Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Jago, Richard

JAGO, RICHARD (1715–1781), poet, was the third son of the Rev. Richard Jago (born at St. Mawes in Cornwall in 1679, and rector of Beaudesert, Warwickshire, from 1709 until his death in 1741), who married in 1711 Margaret, daughter of William Parker of Henley-in-Arden. He was born at Beaudesert on 1 Oct. 1715, and educated at Solihull under the Rev. Mr. Crumpton, whom he afterwards described as a ‘morose pedagogue.’ Shenstone was at the same school, and their friendship lasted unimpaired for life. In his father's parish he also made the acquaintance of Somerville, the author of ‘The Chase.’ As his father's means were small, he matriculated as a servitor at University College, Oxford, on 30 Oct. 1732, when Shenstone was also in residence as a commoner. He graduated B.A. in 1736, and M.A. in 1739, and was ordained in 1737 to the curacy of Snitterfield in Warwickshire. In 1746 he was appointed by Lord Willoughby de Broke to the small livings of Harbury and Chesterton in that county. As he had seven children, his nomination in 1754, through the assistance of Lord Clare, afterwards Earl Nugent, to the vicarage of Snitterfield, proved a welcome addition to his resources. These three benefices he retained until 1771, when he resigned the former two on his preferment, through the gift of his old patron, Lord Willoughby de Broke, to the more valuable rectory of Kimcote in Leicestershire (1 May 1771). Jago continued, however, to reside at Snitterfield, passing much of his time in improving the vicarage house and grounds, and there he died on 8 May 1781. He was buried in a vault which he had constructed for his family under the middle aisle of the church, and an inscription to his memory was placed on a flat stone, which has since been moved to the north aisle. He married in 1744 Dorothea Susanna Fancourt, daughter of John Fancourt, rector of the benefice of Kimcote, which he himself afterwards held. She died in 1751, leaving three sons and four daughters; three of the latter survived their father. On 16 Oct. 1758 he married at Rugeley Margaret, daughter of James Underwood, who survived him, but left no issue.

Jago's pleasing elegy, ‘The Blackbirds,’ originally appeared in Hawkesworth's ‘Adventurer,’ No. 37, 13 March 1753, and was by mistake attributed to Gilbert West. Its author thereupon procured its insertion, with other poems and with his name, in Dodsley's ‘Collection’ (vols. iv. and v.), when the manager of a Bath theatre (who is suggested in Notes and Queries, 5th ser. v. 198–9, to have been John Lee) claimed it as his own, alleging that Jago was a fictitious name from ‘Othello.’ This piece was a great favourite with Shenstone, who reports in his letters (June 1754) that it had been set to music by the organist of Worcester Cathedral. Jago published in 1767 a topographical poem, in four books, ‘Edge Hill, or the Rural Prospect delineated and moralized,’ a subject which did not present sufficient variety for a poem of that length, but it has been praised for the ease of its diction. He also wrote: 1. ‘A Sermon on occasion of a Conversation said to have pass'd between one of the Inhabitants and an Apparition in the Churchyard of Harbury,’ 1755. 2. ‘Sermon at Snitterfield on the Death of the Countess of Coventry,’ 1763. 3. ‘Labour and Genius: a Fable,’ inscribed to Shenstone, 1768; also in Pearch's ‘Collection,’ iii. 208–18. 4. ‘An Essay on Electricity,’ which is alluded to in Shenstone's letters, but apparently was never published. Some time before his death he revised his poems, which were published in 1784 with some additional pieces, the most important of which was ‘Adam; an Oratorio, compiled from “Paradise Lost,”’ and with some account of his life and writings by John Scott Hylton of Lapal House, near Halesowen. His poems have appeared in many collections of English poetry, including those of Chalmers, vol. xvii., Anderson, vol. xi., Park, vol. xxvii., and Davenport, vol. lv. Southey, in his ‘Later Poets’ (iii. 199–202), included Jago's ‘Elegy on the Goldfinches;’ and Mitford, while praising his ‘taste, feeling, and poetical talent,’ suggested a selection from Shenstone, Dyer, Jago, and others. Shenstone addressed a poem to him, inscribed a seat at Leasowes with the words ‘Amicitiæ et meritis Richardi Jago,’ and corresponded with him until death (Works, iii. passim). Many of his letters, essays, and several curiosities which were formerly his property, have passed to the Rev. W. Iago of Bodmin. An indignant letter from Jago to Garrick on the Stratford jubilee is in Garrick's ‘Correspondence,’ i. 367–8.

[Gent. Mag. 1781, p. 242; Colvile's Warwickshire Worthies, pp. 458–62; London Mag. 1822, vi. 419–20; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. iii. 50–1; Shenstone's Works (1791 edit.), ii. 318, iii. passim; Mrs. Houstoun's Mitford and Jesse, pp. 227–31; Old Cross (Coventry, 1879), pp. 369–74; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub. iii. 1243; Boase's Collect. Cornub. p. 411; Maclean's Trigg Minor, iii. 424.]

W. P. C.