Napleton, John (DNB00)

NAPLETON, JOHN (1738?–1817), divine and educational reformer, was the son of the Rev. John Napleton of Pembridge, Herefordshire. He matriculated at Brasenose College, Oxford, on 22 March 1755, at the age of sixteen, and graduated B.A. 1758, M.A. 1761, B.D. and D.D. 1789. On 13 Dec. 1760 he was elected to a fellowship at his college, and he remained in residence as a tutor until the close of 1777. During this period he endeavoured to raise the standard of education at Oxford, with the result that he was condemned by many of his contemporaries as a ‘martinet’ (Polwhele, Reminiscences, i. 107). He was inducted as vicar of Tarrington, Herefordshire, on 27 Sept. 1777, and as rector of Wold, Northamptonshire, a college living, on 24 Oct. 1777; he resigned his fellowship on 20 Sept. 1778. When Dr. John Butler [q. v.] was translated to the see of Hereford, he called to his aid the services of Napleton, who became the golden prebendary in Hereford Cathedral on 8 May 1789, and the bishop's chaplain. He now endeavoured to effect an exchange of benefices, but his college ultimately refused its consent, and he was compelled to vacate the living of Wold on 28 Nov. 1789. In the diocese of Hereford he was soon rewarded with ample preferment. He was made chancellor of the diocese (1796), master of the hospital at Ledbury, rector of Stoke Edith, vicar of Lugwardine, in the gift of the dean and chapter (1810), and was nominated by Bishop Luxmoore as prælector of divinity at Hereford Cathedral (1810), retaining most of these appointments until his death. He died at Hereford on 9 Dec. 1817, and was buried in a vault in the centre of the cathedral choir. A small white tablet, formerly over his grave, has been removed to the eighth bay of the bishop's cloister. A more elaborate inscription on a similar tablet is over the door, on the south side of the nave, which leads to the same cloister.

Napleton married on 4 Dec. 1793 Elizabeth, the only daughter of Thomas Daniell of Truro, and the sister of Ralph Allen Daniell, M.P. for West Looe, Cornwall. There was no issue of the marriage. Polwhele praised Napleton's conversation: ‘he had anecdote and told a story well.’ He confessed that he was somewhat over-strict in his examination of candidates for ordination. His portrait, painted by T. Leeming, of Corn Market, Oxford, in 1814, was engraved by Charles Picart. Another, apparently by Opie, which cost 70l., was afterwards sold at Bath for 7l.

Napleton wrote many works. While at Oxford he published: 1. ‘Elementa logicæ, subjicitur appendix de usu logicæ et conspectus organi Aristotelis’ (1770), which was not a reproduction of any previous text-book on logic, but his own composition in style and arrangement. 2. ‘Considerations on the Public Exercises for the First and Second Degrees in the University of Oxford’ (1773). Both of these works were anonymous. The second was reprinted at Gloucester in 1805. After quitting the university he issued: 3. ‘Advice to a Student in the University concerning the Qualifications and Duties of a Minister of the Gospel in the Church of England,’ 1795. 4. ‘The Duty of Churchwardens respecting the Church,’ 1799; 2nd edit. 1800. 5. ‘Sermons for the Use of Schools and Families,’ 1800, 1802, and 1804. 6. ‘Advice to a Minister of the Gospel in the United Church of England and Ireland,’ 1801. 7. ‘Sermons for the Use of Colleges, Schools, and Families,’ 1806 and 1809. Napleton contributed a set of Greek verses to the Oxford ‘Epithalamia’ on the marriage of George III, and was the author of many single sermons, the most important of which was that on the consecration of Bishop Buckner.

[Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Manchester School Register (Chetham Soc.), i. 153; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit. vi. 727–8; Gent. Mag., 1817, pt. ii. p. 630; Boase's Collectanea Cornub. p. 611; Havergal's Hereford Inscriptions, pp. xxi, 51–2; Havergal's Fasti Hereford. p. 66; Allen's Bibl. Hereford. p. 96; Polwhele's Reminiscences, i. 107, ii. 182; information through Mr. F. Madan, Bodleian Lib. Oxford.]

W. P. C.