1865 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Delap

Mark Anthony Lower, in The Worthies of Sussex: Biographical Sketches (1865) 328-29.



JOHN DELAP, D.D. — This gentleman, who was of Scottish extraction, was of Magdalen College, Cambridge, B.A. 1746; M.A. 1750; D.D. 1762. He enjoyed some popularity in his time as a writer of tragedies, which are now almost forgotten. They are I. "Hecuba," 1762. II. "The Royal Suppliants," 1781. III. "Gunhilda," 1786. IV. "The Usurper," 1803. V. "Matilda," 1803. VI. "Abdalla," 1803. Of his "Captives," another tragedy, I do not know the date. In 1760 he published a small collection of his Elegies, in which he very feelingly laments his want of health. His thesis for his divinity degree was also published under the title of "Mundi perpetuus administrator Christus: Concio ad Clerum, habita Cantabrigiae in Templo Beatae Mariae, Apr. 12. 1762, pro Gradu Doct. in Sacra Theologia, 1762." He also wrote an "Elegy on the Death of the Duke of Rutland" 1788.

Dr. Delap seems to have been first associated with this county on his presentation to the united vicarages of Iford and Kingston in 1765, which he held until his death in 1812. In 1774 he was presented to the rectory of Woollavington. He lived for many years in South Street, Lewes, in a small residence which a subsequent tenant dignified as "Delap Hall," a name which it still bears. During Dr. Johnson's occasional visits to the Thrales at Brighton, Dr. Delap sometimes met the great philosopher, of whose rude criticisms he is said to have stood in considerable awe. He appears to have been somewhat loquacious, and a story is told that when on one occasion he was lamenting the "tender state of his inside," Johnson cried out, "Dear Doctor, do not be like the spider, man! and spin conversation thus incessantly out of thy own bowels" [author's note: Autobiography of Mrs. Piozzi, 2nd edit., ii. 294].

Dr. Delap is still remembered with respect by the older inhabitants of Lewes and the neighbourhood.