Fawkes, Francis (DNB00)

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FAWKES, FRANCIS (1720–1777), poet and divine, son of Jeremiah Fawkes, for twenty-eight years rector of Warmsworth, Doncaster, was baptised at Warmsworth 4 April 1720, and educated at Bury free school under the Rev. John Lister. On 16 March 1737–8 he was admitted as an ordinary sizar into Jesus College, Cambridge, his tutor being the Rev. Richard Oakley, and was then described as of Warmsworth, Yorkshire. He was elected to an exhibition on the foundation of Dr. Mawhood on 24 April 1738, to an exhibition on Dr. Brunsel's foundation on 6 Dec. 1739, and advanced to a foundation scholarship on 24 June 1742. His degree of B.A. was taken in 1742, his supplicat being dated 15 Jan. 1741–2; he received his college testimonials on 26 April 1744, and proceeded M.A. in 1745. At an early period in life he was ordained in the English church to the curacy of Bramham in his native county. He was ‘a sort of chaplain’ to Mr. Fox and Lane (afterwards Lord Bingley), and his first production in literature is said to have been an anonymous poem describing the beauties of Mr. Lane's house at Bramham, which was published in quarto in 1745. Fawkes afterwards held the curacy of Croydon, where he came under the notice of Archbishop Herring, whom he flattered with an ode, said to have been included in Dodsley's collection, on his recovery from sickness in 1754. In the following year the archbishop bestowed upon the poet the vicarage of Orpington, Kent, with the chapelry of St. Mary Cray and the attendant curacy of Knockholt. Further preferment was expected, but his hope of advancement was crushed by his patron's death in 1757, when the disappointed aspirant gave vent to his feelings in an elegy styled ‘Aurelius,’ which was printed in 1761 with the ‘Original Poems and Translations’ of Fawkes and reprinted in 1763 in the volume of ‘Seven Sermons by Archbishop Herring,’ pp. xlii–xlviii. Fawkes remained at Orpington until April 1774, when, by the favour of the Rev. Charles Plumptree, D.D., rector of Orpington, and as such patron of the adjacent rectory of Hayes, he was appointed to Hayes with the curacy of Downe. The only additional piece of clerical patronage which he received was a chaplaincy to the Princess Dowager of Wales. This was probably his own fault, for though the standard of clerical life was not high, he was pronounced too fond of social gaiety. He was always poor, but his cheerful good humour drew many friends to him. He died on 26 Aug. 1777, when his widow, formerly a Miss Purrier of Leeds, whom he married about 1760, was left with scanty resources. His library was sold in 1778.

Fawkes was considered by his contemporaries the best translator since the days of Pope, and Dr. Johnson gave it as his opinion that Fawkes had translated ‘Anacreon’ ‘very finely.’ His works were: 1. ‘A Description of May from Gawin Douglas’ (modernised), by F. Fawkes, 1752; with poetic dedication to William Dixon of Loversal, a Yorkshire friend. 2. ‘A Description of Winter from Gawin Douglas,’ 1754, modernised in style and dedicated to ‘the Rev. John Lister, A.M., formerly my preceptor.’ The ‘Description of May’ has recently been included among the reprints of the Aungervyle Society. 3. ‘Works of Anacreon, Sappho, Bion, Moschus, and Musæus translated into English by a gentleman of Cambridge’ (i.e. Fawkes), 1760. Many of the odes were translated by him during his college life, and in some instances he reprinted the versions of Dr. Broome and other writers; 2nd edit. with his name, 1789. Fawkes's translation was printed in France in 1835 and included in the ‘Collections of the British Poets’ by Anderson (vol. xiii.) and Chalmers (vol. xx.), and in the ‘Greek and Roman Poets’ of Whittingham (vol. xiv.). His version of Bion, Moschus, Sappho, and Musæus was published with translations of Hesiod by C. A. Elton, and of Lycophron by Lord Royston in 1832. 4. ‘Original Poems and Translations,’ 1761. Many of the original pieces showed much humour; the translations were chiefly from ‘Menander’ and from the Latin poems of Christopher Smart. 5. ‘The Complete Family Bible, with Notes Theological, Moral, Critical,’ &c. 1761. To this production, which came out in sixty weekly numbers, he sold his name for money, and his name possessed sufficient value in the book world to justify an edition in 1765 ‘with notes taken from Fawkes.’ 6. ‘The Poetical Calendar,’ intended as a supplement to Dodsley's collection; selected by Fawkes and William Woty, 1763, 12 vols. To the twelfth volume of this collection Dr. Johnson contributed a delineation of the character of William Collins, which afterwards formed the groundwork of the life of Collins in the ‘Lives of the Poets.’ 7. ‘Poetical Magazine, or the Muses' Monthly Companion,’ vol. i. 1764. The companionship lasted but for six months, January to June 1764. In this undertaking Fawkes was again associated with Woty. 8. ‘Partridge-Shooting,’ an eclogue to the Hon. Charles Yorke, 1764. This piece was suggested by Yorke. 9. ‘The Works of Horace in English Verse, by Mr. Duncombe and other hands,’ to which are added many imitations, 1767, 4 vols. Some of the translations and imitations are by Fawkes. 10. ‘The Idylliums of Theocritus, translated by Francis Fawkes,’ 1767. In this translation he enjoyed the assistance of numerous friends, the most prominent of whom were Bishop Zachary Pearce, Dr. Jortin, and Dr. Johnson. It was dedicated to Charles Yorke. 11. In January 1772 Gough wrote a letter with the words ‘Fawkes is translating Apollonius Rhodius into English,’ but the poet's dilatoriness and love of ease delayed its appearance until after his death. It was published in 1780, and the whole work was ‘revised, corrected, and completed by his coadjutor and editor’ (Mr. Meen of Emmanuel College, Cambridge), who passed the work through the press in order that the indigent widow might ‘avail herself of the generous subscriptions.’ Fawkes's volume of original poems was embodied in the collection by Chalmers (vol. xvi.), some of them were included in Nichols's collection, viii. 88–93, and several of his translations, chiefly from ‘Menander,’ were reprinted in part i. of the ‘Comicorum Græcorum Fragmenta’ selected by James Bailey (1840). Lord Mahon, afterwards known as the ‘Republican’ Lord Stanhope, married Lady Hester Pitt, daughter of the first Lord Chatham, whose seat was situated in Fawkes's parish of Hayes, on 19 Dec. 1774, and some lines addressed to the bridegroom by Fawkes on this occasion are printed in the ‘Chatham Correspondence,’ iv. 373. An extraordinary popularity attended his song of ‘The Brown Jug,’ which began with the words

    Dear Tom, this brown jug that now foams with mild ale
    Was once Toby Fillpott.

It has ever since formed a part of all the song-books of our country, and was introduced by John O'Keeffe into his comic opera of the ‘Poor Soldier,’ which was played at Covent Garden Theatre for the first time on 4 Nov. 1783. It was then sung by John Johnstone, and it was afterwards among the favourite pieces of Charles Incledon. During the debates on catholic emancipation the opening lines were quoted in the House of Commons by Canning in ridicule of Copley, afterwards Lord Lyndhurst, with the punning imputation that a speech by Copley was but the reproduction of the matter which once appeared in a pamphlet of (Bishop) Phillpotts.

[Piozzi's Anecdotes (Napier's ed. of Boswell, &c.), vi. 20; Hasted's Kent, i. 107, 118, 128, 138; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. iii. 51–2, 644, viii. 424–5, 575; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. iii. 270, 4th ser. ii. 23, 67, 90; information from Mr. John Lister of Shibden Hall.]

W. P. C.