Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hickes, George
HICKES, GEORGE (1642–1715), nonjuror, titular bishop of Thetford, was the second son of William Hickes of Ness in the parish of Stonegrave, Yorkshire, whose wife was a daughter of George Kay, M.A., rector of Topcliffe. His parents after their marriage settled on a large farm called Moorhouse at Newsham in the parish of Kirby Wiske, near Thirsk, where George was born 20 June 1642. When five years old he was sent to school at Thirsk, and when nearly ten to the grammar school at Northallerton, under Thomas Smelt, who throughout the Commonwealth instilled monarchical principles into his pupils. At the age of sixteen he was sent to his elder brother, John Hickes, B.A. [q. v.], of Trinity College, Dublin (1655), then minister at Saltash in Cornwall, who had offered to bind him apprentice to a merchant at Plymouth. He showed such promise, however, that, by the advice of George Hughes, then minister at Plymouth, he was sent to Oxford, where he was admitted a batler at St. John's College in the middle of April 1659. He was no favourite there with the intruded president, Thankful Owen, because, as we are told, ‘he would not take sermon-notes, nor frequent the meetings of the young scholars for spiritual exercises,’ while the reading of James Howell's ‘Dodona's Grove’ and Bishop Hall's ‘Answer to Smectymnuus’ confirmed him in his aversion to the dominant party. On the Restoration he removed to Magdalen College in the capacity of a servitor to Dr. Henry Yerbury, one of the restored fellows. There he took the degree of B.A. 24 Feb. 1662–3, and then removed to Magdalen Hall, whence he was elected to a Yorkshire fellowship at Lincoln College, 23 May 1664. On 8 Dec. 1665 he took the degree of M.A. He went round, according to custom, bareheaded, with his white lambskin bachelor's hood, to offer himself for examination at every college, and heard a French visitor conjecture that he must be doing penance for some great crime. He was ordained deacon 10 June and priest 23 Dec. 1666 at Oxford, and on 8 July 1668 was admitted M.A. at Cambridge. For seven years he acted as tutor at Lincoln College, and went, in 1673, on a tour in France with a former pupil, Sir George Wheeler (afterwards a prebendary of Durham), visiting also Geneva, and returning to Oxford in 1674 in order to take (as bound by college statutes) the degree of B.D. (14 May 1675). At Paris he became well acquainted with Henri Justel, and at Geneva with Francis Turretin. Justel entrusted to him his father's famous manuscripts of the ‘Codex Canonum Ecclesiæ Universalis’ of the ninth century for presentation to the university of Oxford. These manuscripts are now in the Bodleian Library, numbered e Musæo 100–2. In 1675 he was appointed to the rectory of St. Ebbe at Oxford, but held it probably only for a year; his signature is not found in the parish register.
Shortly afterwards Hickes was invited to become chaplain to the Duke of Lauderdale, but did not accept the office until assured by Bishop Fell that charges of gross immorality against the duke were fictions circulated by political adversaries. He was formally appointed 15 Sept. 1676, and in May of the following year he accompanied the duke when he went as high commissioner to Scotland. The duke being a learned Hebrew scholar, Hickes is reported, on the authority of Dr. Mill, to have studied Hebrew in order that he might be able to discuss rabbinical learning with his patron (Hearne, Collections, 1886, i. 268). In Scotland he did all in his power to introduce the use of the liturgy and to hinder a scheme of toleration urged by one Murray, a presbyterian minister, said to be nearly related to the Duchess of Lauderdale. After the execution of James Mitchel in January 1678, Hickes was employed by the duke to write a narrative of the trial, which was published anonymously in the same year, under the title of ‘Ravillac Redivivus;’ a second and enlarged edition appeared in 1682. In April 1678 he was sent up to London, in company with Archbishop Alexander Burnet [q. v.] of Glasgow, to represent to the king and the English bishops the state of ecclesiastical affairs in Scotland; and on his return shortly afterwards was created D.D. at St. Andrews by the instrumentality of Archbishop Sharp. Having now returned to England, promotions came to him in quick succession. After taking the degree of D.D. at Oxford on 17 Dec. 1679, he was made prebendary of Worcester in June 1680, vicar of All Hallows Barking in August 1680, chaplain to the king in December 1681, and in August 1683, upon the recommendation of the ecclesiastical commissioners to the king, dean of Worcester. Shortly after his going to All Hallows he was indicted on a ridiculous charge of idolatry in bowing to a wooden image of St. Michael over the communion-table. The indictment was quashed on the ground that the charge was not one to be brought before a civil court. The image was then broken in pieces by one of the churchwardens and burned in the vestry. Of this case Hickes printed a narrative, ‘Of an Apparition of an Archangel at the Old Baily,’ in a single sheet. After his promotion to the deanery of Worcester, lord-keeper North desired him, by the king's command, to study the patent rolls, with a view to further promotion, the king saying that, through ignorance of these, the bishops since the Reformation had been the worst members of parliament in the House of Lords, and of the least influence. The dean had reached, in consequence, a third volume of transcripts lent him by the lord keeper when the king died, and he then gave up the task. He had previously, in 1684, declined the bishopric of Bristol, with which he might have held his deanery in commendam. He