Close, Francis (DNB00)

CLOSE, FRANCIS, D.D. (1797–1882), evangelical divine, was the youngest son of the Rev. Henry Jackson Close, rector of Hitcham, Suffolk, a distinguished agriculturist, who wrote several tracts on pastoral pursuits, and died at Bristol in April 1806. Francis was born near Frome, Somersetshire, at the residence of the Rev. Mr. Randolph, where his parents were then staying, on 11 July 1797. He was first educated at a school in Medhurst, then at the Merchant Taylors' School (1808), and was afterwards a pupil of the Rev. John Scott of Hull. Entering St. John's College, Cambridge, in October 1816, he became a scholar in the following year, and proceeded B.A. in 1820 and M.A. in 1825. He was ordained deacon to the curacy of Church Lawford, Warwickshire, in 1820, and priest in 1821. In 1822 he was curate of Willesden and Kingsbury, near London. In 1824 he accepted the curacy of the fashionable town of Cheltenham. During 1826 his incumbent (the Rev. C. Jervis) died, and he was at once presented to the living. He liberally aided not only societies belonging to the church of England, but also many other societies not in union with the established church. Besides his numerous duties as a preacher, he was diligent as an author. He published pamphlets on controversial subjects, tracts on church architecture, on popular education, on Romanism, and other topics of the day. During his incumbency of Cheltenham the population more than doubled. In the town he erected, or caused to be erected, five district churches, with schools, and also contributed largely to the establishment of Cheltenham College. On the recommendation of Lord Palmerston he was nominated dean of Carlisle, 24 Nov. 1856, and in the same year had the degree of D.D. conferred on him by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He held the perpetual curacy of St. Mary, Carlisle, from 1865 to 1868. He tried by every means in his power to improve the condition of the poor in Carlisle. Failing health obliged him to resign the deanery in August 1881, and in the following year, having gone to Penzance to winter, he died there at Morrab House on 18 Dec. 1882, and was buried in Carlisle cemetery on 23 Dec. A. memorial, the proceeds of a public subscription, consisting of a recumbent figure in white marble, by Armstead, was erected in the cathedral in October 1885. He married, first, in 1820, Anne Diana, the third daughter of the Rev. John Arden of Longcroft Hall, Stafford; and secondly, on 2 Dec. 1880, Mary Antrim, widow of David Hodgson of Scotland.

Close was a most popular preacher of the evangelical type, but his theological views were narrow. His style of oratory was too ambitious in straining after great effects, but his voice was full and harmonious. He was a powerful opponent of horse-racing and theatrical amusements, and in his later years maintained a strong opposition to the use of alcohol and tobacco.

He was the author of upwards of seventy publications, but few of these are of any permanent value. The following are the titles of some of his chief works: 1. 'A course of nine Sermons on the Liturgy,' 1825; 7th edition, 1844. 2. 'The Book of Genesis, a series of historical discourses,' 1826; 3rd edition, 1853. 3. 'The Evil Consequences of attending the Racecourse,' 1827; 3rd edition, 1827. 4. 'Miscellaneous Sermons preached in the parish church of Cheltenham,' 1829–34, 2 vols. 5. 'Sermons for the Times,' 1837. 6. 'Nine Sermons illustrative of some of the Typical Persons of the Old Testament,' 1838. 7. 'The Female Chartist's Visit to the Parish Church,' 1839. 8. 'Pauperism traced to its True Sources by the aid of Holy Scripture and Experience,' 1839. 9. 'Divine and Human Knowledge,' 1841. 10. 'Twelve Discourses on some of the Parables,' 1841. 11. 'Occasional Sermons,' 1844. 12. 'Church Architecture scripturally considered,' 1844; 2nd edition, 1853. 13. 'The Restoration of Churches is the Restoration of Popery,' 1844; another edition, 1881. 14. 'The Catholic Doctrine of the Second Advent,' 1846. 15. 'Passion-week Lectures,' 1847. 16. 'Popery Destructive of Civil and Religious Liberty,' 1853. 17. 'Table-turning not Diabolical,' 1853; 4th edition, 1853. 18. 'High Church Education Delusive and Dangerous, being an Exposition of the System adopted by the Rev. W. Sewell,' 1855. 19. 'A few more Words on Education Bills,' 1856. 20. 'An Indian Retrospect, or what has Christian England done for Heathen India?' 1858. 21. 'Tobacco; its Influence, Physical, Moral, and Religious,' 1859. 22. 'Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity,' 1860. 23. 'Teetotalism the Christian's Duty,' 1860. 24. 'Why have I taken the Pledge?' 1860; 15th thousand, 1861. 25. 'Eighty Sketches of Sermons,' 1861. 26. 'The Footsteps of Error traced through a Period of Twenty-five Years,' 1863. 27. 'Cathedral Reform,' 1864. 28. 'The Cattle Plague viewed in the Light of Holy Scripture,' 1865. 29. 'Thoughts on the Daily Choral Service in Carlisle Cathedral,' 1865. 30. 'Domestic Ritualism, how it creeps into Houses,' 1866. 31. 'The English Church Union a Ritualistic Society,' 1868. 32. 'Recent Legislation on Contagious Diseases,' 1870. 33. 'Our Family Likeness. Illustration of our Origin and Descent,' 1871. 34. 'Auricular Confession and Priestly Absolution,' 1873. 35. 'Essay on the Composition of a Sermon,' 1873. 36. 'The Stage, Ancient and Modern; its tendencies on Morals and Religion,' 1877.

[Roose's Ecclesiastica (1842), pp. 429–30; Church of England Photographic Portrait Gallery, 1859, Portrait No. xxiii.; Christian Cabinet Illustrated Almanack, 1861, pp. 32–3 (with portrait); Congregationalist (1875), iv. 562–72; Illustrated London News, 13 Jan. 1883, pp. 45–6 (with portrait); Times, 19 Dec. 1882, p. 4, 25 Dec. p. 6.]

G. C. B.