1802 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Warton the Elder

Richard Mant, "Memoirs of Thomas Warton" in Warton, Poetical Works, ed. Mant (1802) 1:ix-x.



Thomas Warton was descended from an ancient and honourable family of Beverley in Yorkshire: different from the Duke of Wharton's, but the same with that of Sir Michael Warton, Bart. of Warton-hall, Lancashire. Antony Warton, who appears to have been the first of the family that settled in Hampshire, was a member of Magdalen College in Oxford, and Rector of Breamore in the New Forest. He had three sons; of whom it is remarkable, that two were deaf and dumb. Of these one, who had been placed under the care of Mr. Lely, nephew to Sir Peter Lely, and promised to be a good painter, died young; the other lived to about 60. The third son, Thomas, father of the subject of the present sketch, was born at Godalming, Surrey, in 1687; and became fellow of Magdalen College in Oxford, and afterwards Vicar of Basingstoke, Hants, and Cobham, Surrey. He appears to have been in politics a warm Tory; and is said to be "the reverend poetical Gentleman" spoken of in the 15th and 16th numbers of Amhurst's Terrae Fillus. It is to the credit of his, as it would be to that of any man's character, that he was an intimate friend of Mr. Digby, through whom he was acquainted with Pope; and to the public respect, in which he was held, the University bore testimony by electing him to the office of Poetry-Professor, which he held from 1718 to 1728. He married Elisabeth, daughter of the Rev. Joseph Richardson, Rector of Dunsfold, Surrey; and had by her three children, Joseph, the late head-master of Winchester College; Thomas, the subject of these memoirs; and a daughter, Jane, now living unmarried at Wickham, Hants. He died in 1745; and is buried under the rails of the altar in his church at Basingstoke, where his sons placed an inscription to his memory. It does not appear that he published any thing himself; but in 1748 a volume of his poems, from which he seems to have been a man of some poetical taste, was published by subscription by his eldest son: at the end of the volume are two pleasing elegies on his death, the one by his daughter, and the other by the editor. He is also said to have been the author of a well-known epigram, occasioned by a regiment of horse being sent to Oxford, by George the Second, at the same time that he gave a collection of books to the University of Cambridge.