resigned the vicarage of All Hallows in May 1686, being appointed instead to the rectory of Alvechurch, not very far from Worcester. At Worcester he began his study of the northern languages, and after one year's indefatigable work, compiled his ‘Anglo-Saxon and Mœso-Gothic Grammar,’ which was printed at Oxford in 1689. When in 1687 Bishop Thomas of Worcester was ill, it was feared that James II might try to fill a vacancy with some adherent to his projects, but Hickes assured the prebendaries that he would first pray the king to recall any congé d'élire issued for such a person, and then, if necessary, endure any penalty rather than summon the chapter to elect. He was strongly opposed to the king's declaration of indulgence, and in a letter of 5 Nov. 1687 to Edmund Bohun [q. v.] (signed ‘Gregory Hopt.’) expresses a hope that Bohun will preserve for future ages a register of the names of those confessors, a cloud of witnesses, who ‘were removed from honourable and beneficial places merely upon the score of religion when their loyalty was acknowledged’ (original manuscript letters in the possession of Mr. C. H. Firth of Balliol College, Oxford). A letter on the same subject to Dean Comber, dated 9 June 1688, after the order for publication of the declaration in the churches, is printed in the ‘Orthodox Churchman's Magazine,’ 1802, ii. 321–2. But during Monmouth's rebellion his loyalty was unshaken. His brother John [q. v.] engaged in it, and was executed on 6 Oct. 1685. The dean exerted himself in vain for his deliverance, offering 100l. to Lord Shannon to procure a pardon for him by the king's personal favour.
The Sunday after the landing of the Prince of Orange the dean preached in his cathedral a sermon upon the example of primitive Christians in submission to persecuting princes, and suffered, in consequence, some trouble at the hands of a considerable force which had secured the city of Worcester for the prince. Refusing the oath of allegiance, he was suspended on 1 Aug. 1689; and, after six months' interval, was deprived on 1 Feb. following. He remained, however, unmolested until the beginning of May, and then, upon hearing of the appointment of his successor in the deanery, he affixed to the entrance-gate of the choir of the cathedral a claim of right against all intruders. This was set up before morning prayer on 2 May, and in the middle of evening service was removed by an officer. In the drawing up of this document, which is printed in the appendix to Lee's ‘Life of Kettlewell,’ p. v, he was assisted by the advice of Mr. North [query Roger North?], whose modifications are given in a draft which is preserved in the Bodleian Library (Engl. Hist. MS. b 2, fol. 110). Messengers were then sent by the Earl of Nottingham, secretary of state, for his arrest, but Hickes had meanwhile secretly withdrawn to London, where, and in the neighbourhood, he remained more or less in concealment, until, in 1699, Lord-chancellor Somers caused a nolle prosequi to be entered to all proceedings against him. During some earlier part of this period he was harboured by White Kennett, then rector of Ambrosden, Oxfordshire, and disguised himself in lay attire, sometimes assuming that of a military officer. He lived also for a time at Westwood in Worcestershire, under the roof of Lady Pakington, to whom he assigns, in his preface to his ‘Thesaurus,’ the authorship of the ‘Whole Duty of Man.’ When, in 1693, it was determined, after consultation with King James, to continue the episcopal succession among the nonjurors by the appointment of suffragans, as provided for in the act 26 Henry VIII, cap 4, Hickes was sent over in May to St. Germains, by way of Holland, with a list of names. He was received at once by the king on his arrival, although late at night; and on the following day James informed Hickes that he had consulted the pope (Innocent XII), the archbishop of Paris (De Harlai), and the bishop of Meaux (Bossuet), who all agreed that he was justified in doing what in him lay to maintain the episcopate of the church of England. From the list submitted to him, two names were consequently selected, Archbishop Sancroft nominating Hickes as his suffragan, and Bishop Lloyd of Norwich nominating Wagstaffe. Hickes's return to England was delayed by his falling ill at Rotterdam with ague; but at length he reached London on 4 Feb. 1694, escaping detection at Harwich by appearing to be in company of a foreign minister. On the 24th of that month he and Wagstaffe were consecrated in the oratory of Bishop White of Peterborough at Southgate, near Enfield, by Bishops Turner, Lloyd, and White, Hickes being titled as bishop of Thetford and Wagstaffe as bishop of Ipswich. Henry Hyde [q. v.], earl of Clarendon, who presented to the consecrators King James's letters of commission, was the only witness present, together with Robert Duglas, a notary who drew up the record, which is dated in the tenth year of James II. In February 1696 Hickes was living in a small cottage on Bagshot Heath, and was preparing a reply to Burnet's vindication of his funeral sermon on Tillotson. But in consequence of the discovery of the plot for assassinating William III, and the issue of a proclamation offering 1,000l. for the discovery of certain persons, Hickes's house was beset by a mob, and searched, upon warrants from a justice of the peace, especially in the hope of finding the Duke of Berwick. He in consequence left the neighbourhood without finishing his reply to Burnet, and, falling into a long sickness, remained unsettled for some months, but in the same year (1696) was living in Gloucester Green in Oxford, where he drew up a declaration of his principles and wrote much in defence of the nonjuror's position.
