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Memoirs of the Rev. Samuel Parr
Ch. XXVII. 1801-1803

Ch. I. 1747-1752
Ch. II. 1752-1761
Ch. III. 1761-1765
Ch. IV. 1765-1766
Ch. V. 1767-1771
Ch. VI. 1771
Ch. VII. 1771-1776
Ch. VIII. 1771-1776
Ch. IX. 1776-1777
Ch. X. 1779-1786
Ch. XI. 1779-1786
Ch. XII. 1779-1786
Ch. XIII. 1780-1782
Ch. XIV. 1786-1789
Ch. XV. 1786-1790
Ch. XVI. 1776-1790
Ch. XVII. 1787
Ch. XVIII. 1789
Ch. XIX. 1790-1792
Ch. XX. 1791-1792
Ch. XXI. 1791-1796
Ch. XXII. 1794-1795
Ch. XXIII. 1794
Ch. XXIV. 1794-1800
Ch. XXV. 1794-1800
Ch. XXVI. 1800-1803
‣ Ch. XXVII. 1801-1803
Ch. XXVIII. 1800-1807
Vol. II Contents
Ch I. 1800-1807
Ch II. 1807-1810
Ch III. 1809
Ch IV. 1809-1812
Ch V. 1810-1813
Ch VI. 1811-1815
Ch VII. 1812-1815
Ch VIII. 1816-1820
Ch IX. 1816-1820
Ch X. 1816-1820
Ch XI. 1816-1820
Ch XII. 1816-1820
Ch XIII. 1816-1820
Ch XIV. 1819
Ch XV. 1820-1821
Ch XVI. 1816-1820
Ch XVII. 1820-1824
Ch XVIII. 1820-1824
Ch XIX. 1820-1824
Ch XX. 1820-1825
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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
A.D. 1801—1803.
Offer to Dr. Parr of the living of Winterbourne—His letter to Lord Chedworth on that occasion—His recommendation of the Rev. James Eyre to his Lordship’s notice—His evidence on the question of the validity of his Lordship’s will—His request of some memorial of his Lordship’s friendship—Offer of the living of Graffham from Sir Francis Burdett—Letters on that occasion—Offer from Mr. Coke of the living of Buckingham—Large increase of income from Dr. Parr’s prebendal estates.

All the preferment, which Dr. Parr had hitherto obtained, consisted of the rectory of Waddenhoe, worth about 120l. a year, and the prebendary of St. Paul’s, at that time of only nominal value. But in 1801, he received an offer from Lord Chedworth of the living of Winterbourne, in Wiltshire, entirely without any solicitation on his part, and accompanied with the most respectful and obliging expressions, on the part of his Lordship. As that living was of no higher value than Waddenhoe, and not tenable with it, after due consideration, he thought proper to decline the generous offer. In a letter, written on this occasion, he thus gave utterance to the feelings of a grateful heart:—

“My Lord—I tell you the real sentiments of my soul, when I declare to you, that scarcely any event of my life gave me such exquisite delight, or so much honest pride, as I felt from the perusal of your Lordship’s letter. To the last moment of my existence, I shall remember your Lordship’s
kindness; and in that remembrance, I shall find a pure and perpetual source of gratification to my best moral feelings, and of solace under the infirmities of approaching old age.”—Then, after stating the reasons which oblige him to decline the offered gift, he adds—“To your injunction of secresy, I shall pay a temporary, but I am quite incapable of yielding an unqualified and unlimited obedience. My gratitude, my pride, my sense of propriety and justice, will not suffer me to conceal for ever from the world, that
Lord Chedworth has been pleased to consider me not unworthy of his protection; and permit me, my Lord, to own to you yet farther, that in the account, which they, who come after me, may probably be inclined to give of my pursuits as a scholar, of my principles as a religionist, and of my fortune as an ecclesiastic, I shall not only be desirous, but ambitious of having it recorded that you were my patron. Pardon me for reserving this tribute to the disinterested friendship, to the intellectual attainments, to the literary, political, and moral sympathies of a nobleman, whom I have long been accustomed to respect.”

