Bonwicke, Ambrose (1692-1714) (DNB00)


BONWICKE, AMBROSE, the younger (1692–1714), nonjuror, eldest son of Ambrose Bonwicke the elder [q. v.], was born 30 Sept. 1692 (Register of Merchant Taylors’ School), and entered the school, of which his father had been head-master, in 1703 (ib.). He spent more than seven years there, and, having reached the head form, was eligible for election to St. John's College, Oxford. But his refusal at school to read the prayer for the queen and the house of Hanover deprived him of this advantage, and compelled him to seek admission at the sister university. Entering St. John's College, Cambridge, in August 1710, his exemplary conduct and acquirements quickly procured him a scholarship, the enjoyment of which was somewhat marred by the scruples of an over-sensitive conscience. The statutes, to his mind, not only enjoined personal obedience, but implied some control over others. ‘Am I,' he asks his father, ‘by the words “faciam ab aliis observari," which are part of the oath, obliged to tell lads continually their duty as far as I know it., and also to inform against transgressors?’ Happily his mind was set at ease on this point, and he was able to continue in college, devoting hiinselfto study and to religious exercises with an ardour which could not but burn itself out. His health gave way beneath the severity of his self-discipline and the closeness of his application, and on 5 May 1714, alone, with his books of devotion beside him, he died in his college study, His father, at the suggestion of William Bowyer, drew up an account of his son`s life, but desired that its authorship should be concealed. Bowyer, however, who undertook to edit the book, disclosed the secret, and in 1729 published the memoir under the title, ‘A Pattern for Young Students in the University, set forth in the Life of Mr. Ambrose Bonwicke, sometime Scholar of St. John`s College in Cambridge’ It is interesting, not merely as a picture of college life a century and a half ago, but as showing the nature and development of the scrupulous conscience which made both father and son nonjurors.

[The Pattern, &c., by Bowyer, 1729, and ed. by J. E. B. Mayor, 1810; Nichols's Literary Anecd.; Wilson’s Hist. of Merchant Taylors’ School; Robinsons Reg. of same]

C. J. R.