Benson, Martin (DNB00)

From Wikisource
 
Jump to: navigation, search

BENSON, MARTIN (1689–1752), bishop of Gloucester, was the son of the Rev. J. Benson, rector of Cradley, Herefordshire, and was born there on 23 April 1689. He was educated at the Charterhouse and at Christ Church College, Oxford, of which he became a tutor. He subsequently travelled on the continent, where he met Berkeley, his friend and correspondent for thirty years, and Secker, whose sister he married. Soon after his return he became, in 1721, archdeacon of Berkshire. In 1724 he obtained one of the 'golden' prebends in Durham Cathedral; and in 1726 was made chaplain to the Prince of Wales, afterwards George II. In 1727 he was presented to the rectory of Bletchley, and in 1728, on occasion of a royal visit to Cambridge, received the degree of D.D. In January 1735 he was nominated bishop of Gloucester, probably as amends to his friend and patron Lord Chancellor Talbot, for the mortification he had suffered by the rejection of his nominee Dr. Rundle, whose promotion to Gloucester had been successfully opposed by the Bishop of London (Rundle). On his appointment Benson declared his resolution to accept no higher preferment, and kept his word, though Gloucester was at that time one of the poorest of the bishoprics. He revived the institution of rural deans, and expended considerable sums in repaving the choir of the cathedral, adding pinnacles to the lady chapel, and thoroughly repairing the palace. He personally visited the diocese of York, under commission from Archbishop Blackburne, then advanced in years, who left him a service of plate by his will. Exhausted, as was thought, with the fatigue and anxiety of tending Bishop Butler in his last illness, Benson died, universally beloved and lamented, on 30 Aug. 1752, and was buried in his cathedral. Benson belonged to the best type of English prelate of his time, and was one of the select circle of eminent divines protected and encouraged by Lord Chancellor Talbot, of which Butler was the most distinguished ornament. Berkeley called him 'Titus, the delight of mankind,' and Pope celebrated him along with his illustrious friend in the famous couplet—

 Manners with candour are to Benson given,
 To Berkeley every virtue under heaven.

His only publications were some separate sermons.

[Rawlinson MSS. fols. 16, 180; Britten's History and Antiquities of Cathedral Churches; Porteus's Life of Secker; Fraser's Life of Berkeley; Lord Hervey's Memoirs; Gent. Mag. 1752.]

R. G.