Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Kilvert, Francis

KILVERT, FRANCIS (1793–1863), antiquary, born at Westgate Street, Bath, on Good Friday 1793, was the eldest son of Francis Kilvert, coachmaker, and of Anna his wife. His uncle was Richard Kilvert, domestic chaplain to Bishop Hurd [q. v.] and rector of Hartlebury. His parents died while he was young, and, as the eldest of seven sons, he became guardian and instructor to his brothers. For a time he was educated under Dr. Michael Rowlandson at Hungerford. He afterwards proceeded to the grammar school at Bath, where he became head-boy; his attainments induced the then chief master, Nathaniel Morgan, to engage him as an assistant even before he entered at Oxford. He matriculated at Worcester College, Oxford, on 6 Nov. 1811, and graduated B.A. in 1819 and M.A. in 1824. Kilvert was ordained deacon by Beadon, bishop of Bath and Wells, in 1816 and priest in 1817; his first curacy was that of Claverton, near Bath. He loved his native city; no one knew its history better, and in order to dwell there he declined the post of principal of Queen's College, Birmingham. At Bath he filled in turn several small offices, including those of minister of St. Mary Magdalen's Chapel, chaplain of the General Hospital, and evening lecturer at St. Mary's, Bathwick, but his chief source of income lay in keeping pupils. His success in that direction led him to purchase in 1837 Claverton Lodge, on the southern slope of Bathwick Hill, where he took scholars until his death. Kilvert was one of the earliest members of the Bath Literary Club, and read before its members many papers on the literary associations of the city, some of which have not been printed. He died at Claverton Lodge on 16 Sept. 1863, and was buried in Old Widcombe churchyard, near the grave of his father and two of his brothers. A brass tablet to his memory is on the walls of St. Mary, Bathwick. He married at the close of 1822 Adelaide Sophia de Chièvre, a refugee of French extraction, then living at Clapham, near London. Their issue was three daughters.

Kilvert wrote:

  1. ‘Sermons at Christ Church, Bath, before the National Schools,’ 1827.
  2. ‘Sermons at St. Mary's Church, Bathwick,’ 1837.
  3. ‘Sermon preached at Wrington,’ 1840.
  4. ‘Selections from unpublished Papers of Bishop Warburton,’ 1841; also issued in same year as vol. xiv., supplemental, of Warburton's ‘Works.’
  5. ‘Pinacothecæ Historicæ specimen. Auctore F.K., A.M.,’ 1848; pt. ii., with name in full, 1850.

A series of inscriptions on illustrious men, which have been much praised for happiness of expression and for command of the Latin language. 6. ‘Ralph Allen and Prior Park,’ 1857. 7. ‘Richard Graves of Claverton,’ 1858. 8. ‘Memoirs of Life and Writings of Bishop Hurd,’ 1860. After his death there was published in 1866 a volume of his ‘Remains in Verse and Prose, with a brief Memoir’ by the Rev. W. L. Nichols, assisted by Mr. William Long. It included a paper on Pope's connection with the West of England, and particularly with Bath; but other articles which he read to the Bath Literary Society, notably those on Philip Thicknesse and the Bath-easton vase, were omitted. His last communication to the Bath Theological Book Society, lines on ‘Over the Water to Warleigh,’ were printed by Mr. H. D. Skrine at Bath in October 1863. He was a frequent contributor to ‘Notes and Queries,’ and he wrote many memoirs for the ‘Bath Chronicle.’

Mrs. Kilvert published in 1841 a work on ‘Home Discipline.’ There was only one edition, though it was reissued with fresh title-pages in 1843 and 1847.

[Gent. Mag. 1823 p. 82, 1863 pp. 652–6; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Peach's Bath Houses, 2nd ser. pp. 7–10; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. xi. 188; information from Mr. R. E. Peach of Bath. ]

W. P. C.