In 1703–5 his best-known work appeared, in one large folio volume, from the university press at Oxford, the ‘Linguarum veterum septentrionalium thesaurus grammatico-criticus et archæologicus.’ It is a stupendous monument of learning and industry, and that it should be the product of anxious years of suffering and perpetual turmoil affords wonderful testimony to the author's mental power and energy. The work is said to have been originally suggested to him by White Kennett. It comprises a second edition of the ‘Grammatica Anglo-Saxon. et Mœso-Gothica,’ ‘Grammatica Franco-Theotisca,’ and R. Jonas's ‘Grammatica Islandica’ with additions by Hickes. H. Wanley's catalogue of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts concludes the book. A long dedication to Prince George of Denmark is prefixed, for which Hickes received one hundred guineas from the prince (Hearne, Collections, 1889, iii. 148). The book was published at the price of three guineas for small-paper copies and five guineas for large paper, and a printed certificate was issued by Edward Thwaites that the actual cost of each copy was 2l. 8s.
In 1713 Hickes procured the two Scottish bishops James Gadderar [q. v.] and A. Campbell [q. v.] to take part with him in the consecration, at his own private chapel (in oratorio) in St. Andrew's, Holborn, on Ascension day, 14 May, of Samuel Hawes, Nathaniel Spinckes, and Jeremy Collier. The official Latin record, dated 3 June, states that the king's consent had been obtained, and that the object was to maintain the due succession, all the catholic bishops of the English church having died except the bishop of Thetford. The witnesses were Heneage, [earl of] Winchilsea, T. L., and H. G. [Henry Gandy]. He had been for some years subject to attacks from the stone, and these at last proved fatal on 15 Dec. 1715. He was buried on 18 Dec. in the churchyard of St. Margaret, Westminster, by his friend Spinckes. On 13 Sept. 1679 he married Frances, widow of a London citizen named John Marshall, and daughter of Charles Mallory of Raynham, Essex, who had been a great sufferer for his loyalty. His wife died on 3 Dec. 1714. He left no children. His will was printed by E. Curll in 1716. He bequeathed all his manuscripts and letters to Hilkiah Bedford [q. v.], together with his copies of his own published books. By his direction his library, which contained many French and Italian books, was sold by auction in March 1716. Some of his manuscripts (including a volume of transcripts of sermons) are now among the Rawlinson MSS. in the Bodleian Library. Portions of his wide correspondence may be found in many collections; in the British Museum, among the Lansdowne, Harleian, and Additional MSS.; and in the Bodleian, among the Ballard, Tanner, and Rawlinson MSS. Letters of his are printed in Sir Henry Ellis's ‘Letters,’ 2nd ser. iv. 40–56, and in his ‘Letters of Eminent Literary Men,’ 1843, pp. 267, 283; and in the correspondence appended to Pepys's ‘Diary.’ Letters to Dr. A. Charlett are in the ‘European Magazine’ for 1797, p. 329, and in the ‘Orthodox Churchman's Magazine’ for 1804, vi. 13–15; letters to Charlett, Hearne, and T. Smith, in vols. i. ii. of ‘Letters from the Bodleian,’ 1813; two in Nicolson's ‘Letters,’ 1809, i. 118–21; part of a letter to Wanley in 1696 in ‘Oxoniana,’ iii. 143; abstracts of letters to Hearne in Doble's Hearne's ‘Collections,’ 1886, ii. 1–190. In Nelson's ‘Life of Bull,’ 1713, two letters are printed at pp. 513–35 (one of which, dated 5 Aug. 1712, was written from Hampstead). Nelson introduces them with a very just encomium of his friend's profound erudition both in secular and sacred studies.
