Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Yalden, Thomas

YALDEN, THOMAS (1670–1736), poet, was son of John Yalden, ‘a page of the presence and groom of the chamber to Prince Charles, afterwards a sufferer for his cause, and an exciseman in Oxford after the restoration of King Charles II’ (Wood, Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iv. 601). He was born in the parish of St. John Baptist, Oxford, on 2 Jan. 1669–70, and educated at Magdalen College school while he was a chorister of that house. He matriculated on 20 May 1685, and in 1690 he was admitted a demy of Magdalen College. He graduated B.A. in 1691, M.A. in 1694, B.D. in 1706, and D.D. in 1708. Among his contemporaries and friends in the college were Addison and Sacheverell, he having recommended himself to their notice by his ‘Ode for St. Cecilia's Day’ in 1693, set to music by Daniel Purcell [q. v.], and also by his poem ‘On the Conquest of Namur,’ a Pindaric ode inscribed to William III in 1695. He was elected a probationer-fellow of Magdalen College in 1698, fellow in 1699, and on 25 Sept. 1700 he was presented by the society to the vicarage of Willoughby, Warwickshire, which he held till 1709.

When Queen Anne succeeded to the throne Yalden commemorated the event in a poem, and from this time he openly adhered to the high-church party. In August 1705 he was chosen lecturer on moral philosophy. On 28 April 1706 he was made chaplain to the Duke of Beaufort, and in this capacity he obtained the friendship, ‘and enjoyed the conversation, of a very numerous body of acquaintance.’ He became bursar of his college in 1707, and dean of divinity in 1709. The Duke of Beaufort presented him to the rectory of Sopworth, Wiltshire, in 1710, but he resigned it in the following year. He was appointed in 1712 prebendary of the Deans, Lower Hayne, and Penell in the collegiate church of Chulmleigh, Devonshire. He also held the rectory of Chalton-cum-Clanfield, Hampshire. In 1713 he resigned his fellowship and lecture, and, as a token of his gratitude, gave the college a picture of its founder. He was elected to the chaplaincy of Bridewell Hospital on 26 June 1713, upon the resignation of Dr. Atterbury. He led a quiet life till the clamour was raised about Atterbury's plot in 1723. Yalden having some acquaintance with the bishop, and being familiarly conversant with Kelly, his secretary, fell under suspicion and was taken into custody; but as no evidence of any weight was adduced against him he was set at liberty (Howell, State Trials, xvi. 486). He died on 16 July 1736, and was interred on 2 Aug. in the chapel or burial-ground of Bridewell Hospital.

‘Of his poems,’ says Dr. Johnson, ‘many are of that irregular kind which, when he formed his poetical character, was supposed to be Pindarick. Having fixed his attention on Cowley as a model, he has attempted in some sort to rival him, and has written a “Hymn to Darkness,” evidently as a counterpart to Cowley's “Hymn to Light.” This hymn seems to be his best performance, and is for the most part imagined with great vigour and expressed with great propriety. … Of his other poems it is sufficient to say that they deserve perusal, though they are not always exactly polished, and though his faults seem rather the omissions of idleness than the negligences of enthusiasm.’

Most of his poems are collected together in vol. vii. of the ‘Works of the British Poets’ by Robert Anderson (1750–1830) [q. v.], London, 1795, 8vo. Many of them originally appeared in parts iii. and iv. of ‘Miscellany Poems’ published by John Dryden, London, 1693–4. Anderson had not seen ‘The Temple of Fame: a Poem to the Memory of the most illustrious Prince William, Duke of Gloucester,’ London, 1700, fol. Some minor pieces by Yalden are enumerated in the ‘Biographia Britannica.’ To him is attributed the celebrated statement of Partridge's grievances, entitled ‘Squire Bickerstaff detected’ (see Partridge, John, (1644–1715).

[Biogr. Brit. vi. 4379; Bloxam's Magd. Coll. Register, i. 108, vi. 112; Cibber's Lives of the Poets, iv. 342; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Gent. Mag. 1736, p. 424; Hearne's Collections; Jacob's Poetical Register, ii. 238, with Haslewood's manuscript notes; Johnson's Lives of the Poets, ed. Cunningham, ii. 311; Nichols's Select Poems, ii. 218; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. vi. 291, 4th ser. iv. 195, 421; Swift's Works, ed. Scott, i. 108.]

T. C.