Mansel, William Lort (DNB00)


MANSEL, WILLIAM LORT (1753–1820), bishop of Bristol, born at Pembroke 2 April 1753, was son of William Wogan Mansel of Pembroke, who married Anne, daughter of Major Roger Lort of the royal Welsh fusiliers. He went to the grammar school at Gloucester, and was admitted as pensioner at Trinity College, Cambridge, on Jan. 1770, graduating B. A. 1774, M.A. 1777, and D.D. 1798. His college appointments were scholar 26 April 1771, junior fellow 1775, full fellow 1777, sublector secundus 1777-8, lector linguae Latinae 1781, lector primarius 1782, lector lingua Græcæ 1783, junior dean 1782-3 and 1785, and catechist 9 April 1787. His Latin letter to his relative, the Rev. Michael Lort [q. v.], soliciting his 'vote for the fellowship,' is printed in Nichols's ' Literary Anecdotes,' ii. 674-5. Mansel was ordained in the English church on 30 June 1783, was recommended by Trinity College to the Bishop of Ely for the sequestration of the living of Bottisham, near Cambridge, where he inserted in the registers a singular entry recording the death of Soame Jenyns (Wrangham, English Libr. p. 296), and was presented by his college, on 6 Nov. 1788, to the vicarage of Chesterton in Cambridgeshire. While tutor at Trinity College he numbered among his pupils the Duke of Gloucester and Spencer Perceval, and was generally known as the chief wit and mimic of academic society. His popularity led to his election as public orator in 1788, and during his tenure of that office to 1798 he often preached before the university, and took part in county politics. Through Perceval's recommendation he was appointed by Pitt, on 26 May 1798, to the mastership of Trinity, in order that his strong discipline might correct some abuses which had crept into its administration; but it appears from the college records that there had been some informality in his admission, as a second grant was obtained from the crown, and he was admitted 'according to due form' on 4 July 1798. He was vice-chancellor of the university for the year 1799-1800. Perceval, the prime minister, selected Mansel for the bishopric of Bristol, to which he was consecrated on 30 Oct. 1808, and in his capacity of chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster the same 'friend' presented him to the rich rectory of Barwick-in-Elmet in Yorkshire. He died at the master's lodge, Trinity College, on 27 June 1820, aged 68, and was buried in the chapel on 3 July. His portrait, painted by T. Kirkby and engraved by W. Say, was published on 1 May 1812 by R. Harraden & Son of Cambridge. A second portrait, etched by Mrs. Dawson Turner from a sketch by G. H. H., a private plate, is dated in 1815 (W. Millar, Biog. Sketches, i. 43). His arms, impaling those of the see, are on the organ screen in Bristol Cathedral (Leversage, Bristol Cathedral, ed. 1888, p. 51).

Mansel was the author of two sermons (1810 and 1813), and Spencer Perceval addressed to him in 1808 a printed letter in support of his bill for providing additional curates. His jests and verses obtained great fame. Many of his epigrams and letters have appeared in 'Notes and Queries,' 2nd ser. ix. 483, x. 41-2, 283-4, xii.221, 3rd ser. xil 485; in Gunning's 'Reminiscences,' i. 55-56, 194-5, 317, ii. 101; and in Bishop Charles Wordsworth's ' Annals of my Early Life,' pp. 69-70. Rogers expressed the wish that some one would collect his epigrams, as they were 'remarkably neat and clever.' A manuscript collection of them is known to have been in the possession of Professor James Cumming [q. v.], rector of North Runcton, Norfolk, at his death in 1861. Some poems to him by T. J. Mathias are in the latter's 'Poesie Liriche,' 1810, and 'Odæ Latinos.' One, supposed to be addressed to him by a parrot which he had neglected, was printed separately.

[Gent Mag. 1820, pt. i. p. 637; Le Neve's Fasti, i. 221, iii. 611, 616, 670; Walpole's Perceval, i. 58, 285; Dyce's Table Talk of Rogers, p. 60; Annual Biography, vi. 440-1; Cooper's Annals of Cambridge, iv. 426, 461, 469, 462, 490; information from the Rev. Edward Peacock of Frome, and from Aldis Wright, esq., fellow of Trin. Coll. Cambridge.]

W. P. C.