Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/North, Brownlow (1741-1820)

NORTH, BROWNLOW (1741–1820), bishop of Winchester, was the elder son of Francis North, first earl of Guilford [q. v.], by his second wife, Elizabeth, only daughter of Sir Arthur Kaye, and widow of George, viscount Lewisham. He was born in London on 17 July 1741, and educated at Eton and Oxford, matriculating 11 Jan. 1760 as a fellow-commoner of Trinity, the college founded by his ancestor, Sir Thomas Pope [q. v.] Here he graduated B.A. in 1762; and some verses which he wrote as ‘Poet Laureate’ of the bachelors' common-room are preserved in manuscript. He was elected fellow of All Souls' as founder's-kin in 1763 (Stemmata Chicheleana, i. No. 125); he proceeded M.A. in 1766, and was made D.C.L. in 1770. In 1768 he succeeded Shute Barrington as canon of Christ Church, and in 1770 was made dean of Canterbury. He was presented in 1771 to the vicarages of Lydd and Bexley in Kent, which he subsequently retained in commendam with his first bishopric; attention was called to this by C. J. Fox when attacking Lord North in the House of Commons in 1772 (Walpole, Journal, i. 22).

North's rapid preferment was due to his half-brother, Frederick, lord North [q. v.], who is said to have observed, when it was commented upon, that his brother was no doubt young to be a bishop, but when he was older he would not have a brother prime minister. In 1771 North succeeded John Egerton as Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, being consecrated by Archbishop Cornwallis at Lambeth on 8 Sept. In 1774 he was translated to Worcester on the death of James Johnson, and in 1781 to Winchester on the death of John Thomas. Wraxall says that Lord North secured this see for his brother by urging his claims to the archbishopric of York, on the death of Dr. Drummond in 1777, against those of William Markham, bishop of Chester.

North seems to have been a dignified and generous man and popular in his dioceses. At Worcester in 1778 he founded a society for the relief of distressed widows and orphans of clergymen in connection with the festival of the Three Choirs, and organised other clerical charities (Green, Worcester, i. 217; Smith and Onslow, Dioc. of Worc., p. 337). As Bishop of Winchester he improved Farnham Park, and in 1817 spent over 6,000l. on the castle. In his time (1818) 40,000l. was laid out rather injudiciously on the restoration of the cathedral; and from 1800 to 1820 about twenty new churches were consecrated in his diocese. For the opening of St. James's, Guernsey, in 1818, he composed a sermon on 1 Cor. i. 10, which, as he was unable to deliver it, was published in English and French under the title of ‘Uniformity and Communion.’ With his wife, who was ‘well known in the fashionable world’ (cf. anecdote in Walpole, Letters, vii. 63), he passed many years in Italy; towards the end of his life he became very deaf, and his ‘amiable, generous, and yielding temper’ was frequently ‘mistaken for weakness’ (Gent. Mag. 1820, ii. 183). He died at Winchester House, Chelsea, after a long illness, on 12 July 1820, and was buried in Winchester Cathedral, where a monument by Chantry, with a kneeling effigy in high relief, was erected to his memory on the north side of the altar in the lady-chapel.

He married, on 17 Jan. 1771, Henrietta Maria, daughter and coheiress of John Bannister. She died in 1796, and was buried in the cathedral, with a monument by Flaxman. He left three daughters and two sons, of whom the elder, Francis, became sixth Earl of Guilford on the death of his cousin Frederick, fifth earl [q. v.] The sixth earl was master of St. Cross Hospital (on his father's presentation) from 1808 to 1855, and was at one time rector of St. Mary's, Southampton. The younger son, Charles Augustus, was made prebendary of Winchester, and his son Brownlow [q. v.] was appointed by his grandfather, while still an infant, registrar of the diocese. The bishop also granted to members of his family very long leases of the property of the see at nominal fines (Benham, Winchester Diocese, p. 228).

North published nine sermons. He is said to have been generous to literary men (Hasted dedicated to him the fourth volume of the ‘History of Kent’), and he used his influence with his half-brother on behalf of Thomas Warton (Nichols, Lit. Anecd. v. 658). He was F.S.A. and F.L.S.

His portrait was twice painted by Henry Howard, R.A. Both pictures were three-quarter-lengths in the robes of the Garter. Of the earlier, in which he is represented standing, there is a large engraving by J. Bond, and a small adaptation in Nichols's ‘Literary Anecdotes,’ ix. 668–9, which corresponds to a reduced replica of the picture by Howard, now at Wroxton; of the later picture, painted 1819, there are copies at All Souls and Trinity Colleges, and a large engraving by S. W. Reynolds. A third portrait by Nathaniel Dance is at Hampton Court. His wife's portrait by Romney was engraved by J. R. Smith in 1782.

[Le Neve's Fasti, ed. Hardy; Burke's Peerage; Baker's Northamptonshire, p. 526; Gent. Mag. 1820, ii. 183 (mainly copied from Nichols, ix. 668–9); Benham's Dioc. Hist. Winchester; Mitford's Farnham Castle; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Hope Collection of Engraved Portraits in the Bodleian Library; Valentine Green's History of Worcester; Cassan's Bishops of Winchester; Smith and Onslow's Dioc. Hist. Worcester; Abbey's English Church and its Bishops.]

H. E. D. B.