he had received many favours.” In this work (uhich was to have been continued in succeeding numbers) he undertakes to shew, how Heathen Mythology is derived from Sacred History, and that the Bacchus in the Poets is no other than the Jehovah in the Scripture, the conductor of the Israelites through the wilderness. In his country retirement he disposed his collection of Greek and Roman coins according to the order of the Scripture History; and cut out a machine in wood (on the plan of an Orrery), which shews the motion of the heavenly bodies, the course of the tide, &c. In 1737 he lost his wife and in 1738, married Elizabeth, the only daughter of Dr. Gale, dean of York, and sister to his intimate friends Roger and Samuel Gale, esquires; and from this time he often spent his winters in London. In 1740, he published an account of Stonehenge, dedicated to the duke of Ancaster, who had made him one of his chaplains, and given him the living of Somerby near Grantham the year before. In 1741, he preached the Thirtieth of January Sermon before the House of Commons; and in that year became one of the founders of the Egyptian society, composed of gentlemen who had visited Egypt. In 1743 he printed an account of lady Roisia’s sepulchral cell, lately discovered at Royston, in a tract, entitled “Palseographia Britannica, No. I.” to which an answer was published by Mr. Charles Parkin, in 1744. The doctor replied in “Palasographia Britannica, No. II.” 1746, giving an account of the origin of the universities of Cambridge and Stamford, both from Croylandabbey; of the Roman city Granta, on the north-side of the river, of the beginning of Cardike near Waterbeach, &c. To this Mr. Parkin again replied in 1748; but it does not appear that the doctor took any further notice of him. In 1747, the benevolent duke of Montagu (with whom he had become acquainted at the Egyptian society) prevailed on him to vacate his preferments in the country, | by giving him the rectory of St. George, Queen-square, whence he frequently retired to Kentish-town, where the following inscription was placed over his door:

"Me dulcis saturet quies;

Obscuro positus loco

Leni perfruar otio

Chyndonax Druida


Alluding to an urn of glass so inscribed, found in France, which he was firmly persuaded contained the ashes of an arch-druid of that name (whose portrait forms the frontispiece to Stonehenge), though the French an­ tiquaries in general considered it as a forgery; but Mr. Tutet has a ms vindication of it, by some learned French antiquary, 43 pages in small 4to, now in Mr. Bindley’s possession,

"O may this rural solitude receive,

And contemplation all its pleasures give,

The Druid priest!"

