Cherry, Francis (DNB00)

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CHERRY, FRANCIS (1665?–1713), nonjuror, son of William and Anne Cherry of Shottesbrooke, Berkshire, was born in 1665 or 1667, the date depending on his age at his death, and was a gentleman commoner of St. Edmund Hall, Oxford. Soon after he had completed his twentieth year he married Eliza, daughter of John Finch of Fiennes Court in the neighbouring parish of White Waltham. He and his wife lived with his father at Shottesbrooke. William Cherry survived until the Revolution, and died at the age of seventy-two (Hearne) or eighty-three (Berkeley). He allowed his son 2,500l. a year to visit Bath and such other places as he pleased, and ‘to relieve the distressed’ (ib.) Among the various objects of his bounty was Thomas Hearne, the antiquary, the son of the parish clerk of White Waltham. Cherry having discovered Hearne's talents put him to school, and in 1695 took him to live in his house. helped him in his studies, and supplied him with money until he had taken his M.A. degree. Hearne, who often speaks of his kindness, calls him ‘my best friend and patron.' Cherry would not acknowledge William and Mary. He was a man of learning and piety, and became the liberal patron of some of the most eminent of the nonjuring party. At Shottesbrooke he often entertained Bishop Ken, Dodwell he settled in a house near his own. and Nelson was his constant guest. Leslie he concealed for a while in a house belonging to him at White Waltham, and sent him to Rome to convert the old Chevalier de St. George. The prince assured Leslie of his unalterable attachment to his own faith, and sent Cherry a ring as a token of his regard. First. Gilbert and then Francis Brokesby [q. v.] held prayers twice daily at his house, acting as chaplains ‘to him and Mr. Dodwell’s family, and others of that party, in the duties of religion' (Hearne, Collections, 211). At the same time Cherry lived on excellent terms with White Kennet, afterwards bishop of Peterborough, to whom he had given the living of Shotteshrooke. He had a few valuable manuscripts and a fine collection of books, coins, and other antiquities. He did not publish anything. Hearne speaks of a chronology of Herodotus and of some other works that he began and left unfinished at his death, as evidences of the depth of his learning and of his critical ability, and Dodwell, in dedicating his ‘De Veterum Cyclis’ to him, acknowledges the help he had received from him. His views on the duty of the nonjurors when the rights of the deprived bishops ceased to exist will be found in the letters of his friend and chaplain Brokesby, with whom he and Dodwell returned to the communion of the national church on 26 Feb. 1709–10 (Marshall, Defence, App. vi, xii).

Cherry was a remarkably handsome man, and was noted as a fine gentleman, an elegant dancer, and a bold rider. William III, jealous of his fame as a horseman, used at one time to follow him pretty closely when out stag-hunting. Observing this, Cherry one day leaped his horse down a steep and dangerous piece of bank into the Thames, hoping that the 'usurper' would follow him and break his neck, but the king turned away. Whenever the Princess of Denmark came out to hunt in her 'calash,' or chaise, Cherry used to ride up to the carriage and pay his respects. He would not, however, acknowledge Anne as his sovereign, and so the first day she drove to the hunt after she became queen he kept away from her. Anne asked Peachy, her 'bottle-man,' if that was not Mr. Cherry in the distance, and when he replied that it was, she said, 'Aye, he will not come to me now; I know the reason. But go you and carry him a couple of bottles of red wine and white from me, and tell him that I esteem him one of the honestest gentlemen in my dominions.' True to his principles. Cherry bade Peachy express his humble respects and best thanks to 'his mistress.' The compliment is said to have been often repeated (Berkeley). On the death of his father Cherry took his debts, amounting to 30,000l., upon himself. This brought him into serious difficulties. On one occasion he was arrested at the suit of Mrs. Barbara Porter, his god-mother, for a debt of 200l, and lay a few days in Reading gaol. His imprisonment cost him 100l., which he spent in entertaining the Berkshire gentlemen who came to visit him. He died on 23 Sept. 1713, at the age of forty-six (Berkeley) or forty-eight (Hearne), and was buried on the 25th. In accordance with his wishes his funeral was performed privately at 10 p.m. in Shottesbrooke churchyard, and on his tomb were inscribed only the words 'Hic jacet peccatorum maximus,' with the year of his death. His manuscripts were given by his widow to the university of Oxford. Among them was a letter Hearne had written to him on the subject of the oath of allegiance, which fell into the hands of the antiquary's enemies, and so caused him much trouble. Cherry had two sons, who died in infancy, and three daughters; the eldest, Anne, presented her father's picture to the University Gallery; the youngest, Eliza, married Henry Frinsham, vicar of White Waltham, and became the mother of Eliza Berkeley [q. v.] Shottesbrooke was sold in 1717.

Among those who were helped by Francis Cherry was his first cousin, Thomas Cherry (1683–1706), the schoolfellow and friend of Hearne. His expenses at St. Edmund Hall appear to have been paid by his cousin (Reliquiæ Hearnianæ, 286). He was, Hearne says, 'a lover of learning and of learned men.' He helped Hearne in his work, and was his 'very dear friend.' Shortly after taking his M.A. degree and entering orders as curate of Witney, Oxfordshire, he died, on 17 Nov. 1706, at the age of twenty-three. His stipend at Witney was 20l. a year. Hearne, writing to Francis Cherry, tells him that he has secured Thomas's effects at Oxford, and among them a 'new pudding-sleeve crape gown,' that his debts amounted to 15l. 8s. 11d., and that his substitute at Witney should be paid 10s. a Sunday.

[Mrs. E. Berkeley's preface to Poems of G. M. Berkeley, 66, 318–47; Nichols's History of Hinckley, 173; Hearne's preface to Leland's Collectanea (2nd ed.), 39; Hearne's Leland's Itinerary (2nd ed.). 119; Reliquiæ Hearnianæ (ed. 1857), 138, 293, 823, 899, 904–6; Hearne's Collections, ed. Doble, i. passim; Brokesby's Life of Dodwell, 300; Marshall's Defence of our Constitution, App. vi, xii; Gent. Mag. lxv. pt. ii. 825, 894, lxix. pt. i. 96, 462.]

W. H.