Squire, Samuel (DNB00)

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SQUIRE, SAMUEL (1713–1766), bishop of St. Davids, baptised at Warminster, Wiltshire, in 1713, was son of Thomas Squire (d. 30 Nov. 1761, aged 74), druggist and apothecary of that town, who married, in 1708, Susan, daughter of John Scott, rector of Bishopstrow, a neighbouring parish. She died on 9 Aug. 1758, aged 72 (Hoare, Modern Wiltshire, ‘Warminster,’ pp. 21, 26).

Samuel was admitted pensioner of St. John's College, Cambridge, on 23 June 1730, and became Somerset scholar of the college on 11 July in that year. Dr. John Newcome, afterwards master of St. John's and dean of Rochester, one of the whig leaders at the university, had married his father's sister, and was able to benefit him by his influence in the college and with the Duke of Newcastle. Squire, who was known as a plodding rather than a clever scholar, graduated B.A. in 1733–4, and M.A. on 5 July 1737, obtained the Craven scholarship on 10 June 1734, and was elected a fellow of his college on 24 March 1734–5. He was ordained deacon on Trinity Sunday 1739, and priest in 1741, and in the latter year was appointed by his college to the vicarage of Minting in Lincolnshire. In February 1742 he withdrew from Cambridge to reside in the palace at Wells as domestic chaplain to the bishop, Dr. John Wynn, and on 21 May 1743 was appointed by his diocesan to the archdeaconry of Bath and the prebendal stall of Wanstraw in Wells Cathedral. These preferments he retained until 1761.

Squire developed a keen talent for his own advancement in life. He adopted Newcome's whig principles, and from 1748 was chaplain to the Duke of Newcastle. When the duke was installed as chancellor of the university of Cambridge, he preached one of the commencement sermons on 2 July 1749, and proceeded to the degree of D.D. From that time he acted as the chancellor's secretary for university affairs, and he lived for some period in the duke's house as domestic chaplain. As a parasite of the Duke of Newcastle he was ridiculed in 1749 by William King (1685–1763) [q. v.], in ‘A Key to the Fragment. By Amias Riddinge, B.D.,’ chap. iv. (King, Anecdotes, pp. 153–5). Few men were more generally disliked in the university, and the reputation for servility clung to him through life; but his rise in the church was rapid. By the nomination of the crown Squire was admitted on 21 Nov. 1749 to the rectory of Topsfield in Essex; but to gratify Archbishop Herring, who desired to obtain that benefice for a relative, he resigned it in the following March, receiving in its place the rectory of St. Anne's, Soho. On 22 June 1751 he was instituted, on the gift of the crown, to the vicarage of Greenwich, and these two valuable benefices he retained until his death.

On the establishment in 1756 of a household for the young Prince of Wales, afterwards George III, the post of clerk of the closet was conferred on Squire. But he was not yet satisfied. In October 1758 he urged Lord Chesterfield to obtain a bishopric for him from the Duke of Newcastle, but Chesterfield declined to move in the matter (Ernst, Chesterfield, pp. 506–8). He was, however, installed in the deanery of Bristol on 13 June 1760, and the first bishopric, that of St. Davids, which became vacant after the accession of George III, was given to him. He was consecrated on 24 May 1761. Gray, who often sneered at his hunger for preferment, wrote to Dr. Wharton in May 1761: ‘I wish you joy of Dr. Squire's bishoprick; he keeps both his livings and is the happiest of devils.’ A print called ‘The Pluralist’ sharply satirised him.

The Duke of Newcastle is said to have expressed dissatisfaction at Squire's promotion, and wished ‘the world to know that he had no hand in it.’ But Squire was under no misapprehension as to the declining influence of his old patron, and, with an eye to the future, openly assigned his good fortune to the discernment of the king's favourite, Lord Bute (Notes and Queries, 1st ser., i. 65–7).

The bishop died in Harley Street, London, London, on 7 May 1766, after a short illness. Despite his greed of place, Squire was at times a generous patron, and among others on whom he conferred favours was the unfortunate Dr. William Dodd [q. v.], who in return lauded him in his works (Dodd, Poems, pp. 82, 196; Thoughts in Prison, iv. 73; Mutual Knowledge in a Future State, 1766, 1767, 1782; for other instances of Squire's generosity see Gent. Mag. 1772, pp. 303–4; Europ. Mag. lvi. 87–8). Squire's dark complexion gave him the nickname of ‘The Man of Algola.’

