Croft, George (DNB00)

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CROFT, GEORGE (1747–1809), divine, second son of Samuel Croft, was born at Beamsley, a hamlet in the chapelry of Bolton Abbey, in the parish of Skipton, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and baptised on 27 March 1747. Although his father was in very humble circumstances, Croft received an excellent education at the grammar school of Bolton Abbey, under the Rev. Thomas Carr, who not only taught his clever pupil without fee, but solicited subscriptions from well-to-do friends and neighbours in order to send him to the university. Admitted a servitor of University College, Oxford, on 23 Oct. 1762, he was chosen bible clerk on the following 6 Dec., and in 1768, the first year of its institution, he gained the chancellor's prize for an English essay upon the subject of ‘Artes prosunt reipublicæ.’ He graduated B.A. on 16 Feb. 1768, proceeding M.A. on 2 June 1769. Meanwhile he had been appointed master of Beverley grammar school on 6 Dec. 1768; and, having been ordained, was elected fellow of University on 16 July 1779. On 11 Dec. in the latter year he was instituted by his college to the vicarage of Arncliffe in the West Riding, and on 19 and 21 Jan. 1780 took the two degrees in divinity. About this time he became chaplain to the Earl of Elgin. He left Beverley at Michaelmas 1780, on being named head-master of Brewood school, Staffordshire, a post he resigned in 1791 to accept the lectureship of St. Martin's, Birmingham, to which was afterwards added the chaplaincy of St. Bartholomew in the same parish. In 1786 Croft was in sufficient repute as a divine to be entrusted with the delivery of the Bampton lectures. From his old college friend, Lord Eldon, he received in 1802 the rectory of Thwing in the East Riding, which he was allowed to hold, by a dispensation, with the vicarage of Arncliffe. He died at Birmingham on 11 May 1809, aged 62, and was buried in the north aisle of St. Martin's Church, where there is a monument to his memory. On 12 Oct. 1780 he had married Ann, daughter of William Grimston of Ripon, by whom he left a son and six daughters. He published: 1. ‘A Sermon [on Prov. xxiv. 21] preached before the University of Oxford, 25 Oct. 1783,’ 4to, Stafford, 1784. 2. ‘A Plan of Education, delineated and vindicated. To which are added a Letter to a Young Gentleman designed for the University and for Holy Orders; and a short Dissertation upon the stated provision and reasonable expectations of Public Teachers,’ 8vo, Wolverhampton, 1784. 3. ‘Eight Sermons preached before the University of Oxford,’ being the Bampton Lectures, 8vo, Oxford, 1786. 4. ‘The Test Laws defended. A Sermon [on 2 Tim. ii. 21] … With a preface containing remarks on Dr. Price's Revolution Sermon and other publications,’ 8vo, Birmingham, 1790. 5. ‘Plans of Parliamentary Reform, proved to be visionary, in a letter to the Reverend C. Wyvill,’ 8vo, Birmingham, 1793. 6. ‘Thoughts concerning the Methodists and Established Clergy, &c.,’ 8vo, London, 1795. 7. ‘A Short Commentary, with strictures, on certain parts of the moral writings of Dr. Paley and Mr. Gisborne. To which are added … Observations on the duties of Trustees and Conductors of Grammar Schools, and two Sermons, on Purity of Principle, and the Penal Laws,’ 8vo, Birmingham, 1797. 8. ‘An Address to the Proprietors of the Birmingham Library, &c.,’ 8vo, Birmingham [1803]. After his death appeared ‘Sermons, including a series of Discourses on the Minor Prophets, preached before the University of Oxford,’ 2 vols. 8vo, Birmingham, 1811, to which is prefixed a brief sketch of the author's life by the Rev. Rann Kennedy of Birmingham grammar school.

[Gent. Mag. 1. 494, lxxix. (i.) 485; Oxford Ten Year Book.]

G. G.