Page images
PDF
EPUB

Dr. Wallis died at the Savilian professor's house in New college lane, Oxford, Oct. 28, 1703, in his eighty-eighth year, and was interred in St. Mary's, where a monument was erected by his son, John Wallis, esq. a barrister. This son was born December the 26th, 1650, and placed by his father in Trinity college, in Oxford, and afterwards admitted of the Inver Temple, London, where he proceeded barrister-at-law February 1, 1681-2. He married Elizabeth daughter of John and Mary Harris, of Soundels, or Soundess, by Nettlebed, in Oxfordshire, afterwards heiress to her brother Taverner Harris, whose motber descended from Richard Taverner, a learned lawyer in king Henry VIII.'s time, and high sheriff of the county of Oxford. By this match Mr. Wallis became possessed of a good estate called Soundess. His wife died, August the 8th, 1693, leaving three children surviving her, viz. John, Mary, and Elizabeth.

Anne, the doctor's eldest daughter, was born June 4, 1656, and married, December 23, 1675, to John Blencow, of an ancient family at Marston St. Laurence, in Northamptonshire, then barrister-at-law, and afterwards knighted, and promoted to be one of the barons of the exchequer, and afterwards one of the justices of the king's bench. It has been said, that the promotion of this gentleman to these honourable posts was owing to the doctor, who having excused himself on account of his age from accepting the offer of a bishopric, told his friends that he had a son-inlaw a barrister-at-law; and that if they would promote him, be should be as much obliged as if he was promoted bimself. The doctor's daughter had by sir John seven chil. dren, viz. Johu, Mary, Anne, Thomas, William, Eliza-' beth, and Susanna, who were all living in 1696.

Elizabeth, the doctor's youngest daughter, was born September 23, 1658, and married February 21, 1681, to William Benson,.son to George aud Mary Benson, of Towcester, in Northamptonshire, who dying on November 5, 1691, left her a widow without any children.

Mr. Lewis observes, that the doctor “ was happy in the enjoyment of a vigorous constitution of body, and of a mind, which was strong, serene, and calm, and not soon ruffled and discomposed ;” and that, “though whilst he lived he was looked on by the most rigid and zealous partymen in the university with a jealous eye, and suspected as not thoroughly well affected to the Monarchy and Church

of England, he was yet very much honoured and esteemed by others of a better temper and judgment, and of more knowledge and larger thoughts. By these, both at home and abroad, was he reckoned the glory and ornament of his country, and of the university in particular.” In this character bis talents are certainly not over-rated. It is therefore with some surprize that we perceive him slightly 10ticed by a late mathematical biographer, as a distinguished more by industry and judgment than genius.” Surely higher praise is due to the man whose discoveries “constituted the germ from which some of the most important of the Newtonian discoveries originated.”

During his latter years he was much employed as a decypherer for government, but the very great services he performed by means of this uncommon faculty, were very ill rewarded. Indeed, he seldom received more than the pay of a copyist, when he certainly might have secured his own terms, and made his fortune at once. But it is among the best parts of his character that, in all situations, he was unambitious and independent. Courtiers' promises, as he shrewdly observes, are like certain medicines, if they do not operate quickly, it is not likely they will at all. The elector of Brandenburgh sent him a gold chain and medal of great value, which the editor of his sermons, published 1791, disposed of some years ago, as old gold, but not without first offering it for sale to the Oxford and British museums, and to several antiquaries. In 1700 king William granted Dr. Wallis an annuity of 100l. per annum, with survivorship to his grandson, Mr. William Blencoe, on condition of his teaching the latter his art of decypbering.'

WALLIS (John), a worthy English divine, and botanical writer, was born in 1714, in or near the parish of Ireby, in Cumberland. He was of Queen's college, Oxford, where he took his degree of M. A. in 1740, and acquired some reputation as a sound scholar. Though possessed of good natural abilities, and no sinall share of acquired knowledge, he lived and died in an humble station. His disposition was so mild, and his sense of duty so proper, that he passed through life without a murmur at his lot. Early in life he married a lady near Portsmouth, where he at that time resided on a curacy. For fifty-six years they enjoyed the happiness of their matrimonial connexion : an happiness that became almost proverbial in their neighbourhood. After spending a few years in the south of England, he became curate of Simonburn, in Northumberland ; and while here, indulged his taste for the study of botany, and filled his little garden with curious plants. This amusement led bim gradually into deeper researches into natural bistory; and, in 1769, he published a “ History of Northumberland,” 2 vols. 4to, the first of which, containing an account of minerals, fossils, &c. found in that country, is reckoned the most valuable. In other respects, as to antiquities, &c. it is rather imperfect, and unconnected. His fortune, however, did not improve with the reputation which this work brouglit him, and a dispute with his rector occasioned him to leave his situation, when he and his wife were received into the family of a clergyman who had formerly been his friend at college. He was cu. rate for a short time at Haughton, near Darlington, in 1775, and soon afterwards removed to Billingham, near Stockton, where he continued until increasing infirmities obliged him to resign. He then removed to the village of Norton, where he died July 23, 1793, in the seventyninth year of his age. About two years before his death a small estate fell to him by the death of a brother; and to the honour of the present bishop of Durham (but certainly. not to the surprize of any one that knows that munificent prelate), when the circumstances and situation of Mr. Wallis were represented to him, he allowed him an annual pensiop from the time of his resigning his curacy. From a sense of gratitude, Mr. Wallis, just at the close of life, was employed in packing up an ancient statue of Apollo, found at Carvoran, a Roman station on the wall, on the confines of Northumberland, as a present to the learned Daines Barrington, brother to the bishop. In the earlier part of his life Mr. Wallis published a volume of letters to a pupil, on entering into holy orders.!

