Wilks, Samuel Charles (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 61
Wilks, Samuel Charles

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WILKS, SAMUEL CHARLES (1789–1872), evangelical divine, born in 1789, was son of Samuel Wilks of Newington, Surrey. His grandfather, Samuel Wilks, like many other members of the family, entered the service of the East India Company, rose high in the confidence of the directors, and for many years conducted the secret correspondence of the company with Indian princes and others; he was consulted on Indian affairs by Burke and Lord North, corresponded with Warren Hastings (cf. Add. MS. 29139, ff. 367, 368), and was subpœnaed as a witness at his trial. He retired in 1782, when the directors granted him a liberal pension for life.

Samuel Charles was educated for the church, matriculated from St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, on 8 June 1810, aged 21, and graduated B.A. in 1814 and M.A. in 1816. While an undergraduate he won in 1813 the premium of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge for an ‘Essay on the Signs of Conversion and Unconversion in Ministers of the Church,’ which was published in 1814 (London, 8vo), and reached a third edition in 1830. He took holy orders, attaching himself to the ‘Clapham sect,’ and in 1816 succeeded Zachary Macaulay [q. v.] as editor of the ‘Christian Observer,’ the organ of the ‘sect.’ In 1817 he dedicated to his ‘friend’ Hannah More [q. v.] two volumes of ‘Christian Essays’ (London, 12mo). Another friend was Charles Simeon [q. v.] In 1835 he published a new edition of Lord Teignmouth's ‘Memoirs of Sir W. Jones,’ to which he prefixed a life of Teignmouth [see Shore, John, first Baron Teignmouth]. He continued to edit the ‘Christian Observer’ until 1850, when he was succeeded by John William Cunningham [q. v.], and retired to the living of Nursling, near Southampton, to which he had been presented in 1847. He was the author of many tracts, essays, and letters of a religious and theological character, mostly reprinted from the ‘Christian Observer;’ he also acquired considerable scientific knowledge, and maintained against prevalent religious opinion many of the new views propounded by geologists. He died at Nursling on 23 Dec. 1872, in his eighty-fourth year, leaving several children.

[Works in Brit. Mus. Libr.; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1714–1886; Trevelyan's Life of Macaulay, ii. 228; private information.]