Delaune, William (1659-1728) (DNB00)

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DELAUNE, WILLIAM, D.D. (1659–1728), president of St. John's College, Oxford, son of Benjamin Delaune of London, by Margaret, daughter of George Coney, born 14 April 1659, entered Merchant Taylors' School 11 Sept. 1672, proceeded to St. John's College, Oxford, in 1675, graduated B.A. in 1679, M.A.. in 1683, B.D. in 1688. Having taken holy orders, he became chaplain to Mews, bishop of Winchester, who presented him to the living of Chilbolton, Hampshire. He subsequently held that of South Wamborough, Wiltshire. In 1697 he proceeded D.D., and on 14 March 1697-8 was elected president of St. John's. Installed canon of Winchester in 1701, he was appointed vice-chancellor of the university in October of the following year. His tenure of this office, which lasted until October 1706, was more profitable to himself than to the university. Hearne tells that he earned the sobriquet of Gallio by his systematic neglect of his duties, and roundly charges him with embezzling the contents of the university chest. Whether his conduct amounted to embezzlement in the strict sense of the term may perhaps be doubted; but it seems clear that he made advances to himself out of the university exchequer to the extent of 3,000l., which he did not repay. His successor, Dr. Lancaster, made some attempts to recover the money, apparently without much success, and subsequent vice-chancellors were less exacting. He paid a composition of 300l. in full discharge of the debt in 1719. The only pursuit into which he really threw the full energies of his intellect was gambling, which he cultivated with more assiduity than success. He is said to have dissipated in that way a considerable fortune, besides the money which he borrowed from the university chest. This was regarded as a scandal. Hearne mentions that 'a certain terrae filius in the public act in 1703 began with some hesitation to speak something of the vice-chancellor, broke out with a resolution to do it with these words, "Jacta est alea.'" The same story is told in 'Terrae Filius,' the author of which, Nicholas Amherst, Delaune is said to have expelled from St. John's. Delaune was elected Margaret Lecturer in Divinity on 18 Feb. 1714-15, and installed prebendary of Worcester. He was also one of Queen Anne's chaplains, and acquired some reputation as a preacher (Luttrell, Relation of State Affairs, v. 256). He died on 23 May 1728, and was buried without the usual eulogistic epitaph in St. John's College Chapel. A humorous epitaph will be found in Nichols's 'Literary Anecdotes,' i. 36 (see also viii. 355). Delaune published in 1728 'Twelve Sermons upon several Subjects and Occasions.' Some of the sermons had previously been published separately. The matter of the book is coarse and conventional, and the style clumsy. It is fulsomely dedicated to Lord Abingdon.

[Merchant Taylors' Reg. 277; Le Neve's Fasti Eccl.Angl.; Grad. Oxon.; Hearne's Remarks and Collections (Oxford Hist. Soc.), 53, 193, 293, 315; Terrae Filius, Nos, i., iv., and x.; Ayliffe's Ancient and Present State of Univ. Oxford,i. 216; Wood's Athenae Oxon (Bliss), lxxv.; Wood's Hist. and Ant. Oxford (Crutch), ii. pt. ii. 833, iv. 546, 562; Notes and Queries, 5th ser. xii. 53; Pepys's Corr. 5 Dec. 1702. Information from the Rev. R. Ewing, M.A., Fellow of St. John's Coll. Oxford.]

J. M. R.