He was a strict disciplinarian, and exacted an unquestioning conformity to all college rules. It was on his initiative that a more frequent attendance at chapel was insisted upon a step which so irritated the undergraduates that they established a ‘Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Undergraduates,’ which printed and published for a few weeks a tabular view of the attendance of the fellows, with notes. The younger members of the college persistently misunderstood him, though he had been the first to allow, as vice-chancellor, the Union Debating Society previously forbidden. Nor did he fare much better with the fellows, as may be gathered from what took place when he requested Connop Thirlwall [q. v.] to resign his assistant tutorship.
Wordsworth was an earnest and deeply religiousman; in some respects a high churchman of the old school, but with sympathy for whatever was good and noble in others, and tolerance for dissenters (Annals, &c., pp. 330−4). In politics he was a staunch conservative, and when age and weakened health induced him to resign the mastership of Trinity College, he waited till Sir Robert Peel was in office in order to be sure that William Whewell [q. v.] would succeed him (Life of Whewell, p. 225). He resigned in October 1841, and retired to Buxted, where he died on 2 Feb. 1846. On 6 Oct. 1804 he married a quaker lady, Priscilla Lloyd, daughter of Charles Lloyd, banker, of Birmingham, and sister of Charles Lloyd [q. v.], the poet (Lucas, Charles Lamb and the Lloyds, 1898, p. 95).
Wordsworth had three sons: John, of whom an account is given below, and Charles and Christopher, who are separately noticed. His principal works, exclusive of those already mentioned, were: 1. ‘Ecclesiastical Biography; or Lives of Eminent Men connected with the History of Religion in England from the Commencement of the Reformation to the Revolution, with Notes,’ 1810, 6 vols. 8vo; 2nd edit. 1818; 3rd edit. (with a new introduction and additional lives), 1839; 4th edit. 1853. 2. ‘Sermons on various Subjects,’ 1814, 2 vols. 8vo. 3. ‘Who wrote ΕΙΚΩΝ ΒΑΣΙΛΙΚΗ?’ 1824. In this work and those that succeeded it Wordsworth supported the claims of Charles I as the author of the Icon (see Gauden, John, where the titles of Wordsworth's publications are given, with a full account of the controversy: of. Quarterly Review, xxxii. 467; Edinburgh Review, xliv. 1−37; article by Sir James Mackintosh, reprinted in his Works, ed. 1854, i. 508−42). 4. ‘Christian Institutes: a Series of Discourses and Tracts selected from the Writings of the most eminent Divines of the English Church,’ 1836, 4 vols. 8vo.
His eldest son, John Wordsworth (1805−1839), born at Lambeth on 1 July 1805, was educated at a school at Woodford, Essex, kept by Dr. Holt Okes (1816−20), and at Winchester College (1820−4). In October 1824 he commenced residence at Trinity College, Cambridge. His university career was distinguished. In 1825 he obtained the Bell scholarship, in 1826 a scholarship at his own college, and was second for the Porson prize; in 1827 he obtained it. In 1828 he proceeded to the B.A. degree, but was disqualified for classical honours through distaste for mathematics. In 1830 he was elected fellow of his college.
He resided at Cambridge till 1833, occupying himself with literary pursuits. During this period he contributed to the first number of the ‘Philological Museum’ a review of Scholefield's ‘Æschylus,’ which exhibited unusual powers of criticism and extent of research. In 1833 he visited France, Switzerland, and Italy. At Florence he collated carefully the Medicean manuscript of Æschylus, with a view to a new edition. Some use was made of his material by John Conington [q. v.] in his edition of the ‘Choephorœ.’ In 1834 he was appointed a classical lecturer in Trinity College. His lectures were remarkable for erudition and unwearied industry. In addition to the work thus entailed upon him he undertook to edit Dr. Bentley's ‘Correspondence’ (afterwards completed by his brother Christopher). He also made large collections for a classical dictionary (Autobiography of Dean Merivale, p. 193). In 1837 he was ordained deacon, and priest shortly afterwards.
At about the same time his health began to fail; he resigned his lectureship, and even endeavoured, it is said, to obtain educational work of less severity elsewhere. From this step he was dissuaded, and remained at Cambridge till his death on 31 Dec. 1839. He is buried in the antechapel of the college, where a monument to him was placed by subscription. The bust was executed by Weekes, under Chantrey's supervision. Most of his collections are in the possession of his nephew, the bishop of Salisbury.