Southgate, Richard (DNB00)


SOUTHGATE, RICHARD (1729–1795), numismatist, born at Alwalton, Huntingdonshire, a few miles from Peterborough, on 16 March 1728–9, was the eldest of ten children of William Southgate (d. February 1771), farmer in that parish, who married Hannah (d. 1772), daughter of Robert Wright of Castor, Northamptonshire, surveyor and civil engineer. The boy was educated at private schools at Uppingham and Fotheringay and at the Peterborough grammar school. With an exhibition from that foundation he went to St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1745, and graduated B.A. in the Easter term of 1749. He took holy orders in 1752, and, after serving the curacy of Weston in Lincolnshire, held the rectory of Woolley in Huntingdonshire from 8 Nov. 1754 till 1759. From 1759 to 1763 he served numerous curacies in Lincolnshire, but on 9 Jan. 1763, for the sake of books and literary society, he accepted the curacy of St. James's, Westminster, which he retained until the close of 1765. On Christmas-day 1765 he accepted the same position at St. Giles-in-the-Fields, London, and held it for the rest of his days.

On settling in London Southgate took pupils in classics, and with his augmented income collected books, coins, and medals. Later in life his means increased. He obtained in May 1783 the small rectory of Little Steeping in Lincolnshire, and in May 1790 was instituted to the more valuable rectory of Warsop in Nottinghamshire. On 3 Nov. 1784 he was appointed assistant librarian (with a residence) at the British Museum.

Southgate became a member of the Spalding Society on 24 May 1753, and was elected F.S.A. on 6 June 1763. He died at the British Museum, on 25 Jan. 1795, and was buried in a vault under St. Giles's Church on 3 Feb., a marble tablet being placed to his memory on the south-east pillar in that church (Gent. Mag. 1797, ii. 539; Malcolm, Londinium Redivivum, iii. 490). He left no will, and his property was shared by his five surviving brothers.

Southgate was an accomplished student of history, the classics, and of French and German literature, and knew something of Italian and Spanish. In medallic science few could be compared with him, and he owned ‘the most neat and complete series’ of English pennies to be found in this country. He materially assisted Pinkerton in his ‘Essay on Medals’ (1784). Considerable collections were made by him for a ‘History of the Saxons and Danes in England,’ illustrated by their coins, but the work was not completed.

Southgate's books and prints were sold by Leigh & Sotheby in 2,599 lots on 27 April 1795 and eleven following days, and fetched 1,332l. 12s. His coins and medals were announced for sale in eight days, but, according to Nichols, they passed by private contract to Samuel Tyssen. The shells and natural curiosities were sold on 12 and 13 May 1795. Each catalogue was printed separately, and the whole was bound up, with life prefixed by Dr. Charles Combe, as ‘Museum Southgatianum.’ The frontispiece was a medallion portrait of him at the age of fifty-five.

‘Sermons preached to Parochial Congregations’ by Southgate were published in 1798 (2 vols.), with a ‘biographical preface by George Gaskin, D.D.,’ which was mainly borrowed from Combe.

[Nichols's Lit. Anecdotes, iii. 214, vi. 13, 112–13, 359–79 (a reprint of Combe's Memoir); Sweeting's Peterborough Churches, p. 151; Gent. Mag. 1795 i. 171–2, 252, ii. 631–2.]

W. P. C.