Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pearson, Hugh Nicholas

Date of birth 1776 in later editions.

PEARSON, HUGH NICHOLAS (1767–1856), dean of Salisbury, only son of Hugh Pearson, was born at Lymington, Hampshire, in 1767, and matriculated from St. John's College, Oxford, on 16 July 1796. He graduated B.A. in 1800, M.A. in 1803, and D.D. as ‘grand compounder’ in 1821. He gained in 1807 the prize of 500l. offered by Claudius Buchanan [q. v.] for the best essay on missions in Asia, and printed his work in the following year at the university press under the title ‘A Dissertation on the Propagation of Christianity in Asia,’ Oxford, 4to. The interest thus aroused in Christian missionary enterprise in Asia prompted him to undertake in 1817 his ‘Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the Rev. Claudius Buchanan’ (2 vols. Oxford, 8vo; another edition, Philadelphia), which he dedicated to William Wilberforce; and in 1834 a biography of greater interest, namely, ‘Memoirs of the Life and Correspondence of the Rev. Christian Frederick Swartz, to which is prefixed a Sketch of the History of Christianity in India.’ This reached a third edition in 1839, and was translated into German by C. P. Blumhardt, Basel, 1846. Pearson was in 1822 appointed vicar of St. Helen's, Abingdon, with Radley and Drayton chapelries, and in 1823 he exchanged to the deanery of Salisbury and was made a domestic chaplain to George IV. He resigned his deanery in 1846, and died at Sonning in Berkshire on 17 Nov. 1856. During the last years of his life he resided mainly with his fourth son, Hugh [see below].

The dean's eldest son, Charles Buchanan Pearson (1807–1881), born in 1807 at Elmdon, Warwickshire, graduated B.A. from Oriel College, Oxford, with a second class in literæ humaniores in 1828. He took orders in 1830, and, in November 1838, exchanged to the rectory of Knebworth, Hertfordshire, where he became intimate with the first Lord Lytton. Besides a paper on ‘Hymns and Hymn-writers,’ contributed to ‘Oxford Essays for 1858,’ and ‘Latin Translations of English Hymns’ (1862), he published ‘Sequences from the Sarum Missal, with English Translations’ (London, 1871), and ‘A Lost Chapter in the History of Bath’ (Bath, 1877). His translations and paraphrases of hymns, based upon the best Latin models, are commended by Dr. Julian for their gracefulness. He died at Bath on 7 Jan. 1881 (Mozley, Reminiscences, i. 168; Times, 10 Jan. 1881; Guardian, 12 Jan. 1881).

The dean's second son, William Henley Pearson (1813–1883), assumed in 1865 the additional name of Jervis [see Jervis, William Henley Pearson-]. Another son, Henry Hugo, who changed his surname to Pierson, is also separately noticed.

The dean's fourth son, Hugh Pearson (1817–1882), canon of Windsor, born on 25 June 1817, graduated M.A. from Balliol College, Oxford, in 1841, and was in the same year appointed vicar of Sonning in Berkshire, a preferment which he held until his death. He was rural dean of Henley-on-Thames from 1864 to 1874, and of Sonning from 1874 to 1876; he was appointed chaplain to the bishop of Manchester in 1870, was created a canon of Windsor in 1876, and, upon Dean Stanley's death in 1881, succeeded him in the post of deputy clerk of the closet to the queen. By nature excessively retiring, and undogmatic to the extreme limits of latitudinarianism, Canon Pearson was a notable figure within the church; while, outside it, his character endeared him to people of every rank in life. He was an excellent preacher, but would not allow his sermons to be printed; and though he had an extraordinary knowledge of literature, he never dreamed for a moment of becoming an author. His friendships among persons of eminence were many and sincere, but the attachment of his life was that to Dean Stanley, with whom his friendship commenced from the days that they were undergraduates together in 1836. He frequently accompanied Stanley abroad, and was with him in Italy just before his marriage and his decision to accept the deanery of Westminster in 1863; he was present at Stanley's deathbed on 18 July 1881. He declined an invitation to succeed Stanley in the deanery at Westminster, on the ground that he wished to remain what he had always been—a private person. He died, unmarried, on 13 April 1882, and at his funeral in Sonning church, on 18 April, Lord-chief-justice Coleridge, Matthew Arnold, Benjamin Jowett, John Walter, and Professor Goldwin Smith were among the principal mourners. A memorial was erected in Sonning church, which had been finely restored through his instrumentality (Times, 15 and 19 April and 25 May 1882; Guardian, 20 April 1882; Prothero, Life of Stanley, i. 218, 280, 301, 309, 422, 500, ii. 45, 133, 137, 145, 332, 467, 571).

[Jones's Fasti Ecclesiæ Sarisberiensis, p. 325; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886; Gent. Mag. 1856, ii. 775; Annual Register, 1856 p. 279 (the name is here given ‘Pearsun’), 1882 p. 129; Darling's Encycl. Bibl.; Times, 24 Nov. 1856; Salisbury and Winchester Journal, 22 Nov. 1856; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

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