He had the misfortune to lose his patron in 1749 on whose death he published some verses, with others on his entertainment at Boughton, and a “Philosophic Hymn on Christmas-day.” Two papers by the doctor, upon the earthquakes in 1750, read at the Royal Society, and a sermon preached at his own parish-church on that alarming occasion, were published in 1750, 8vo, under the title of “The Philosophy of Earthquakes, natural and religious;” of which a second part was printed with a second edition of his sermon on “the Healing of Diseases as a Character of the Messiah, preached before the College of Physicians Sept. 20, 1750.” In 1751 (in “Palaeographia Britannica, No. III.”) he gave an account of Oriuna the wife of Carausius; in Phil. Trans, vol. XLVIII. art. 33, an account of the Eclipse predicted by Thales; and in the Gentleman’s Magazine, 1754, p. 407, is the substance of a paper read at the Royal Society in 1752, to prove that the coral-tree is a sea-vegetable. On Wednesday the 27th of February, 1765, Dr. Stukeley was seized with a stroke of the palsy, which was brought on by attending a full vestry, at which he was accompanied by serjeant Eyre, on a contested election for a lecturer. The room being hot, on their return through Dr. Stukeley’s garden, they both caught their deaths; for the serjeant never was abroad again, and the doctor’s illness came on that night. Soon after this accident his faculties failed him; but he continued quiet and composed until Sunday following, March 3, 1765, when he departed in his seventy eighth year, which he attained by remarkable temperance and regularity. By his own particular | directions, his corpse was conveyed in a private manner to East- Ham in Essex, and was buried in the church-yard, just beyond the east end of the church, the turf being laid smoothly over it, without any monument. This spot he particularly fixed on, in a visit he paid some time before to the vicar of that parish, when walking with him one day in the church-yard. Thus ended a valuable life, daily spent in throwing light on the dark remains of antiquity. His great learning and profound skill in those researches enabled him to publish many elaborate and curious works, and to leave many ready for the press. In his medical capacity, his “Dissertation on the Spleen” was well received. His “Itinerariutn Curiosum,” the first-fruits of his juvenile excursions, presaged what might be expected from his riper age, when he had acquired more experience. The curious in these studies were not disappointed; for, with a sagacity peculiar to his great genius, with unwearied pains and industry, and some years spent in actual surveys, he investigated and published an account of those stupendous works of the remotest antiquity, Stonehenge and Abury, in 1743, and has given the most probable and rational account of their origin and use, ascertaining also their dimensions with the greatest accuracy. So great was his proficiency in Druidical history, that his familiar friends used to call him “the arch-druid of this age.” His works abound with particulars that shew his knowledge of this celebrated British priesthood; and in his Itinerary he announced a “History of the Ancient Celts, particularly the first inhabitants of Great Britain,” for the most part finished, to have consisted of four vplumes, folio, with above 300 copper-plates, many of which were engraved. Great part of this work was incorporated into his Stonehenge and Abury. In his “History of Carausius,1757, 1751), in two vols. 4to, he has shewn much learning and ingenuity in settling the principal events of that emperor’s government in Britain. To his interest and application we are indebted for recovering from obscurity Richard of Cirencester’s Itinerary of Roman Britain, which has been mentioned before. His discourses, or sermons, under the title of “Palaeographia Sacra, 1763, on the vegetable creation,” bespeak him a botanist, philosopher, and divine, replete with antient learning, and excellent observations; but a little too much transported by a lively fancy and invention. He closed the last scenes of his life with completing a long | and laborious work on ancient British coins, in particular of Cunobelin; and felicitated himself on having from them discovered many remarkable, curious, and new anecdotes, relating to the reigns of that and other British kings. The twenty-three plates of this work were published after his decease; but the ms. (left ready for publishing) remained in the hands of his daughter Mrs. Fleming, relict of Richard Fleming, esq. an eminent solicitor, who was the doctor’s executor, and died in 1774. By his fii^t wife Dr. Stukeley had three daughters; of whom one died young; the other two survived him; the one, Mrs. Fleming already mentioned; the other, wife to the Rev. Thomas Fairchild, rector of Pitsey, in Essex. They both died in 1782. By his second wife, Dr. Stukeley had no child. To the great names already mentioned among his friends and patrons, may be added those of Mr. Folkes, Dr. Berkeley, bishop of Cloyne (with whom he corresponded on the subject of Tar* water), Dr. Pocock bishop of Meath, and many others of the first rank of literature at home: and amou. the eminent foreigners with whom he corresponded wete Dr. Heigertahl, Mr. Keysler, and the learned father Montfaucon, who inserted some of his designs (sent him by archbishop Wake) in his “Antiquity explained.A good account of Dr. Stukeley was, with his own permission, printed in 1725, by Mr. Masters, in the second part of his History of Corpus Christi college; and very soon after his death a short but just character of him was given in the Gentleman’s Magazine for 1765, by his friend Peter Collinson. Of both these, Mr. Nichols availed himself; and was favoured with several additional particulars from Dr. Ducarel and Mr. Gough. After his decease, a medal of him was cast and repaired by Gaub; on one side, the head adorned with oak leaves, inscribed Rev. Gvl. Stvkeley, M.D.S. R. & A. s. Exergue, act. 54. Reverse, a view of Stonehenge, Ob. Mar. 4, 1765, Æt. 84; [but this is a mistake, for he was in fact but 78]. There is a portrait of him, after Kneller, in mezzotino, by;J". Smith in 172 i, before he took orders, with his arms, viz. Argent, a spread-eagle double-headed Sable. Mrs. Fleming had another portrait of him in his robes, by Wills; and Mrs. Parsons (relict of Dr. James Parsons) had a fine miniature, which was esteemed a good likeness. 1


Nichols’s Bowyer. Lysons’s Environs, &c.