Harford, John Scandrett (DNB00)

From Wikisource
 
Jump to: navigation, search

HARFORD, JOHN SCANDRETT (1785–1866), biographer, eldest son of John Scandrett Harford of Blaise Castle, near Bristol, banker, who died 23 Jan. 1815. by Mary, daughter of Abraham Gray of Tottenham, Middlesex, was born at Bristol, 8 Oct. 1785. He was educated under the Rev. Mr. Lloyd, at Peterley House, Buckinghamshire; later on he kept several terms at Christ's College, Cambridge. The death of his eldest brother, Edward Gray Harford, on 25 April 1804, produced deep religious impressions, which continued throughout his life. His parents were members of the Society of Friends, but he left that connection and was baptised at Chelwood Church, Somersetshire, in 1809. He became a firm supporter of the Church Missionary Society and the Bible Society, and assisted at the formation of the Bristol branches of those associations in 1813. With Hannah More from 1809, and with William Wilberforce from 1812, he enjoyed the most intimate friendship, and he was the hero of Hannah More's Coalebs in Search of a Wife.' On the death of his father in 1815 he succeeded to the family estates, and was made a magistrate and a deputy-lieutenant for Gloucestershire and Cardiganshire, and in 1824 served as high sheriff for the latter county. The university of Oxford created him D.C.L. 19 June 1822, and he was elected F.R.S. 29 May 1823. While residing in Rome in 1815 he formed a friendship with Cardinal Ercole Consalvi, and through his interest obtained an interview with Pius VII to seek his influence in putting down the Spanish and Portuguese slave trade. He possessed great taste in art and literature, and during visits to Paris and other cities in 1815-17 laid the foundation of a valuable collection of pictures which adorned the walls of Blaise Castle. About 1821, on the death of his brother-in-law, Hart Davis, formerly M.P. for Colchester, he came into the Peterwell property, Cardiganshire, where he made improvements and took in tracts of waste land. Among his friends were Dr. Henry Ryder, bishop of Lichfield, and Dr. Thomas Burgess, bishop of Salisbury. By the advice of the latter he gave, in conjunction with his brother, in 1822 the site of the castle of Lampeter for the foundation of a college in South Wales. On the completion of St. David's College in 1827 Harford was appointed visitor, and watched over its interests with great care. The foundation of the college formed the subject of correspondence between Harford and John Williams, archdeacon of Cardigan, who was jealous of the reputation of Ystradmeurig grammar school. Harford was elected conservative M.P. for the borough of Cardigan on 6 July 1841, but in consequence of the loss of a poll-book a double return was made to parliament, and on a petition his name was erased from the roll on 18 April 1842. He contested the same place again on 12 Feb. 1849, without success. In January 1841 he was present in Bristol at a discussion between John Brindley and Robert Owen, when he strongly denounced socialism. He contributed towards the restoration of the cathedrals of Llandaff and St. David's. At Lampeter he drained the Gorsddu bog, and made it into cottage garden allotments, and at the same time provided a supply of pure water for the town. During two visits to Italy, in 1846 and 1852, he collected materials for his 'Life of Michael Angelo,' and had a copy of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel made at his own expense. After the loss of his sight in 1862 he found employment in dictating to his wife his 'Recollections of W. Wilberforce' from notes of conversations and correspondence in his possession. He died at Blaise Castle on 16 April 1866, and was buried on 23 April. He married, 31 Aug. 1812, Louisa, eldest daughter of Richard Hart Davis, M.P. for Bristol.

Harford was the author of: 1. 'An Account of the latter days of R. V. Pryor, a brief Sketch of his Life and Character, with Selections from his Papers,' 1808; 2nd edition, 1810. 2. ' Considerations on the Pernicious Influence of the Bristol Gaol,' 1815. 3. 'Some Account of the Life, Death, and Principles of T. Paine,' 1820. 4. 'The Agamemnon of Æschylus Translated, illustrated by a Dissertation on Grecian Tragedy,' 1831. 5. 'Essay on the Grecian Drama, including a Biographical Memoir of Æschylus in Æschylus Translated, by Rev. R. Potter, Prebendary of Norwich,' 1833, pp. v-lxxx. 6. 'The Life of T. Burgess, Bishop of Salisbury,' 1840. 7. 'Memoir of Rev. Richard Chappie Whalley, Rector of Chelwood,' 1846. 8. 'Life of Michael Angelo Buonarotti, with translations of many of his Poems and Letters. Also Memoirs of Savonarola, Raphael, and Victoria Colonna,' 1857, 2 vols.; 2nd edition, 1858, 2 vols. 9. 'Illustrations of the Genius of M. A. Buonarotti, with descriptions of the Plates by the Commendatori L. Canina and J. S. Harford,' 1857. 10. 'Recollections of W. Wilberforce during nearly thirty years. With Brief Recollections of Mrs. Hannah More and the Rev. R. C. Whalley,' 1864; 2nd edition, 1865. He also wrote in the 'Christian Observer,' June 1813, pp. 356-65, 'A Letter on the State of Ireland, addressed to a distinguished Statesman [i.e. W. Wilberforce]. By a Gentleman lately returned from that Country.' This he signed 'J. S. and H.'

[Waagen's Treasures of Art, 1854,iii. 187-95; Welshman, Carmarthen, 20 April 1866, p. 5; Gent. Mag. 1866, pt. i. p. 770; Christian Observer, July 1866, pp. 489-98.]

G. C. B.