Childrey, Joshua (DNB00)


CHILDREY, JOSHUA (1623–1670), antiquary and astrologer, was the son of Robert Childrey of Rochester, where he was born in 1623. He was educated at Rochester grammar school, entered Magdalen College, Oxford, in the Lent term of 1640, and became one of the clerks. On the breaking out of the civil war he left the university, and did not return until the city had surrendered to the forces of the parliament. He took his degree of B.A. on 22 July 1646, and is said, though his name does not appear in the ‘Register of the Visitors of the University' edited by Professor Montagu Burrows for the Camden Society, to have been expelled from his college in 1648. Until the Restoration he maintained himself by keeping a school at Faversham in his native county. In 1660 he was appointed by Henry Somerset, lord Herbert, as one of his chaplains, and through this peer's favour quickly obtained preferment. Having been created M.A. on 24 Jan. 1660-1. he was installed on 23 Jan. 1663-4 in the archdeaconry of Sarum: on the 21st of the following June he obtained the prebendal stall of Yetminster Prima in the cathedral church of Salisbury, and in the same year was appointed to the rectory of Upwey in Dorsetshire. He died at Upwey on 26 Aug. 1670. and was buried in the chancel of his parish church.

Childrey published during the protectorate two small works. The first of them was ‘Indago Astrologica, or a brief and modest Enquiry into some principal points of Astrology,' 1652, and this was followed in 1653 by ‘ Syzygiasticon instauratum; or an ephemeris of the places and aspects of the planets as they respect the ⊙ as Center of their Orbes. Calculated for 1653,' But the only volume now connected with his name is his 'Britannia Baconica, or the natural rarities of England, Scotland, and Wales, according as they are to be found in every Shire historically related according to the precepts of the Lord Bacon,' which was printed in London in 1660, and issued at Paris in a French translation in 1602 and 1667. Though the descriptions of the curiosities mentioned in its pages are mostly taken from previous writers, there are occasional references to his own observations. He alludes at least twice to what he had seen in his native county of Kent, and mentions his visits to Wiltshire, Gloucester Cathedral, and to Witney. The work was undoubtedly popular, and it is said to have imbued Dr. Plot with a desire of compiling his 'Natural History of Oxfordshire.' Childrey made numerous observations in several volumes on the weather and the tides at Weymouth, which it was his intention to have bequeathed to the Royal Society, but they seem to have been lost. Ten of his letters, written to Oldenburg and others (1669-1670), are in the possession of that body, and a communication from Childrey to Seth Ward, bishop of Salisbury, commenting on the hypothesis of Dr. John Wallis about the flux and reflux of the sea (which was printed in the 'Philosophical Transactions,' No. 16, p. 263), is in its 'Philosophical Transactions,' No. 64, pp. 2061-8, and in the Abridgment, i. 516-20. To these animadversions Wallis published a reply in the same 'Transactions,' No. 64, pp. 2068-74, Abridgment, i. 520-3. Childrey was certainly possessed with much enthusiasm for natural history.

[Wood's Fasti (Bliss), ii. 90, 244; Wood's Athenæ (Bliss), iii. 903-4; Cat. of MS. Letters, in possession of Royal Soc. (1840), pp. 24-7; Hutchins's Dorset (1864 ed.), ii. 848.]

W. P. C.