' Life prefixed to Sermons, 1791.-Gen. Dict.- Biog. Brit.— Thompson's History of the Royal Society.-Preface to Hearne's “ Langtoft's Chronicle."

WALMESLEY (CHARLES), D. D. and F. R. S. was an English Benedictine monk, and a Roman catholic bishop; also senior bishop and vicar apostolic of the western district, as well as doctor of theology of the Sorbonne. He died at Bath in 1797, in the seventy-sixth year of his age; and

1 Hutchinson's Hist. of Cumberland.—Gent. Mag. LXIII.

the forty-first of his episcopacy. He was the last survivor of those eminent mathematicians who were concerned in regulating the chronological style in England, wbich produced a change of the style in this country in 1752. Besides some ingenious astronomical essays in the Philoso. phical Transactions, he printed several separate works, both on mathematics and theology; as, 1.“Apalyse des Mesures des Rapports et des Angles," 1749, 4to, being an extension and explanation of Cotes's 6. Harmonia Mensurarum.” 2.“ Theorie du monument des Aspides," 1749, 8vo. 3. “ De inæqualitatibus motuum Lunarium,” 1758, 4to. 4.“ An Explanation of the Apocalypse, Ezekiel's Vision," &c. By the fire at Bath in the time of the riots, 1780, several valuable manuscripts which he had compiled in the course of his life and travels through many countries, were irretrievably lost.?

WALPOLE (sir Robert), earl of Orford, grandson of sir Edward Walpole, K. B. and third son of Robert Wal. pole, M. P. for Castle-Rising, in Norfolk, was born at Houghton, in Norfolk, Aug. 26, 1676. He received the first rudiments of learning at a private seminary at Massingham, in Norfolk, and completed his education on the foundation at Eton. Walpole was naturally indolent, and disliked application, but the emulation of a public seminary, the alternate menaces and praises of his master, Mr. Newborough, the maxim repeatedly inculcated by his father, that he was a younger brother, and that his future fortune in life depended solely upon his own exertions, overcame the original inertness of his disposition. Before he quitted Eton, he had so considerably improved himself in classical literature, as to bear the character of an excel. Jevt scholar. In April 1696 he was admitted a scholar of King's college, Cambridge. On the death of his elder surviving brother in 1698, becoming heir to the paternal estate, be resigned his scholarship. Singular as it may appear, he had been designed for the church; but on his destination being altered by the death of his brother, he no longer continued to prosecute his studies with a view to a liberal profession. His father, indeed, appears to have been in a great measure the cause of tbis dereliction of bis studies, for be took him from the university to his seat at Houghton, where his mornings being engaged in farming,

. Gent. Mag. vol. LXVII.-Hutior's Dict. new edit. Vol. XXXI.

or in the sports of the field, and his evenings in convivial society, he had no leisure, and soon lost the inclination, for literary pursuits. In July 1700, he married Catherine, daughter of sir John Shorter, lord mayor of London, and his father dying, he inherited the family estate of somewhat more than 2000l. a year.

He was now elected member for Castle-Rising, and sat for that borough in the two short parliaments which were assembled in the last two years of the reign of king William, and soon became an active member for the whig party. In 1702 he was chosen member of parliament for King's-Lynn, and represented that borough in several succeeding parliaments. In 1705 he was noninated one of the council to prince George of Denmark, as lord high admiral of England; in 1708 he was appointed secretary at war; and, in 1709, treasurer of the navy. In 1710 be was one of the managers of the trial of Sacheverel, but when the wbig-ministry was dismissed he was removed from all his posts, and held no place afterwards during queen Anne's reign. In 1711 he was voted by the House of Commons guilty of a high breach of trust and notorious corruption in his office of secretary at war; and it was resolved that he should be committed to the Tower, and expelled the House. Upon a candid review of this affair, there does not appear sufficient proof to justify the severity used towards him; and perhaps his attachment to the Mariborough ministry, and his great influence in the House, owing to his popular eloquence, were the true causes of his censure and imprisonment, as they had been before of bis advancement. All the wbigs, however, on this occasion, considered him as a kind of martyr in their cause. The borough of Lynn re-elected him in 1714, and, though the House declared the election void, yet they persisted in the choice, and he took a decided part against the queen's tory-ministry. In the well-known debate relating to Steele for publishing the “ Crisis,” he greatly distinguished himself in behalf of liberty, and added to the popularity he had before acquired. The schism-bill likewise soon after gave him a fine opportunity of exerting bis eloquence, and of appearing in the character of the champion of civil and religious liberty. On the death of the queeny a revolution of politics took place, and the whig-party prevailed both at court and in the sepate. Walpole had be. fore recommended himself to the house of Hanover, by

acquired. rty, and add greatly disting

« PreviousContinue »