Warton, Thomas (1688?-1745) (DNB00)

WARTON, THOMAS, the elder (1688?– 1745), professor of poetry at Oxford, born about 1688, was son of Antony Warton (1650-1715), vicar of Godalming. He matriculated from Hart Hall, Oxford, on 3 April 1706, but soon migrated to Magdalen College, where he held a demyship from 1706 to 1717, and a fellowship from 1717 to 1724. He graduated B.A. on 17 Feb. 1709–10, M.A. in 1712, and B.D. in 1725. In 1717–18 Warton circulated both in manuscript and in print a satire in verse on George I, which he entitled 'The Turnip Hoer,' and wrote lines for James III's picture. No copy of either composition is now known. His Jacobite sympathies rendered him popular in the university, and he was elected professor of poetry, in succession to Joseph Trapp [q. v.], on 17 July 1718. He was re-elected, in spite of the opposition of the Constitution Club, for a second term of five years in 1723. He retired from the professorship in 1728. He possessed small literary qualifications for the office, and his election provoked the sarcasm of Nicholas Amhurst [q. v.], who devoted three numbers of his 'Terrae Filius' (Nos. x. xv. xvi.) to an exposure of his incompetence. 'Squeaking Tom of Maudlin ' is the sobriquet Amhurst conferred on him. After 1723 Warton ceased to reside regularly in Oxford. In that year he became vicar of Basingstoke, Hampshire, and master of the grammar school there. Among his pupils was the great naturalist Gilbert White [q. v.] He remained at Basingstoke till his death, but with the living he held successively the vicarages of Framfield, Sussex (1726), of Woking, Surrey, from 1727, and of Cobham, Surrey. He died at Basingstoke on 10 Sept. 1745, and was buried in the church there. He married Elizabeth, second daughter of Joseph Richardson, rector of Dunsfold, Surrey, and left two sons, Joseph and Thomas, both of whom are noticed separately, and a daughter Jane, who died unmarried at Wickham, Hampshire, on 3 Nov. 1809, at the age of eighty-seven (Gent. Mag. 1809, ii. 1175).

Warton was a writer of occasional verse, but published none collectively in his lifetime. After his death his son Joseph issued, by subscription, 'Poems on several Occasions by the Rev. Thomas Warton,' London, 1748, 8vo. Some 'runic' odes are included, and are said to have drawn the attention of the poet Gray to 'runic' topics. At the end of the volume are two elegies on the author–one by his daughter Jane, and the other by Joseph Warton, the editor.

[Bloxam's Reg. of Magdalen College, Oxford, vi. 169; Hearne's Collections (Oxford Hist. Soc.); Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ii. 373, vi. 168, 169, 171; Cary's Lives of English Poets, 1846.]

S. L.