Hanbury, William (DNB00)
HANBURY, WILLIAM (1725–1778), rector of Church Langton, Leicestershire, born at Bedworth, Warwickshire, in 1725, was the son of William Hanbury of that place who afterwards removed to Foleshill. He matriculated on 17 Jan. 1744-5, at the age of nineteen, at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, and took the degree of B.A. as a member of St. Edmund Hall in 1748. The degree of A.M. was conferred on him by the university of St. Andrews 11 Nov. 1769. In 1753 he was instituted on his own petition to the rectory of Church Langton, of which his father appears to have bought the advowson. Having a natural genius for planting and gardening, he had two years previously begun to make extensive plantations and gardens in this parish, and in two other parishes adjoining, those of Gumley and Tur Langton, procuring for this purpose seeds and plants from all quarters, and especially from North America. He was so successful in his work that his plantations were reckoned in 1758 to be worth at least 10,000l., and he then put forth the projects which made him famous in an 'Essay on Planting, and a Scheme for making it conducive to the Glory of God and the advantage of Society,' which he published at Oxford in that year. He proposed to vest his gardens in a body of trustees, who were annually to dispose of the produce, and devote the proceeds to the creation of a fund. When this fund should reach 1,500l. the interest was to be applied to the decoration of the church at Langton, the providing an organ, and the support of an organist and schoolmaster; when it should reach 4,000l. a village hospital was to be founded, and advowsons were to be bought to enable the trustees to reward deserving clergymen by preferment. To augment this fund he began in 1759 a series of annual choral festivals for the performance of Handel's oratorios at Langton, Leicester, and Nottingham, commencing with the 'Messiah.' These festivals were, however, discontinued after 1763, in which year unfortunate disputes occurred with the conductor, William Hayes (1708-1777) [q. v.], the professor of music at Oxford, who, in vindication of himself, published in 1768 'An Account of the Five Music Meetings,' &c. Hanbury proposed that the fund should be allowed to accumulate from the annual proceeds of his plantations until the income .should reach 10,000l. or 12,000l. a year, and then he prescribed the foundation of a great minster, of the grandest dimensions and most costly materials, with a very large choral establishment, a public library (for which he gave in his lifetime nearly one thousand volumes, but these were afterwards dispersed), a college with various professorships, including one of English antiquities (a proposal which Gough mentions with high commendation in his 'British Topography'), a picture gallery, organs, a hospital for poor women, schools, a printing-office, an annual dole of beef, &c. His later schemes (which were always growing in grandeur as he contemplated the unceasing increase of his fund) included the foundation of a great choral college in Oxford, in which there were to be one hundred choral scholars for the due celebration of divine worship. In 1770, the year before his death, the annual income amounted to 190l. 17s., which was regularly invested till, in 1863, it had risen to about 900l. The trustees then applied to the court of chancery. Under a scheme established by an order of the court, dated 26 Jan. 1864, a sum of 5,000l. was raised to be laid out upon the churches of Church Langton, Tur Langton, and Thorpe Langton; sums not exceeding 180l. per annum were applied for the master and mistress of the parish schools and 50l. for the organist, 25l. for the dole of beef, and 30Z. for medical relief, with some other provisions. The founder died at the ago of fifty-two, March 1778,andwas buried at Langton. A portrait of him, painted by E. Penny, is in the rectory house.
Besides the work on planting mentioned above, Hanbury wrote: 1. 'The Gardener's New Calendar,' 1758. 2. 'A Plan for a Public Library at Church Langton,' 1760. 3. 'History of the Rise and Progress of the Charitable Foundations at Church Langton, together with the several Deeds of Trust,' 1767. 4. 'A Complete Body of Planting and Gardening,' published in 1770-1 in two large folio volumes. He left in manuscript (5) 'A Rule of Devotion for the Religious [Women] at Church Langton,' with forms of prayer, which is preserved in the rectory house, and which is said to show considerable acquaintance with ancient liturgies and ritual forms. It prescribes that 'the habit of the religious shall be that of a Benedictine nun, which they shall constantly wear whenever they go out of their apartments.' The manuscript minutes of the trustees kept during his lifetime are also in existence, and large extracts from these have been printed. He was a friend of the satirist, Charles Churchill, in conjunction with whom and Robert Lloyd he projected a translation of Virgil, the accomplishment of which was prevented by the death of his proposed colleagues.
Watt (Bibl. Brit.) assigns to Hanbury a paper by a writer of the same names, 'On Coal Balls made at Liege from Coal Dust,' which is printed in No. 460 of the 'Philosophical Transactions' in 1741, pp. 672-4 and in vol. viii. of the Abridgment; but the author of this was a layman, of Kelmarsh, Northamptonshire, who was F.R.S. from 1725 and also F.S.A., and who died in 1768.
[Nichols's Hist, of Leicestershire, ii. 685-692; J. H. Hill's Hist, of the Parish of Langton, fol. 1867, pp. 191-267, with an engraving from Penny's portrait; Hanbury's own Essay on Planting and Account of his Charities; information from the Rev. T. Hanbury, the present rector of Church Langton.]