Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gardiner, Bernard

GARDINER, BERNARD (1668–1726), warden of All Souls' College, Oxford, was younger son of Sir William Gardiner of Roche Court, first baronet and K.C.B., by his wife, Jane Brocas, heiress of Beaurepaire and Roche Court in Hampshire. He was born in 1668, became a demy of Magdalen College (whence he was temporarily ejected during the struggle with James II), and was elected fellow of All Souls in 1689, proceeding B.A. 26 Oct. 1688, B.C.L. 21 June 1693, and D.C.L. 9 June 1698. He was elected warden of All Souls in 1702, on the nomination of Archbishop Tenison; became custos archivorum in 1705-6, and was vice-chancellor from 1712 to 1715. Both as warden and vice-chancellor he was a prominent figure in his time, a conscientious, indomitable, stern, uncompromising man. In the former capacity he was engaged in a continuous struggle with his fellows in order to put an end to the abuses of non-residence, illusory dispensations from taking holy orders, and others of the same sort, the college during the process being subjected to two visitations from Archbishops Tenison and Wake respectively. The result was not, as he wished, to restore the college to the condition contemplated by the founder, but to establish it on the secular and non-resident basis which the lawyers and statesmen who were prominent among the fellows desired, and which, free from the undergraduate element, it has ever since retained. Gardiner's efforts to enlarge, rebuild, and beautify his college in the style of his age, as we now see it, were crowned with a success denied to his constitutional reforms. As vice-chancellor Gardiner was, along with Wake, the chief means of saving his university from the consequences of its pronounced and prevalent Jacobitism. He governed with a strong hand and made many enemies, especially Hearne the antiquary, to whom as a Hanoverian tory, manager of the university press, and keeper of the archives, the vice-chancellor was exceedingly obnoxious. Hearne described Gardiner as 'a person of very little learning and less honesty, standing for all places that he can make any interest to procure' (Hearne, Collections, ed. Doble, i. 85); but they had some amicable intercourse on antiquarian topics (cf. ib. iii. 397, 419, &c.) It was Gardiner's chief distinction that in the pursuit of the line of duty which he had prescribed for himself he put an end to the intolerable abuse of the 'terræ filius' or elected undergraduate, who by ancient custom had been permitted unlimited freedom of scurrilous speech at the annual act. At the critical periods of 1714 and 1715 these performances, which on such occasions always took a violent political direction, would probably have turned the scale against the permanent independence of the university, already temporarily menaced by the presence of the 'troop of horse' familiarly known to posterity by means of the famous epigram. He died on 22 April 1726 (Hist. Reg. 1726, p. 17). While warden of All Souls he married (29 Feb. 1711-12) Grace, daughter of Sir Sebastian Smythe of Tackley Park and Cuddesdon, Oxfordshire, and through their daughter Grace, wife of Dr. Whalley of Clerk Hill, Lancashire, part of the Brocas estates have been transmitted to the Gardiners of Roche-Court.

[Montagu Burrows's Worthies of All Souls, 349 et seq.; Historical Family of Brocas of Beaurepaire and Roche Court, by the same author; Bloxam's Reg. Magdalen College, iii. 45.]

M. B.