Joseph Warton

The following information has been extracted from a number of sources including The Poems of T. Warton and J. Warton, the Dictionary of National Biography, Alumni Oxonienses and the Clergy of the Church of England Database.

Joseph Warton was born in Dunsfold, Surrey and christened on 22 April 1722. He was the son of Thomas Warton, professor of poetry at the University of Oxford from 1718 to 1728 and Vicar of Basingstoke from 1723, and his wife Elizabeth, the daughter of Joseph Richardson, Rector of Dunsfold. Joseph was the elder brother of Thomas, who was born in 1728, and became a celebrated literary historian, critic and poet, serving as Poet Laureate from 1785 until his death in 1790.

Joseph was taught by his father up to the age of 14, when, in 1736, he was admitted to Winchester College. He entered Oriel College, Oxford in 1740 and was awarded the degree of B.A. in 1744. He then took holy orders, serving as Curate in his father's Basingstoke benefice and then in that of Chelsea.

Joseph became renowned as a poet, critic and classical scholar. His most notable early poetic piece was The Enthusiast, which was published in 1744 and is viewed as a precursor of the Romantic era.

Joseph was ordained Priest in 1746, in which year he published Odes on Various Subjects and was instituted as Vicar of Chobham in Surrey. In 1747 he was additionally instituted as Rector of both Winslade and Eastrop, parishes adjoining Basingstoke. He resigned from the benefice of Chobham in 1748. In 1749 he published An Ode to Evening.

In the late 1740s, Joseph began editing and translating the works of Virgil, publishing a first volume in 1753 and a second in 1758.

Joseph resigned from Eastrop in 1755, when he was instituted as Rector of All Saints' Tunworth in Hampshire. In the same year, whilst still Rector of both Winslade and Tunworth, he returned to Winchester School as Second Master.

In 1756 Joseph published the first part of his Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope, which was to establish him as a significant literary critic. His second Pope volume followed some twenty-six years later, in 1782.

Joseph was awarded the degree of M.A. by Diploma, by Oriel College, Oxford in 1759. In 1766 he became Headmaster of Winchester College. He was awarded the degrees of both B.D. and D.D. by New College, Oxford in 1768.

Joseph resigned as Rector of Tunworth in 1779 and as that of Winslade in 1782, in which year he was collated to a Prebendary Stall at St Paul's Cathedral and to the Rectory of Thorley. He held the benefice of Thorley until 1784, when he was instituted Rector of Wickham in Hampshire.

Joseph was additionally collated to a Prebendary Stall at Winchester Cathedral in 1788, and to the Rectory of Easton, Hampshire in 1791. He resigned from Easton the following year, when he was collated to the Rectory of Upham in Hampshire.

On three occasions during his time as Headmaster of Winchester College the boys openly mutinied against Joseph, inflicting ludicrous humiliations. The third such insurrection, in 1793, prompted him to resign his post.

Joseph married Mary Daman of Winslade in 1748. They had three sons, Joseph (born in 1750), Thomas (born in 1754), and John (born in 1756), all of whom took holy orders, and three daughters. Mary died on 5 October 1772. The following year Joseph married Charlotte, the second daughter of William Nicholas. They had one daughter, Harriot Elizabeth.

Joseph died at Wickham on 23 February 1800, aged 78, whilst still Rector of the benefice and of that of Upham. Charlotte died in 1809.

Philip Hargrave
February 2012


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