Hardinge, Nicholas (DNB00)

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HARDINGE, NICHOLAS (1699–1758), Latin scholar and clerk to the House of Commons, elder son of Gideon Hardinge (d. 1712), vicar of Kingston-on-Thames, was born at Kingston on 7 Feb. 1699, and educated at Eton, whence he removed in 1718 to King's College, Cambridge. He proceeded B.A. in 1722, M.A. in 1726, and became a fellow of his college. During Hardinge's residence at Cambridge a dispute arose concerning the expulsion of a student for certain political reflections directed against the tories in a college exercise. An appeal was made to the Bishop of Lincoln, and on his deciding against the authorities litigation ensued. Hardinge's legal studies began with an investigation of the visitatorial power in connection with this quarrel, but his essay on the subject was never published. On leaving Cambridge he was called to the bar; he accepted the post of chief clerk to the House of Commons in 1731, and held it till April 1752, when he was appointed joint secretary of the treasury. He was chosen representative for the borough of Eye, Suffolk, in 1748 and 1754. He married, 19 Dec. 1738, Jane, daughter of Sir John Pratt, the lord chief justice, by whom he had nine sons and three daughters; his eldest son, George, is separately noticed; of the others, Henry was father of George Nicholas Hardinge [q. v.] and Henry, viscount Hardinge [q. v.], while Richard (1756–1801) was created a baronet in 1801, with remainder to the heirs male of his father, and was accordingly succeeded by the Rev. Charles Hardinge, eldest son of his brother Henry. Nicholas Hardinge died on 9 April 1758.

At Eton and Cambridge Hardinge acquired a great reputation as an elegant and finished classical scholar. It was at his advice that James Stuart went to Athens to study its antiquities. All his life he wrote Latin verses of merit, but no collection of his writings was published till after his death. In 1780 appeared ‘Poemata auctore Nicolao Hardinge, Col. Reg. Socio,’ London, 8vo (some copies bear the title ‘Latin Verses by the late Nicolas Hardinge, esq.’). This collection, beginning with the best of his Eton exercises, and containing everything of merit which he wrote in Latin, was edited by his eldest son. The same editor had in preparation at the time of his death a collection of his father's English verses and other writings, and began an elegant life in Latin to be prefixed to the volume. These materials were all incorporated in a volume seen through the press by J. Nichols, entitled ‘Poems, Latin, Greek, and English: to which is added an Historical Enquiry and Essay upon the Administration of Government in England during the King's Minority, by Nicolas Hardinge … Collected and Revised by George Hardinge,’ London, 1818, 8vo; ‘De Vita Nicolai Hardinge Fragmentum,’ by George Hardinge, is included in the collection. Many of the English and Latin poems appeared during the author's lifetime in different publications, among which may be noted ‘Musæ Anglicanæ,’ ii. 194; J. Nichols's ‘Select Collection of Poems,’ vi. 85; ‘Poetical Calendar,’ ix. 92. The ‘Essay on the Regency’ was written at the instance of William, duke of Cumberland, to whom Hardinge was appointed law reader in 1732, with a salary of 100l.; he was afterwards the duke's attorney-general. Hardinge displayed diligence, accuracy, and skill as clerk of the House of Commons. He drew up an able report of the condition in which he found the journals of the house, and put them into their present form, incorporating his own report. His strict honesty as secretary to the treasury honourably distinguished the last years of his life.

[Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, v. 338–46; George Hardinge's Vitæ Fragmentum; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Chalmers's Biog. Dict.; Burke's Peerage and Baronetage.]

R. B.