Ironside, Gilbert (1632-1701) (DNB00)

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IRONSIDE, GILBERT, the younger (1632–1701), bishop of Bristol and of Hereford, third son of Gilbert Ironside the elder [q. v.], was born at Winterbourne Abbas in 1632. On 14 Nov. 1650 he matriculated at Wadham College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. on 4 Feb. 1652-3, M.A. 22 June 1655, B.D. 12 Oct. 1664, D.D. 30 June 1666. He became scholar of his college in 1651, fellow in 1656, and was appointed public reader in grammar in 1659, bursar in 1659 and 1661, sub-warden in 1660, and librarian in 1662. He was presented in 1663 to the rectory of Winterbourne Faringdon by Sir John Miller, with which he held from 1666, in succession to his father, the rectory of Winterbourne Steepleton. On the promotion of Dr. Blandford to the see of Oxford in 1667, he was elected warden of Wadham, an office which he held for twenty-five years. According to Wood he was 'strongly averse to Dr. Fell's arbitrary proceedings,' and refused to serve the office of vice-chancellor during his life. After Fell's death in 1686, he filled the office from 1687 to 1689, and when James II made his memorable visit to Oxford in September 1687, with the view of compelling the society of Magdalen College to admit his nominee as president, Ironside in a discussion with the king insisted on the fellows' rights (Wood, Life, pp. cvii-xii; Bloxam, Magdalen College and James II, Oxf. Hist. Soc., pp. 90-2). He declined in November an invitation to dine with the king's special commissioners on the evening after they had expelled the fellows of Magdalen, saying, 'My taste differs from that of Colonel Kirke. I cannot eat my meals with appetite under a gallows' (Macaulay, Hist. vol. ii. chap, viii.) ' The new chancellor has much pleased the university,' wrote Sykes to Dr. Charlett, 'by his prudent behaviour in all things, and I hear that the king was pleased to say that he was an honest, blunt man' (Aubrey, Lives, i. 36).

After the revolution, Ironside was rewarded for his resistance by being appointed bishop of Bristol. Hearne spitefully writes that he supported the Prince of Orange, so as to 'get a wife and a bishopric.' But the emolument of the Bristol see was small, and Ironside was consecrated, 13 Oct. 1689, on the understanding that he should be translated to a more lucrative see when opportunity offered. Accordingly, on the death of Bishop Herbert Croft, he was transferred to the see of Hereford in July 1691. He died on 27 Aug. 1701, and was buried in the church of St. Mary Somerset, Thames Street, London. On the demolition of that church in 1867, the bishop's remains were transferred to Hereford Cathedral.

He appears to have been conspicuous for the roughness of his manners among his Oxford contemporaries ('Table Talk of Bishop Hough,' in Collectanea, ii. 415, Oxf. Hist. Soc.) When about sixty years of age, according to Wood, Ironside married 'a fair and comely widow' of Bristol, whose maiden name was Robinson.

Ironside published, with a short preface from his own pen, Bishop Ridley's account of a disputation at Oxford on the sacrament, together with a letter of Bradford's, Oxford, 1688, and a sermon preached before the king on 23 Nov. 1684, Oxford, 1685. A portrait is in the hall of Wadham College.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. iv. 896; Wood's Life, pp. cv, cvii-xii; Hutchins's Dorset, Introd. p. xxvi, ii. 529; Macaulay's Hist, of England, ii. 304; Bloxam's Magdalen College and James II, pp. 90-2, and passim; Gardiner's Eeg. of Wadham College, p. 184; Hearne's Coll., ed. Doble (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), i. 97.]

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