Dickson, William (1745-1804) (DNB00)

DICKSON, WILLIAM (1745–1804), bishop of Down and Connor, son of an English clergyman, James Dickson, who was dean of Down from 1768 till 1787, was born in 1745, and educated at Eton, where he formed a lifelong friendship with Charles James Fox and several of Fox's nearest friends, one of whom, Lord Robert Spencer, became his executor. He entered Hertford College, Oxford, graduating B.A. 1767, M.A. 1770, and D.D. by diploma 1784. He was first chaplain to Lord Northington, who became lord-lieutenant of Ireland 3 June 1783, and was promoted to the bishopric of Down and Connor by patent dated 12 Dec. following. He was indebted to Fox for this rapid promotion, and Bishop Mant says the intelligence was communicated to him in a letter to this effect: ‘I have ceased to be minister, and you are bishop of Down’ (History of the Church of Ireland, ii. 686). He was thus the official superior of his father, who was still dean of Down. He was too modest to push himself forward in public life; but his manners were charming, his domestic life blameless, and he was admired by men of all parties. He married a Miss Symmes, and by her had six children, of whom one son, John, was archdeacon of Down 1796–1814; another, William, prebendary of Rathsarkan or Rasharkin, in the diocese of Connor, 1800–50; and a third, Stephen, prebendary of Carncastle, in the same diocese, 1802–49. Dickson died at the house of his old friend Fox, in Arlington Street, London, 19 Sept. 1804, and was buried in the cemetery of St. James's Chapel, Hampstead Road, where a monument has been erected to his memory.

[Gent. Mag. (1804), lxxiv. 890; Annual Register (1804), xlvi. 501; Cat. of Oxford Graduates (1851), 186; Cotton's Fasti Ecclesiæ Hibernicæ, iii. 212, 228; Bishop Mant's History of the Church of Ireland, ii. 686, 760, 762.]

B. H. B.