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HOUSMAN, ROBERT (1759–1838), divine, born at Skerton, near Lancaster, on 25 Feb. 1759, was educated at the Lancaster free grammar school. At the age of fourteen he was apprenticed to a local surgeon, but afterwards turned his attention to the church, and in 1780 went to Cambridge as a vicar at St. John's College. He took deacon's orders in October 1781, and served a curacy at Gargrave, Yorkshire. Returning to Cambridge he was ordained priest on 26 Oct. 1783, and became intimate with Charles Simeon and Henry Venn, friendships which deeply influenced his religious views. He graduated B.A. in 1784, and did not proceed beyond that degree. In 1788 he was curate at Langton, Leicestershire, in 1787 curate to the Rev. Thomas Robinson of Leicester, and he subsequently held curacies at Markfield and Foston, both near Leicester, as well as a lectureship at St. Martin's, Leicester. In 1795 he finally settled at Lancaster, where he built a new church (St. Anne's), of which he remained incumbent until his resignation in 1836. At first he met with much opposition on account of his evangelical teachings, though he ultimately became one of the most influential clergymen of the district and was styled 'the evangelist of Lancaster.' Housman died at Woodside near Liverpool, on 22 April 1838, and was burried at Skerton. In 1785 he married a Miss Audley, who died in the following winter. He married, secondly, on 24 Sept. 1788, Jane Adams of Langton, author of a popular tract called 'The History of Susan Ward.' She died on 27 Jan. 1837.

He published: 1. 'A Sermon preached at Lancaster, 1786,' which aroused some local controversy. 2. A volume of sermons preached at St. Martin's, Leicester, 1793. 3. 'The Pastoral Visitor, or a Summary of Christian Doctrine and Practice,' sixteen numbers, 1816-42. 4. 'Sermons preached in St. Anne's Chapel, Lancaster,' 1836.

[Life and Remains of the Rev. R. Housman, by his son, Robert Fletcher Housman, 1841 (with portrait); Funeral Sermon by J. Statter. 1838; Brit. Mas. Cat.]

C. W. S.