But whilst he thus declined for himself the offered gift, at the same time, he ventured to propose, to the benevolent consideration of his noble friend, the case of a neighbouring clergyman—by whom, indeed, the intended patronage was scarcely less deserved, and by whom it was even more needed. Thus he continues:

“It is with mingled feelings of reluctance and confidence, that I venture to throw myself upon your candour, for excusing the very great and very
unusual liberty, which I am about to take, in submitting to your Lordship’s consideration that which follows. I can have little doubt that your Lordship will, in the circle of your own acquaintance, find a proper object for your patronage; and nothing can be more adverse to that which I ought to do, or more remote from what I wish to do, than to interfere in any measure you mean to take, about the living of Winterbourne. You will, therefore, have the goodness to consider me, not as urging a request, but as stating a case, when I say that in my neighbourhood there is a clergyman, whose personal deserts and personal misfortunes have long interested me, in his worldly interests. He has the care of a small country school, with a tolerable house, and an annual salary of about 80l. He was educated at Oxford. He is more than fifty years old. He has for many years served two curacies, very distant from each other, for a stipend, which, with the surplice-fees, amounts nearly to 60l. a year; and in consequence of sentiments, more congenial to the true spirit of the constitution, than the miserable and merciless prejudices of the day will tolerate, he has no chance of preferment. He is a very good scholar. He is a sensible man: his principles are honest; his application to books is extensive; and his conduct quite irreproachable. He has an excellent wife and six children; and is not unlikely to have more. With an income so scanty as that for which he toils, it is utterly impossible for him to make the smallest provision for so numerous a family at his death; and with an aching heart have I known
that, during the late season of distress, he has found it very difficult to procure food and raiment for the passing day. My Lord, I am doing homage to your wisdom and humanity, in that which I have just written about a beloved friend. But I once more beseech your Lordship to acquit me of all intentions to embarrass you, by solicitation; and once more, I will implore your pardon for troubling you with a statement, which neither the experience I have found of your kindness, nor the trust I can repose in your liberality, would suffer me to suppress.”

The writer is delighted to record that he was himself honoured with a place in the friendly regards of the excellent clergyman, the late Rev. James Eyre, whose case is here so feelingly described; and he is gratified to bear his testimony to the merits which are here, with so much fond affection, depicted. But the strength of understanding, the integrity of principle, the ardour in the pursuits of useful learning, and the activity in the discharge of laborious duties, ascribed in this letter to Mr. Eyre, were accompanied, it may be truly added, with fervour in a high degree of conjugal and parental affection, with a noble candour of sentiment towards those of differing opinions, and with an uncommon warmth of kind and generous feeling towards all men. Nor is it the least part of his due praise to add yet further, that, under straitened and trying circumstances, he always maintained that independence of spirit, and the dignity of deportment, which mark the gentleman, and adorn the clergyman.


It will give pleasure to the reader to be told, that the appeal so delicately and so forcibly urged, in the above letter, proved successful. Early in July, 1801, Mr. Eyre was inducted into the living of Winterbourne; and the kindness of the patron was properly and gratefully acknowledged in a letter, from which the following is an extract:—“Be assured, my Lord, that to the last hour of my life, I shall remember with joy your intended patronage of myself, and your noble protection of the man whom I recommended to your favour. He, his wife, his children, his relations, his well-wishers, and eminently among them the writer of this letter, will often recollect, and often pronounce with heartfelt satisfaction, the honoured name of Lord Chedworth.”

By this generous act of seasonable and well-directed patronage, Mr. Eyre found the path of life considerably smoothed; and yet it was still to him a rugged and difficult path. With a family of ten children, he possessed no adequate means of providing for their suitable maintenance during life, and none of making provision for their support at his death. It is deeply to be deplored that, whilst enormous revenues are assigned to the higher and the dignified clergy, of which the influence must be seriously injurious to their character as ecclesiastics; the laborious, and by far the most useful and important members of the clerical body are, in too many instances, left exposed to all the hardships of abject poverty. A more equal distribution of its ample funds would be a most wise and happy measure for the church,
which the country, too, will, no doubt, imperiously demand, whenever the public attention shall once be fixed on the enormity of the evil just referred to, and on the mischievous consequences flowing from it, not to the clergy only, but to the whole Christian and civil community. So thought
Dr. Parr, through all the later years of his life; and so must think every reasonable and reflecting person, who wishes well to the honour, the interest, and the permanence of the national establishment.

