The son of William Hawkins, sergeant-at-law, Hawkins was educated at Pembroke College, Oxford (B.A. 1742, Fellow 1742, M.A. 1744). He succeeded Robert Lowth as Oxford Poetry Professor (1751-1756) in a contest with the Spenserian poet William Thompson. Hawkins was rector of Whitchurch Canonicorum in Dorsetshire (1764) and prebendiary of Wells (1767). He published poems, plays, and sermons; his lectures on poetry are included in his three-volume Miscellanies (1758).
The thimble. An heroi-comical poem. In four cantos. 1743.
Female empire: or, winter celebrated at London. 1746.
Henry and Rosamond. A tragedy. 1749.
A sermon preach'd before the University of Oxford, at St. Mary's. 1752.
The nature, extent, and excellence of Christian charity: a sermon. 1755?
The reasonableness of our belief in the doctrines of Christianity asserted. Two sermons. 1756.
Miscellanies. 3 vols, 1758.
Cymbeline. A tragedy, altered from Shakespeare. 1759.
The pretences of enthusiasts, as grounded in the articles of the church, considered, and confuted: a sermon. 1769.
The principle of the confessional considered and confuted. Being the substance of two sermons. 1773.
Poems on various subjects. 1781.
Discourses on scripture mysteries, preached at St. Mary's, Oxford. 1787.
Regal rights consistent with national liberties. A sermon. 1795.