Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Addison, Lancelot
ADDISON, LANCELOT, D.D. (1632–1703), dean of Lichfield, the father of Joseph Addison, was born in 1632 at Meaburn Town Head, manor of Mauldismeaburn and parish of Crosby Ravensworth, Westmoreland. He was the son of a Rev. Lancelot Addison, and his ancestors were settled at Meaburn Town Head in 1564, if not earlier (Notes and Queries, 5th series, vii. 31). After receiving his early education at the grammar school of Appleby he was sent to Queen's College, Oxford, between which and the counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland there had long been a close connection. According to the college books he was admitted on 24 Jan. 1650–1 as a ‘batteler.’ Among his college contemporaries (Wood, Fasti, ed. Bliss, ii. 175) was Joseph Williamson, a Cumberland man, who rose to be a principal secretary of state under the Restoration, who befriended him in after life, and from whom, it has been surmised, Joseph Addison received his christian name. He proceeded B.A. 25 Jan. 1654–5, and M.A. 4 July 1657. In 1657 he was one of the Terræ filii, and the speech which he delivered in that capacity was deemed by those in authority so offensive an attack on the puritanism then dominant in and out of the university, that he was forced to retract it in convocation on his knees. In disgust doubtless at this treatment, he withdrew from Oxford to the neighbourhood of Petworth in Sussex, and having meanwhile, apparently, taken orders, he ministered zealously to the royalist and episcopalian squires of the district. At the Restoration he received the appointment of English chaplain at Dunkirk. In 1662 Dunkirk was purchased back by France, and its English governor, Andrew Lord Rutherford, created earl of Teviot, transferred his services to Tangier, just acquired by Charles II. Addison accompanied Lord Teviot as the chaplain of the new dependency. His probably contemporaneous record of his earlier impressions of Tangier was not published until 1681, when Tangier was reoccupying public attention in England. It then appeared as ‘The Moors Baffled, being a discourse concerning Tangier, especially when it was under the Earl of Teviot,’ and gives a lively account of garrison life at Tangier and of the military and administrative achievements of Lord Teviot, who was killed in a skirmish with the Moors when he had been governor little more than a year. A second edition, with the author's name, was issued in 1685 as ‘A Discourse of Tangier under the Government of the Earl of Teviot.’
In 1670 Addison visited England, and married Jane, sister of the Right Rev. William Gulston, S.T.P., who was made bishop of Bristol in 1679. According to Anthony à Wood, Addison was, against his own wish, superseded in his chaplaincy at Tangier; but his services there seem to have been so far recognised that, in the title-page of a work which he published in 1671, he is designated ‘Chaplain to his Majesty in Ordinary.’ This was ‘West Barbary, or a Short Narrative of the Revolutions of the Kingdoms of Fez and Morocco, with an account of their present customs, sacred, civil, and domestic.’ It was ‘printed at the theatre in Oxford,’ and dedicated to Williamson, who was one of the curators of the Sheldonian press. Macaulay calls it ‘an interesting volume.’ In 1671, also, Addison received from a friendly squire the living of Milston, near Amesbury, Wiltshire, worth 120l. a year, to which was added in 1678 a prebendal stall in Salisbury Cathedral. In 1675 he published ‘The Present State of the Jews (more particularly relating to those of Barbary), wherein is contained an exact account of their customs, secular and religious. To which is annexed a summary discourse of the Misna, Talmud, and Gemara.’ This work, dedicated to ‘Sir’ Joseph Williamson, contains much curious information, and justice is done in it to the private virtues of the Jews of Barbary. A second edition appeared in 1676; a third in 1682. In 1675 Addison took at Oxford his B.D. and D.D. degrees. In 1678 ‘The First State of Muhametism, or an Account of the Author and Doctrine of that Imposture,’ appeared anonymously; but Addison's authorship of it was avowed in the second edition, published in 1679 as the ‘Life and Death of Muhamed.’ In 1683 he was appointed dean of Lichfield, and in 1684 collated to the archdeaconry of Coventry, which he held with his deanery in commendam. As a member of the lower house of convocation, which met at Westminster on 4 Dec. 1689, Dean Addison was one of the opponents of the policy of comprehension favoured by the upper house, and on account of this and other displays of his high-church zeal, he lost, it has been said, his chance of becoming one of King William's bishops. He died on 20 April, 1703, and was buried in the churchyard of Lichfield Cathedral, inside which, in 1719, a mural monument was erected to his memory. The inscription on it (written, it has been surmised, by Tickell) records that his son, Joseph, just before his own death, was superintending its erection.
Besides the works mentioned, Dean Addison wrote several theological and devotional, of which the titles are given in the ‘Biographia Britannica.’ Of more general interest is his ‘Modest Plea for the Clergy,’ a spirited defence of his order. The first edition of it appeared anonymously in 1677; but though its authorship was afterwards formally avowed, Dr. Hickes, when reprinting it with other treatises in 1709, declared that after making due inquiry he had been unable to discover its author's name, or even whether he was a clergyman.
Dean Addison left besides Joseph, his eldest son, three children by his first wife—she died, it is supposed, about 1686 (Notes and Queries, 5th series, vi. 350)—‘each of whom,’ Steele says (second preface to the Drummer, Epistolary Correspondence, 1809, pp. 611–2), ‘for excellent talents and singular perfection was as much above the ordinary world as their brother Joseph was above them.’ Gulston (1673–1709), the dean's second son, after having been long in the service of the East India Company at Fort St. George, was appointed its governor in succession to Thomas Pitt (Chatham's grandfather), and died a few weeks after this promotion. Lancelot (1680–1711), the third son, was first of Queen's College, Oxford, and then a demy of Magdalen, of which he became a fellow in 1706. At the university he won a reputation for his classical learning. About the time of his brother Gulston's death he visited Fort St. George, and died there in 1711 (Egerton MS. 1972, fol. 50). Their sister Dorothy (1674–1750) married the Rev. James Sartre, originally a French pastor at Montpelier, afterwards a prebendary of Westminster. Swift (Journal to Stella, 25 Oct. 1710), after dining with her in the company of Addison and Steele, says of her: ‘Addison's sister is a sort of a wit, very like him. I am not fond of her.’ After her first husband's death in 1713 she married a Mr. Combe, and survived till 1750. Dean Addison's second wife, originally Dorothy Danvers, of a Leicestershire family, was a widow when he married her. She died, without issue, in 1719.[Dean Addison's Works; Memoir in Biographia Britannica (Kippis's), i. 43–44; Wood's Athenæ Oxonienses, ed. Bliss, iv. 517–19; information communicated by the Provost of Queen's College, Oxford.]