Early in 1813, Mr. Eyre died,1 and was soon followed to the grave by his beloved wife, and, within no long time, by several of his children. Those that survived were, with his usual ardour and activity-of benevolence, received by Dr. Parr into his protection; and were all of them furnished by him, or through his intercession, by his friends, with the means of gaining an honourable support. In his will he has bequeathed to them legacies to a considerable amount.

The late Lord Chedworth, whom from this time Dr. Parr proudly regarded as his patron and his friend, possessed very considerable powers of mind, happily cultivated by early education and subsequent study; and with these were united many of the best qualities of the heart. But his conduct was marked with so many strange peculiarities, as

1 “On Friday last, March 13, 1813, died, in his 65th year, the Rev. James Eyre, master of the free-school at Solihull. This most respectable man was equally distinguished by the solidity of his understanding and the benevolence of his heart. In his death, society has sustained a very great, and his numerous family an irreparable loss. S. P.”—Warw. Advertiser, &c.

might well create a suspicion of some unsoundness of intellect. For many years he lived in a state of entire seclusion from society, in a private house, at Ipswich; where, often labouring under extreme depression of spirits, he was cheered and relieved by the frequent visits of Mr. Wilson and Mr. Penrice—the one his legal adviser, the other his medical attendant. He always warmly acknowledged himself indebted, for much of the ease and comfort of his life, to the exertions of the former of these gentlemen, in the management and improvement of his estates; and to the skill and attention of the latter, in the care of his mental and bodily health. In return for these important services, he thought proper, at his death, to bequeath to them a large proportion of his estates, by a will, which afterwards became the subject of legal discussion, at the suit of the heir-at-law, who endeavoured to set it aside, on the plea of mental incapacity in the testator.

On an issue from the Court of Chancery, the question was tried, and the validity of the will confirmed, by the verdict of a jury, with the full concurrence of Lord Ellenborough, the judge. Subsequently, however, a new trial was moved for, before the Lord Chancellor Erskine, on the ground of an affidavit, sworn to by Dr. Parr, declaring his firm belief “that the late Lord John Chedworth, with great talents, attainments, and virtues, united an understanding, not completely sound; and that an hereditary propensity to insanity was increased by some unfortunate events of his life.” But the affidavit produced no effect; the motion for a new
trial was rejected; and the validity of the will finally established. It seems, upon the whole, sufficiently clear that the noble person whose case thus became the subject of legal inquiry, was, indeed, liable to occasional aberration of mind; but that—whether to such a degree as to incapacitate for making a will?—was a question fairly left to be decided, and was, no doubt, justly decided, by the jury.

In the course of these proceedings Dr. Parr was exposed to many severe reflections, in consequence of some letters, written by himself to Lord Chedworth, and produced and read at the trial, which contained many complimentary expressions on his Lordship’s intellectual powers and literary acquirements, and which were supposed to give a direct contradiction to the statements of the affidavit. In reality, however, there was no inconsistency in the case; since it is well known that the finest minds are subject to the saddest derangements; and that mental obliquity, in one respect, is often found to be compatible with the full and vigorous exercise of the understanding in others.

Among the letters produced on this occasion, was one in which Dr. Parr expresses to Lord Chedworth his desire of possessing some memorial of his friendship; suggesting that a piece of plate, with a suitable inscription, would be such a memorial as would be most of all acceptable to him. For this letter he became, though with little reason, the object of ridicule to some, and of censure to others. It is, indeed, certain that he was delighted to receive such testimonies of the esteem
and affection of his friends, and especially of his pupils; and that he was always proud to display, before the gaze of the visiters at his table, those which he possessed. Among the rest, he was accustomed to point, with peculiar pleasure, to an epergne presented by
Lord Dartmouth, to a cup presented by Mr. Coke, to the very tureen now presented by Lord Chedworth, and to two salvers presented, one by Dr. Alexander, bishop of Downe, the other by Dr. Davy, head of Caius College, Cambridge. Two goblets also, held in high estimation, with Greek inscriptions, which once belonged to the very learned Dr. Taylor,1 were sure to be exhibited, with a sort of reverential respect, especially to the learned and sometimes to the unlearned guest. But if, in all this, there are those who can espy weakness; surely the foible is not such as needs excite much of sneering contempt, or much of angry reproach. The writer is not aware that these memorials of friendship were obtained by any act of degradation; unless, indeed, it must be laid down peremptorily that it is in itself, under all circumstances, a degrading act to prefer a request—even where the request, it is known, will excite no feelings but those of complacency and delight, and where the pleasure of bestowing the gift, it is certain, will at least equal the pleasure of receiving it.

