Ridley, Glocester (DNB00)

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RIDLEY, GLOCESTER or GLOSTER (1702–1774), miscellaneous writer, born at sea in the Glocester East Indian in 1702, and consequently called ‘Glocester,’ was a collateral descendant of Bishop Nicholas Ridley [q. v.], and son of Matthew Ridley of Bencoolen, East Indies. He was educated at Winchester College, becoming scholar in 1718, when he was described as of St. Alban, Wood Street, London. He matriculated from Trinity College, Oxford, on 14 Oct. 1721, but was admitted a scholar of New College on 1 Sept. 1722, becoming fellow on 18 June 1724, before the usual two years of probation had been completed. He graduated B.C.L. on 29 April 1729, and the degree of D.D. was conferred upon him by diploma on 25 Feb. 1767. While young he was fond of acting, and in 1728 he and four companions wrote the tragedy of ‘The Fruitless Redress,’ each of them contributing an act. He afterwards composed the play of ‘Jugurtha,’ but neither piece was produced on the public stage or printed. Theophilus Cibber, his contemporary at Winchester, is said to have called upon him at Poplar, and to have pressed him to adopt the stage as his profession. Verses and translations by him, apparently written while he was at college, are in Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 28717.

Ridley was ordained in the English church, and was curate to William Berriman, D.D. [q. v.] He was afterwards Berriman's executor, and preached his funeral sermon. In 1733 he was appointed by his college to the small benefice of Weston Longueville, Norfolk, thereby vacating his fellowship in 1734. He was also chaplain to the East India Company at Poplar, where he chiefly resided, and lecturer at St. Ann's, Middlesex; and in 1751 he was presented by his college to the donative of Romford in Essex. When the Duke of Bedford was made lord-lieutenant of Ireland in 1756, Ridley declined an offer of the first chaplaincy, although it was coupled with a promise of promotion in England. He remained without substantial preferment until May 1766, when he was appointed to the prebendal stall of Teignton Regis in Salisbury Cathedral by Archbishop Secker (Nichols, Literary Anecdotes, ix. 744). Ridley was known to many learned men, including Bishop Lowth and Christopher Pitt, the poet. To the latter he presented a set of verses ‘on his poems and translations.’ With Spence, Pope's friend, he was especially intimate. Spence gave him Pope's cane, and made him his executor. Three letters from Ridley to Spence are in the appendix to Spence's ‘Anecdotes’ (ed. 1858, pp. 320–7), and Ridley addressed to Spence his imitation of Horace's Ode 12, bk. iv. in Dodsley's ‘Museum’ (i. 135–6). Duncombe's translation of the second book of the ‘Epistles of Horace’ is dedicated to him. He died on 3 Nov. 1774, and was buried on 10 Nov. in the cemetery at Poplar, the epitaph on his monument being written by Lowth. Ridley's library was sold by Benjamin White in 1775. He left a widow and four daughters. In his old age he lost both his sons, James Ridley [q. v.] and Thomas Ridley, a writer in the service of the East India Company at Madras, where he was no sooner settled than he died of smallpox. His daughter Mary (d. 1809), wife of Edward Evans (d. 1807), captain in the 23rd foot, is said to have written several novels. Margaret Ridley, ‘the last survivor of his family,’ died at Hingham in 1837, aged 91.

Ridley wrote, in addition to many single sermons and three collected volumes of them (in 1736, 1742, and 1746 respectively): 1. ‘Jovi Eleutherio, or an Offering to Liberty’ [anon.], 1745; this subsequently (1748) appeared in Dodsley's ‘Collection of Poetry,’ iii. 44–58. 2. ‘De Syriacarum Novi Fœderis Versionum indole atque usu dissertatio,’ 1761, dedicated to Archbishop Secker; it is reprinted at the end of Semler's edition of J. J. Wetstein's ‘Libelli ad crisen atque interpretationem Novi Testamenti’ (Halæ, 1776), p. 247. Ridley had received four manuscripts from Mesopotamia, two of which contained ‘binas versiones Cyriacas Novi Fœderis tabularum,’ and although he was without a preceptor, and even lacked a knowledge of the letters, he applied himself to a study of the language and learnt it. The manuscripts were left by him to New College, Oxford, and they were printed at the expense of the delegates of the Clarendon Press in 1778, by the Rev. Joseph White, D.D. (Nichols, Illustrations of Lit. iv. 859). 3. ‘Life of Bishop Nicholas Ridley,’ 1763; the success of this volume enabled him to invest 800l. in the funds; the greater part of it was reprinted in ‘The Voice of the Church,’ 1840, vols. i. ii. 4. ‘A Review of Mr. Phillips's History of the Life of Reginald Pole,’ 1766. 5. ‘A Letter to the Author of the Confessional’ [anon.], 1768; this was followed in the same year by second and third letters, and all three, in which Archbishop Secker assisted, were bound up together with a general title. Francis Blackburne, the anonymous author of ‘The Confessional,’ subsequently replied to them, and so did ‘A Country Clergyman’ (said to be the Rev. T. Gwatkin). 6. ‘Melampus: a Poem in Four Books, with Notes, by the late Gloster Ridley,’ 1781. On the title-page is a medallion portrait of the author, painted by Scoule, and engraved by John Hall. Prefixed is Ridley's poem of ‘Psyche,’ which had previously appeared in Dodsley's ‘Museum’ (iii. 80–97) and in Dodsley's ‘Collection of Poetry’ (iii. 33–43). The publication was effected by George Steevens for the benefit of Ridley's widow and family.

Some of his poems, including one on the death of George I and on the accession of George II from the Oxford set of verses on those events, appear in Nichols's ‘Collection of Poems’ (viii. 74–82, 112–34).

[Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Lysons's Environs, iii. 457–8, iv. 197; Terry's Old Romford, pp. 225–7; Notes and Queries, 7th ser. i. 230; Kirby's Winchester Scholars, p. 227; Gent. Mag. 1774, pp. 505–8, 542, 554 (where some extracts from ‘Jugurtha’ are given), 1775 passim (on the authorship of the ‘Confessional’), 1809 i. 587, 1837 i. 332; Nichols's Lit. Anecdotes, i. 641–9, iii. 689, vi. 455, viii. 410; Ridlon's Ancient Ryedales, pp. 431–5; Le Neve's Fasti, ii. 675; Blomefield's Norfolk, viii. 292; information from Dr. Sewell of New College.]

W. P. C.