Squire married, on 13 May 1752, Charlotte, eldest daughter of Thomas Ardesoif of Soho Square, and she died on 12 April 1771, in her fiftieth year. They left three children, the last surviving of whom, Samuel Squire, of the Inner Temple, died unmarried on 7 Sept. 1843, and was buried in the vaults under Leamington church.

Squire was elected F.R.S. on 15 May 1746 and F.S.A. on 2 March 1747–8, and was ‘an active member of both societies.’ He was a student of languages, especially of Saxon and Icelandic, and of history and antiquities. He left in manuscript a Saxon grammar of his composition, and sought to encourage the study of Anglo-Saxon at Cambridge. His published writings comprised: 1. ‘Ancient History of the Hebrews Vindicated, or Remarks on part of the third volume of the Moral Philosopher. By Theophanes Cantabrigiensis,’ 1741. 2. ‘Two Essays, the former a Defence of the ancient Greek Chronology; the latter an inquiry into the Origin of the Greek Language,’ 1741. This provoked an answer, ‘Miscellaneous Reflexions, arising from a perusal of Two Essays by Mr. Squire.’ 3. ‘Plutarchi de Iside et Osiride liber, Græce et Anglice’ [1744]. This work he emended and annotated, adding a new English version. 4. ‘An Enquiry into the Foundations of the English Constitution,’ 1745; new ed. with additions, 1753. Both were dedicated to the Duke of Newcastle. 5. ‘Letter to a Tory Friend on the present Critical Situation of our Affairs’ (anon.), 1746. 6. ‘Remarks on Mr. Carte's Specimen of his General History of England’ (anon.), 1748; attacking Carte's account of the Druids and laughing at the patronage of the Jacobites. 7. ‘A letter to John Trot-Plaid, author of the Jacobite Journal, on Mr. Carte's History. By Duncan MacCarte, a Highlander,’ 1748. 8. ‘Historical Essay on the balance of Civil Power in England’ (anon.), 1748. This was afterwards annexed to the second edition of his ‘English Constitution,’ 1753. 9. ‘Remarks on the Academic …’ (anon.), 1751; an attack on some regulations of Cambridge University. 10. ‘Indifference for Religion inexcusable,’ 1758; 3rd ed. 1763; dedicated to George, prince of Wales. 11. ‘The Principles of Religion made easy to young persons, in a short and familiar catechism,’ 1763; dedicated to Prince Frederic William, and nearly identical with that drawn up for the prince's private use. A made-up copy of the bishop's works, with numerous annotations and corrections by him, in four volumes, is at the British Museum. Prefixed is a manuscript account of his life by his son, Samuel Squire. The bishop was the author of a memoir of Thomas Herring [q. v.], archbishop of Canterbury, his old friend and patron, which appeared with that prelate's ‘Seven Sermons’ (1763). Some political letters by him appeared in the ‘Daily Gazetteer’ of 1740, with the signature of L. E., and many private communications to and from him are among the Newcastle Papers in the British Museum, Additional MSS. 32709–32992.

Squire's library was sold in 1767. It included the collections of Dr. John Pelling, his predecessor at Soho, which he purchased in 1750.

[Gent. Mag. 1762 p. 93, 1766 pp. 203–4, 247, 1771 p. 192; Drake's Blackheath, p. 99; Baker's St. John's Coll. Cambr. ed. Mayor, ii. 709–10; Thomson's Royal Society, App. iv. p. xliv; Le Neve's Fasti, i. 165, 195, 224, 305; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit. ii. 55, 825, 838, v. 766; Nichols's Lit. Anecdotes, ii. 348–52, iii. 637, viii. 272–4, 461; Cole's MSS. 5827 and 5831; Bishop Newton's Life, 1782, p. 60; Corresp. of Gray and Mason, pp. 97–8, 246, 513; Gray's Works, ed. Gosse, i. 127, ii. 326–7, iii. 103; Halkett and Laing, ii. 1383, iii. 2141, 2147.]

W. P. C.