On occasion of Lord Chedworth’s gift, Dr. Parr was charged with another offence—that of

1 These, from their late learned possessor have passed, by his gift, into the possession of another learned divine, Dr. Butler, of Shrewsbury.

writing an inscription laudatory of himself. But from this charge he was completely exonerated, by the statement of
Mr. Eyre, which was given in a letter to the editor of the Gentleman’s Magazine. From that statement, it appears that it was once, indeed, the intention of Dr. Parr to write the inscription, which would then have been a simple expression of esteem and gratitude towards the noble donor;1 that this intention was afterwards relinquished, in consequence of the express desire of Lord Chedworth; and that the inscription, such as it now is, was written by Mr. Eyre himself, in the name, and in compliance with the request, of his Lordship, agreeably to the following directions: “I wish,” said Lord Chedworth, “the inscription to be short and simple; expressive of the reverential regard,2 which I bear to Dr. Parr, of which, it is my wish, the plate should be considered as a sort of monamentum et pignus. The qualities, which I most revere in our illustrious friend, are his great abilities, his profound learning, his genuine zeal for liberty, his devout attachment to revelation, his unassailable integrity, and especially his most active and boundless benevolence.”3

But though Dr. Parr could not avail himself of the kind intentions of Lord Chedworth, by accepting the living of Winterbourne, another proposal soon followed, from Sir Francis Burdett, which led to happier results. This was the generous offer communicated in the subjoined letter:—

1 “Condignum donum quali st qui donum dedit.”—Plaut.

2 “Condignum donum qual st cui dono datu est.”—Plaut.

3 Appendix, No. VI.


“Sir,—I am sorry it is not in my power to place you in a situation which will become you—I mean in the episcopal palace at Buckden; but I can bring you very near to it. For I have the presentation of a rectory, now vacant, within a mile and a half from it, which is very much at Dr. Parr’s service. It is the rectory of Graffham, at present worth 200l. a year; and, as I am informed, may soon be worth 270l. a year; and I this moment learn that the incumbent died last Tuesday.”—“Dr. Parr’s talents and character might well entitle him to a better patronage than this, from those, who know how to estimate his merits. But I acknowledge that a great additional motive with me to the offer I now make him is, that I believe I cannot do any thing more pleasing to his friends, Mr. Fox, Mr. Sheridan, and Mr. Knight; and I desire you, Sir, to consider yourself as obliged to them only. I have the honour to be, with the greatest respect, &c.

Francis Burdett.”

The grateful acceptance of a gift so entirely unsolicited and unexpected, is conveyed in the following letter:—

“Vicarage House, Buckden, Sept. 26, 1802.

“Dear Sir,—After rambling in various parts of Norfolk, I went to Cambridge, and from Cambridge I yesterday came to the parsonage of my most respectable friend, Mr. Maltby, at Buckden, where I this morning had the honour of receiving your letter. Mrs. Parr opened it last Friday at Hatton; and I trust you will pardon the liberty she took in desiring your servant to convey it to me in Huntingdonshire, where she knew that I should be, as upon
this day.”—“Permit me, dear Sir, to request that you would accept the warmest and most sincere thanks of my heart for this unsolicited, but most honourable expression of your good-will towards me. Nothing can be more important to my worldly interest than the service you have done me, in presenting me to the living of Graffham. Nothing can be more exquisitely gratifying to my very best feelings than the language in which you have conveyed to me this mark of your friendship. Indeed, dear Sir, you have enabled me to pass the years of declining life in comfortable and honourable independence. You have given me additional and unalterable conviction, that the firmness with which I have adhered to my principles has obtained for me the approbation of wise and good men. And when that approbation assumes, as it now does, the form of protection, I fairly confess to you, that the patronage of
Sir Francis Burdett has a right to be ranked among the proudest, as well as the happiest events of my life. I trust that my future conduct will justify you in the disinterested and generous gift which you have bestowed upon me; and sure I am that my friends, Mr. Fox, Mr. Sheridan, and Mr. Knight, will not only share with me in my joy, but sympathise with me in those sentiments of respect and gratitude, which I shall ever feel towards Sir Francis Burdett.”—“Most assuredly I shall myself set a higher value upon your kindness, when I consider it as intended to gratify the friendly feelings of those excellent men; as well as to promote my own personal happiness.”—“I shall wait your pleasure about the
presentation; and I beg leave to add, that I shall stay at Buckden for one week only, and shall have reached Hatton about this day fortnight, where I shall obey your commands. One circumstance, I am sure, will give you great satisfaction, and, therefore, I shall beg leave to state it. The living of Graffham will be of infinite value to me, because it is tenable with a rectory I now have in Northamptonshire; and happy I am, that my future residence will be fixed, and my existence closed upon that spot where Sir Francis Burdett has given me the power of spending my old age with comforts and conveniences quite equal to the extent of my fondest wishes, and far surpassing any expectations I have hitherto ventured to indulge.—I have the honour to be, with the greatest respect, &c.

