Oxenden, George (1651-1703) (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 43
Oxenden, George (1651-1703)

by William Prideaux Courtney
Contains subarticle Sir George Oxenden (1694–1775).

OXENDEN, GEORGE (1651–1703), civil lawyer, baptised on 31 Oct. 1651, was the third son of Sir Henry Oxenden of Dene in Wingham, Kent, by his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Meredith of Leeds Abbey, Kent. His uncle Sir George, governor of Bombay, and his distant cousin, Henry Oxenden, the poet, are separately noticed. He was entered at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, as a scholar on 8 July 1667, graduated LL.B. 1673, M.A. per literas regias 1675, and LL.D. 1679, and on 14 July 1674 was incorporated at Oxford. Having been for some time a fellow of Trinity Hall, he was elected its master and admitted on 21 Feb. 1688-9, remaining in that position until his death. In 1692 he was appointed vice-chancellor of the university, and from 1695 to 1698 he represented it in parliament. On 12 July 1679 he was admitted to the College of Advocates; he became the regius professor of civil law at Cambridge in 1684, and succeeded Sir Thomas Exton [q. v.], who died in 1688, as official or dean of the arches, dean of the peculiars, and vicar-general to the Archbishop of Canterbury; but the date of his admission to these posts is given by Newcourt and others as '2 Feb. 1694.' He was also chancellor of the diocese of London. All these offices he retained for his life.

Oxenden contributed Latin verses to the collections of poems by members of Cambridge University on (1) the marriage of the Princess Anne, 1683; (2) the death of Charles and the accession of James, 1684-5; (3) the birth of the prince, 1688; (4) the accession of William and Mary, 1689; (5) the death of Queen Mary, 1694-5; (6) the death of the Duke of Gloucester, 1700; (7) the death of William and the accession of Anne, 1702. His conduct in the proceedings against Watson, the bishop of St. Davids, was censured in the address to the reader, prefixed to 'A large Review of the summary View of the Articles against the Bishop of St. Davids,' which is usually attributed to Robert Ferguson (d. 1714) [q. v.], and further disclosures were promised in a later tract. The reader was specially requested to compare Oxenden's lines in the Cambridge poems on the birth of the prince with his subsequent remarks on him and King James, who had previously forgiven and preferred him. Oxenden advised Tillotson, archbishop of Canterbury, on the legal points arising out of Burnet's consecration as Bishop of Salisbury (Birch, Life of Tillotson, p. 331).

Oxenden died at Doctors' Commons on 20 or 21 Feb. 1702-3, and was buried with his ancestors at Wingham, in a vault under the south or Dene chancel. He gave 40l. for the purchase of books for the library at Trinity Hall, and intended to have founded a scholarship for a Kentish clergyman's son, but died before the matter was settled. His widow, however, left 150l. for an additional scholarship of the same kind. His wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Basil Dixwell of Broome, Kent, was one of the maids of honour to Queen Mary, and died at Bath on 18 Sept. 1704. Their eldest son, Henry (d. 1720), and his next brother, George, both succeeded to the family baronetcy.

Sir George Oxenden (1694-1775), an 'extremely handsome' man, married the eldest daughter and coheiress of Edmund Dunch [q. v.], and was notorious for his profligacy. He seduced his sister-in-law, Bell Dunch, wife of Mr. Thompson, and was thought to be the father of the third Earl of Orford. Sir George represented in parliament for many years the borough of Sandwich in Kent, and was in turn a lord of the admiralty and of the treasury. His character and his gallantries are painted in Lord Hervey's 'Memoirs' (ii. 346), Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's 'Works' (ii. 196, iii. 409), and Horace Walpole's 'Letters' (ed. Cunningham, i. 342, vii. 434). A half-length portrait of him was at Kimbolton Castle, the seat of the Duke of Manchester. He died at Dene in January 1775.

[Hasted's Kent, iii. 695; Archæologia Cantiana, vi. 277; Coote's Civilians, p. 101; Le Neve's Fasti, iii. 608, 650, 657, 680; Berry's Kent Genealogies; Betham's Baronetage, iii. 30-31; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ii. 337; Newcourt's Repertorium Eccl. Lond. i. 446; information from Mr. C. E. S. Headlam of Trinity Hall.]

W. P. C.