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In 1732 he was recommended to the friendship and favour of the Lord High Chancellor Hardwicke, then attorney general; to which noble Peer, and to the present Earl of Hardwicke, he was indebted for all his preferments. The first proof he experienced of his Patron's regard, was the living of Ulting, in the county of Essex, in the gift of the Crown, to which he was presented in 1732. In 1734 he was appointed one of the domestic chaplains to the unfortunate Earl of Kilmarnock, who was beheaded in 1746. Mr. Birch was chosen a member of the Royal Society Feb. 20, 1734-5; and of the Society of Antiquaries, Dec. 11, 1735, of which he afterwards became Director till his death. Before this the Marischal College of Aberdeen had conferred on him, by diploma, the degree of Master of Arts. In 1743, by the interest of Lord Hardwicke, he was presented by the Crown to the sinecure rectory of Landewy Welfrey in the county of Pembroke ; and in 1743-4 was preferred, in the same manner, to the rectory of Sidington St. Peter's, in the county and diocese of Gloucester. We find no traces of his having taken possession of this living; and, indeed, it is probable that he quitted it immediately, for one more suitable to his inclinations, and to his literary engagements, which required his almost constant residence in town; for, on the 24th of February, 1743-4, he was instituted to the united rectories of St. Michael, Wood-street, and St. Mary Staining; and in 1745-6 to the united rectories of St. Margaret Pattens, and St. Gabriel, Fenchurchstreet (by Lord Chancellor Hardwicke, in whose turn the presentation then was). In January, 1752, he was elected one of the Secretaries of the Royal
et quicquid in vità fuerat amonius,
te exemplo in terris præeuntem,
tuo usque sustentatus amore,
latus lubensque sequar."
Society, in the room of Dr. Cromwell Mortimer, deceased. In January, 1753, the Marischal College of Aberdeen created him Doctor of Divinity; and in that year the same degree was conferred on him by Archbishop Herring. He was one of the Trustees of the British Museum *; for which honour he was probably indebted to the present Earl of Hardwicke; as he was for his last preferment, the rectory of Depden of in Essex, into which he was inducted Feb. 26, 1761.
* This trust was an honour much coveted by Dr. Taylor, who said it was the blue ribband of a scholar; and certainly no min could be better qualified to figure in it than he was, from his general knowledge of books, medals, and antiques, and his liberal way of thinking on all subjects; but Diis aliter visum est.
Dr. Taylor's Friend. + “Depden was in the possession of Dr. Cock, and of his own patronage, who' consented to an exchange for a living of Lord Hardwicke's own, near Colchester, which was out of distance of Dr. Birch's city livings. This living was bought by Dr. Cock's father, an honest man, who got a handsome fortune as a carrier at Cambridge. In 1736, before the Mortmain Act took place, St. John's College (of which the present Dr. Cock is a member) was desirous of buying the living at the price he gave, and would have allowed the son the next turn; but this was not accepted, though it would have been a dear bargain to them. Dr. Cock by consenting to the exchange, got a living in a much better country; and, besides, of more value than his own (besides getting rid of the terror he had had from his house being rbbed by a gang of disguised persons of notorious villainy), and also was sure of receiving Depden again, without any favour, whenever Dr. Birch should die, who was the much older person ; accordingly, he has held both ever since that event, and resides on Lord Hardwicke's living; where he has laid out a great deal of money in making the parsonage commodious and handsome."
This note was written by Mr. Ashby in 1780. “ Lord Hardwicke did not present Dr. Birch to Depden, near Newport in Essex, but allowed him to make an exchange with my first cousin, John Cock, D.D. then patron and rector of Depden; who, taking a disgust on being rifled and gagged by a gang of smugglers, who haunted that neighbourhood, sought for an exchange; and this accommodating Dr. Birch for distance with other preferments (in London), Lord Hardwicke was pleased to allow him to quit the valuable rectory of Great Horkesley, near Colchester, to which he had lately preferred him, for that of Depden, nearly of equal value; so that, upon Dr. Birch's unfortunate death, my cousin Dr. Cock came, of course, into his own living again, and is now possessed of both; and,
In the latter part of his life he was chaplain to the Princess Amelia; and in 1765 he resigned his office of Secretary to the Royal Society, and was succeeded by Dr. Maty.