S. Parr.”

In November, 1802, Dr. Parr went to take possession of his new rectory; of which, writing to his friend, Mr. J. Parkes of Warwick, he gives some account in the following letter:

“Dear Sir,—I thank you for the trouble you have, with your usual kindness, taken in adjusting matters with Colonel P—; and I am sure that you were very right in not writing for my approbation or opinion—approbation, dear John, you could not fail to deserve and to obtain; and as to opinion, any I might form would have been of little value, in opposition to your own.”—“Last week I knelt before a bishop for institution; I rang a bell upon induction; I read the Morning and Evening Services, with the salutary appendages of Articles, &c. &c. Having now
passed through the whole circle of ecclesiastical forms, I have acquired plenary possession of things spiritual and things temporal, as rector of Graffham. The parsonage-house will be well repaired, but not enlarged. The farm is about to be leased at an advanced rent. A farm-house must be built, with a barn, for which materials are to be removed from the parsonage, under the protection of a faculty; and a roost for hens and their amorous male protectors, with three styes for pigs, &c. &c.”—“I shall instruct my Waddenhoe flock on Sunday next; and then proceed to Northampton, on my way home, &c. Believe me, dear Sir, your sincere wellwisher and obedient servant,

S. Parr.”
November 29, 1802.

But the possession of this new benefice did not induce Dr. Parr to think of leaving his favourite residence at Hatton; nor did even the offer of a still more valuable preferment, which occurred a few years afterwards. This was the living of Buckingham, which, in the summer of 1808, was tendered to his acceptance, by his kind and faithful friend, Mr. Coke, of Holkham. It is a living of much higher value than either that of Waddenhoe or Graffham; and might have been held in conjunction with one, but not both of them. The writer well recollects Dr. Parr’s making a long morning visit at Leam, for the express purpose of conversing on the subject of this new, and in many respects alluring, offer: when all the reasons which, after much deliberation, determined him to decline it, were carefully examined and weighed. These
reasons were the necessity of residing in Buckingham—the ruinous state of the parsonage-house—the want of ground sufficient for rebuilding it—his growing attachment to the place where he had so long lived, and the many agreeable connexions which he had formed in its neighbourhood.

In a pecuniary point of view, indeed, further preferment was now become less necessary to Dr. Parr, as, about the year 1804, he was entitled to the full profits of the prebendal estate, to which he had been so long looking. Thus exulting in the prospect of a happy independence, during the closing years of his life, he wrote to Lord Chedworth, in a letter, dated from Cambridge, March 18, 1803:—“You will be glad, aye, my Lord, you will be very glad to hear that part of my errand to London, was to make arrangements about a prebendal estate, which, next year, will come into my possession, and which will add considerably to the comfort of my declining life. I am much harassed by business, and sorely afflicted with a cold. I am vexed at not having seen you here, during my stay. It is an awful time; but I have not abandoned all hopes of peace,” &c.

Though, at a subsequent period, the value of this prebendal estate was much increased by the sale of land, at a high price, to the Regent Canal Company, as already mentioned; yet, in consequence of allowing the tenant the large sum of 400l. a year for buildings and improvements, the whole amount was received by Dr. Parr, only during about the five or six last years of his life. By a
singular regulation, in the right of granting leases, his family will continue to enjoy the benefit of this estate, though not without some deductions, owing to the neglect of certain legal forms, for twenty years after his decease.