Meadowcourt, Richard (DNB00)


MEADOWCOURT, RICHARD (1695–1760), divine and writer, son of Richard Meadowcourt, esq., of Worcester, was born in 1695. He matriculated at Merton College, Oxford, on 9 March 1710, graduated B.A. in 1714, and proceeded M.A. in 1718, when he also became fellow. While in residence at Merton he is stated to have had a very elegant garden, the benches of which were adorned by Latin mottoes. Some specimens are given in Chambers's ‘Worcestershire Biography,’ p. 260. In 1727 he was presented to the vicarage of Oakley, Buckinghamshire; was instituted canon of Worcester on 15 Oct. 1734, and rector of St. Martin's parish in 1738, and in the latter year also became vicar of Quinton in Gloucestershire. From 1751 until his death he held the vicarage of Lindridge, Worcestershire.

On 1 May 1722 Meadowcourt preached in Merton College chapel a university sermon on ‘The Sinful Causes and Fatal Effects of the Practice of Calumny and Defamation in Religious Controversy.’ It was published in the same year, ‘at the request of several gentlemen,’ with a dedication to the Earl of Macclesfield, then lord chancellor. It had reference to the attacks of Bishop Sherlock and Dr. Snape on Bishop Hoadly, and was replied to in a pamphlet entitled ‘A Vindication of Dr. Snape and Dr. Sherlock against Mr. Meadowcourt's Attempt to Calumniate and Defame those Gentlemen. … By a Member of the Antient Society of Freemasons, with a Postscript relating to Dr. Sherlock's Complaint against the Sermon,’ 1722, 8vo. Meadowcourt is here described as ‘a sawcy young Preacher, a Fellow of a College, undignified and unpreferred.’ Ten other sermons, preached between 1721 and 1753, most of them in Worcester Cathedral, or at Oxford, were published (cf. Cooke, Preacher's Assistant, iii. 231). There are some lines by Meadowcourt on Hagley, addressed to Lord Lyttelton, in Nash's ‘Worcestershire,’ i. 490.

Meadowcourt, who is said to have been greatly esteemed by scholars, died at Worcester on 8 Sept. 1760. He was the author of ‘A Critique on Paradise Regained’ (1732, 4to) and ‘A Critical Dissertation, with Notes,’ on the same (1748), besides several small tracts containing critical remarks on the English poets. Meadowcourt, although a sympathetic and a learned critic, is deficient in insight. Newton embodied some of the notes to ‘Paradise Regained’ in his edition of Milton, in the preface to which he says that Meadowcourt ‘likewise transmitted to me a sheet of his manuscript remarks, wherein he hath happily explained a most difficult passage in “Lycidas” [viz. lines 160 and 162, ‘Bellerus’ and ‘Bayona's hold’] better than any man had done before him.’ In Coxe's ‘Memoirs of Sir R. Walpole’ (iii. 137) is a curious extract from a letter, dated 16 April 1733, from Meadowcourt to Delafaye, under-secretary of state, giving an account of the rejoicings at Oxford consequent on the rejection of Walpole's excise scheme.

[Foster's Alumni Oxonienses, 1500–1714; Le Neve's Fasti Eccles. Angl. iii. 87; Gent. Mag. 1760, p. 443; Letters by several Eminent Persons Deceased, ii. 246; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Chalmers's Biog. Dict. xxi. 517, where the dates of Meadowcourt's birth and death are given wrongly.]

G. Le G. N.