Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wilkins, George (1785-1865)

WILKINS, GEORGE (1785–1865), divine, born at Norwich in 1785, was son of William Wilkins (1749–1819), and younger brother of William Wilkins [q. v.] He was educated at Bury St. Edmund's grammar school; thence, in 1803, he passed to Caius College, Cambridge, graduating B.A. in 1807, M.A. in 1810, and D.D. in 1824.

In 1808 Wilkins became curate of Plumstead. Thence he proceeded to Hadleigh under Dr. Hay-Drummond, uncle of the Earl of Kinnoull, and married his daughter Amelia Auriol Hay-Drummond, in September 1811, having first run away with her to Gretna. He became vicar of Lexington on 1 Dec. 1813, of Lowdham on 19 Jan. 1815, and on 8 Nov. 1817 of the important parish of St. Mary's, Nottingham, which even then possessed a population of twenty-eight thousand souls. In 1823 he was collated by the archbishop of York to the prebendal stall of Normanton in Southwell collegiate church. Lord Eldon presented him to the rectory of Wing in 1827, mainly on the strength of his book ‘Body and Soul,’ and on 24 April 1832 Wilkins became archdeacon of Nottingham in succession to William Barrow [q. v.] In 1839 Wilkins resigned all his preferments involving cure of souls, and gave himself up to an assiduous discharge of his archidiaconal duties. He accepted, however, in 1843 the rectory of Beelsby, Lincolnshire, and held it till his death, but never resided there.

In Nottinghamshire Wilkins worked hard for more than half a century, building two chapels of ease in Nottingham itself, and commencing a third, while he collected 2,000l. to restore St. Mary's Church and provide sittings for two thousand people.

Tall, active both in body and mind, and of a fine presence, Wilkins was famous for his pulpit oratory. The latter part of his life was spent at Southwell as last canon residentiary. There he devoted himself for many years to the restoration both of the services and the fabric of Southwell church. He died at the Residence, Southwell, 13 Aug. 1865, and was buried south-east of the church. Of his sons, Henry St. Clair [q. v.] is noticed separately; another son, J. Murray Wilkins, was the last rector of Southwell collegiate church before it became a cathedral. Wilkins wrote, besides various sermons, charges, letters, and addresses: 1. ‘Lines addressed to Mrs. Hay Drummond,’ Hadleigh, 1811, 4to. 2. ‘History of the Destruction of Jerusalem as connected with the Scripture Prophecies,’ Nottingham, 1816, 8vo. 3. ‘Body and Soul,’ 1822, 8vo (this provoked some controversy, especially with Rev. J. H. Browne, archdeacon of Ely). 4. ‘A Brief Harmonised Exposition of the Gospel,’ 1823, 8vo. 5. ‘The Village Pastor,’ 1825, 12mo. 6. ‘Three Score Years and Ten,’ 1856, 8vo.

[Le Neve's Fasti Eccl. Angl. ed. Hardy; Foster's Index Ecclesiasticus; Graduati Cantabr. 1800–84; Nottingham Journal, 14 and 18 Aug. 1865; Guardian, 16 Aug. 1865; Church Mag. December 1840; personal knowledge.]

M. G. W.