Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Courtenay, Henry Reginald

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COURTENAY, HENRY REGINALD (1741–1803), bishop of Exeter, was the eldest surviving son of Henry Reginald Courtenay, M.P., who married Catherine, daughter of Allen, first earl Bathurst. He was born in the parish of St. James, Piccadilly, 27 Dec. 1741, and admitted at Westminster School in 1755, proceeding thence in 1759 to Christ Church, Oxford, where he took the degrees of B.A. 1763, M.A. 1766, and D.C.L. 1774. Having taken orders in the English church, some valuable preferments speedily fell to his lot. The rectory of Lee in Kent and the second prebendal stall in Rochester Cathedral were conferred upon him in 1773. In the following year he was appointed to the valuable rectory of St. George, Hanover Square, when he vacated his stall at Rochester; but he was one of the prebendaries of Exeter from 1772 to 1794, and he retained the fourth prebend at Rochester from 1783 to 1797. Early in 1794 he was nominated to the poor bishopric of Bristol (his consecration taking place on 11 May), and after three years' occupancy of that preferment was translated to the more lucrative see of Exeter (March 1797), holding the archdeaconry of Exeter in commendam from that year until his death, and retaining as long as he lived his rich London rectory. He died in Lower Grosvenor Street, London, 9 June 1803, and was buried in the cemetery of Grosvenor Chapel. His wife, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Thomas Howard, second earl of Effingham, whom he married in January 1774, lived till 31 Oct. 1815. They had two sons and four daughters. The elder son, William, sometime clerk-assistant of the parliament, became in 1835 the eleventh earl of Devon; the younger son, Thomas Peregrine, is separately noticed. A letter from the bishop to the Rev. Richard Polwhele is printed in the latter's 'Traditions and Recollections,' ii. 536-7. Courtenay was stiff and reserved in social intercourse, but his letters were frank and unreserved. Several of his sermons for charities and on state occasions were printed between 1795 and 1802. His charge to the clergy of Bristol diocese at his primary visitation was printed in 1796, and that delivered to the clergy of the diocese of Exeter on the corresponding occasion was published in 1799.

[Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, ix. 158, 184; Le Neve's Fasti (Hardy), i. 221, 383, 397, 430, 432, ii. 584, 586; Oliver's Bishops of Exeter, 165, 274; Gent. Mag. 1803, pt. i. 602; Burke's Peerage; Welch's Alumni Westmon. (1852), 362, 366, 372, 410.]

W. P. C.