His health declining about this time, he was ordered to ride for the recovery of it; but being a bad horseman, and going out, Jan. 9, 1766, he was unfortunately thrown from his horse *, on the road betwixt London and Hampstead, and died on the spot, in the 61st year of his age, to the great regret of his numerous literary friends; and was buried in St. Margaret Pattens. Dr. Birch had, in his lifetime, been very generous to his relations; and none, that were nearly allied to him, being living at his
to repay Lord Hardwicke, in some degree, for keeping possession of Horkesley, has expended, on the parsonage and offices, I suppose at least 4 or 50001. It would have been kinder in Mr. Ashby to have styled Dr. Cock's father a merchant, which was his real profession, though he kept several waggons to convey the Suffolk and Cambridgeshire butter to Messrs. Mawdsley (my brother-in-law) and Daking, the greatest cheesemongers, I suppose, in the world. See Maitland's History of London for an account of their Trade." Rev. W. Cole, MS.
Dr. Birch (from its being out of distance probably) appears never to have taken possession of Great Horkesley. Dr. Browne held it from 1756 to 1761, when Dr. Cock took it, and resigned Depden to Dr. Birch. “ The opening of Dr. —-'s letter," says Mr. Morant, in an unpublished letter to Dr. Birch, dated July 23, 1760, “ gave me infinite pleasure, thinking that I was going to have you for a near neighbour. In reading further, I was soon disappointed. However, I rejoice at your happiness, wherever the object of it may happen to be." In a letter written the same day to another friend, Mr. Morant says, “ Great Horkesley I perfectly know. It is a fine parishi, well situated, four miles North of Colchester; a gootl parsonage-house, near the church, 40 acres of glebe, &c. We reckon it a good 2701. a year; which may produce 2001. clear, as the premises are in good repair. But, by way of exchange, the Doctor can hardly expect to meet one equal to it in all respects ; little more than 200 or 2401. per annum perhaps, as people are naturally fond of being rather near London.-The tithe and glebe of Fordham rectory, exclusive of the house, were let for 1971. in 1750."
Among Dr. Birch's MSS. (No. 4970) is “'Some Account of the Tithes belonging to the parish of Depden in Essex, and receipts for repairs done by Dr. Birch the rector,” &c. * The horse was frightened at a gun shot off by a boy at birds,
decease, he bequeathed his library of books and manuscripts, with his picture painted in 1735, and all his other pictures and prints not otherwise disposed of by his will, to the British Museum. He likewise left the remainder of his fortune, which amounted to not much more than 500l. to be laid out in Government Securities, for the purpose of applying the interest to increase the stipend of the three assistant librarians; thus manifesting at his death, as he had done during his whole life, his respect for literature, and his desire to promote useful knowledge. To the Royal Society he bequeathed his picture painted by Wills in 1737, being the original of the mezzotinto print done by Faber in 1741. His valuable publications are enumerated below *.-The substance of this memoir was taken,
* 1. “The General Dictionary, Historical and Critical;” including a new Translation of Mr. Bayle, and interspersed with several thousand new Lives. Dr. Birch's associates in this undertaking were, the Rev. John Peter Bernard, Mr. John Lockman, and Mr. George Sale. The whole design was completed in ten volumes, folio; the first of which appeared in 1734, the, second and third in 1735, the fourth in 1736, the fifth in 1737, the sixth and seventh in 1738, the eighth and ninth in 1739, and the last in 1741.-2. “ Professor Greaves's Miscellaneous Works, 1737," 2 vols. Svo.