Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wilcocks, Joseph
WILCOCKS, JOSEPH (1673–1756), successively bishop of Gloucester and of Rochester, born on 19 Dec. 1673, was the son of Joseph Wilcocks, a physician of Bristol. He entered Merchant Taylors' school on 11 Sept. 1684, and matriculated from St. John's College, Oxford, on 25 Feb. 1691-2. From 1692 till 1703 he held a demyship at Magdalen College, and a fellowship from 1703 till 15 Feb. 1721-2. He graduated B.A. on 31 Oct. 1695, M.A. on 28 June 1698, and B.D. and D.D. on 16 May 1709. He was for some time chaplain to the English factory at Lisbon in 1709, and to the English embassy, and on his return was appointed chaplain-in-ordinary to George I and preceptor to the daughters of the Prince of Wales. On 11 March 1720-1 he was installed a prebendary of Westminster, and on 3 Dec. 1721 he was consecrated bishop of Gloucester, holding his stall in commendam. On 21 June 1731 he was installed dean of Westminster, and on the same day was nominated bishop of Rochester. He steadily refused further promotion, declining even the archbishopric of York, and devoted himself to completing the west front of Westminster Abbey. He died on 28 Feb. 1756, and was buried in Westminster Abbey on 9 March under the consistory court, where his son erected a monument to his memory in 1761. He married Jane (d. 27 March 1725), the daughter of John Milner, British consul at Lisbon. There is a portrait of Wilcocks in the deanery of Westminster, which was engraved by Grave, and another in the hall of Magdalen College. He published several sermons.
His only son, Joseph Wilcocks (1724–1791), born in Dean's Yard, Westminster, on 4 Jan. 1723-4, was admitted upon the foundation of Westminster school in 1736, |and was elected to Christ Church, Oxford, in 1740, matriculating on 10 June and graduating B.A. in 1744 and M.A. in 1747. Possessed of a considerable estate, he modestly devoted his property to acts of beneficence, and his time to study. He was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1765. While residing at Rome his piety and benevolence won the admiration of Clement XIII, who styled him the 'blessed heretick.' For the use of Westminster school he prepared four books of 'Sacred Exercises,' which reached a fifth edition in 1785 (London, 8vo). He lived for some time in Barton, Northamptonshire, and afterwards at Lady Place, near Hurley in Berkshire. He died unmarried at the Crown Inn, Slough, on 23 Dec. 1791, and was buried in Westminster Abbey on 31 Dec., in his father's vault. He left behind prepared for the press a work founded on his residence in Rome, entitled 'Roman Conversations, or a Short Description of the Antiquities of Rome' (London, 1792–4, 2 vols. 8vo), which contains many autobiographical details. He bequeathed the second edition to Brown, his publisher. It appeared in 1797, with a memoir by Bickerstaffe, Brown's successor. Wilcocks was also the author of 'An Account of some Subterraneous Apartments, with Etruscan Inscriptions, discovered at Civita Turchino in Italy,' published in 'Philosophical Transactions' in 1703, and reprinted in the second edition of Roman Conversations.' Some verses by him appeared in 'Carmina Quadragesimalia.' A portrait engraved by S. Phillips from a painting by Benjamin West was prefixed to the second edition of 'Roman Conversations.'[Robinson's Merchant Taylors' School Reg. 1882, i. 313; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 15001714; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. xii. 287; Welch's Alumni Westmonast. 1852, p. 31; Denne's Hist. of Rochester, 1817, pp. 179-81; Bloxam's Reg. of Magdalen College, 1879, vi. 120-7; Ellis's Original Letters, 2nd ser. iv. 320; Widmore's Hist. of Westminster Abbey, 1751, pp. 173, 225; Stanley's Hist. Mem. of Westminster Abbey, 1882, p. 476; Ann. Reg. 1761, i. 89; Chester's Westminster Abbey Reg. 1876, pp. 81, 312, 388, 389, 424. For the son, see Memoir prefixed to Roman Conversations, 1797; Welch's Alumni Westmonast. 1852, pp. 322, 323; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715-1886; Gent. Mag. 1791, ii. 1237; Manning and Bray's Hist,. of Surrey, 1801, i. 467*; British Critic, 1793, ii. 74-81.]