CLEAVER, WILLIAM (1742–1815), bishop of St. Asaph, is a remarkable instance of a man with many substantial claims to remembrance being principally remembered through a trivial accident. He was the eldest son of the Rev. W. Cleaver, master of a private school at Twyford in Buckinghamshire, and was the elder brother of Archbishop Cleaver [q. v.] He was at Magdalen College, Oxford, and after taking his B.A. degree, 1761, was a fellow of Brasenose College; he became M.A. on 2 May 1764, and in 1768 was a candidate for the Bodleian librarianship. The votes between him and his competitor Price were equal, and the latter was appointed on account of being a few months the senior.
Cleaver became tutor to the Marquis of Buckingham. He was successively made vicar of Northop in Flintshire, prebendary of Westminster (1784), master of Brasenose College (1785), bishop of Chester (1787), of Bangor (1800), and of St. Asaph (1806). He retained the headship of Brasenose until 1809, and almost constantly lived there, 'such,' observes his biographer in the 'Gentleman's Magazine,' 'was his attachment to the place of his education.' He must, however, have occasionally resided in his diocese, for it was at Bangor that, in 1802, he cautioned an old servant who let apartments against a stray lodger who the bishop thought might be no better than a swindler. This suspicious personage was no other than Thomas De Quincey, whose wrath blazed up immediately, and who in turn exasperated his landlady by 'a harsh and contemptuous expression, which I fear that I applied to the learned dignitary himself.' He had to quit his lodgings, and, after abandoning his original intention of remonstrating with his lordship in Greek, dismissed the matter from his mind till he came to write the 'English Opium-eater,' when, feeling that he had been somewhat unreasonable, he indemnified the bishop by recording that to him 'Brasenose was indebted for its leadership at that era in scholarship and discipline,' which reputation after his retirement' ran down as suddenly as it had run up;' and that in his academic character ' he might almost be called a reformer, a wise, temperate, and successful reformer.' This encomium, founded no doubt on facts ascertained by De Quincey during his subsequent residence at Oxford, protects Cleaver's name from the oblivion which has overtaken his writings.
The most important of these were 'De Rhythmo Græcorum,' 1775, and 'Directions to the Clergy of the Diocese of Chester on the Choice of Books,' 1789. He also edited the beautiful Homer printed at Oxford by the Grenville family. As a bishop he is commended for benevolence, for discrimination in the exercise of patronage, and for encouraging among his clergy, by the erection of parsonage houses, that residence of which he did not set the example. He was also a good deal interested in the higher education of women. Cleaver died 15 May 1815 in Bruton Street, London.
[Gent. Mag. vol. lxxxiii. pt. i. pp. 563, 564, ii. 213; De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-eater, pp. 122-8, ed. 1862; Abbey's English Church and its Bishops, 1700-1800, ii.273.]
CLEEVE, BOURCHIER (d. 1760), writer on finance, a prosperous pewterer in. London, was probably the son of Alexander Cleeve, pewterer in Cornhill, who died on 11 April 1738 (Gent. Mag. April 1738, p. 221). Cleeve's name is mentioned in 1755 as paying a fine to be excused serving the office of sheriff. About this date he acquired an estate in Foots Cray, Kent, once the property of Sir Francis Walsingham. Here 'he pulled down the old seat, and erected, at some distance northward from it, an elegant mansion of freestone, after a design of Palladio, and enclosed a park round it, which he embellished with plantations of trees, an artificial canal, &c.' This house was called Foots Cray Place. Cleeve also acquired a good deal of other land in Kent before his death, which took place on 1 March 1760. Cleeve was survived by his wife and daughter, both named Elizabeth. The latter inherited the estates, which in 1765 came into the possession of Sir George Yonge, bart., by his marriage with her. Cleeve wrote 'A Scheme for preventing a further Increase of the National Debt, and for reducing the same,' inscribed to the Earl of Chesterfield (1756). The scheme was simply to impose a considerable tax on houses, and to repeal 'an equivalent amount of taxes on commodities.' A part of this tract was taken up with estimates of the amount subtracted in taxes from incomes of various magnitude. Cleeve's estimates were much exaggerated, as was conclusively shown in 'J. Massie's Letter to Bourchier Cleeve, Esq., concerning his Calculations of Taxes' (1757).
[Gent. Mag. July 1755, p. 330, March 1760, p. 154, January 1761, p. 44; London Magazine, March 1760, p. 163; Hasted's Hist. of Kent, vol. i.; Ireland's Hist. of Kent, vol. iv. (with picture of house, p. 524); M'Culloch's Literature of Political Economy. There is no copy of Cleeve's pamphlet in the British Museum, but there are four of Massie's reply to it. An answer to this, and apparently the third edition of the pamphlet, is in the Edinburgh Advocates' Library.]