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OVERTON, CHARLES (1805–1889), divine, sixth son of John Overton (1763-1838) [q. v.], rector of St. Margaret's and St. Crux, was born in York in 1805. He was brought up to be a civil engineer, and therefore was not sent to a university; but in 1829 he was ordained deacon by the Archbishop of York (Dr. Harcourt). He was for a short time assistant curate of Christ Church, Harrogate, but in the year of his ordination removed to Romaldkirk, in the beautiful neighbourhood of Barnard Castle. He received priest's orders in 1830 from the Bishop of Chester (Dr. J. B. Sumner), and in 1837 was presented by the same bishop to the vicarage of Clapham, in the dales of the West Riding of Yorkshire. In 1841 Bishop Sumner presented him to the vicarage of Cottingham, near Hull, where he spent the remainder of his life.

Overton, like his father, held evangelical views, but could sympathise with good men who belonged to other schools of thought. He was an able preacher and an active parish priest in his large and scattered parish, which then included the now separate parishes of Skidby and Newland. Through his exertions the parish church of Cottingham was restored, a parsonage and schools were built, the income increased, while schools and vicarage houses were built at Skidby and Newland. He died on 31 March 1889, and was buried at Cottingham.

In 1829 he married Amelia Charlesworth, who died in 1885. By her he had a family of four sons and three daughters.

Overton wrote both in prose and verse. His first essay, a poem entitled ‘Ecclesia Anglicana’ (London, n.d.), was written at Romaldkirk to celebrate the restoration of York Minster after its partial destruction by the fanatic Jonathan Martin (1782–1838) [q. v.] A later edition appeared in 1853. It was good-humouredly satirised by Tom Moore, who commenced his parody:

Sweet singer of Romaldkirk, thou who art reckoned,
By critics episcopal, David the Second,
If thus, as a curate, so lofty your flight,
Only think in a Rectory how you would write!

In 1847 appeared the first part, and in 1849 the second part, of the most popular of his works: ‘Cottage Lectures on Bunyan's “Pilgrim's Progress” practically explained.’ These publications were very favourably received by the evangelical party, both in England and America. In 1848 he published ‘Cottage Lectures on the Lord's Prayer practically explained; delivered in the Parish Church of Cottingham.’ In 1850 ‘The Expository Preacher; or St. Matthew's Gospel practically expounded in Cottingham Church,’ 2 vols., and ‘A Voice from Yorkshire: a Scene at Goodmanham [Godmundingham], in the East Riding, A.D. 627, with Notes;’ in 1861, ‘The History of Cottingham;’ and in 1866, ‘The Life of Joseph, in twenty-three Expository Lectures.’

[Private information; Memoir of Rev. Charles Overton; obituary notices in the Guardian and the local newspapers; account of the Overtons among the Historical Families of Yorkshire in the Leeds Mercury; Works of T. Moore.]

J. H. O.