-3. “Thurloe's State Papers, 1742," 7 volumes, folio. — 4. Dr. Cudworth’s “ Intellectual System" (improved from the Latin edition of Mosheim); his Discourse on the true Notion of the Lord's Supper, and two Sermons, with an Account of his Life and Writings;" 2 vols. 4to, 1743. – 5. “ The Life of the Hon. Robert Boyle, 1744;" prefixed to an edition of that excellent Philosopher's Works, revised by Dr. Birch. -6. “ The Lives of Illustrious Persons of Great Britain,” annexed to the Engravings of Houbraken and Vertue, 1747_1752. -7. “An Inquiry into the Share which King Charles the First had in the Transactions of the Earl of Glamorgan," 1747," 8vo. A second edition of this treatise was published in 1756, under the title of “An Inquiry into the Share which King Charles the first had in the Transactions of the Earl of Glamorgan, afterwards Marquis of Worcester, for bringing over a Body of Rebels, to assist that King, in the Years 1645 and 1646. In which Mr. Carte's imperfect Account of that Affair, and the Use of his MS Memoirs of the Pope's Nuncio Rinuccini, are impartially considered. The whole drawn up from the best Authorities, printed and manuscript. The second Edition. To which is added an Appendix, containing several Letters of the King to
in my former edition, from the “Biographia Britannica;" and to the candid Writer of that ar
the Earl of Glamorgan, from the Originals in the Harleian Collection of Manuscripts;" and it was a work which excited no small degree of attention.-8. “An Historical View of the Negotiations between the Courts of England, France, and Brussels, from the year 1592 to 1617; extracted chiefly from the MS State Papers of Sir Thomas Edmondes, Knt. Embassador in France and at Brussels, and Treasurer of the Household to the Kings James I. and Charles I.; and of Anthony Bacon, Esq. Brother to the Lord Chancellor Bacon. To which is added, a Relation of the State of France, with the Character of Henry IV. and the principal Persons of that Court, drawn up by Sir George Carew, upon his Return from his Embassy there in 1609, and addressed to King James I. Never before printed. 1749," Svo.-9. “A Sermon on the Proof of the Wisdom and Goodness of God, from the Frame and Constitution of Man, preached before the College of Physicians, in consequence of Lady Sadlier's Will, 1749.”— 10. An Edition of “ Spenser's Fairy Queen, 1751,” 3 vols. 4to. with prints from designs by Kent.-11. « The Miscellaneous Works of Sir Walter Raleigh ;” to which was prefixed the Life of that great, unfortunate, and injured Man, 1751, 2 vols. Svo. -12. “ The theological, moral, dramatic, and poetical Works, of Mrs. Catharine Cockburne; with an Account of the Life of that very ingenious Lady, 1751," 2 vols. 8vo.-13. “ The Life of the Most Reverend Dr. John Tillotson, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury. Compiled chiefly from his Original Papers and Letters, 1752,” 8vo. A second edition, corrected and enlarged, was prefixed to the Archbishop's Works, revised by Dr. Birch, in 1752; and printed separately in 1753.-14. “ Milton's Prose Works, 1753," 2 vols. 4to, with a new Life of that great Poet and Writer.-15.“ Memoirs of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, from the Year 1581, till her Death. In which the secret Intrigues of her Court, and the Conduct of her Favourite, Robert Earl of Essex, both at home and abroad, are particularly illustrated. From the original Papers of his intimate Friend, Anthony Bacon, Esquire, and other Manuscripts never before published, 1754,” 2 vols. 4to.--16. “ The History of the Royal Society of London, for improving of Natural Knowledge, from its first Kise. In which the most considerable of those Papers, communicated to the Society, which have hitherto not been published, are inserted in their proper Order, as a Supplement to the Philosophical Transactions, 1756 and 1757,” 4 vols. 4to.17. He corrected the “ State Papers of Queen Elizabeth," published by Mr. Murden, 1759, 1 vol. folio.–18. “ The Life of Henry Prince of Wales, eldest Son of King James I. Compiled chiefly from his own Papers, and other Manuscripts, never before published, 1760," 8vo.-19.“ Letters, Speeches, Charges, Advices, &c. of Francis Bacon, Lord Viscount St. Alban, Lord Chancellor of England, 1763," 8vo. A small Supplement was