There is a portrait of Hickes in the gallery attached to the Bodleian Library, which was given in 1746 by Euseby Isham, D.D., rector of Lincoln College; another is in the hall of Lincoln College, and a third in Cheshunt Great House, Hertfordshire. G. Ballard had a drawing of him sketched by Elizabeth Elstob, and an engraved portrait forms the frontispiece to his ‘Thesaurus.’
A staff which had belonged to him was, in 1886, in the possession of the late Very Rev. A. Ranken, dean of Aberdeen, having been given by Bishop Robert Gordoun in 1764 to Robert Forbes, bishop of Ross and Argyll, by him to Bishop Jolly, thence to the Rev. C. Pressley, Bishop Suther of Aberdeen, and Mr. Ranken (Bishop R. Forbes, Journals, 12mo, London, 1886, p. 33).
One of his brothers, Ralph Hickes, took the degree of M.A. at Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1681, and was admitted licentiate of the College of Physicians in London, 30 Sept. 1692. He was dead before the date of Hickes's will in 1715. Hearne tells us that he was brought over to the church of England by George (Collections, i. 260).
The following list of his works, which omits those mentioned above, is chiefly based upon an account appended to the sketch of Hickes's life in the Bodleian MS. referred to below. Use has also been made of the lists sent by Hickes himself in 1708–9 to Ralph Thoresby, who was then projecting a biography of Yorkshire authors. Hickes's own lists are printed in Thoresby's ‘Letters’ (1832, ii. 115, 208). The titles are here abbreviated. 1. ‘A Letter sent from beyond the Seas to one of the Chief Ministers of the Non-conforming Party,’ 4to (anon.), n. p., 1674; reprinted in 1684 as ‘The Judgment of an Anonymous Writer,’ &c. This was written from Saumur in reply to a letter from his brother John, and was at first attributed to Edward Hyde, earl of Clarendon. 2. ‘A Discourse to prove that the Strongest Temptations are Conquerable by Christians,’ 4to, London, 1677; 2nd edit. 1683, 3rd 1713. 3. ‘The Spirit of Enthusiasm Exorcised,’ a sermon, 4to, London, 1680; 2nd edit. 1681; 3rd edit. 1683; 4th, 1709. For this sermon Hickes received special thanks from Drs. Cudworth, More, and Whichcote. 4. ‘The Spirit of Popery speaking out of the mouths of Phanatical Protestants’ (John Kid and John King, two presbyterian ministers) (anon.), fol., London, 1680. 5. ‘Peculium Dei; a Discourse about the Jews,’ 4to, London, 1681. This sermon gained special praise from Dr. Allestry and Kettlewell. 6. ‘The True Notion of Persecution: a Sermon at a time of Contribution for the French Protestants,’ 4to, London, 1681; 2nd edit. 1682, and again in 1713. 7. ‘A Sermon on the 30th of Jan.,’ London, 1682; 3rd and 4th edit. 1683. This excited great opposition at the time of its delivery and subsequently, with threats of violence from some of the hearers. 8. ‘The Moral Shechinah: a Discourse of God's Glory,’ 4to, London, 1682. 9. ‘A Discourse of the Sovereign Power,’ 4to, London, 1682. 10. ‘The Case of Infant Baptism in Five Questions’ (anon.), 4to, London, 1683. This was one of the series of tracts entitled ‘Cases written by London Clergy with a view to the Reconciling of Dissenters.’ 11. ‘Jovian; an Answer to [Samuel Johnson's] Julian the Apostate’ (anon.), 1st and 2nd edit. 8vo, London, 1683. Written at the desire of Archbishop Sancroft. 12. ‘A [Spital] Sermon on Easter Tuesday,’ 4to, London, 1684. 13. ‘A Sermon on the 29th of May,’ 4to, London, 1684. 14. ‘The Harmony of Divinity and Law in a Discourse about not resisting of Sovereign Princes’ (anon.), 4to, London, 1684. 15. ‘Speculum Beatæ Virginis: a Discourse of the due praise and honour of the B.V.’ (anon.), 4to, London, 1686; 2nd edit. in the same year. 16. ‘An Apologetical Vindication of the Church of England’ (anon.), 4to, London, 1687; 2nd edit. 8vo, London, 1706; reprinted in Gibson's ‘Preservative against Popery.’ In consequence of the delivery of this sermon Hickes was summoned before King James, who had supposed that it impugned the authenticity of the papers written by Charles II on his conversion to Romanism, which papers he then showed to Hickes, who acknowledged them to be written by Charles. 17. ‘Reflections upon a Letter out of the Country to a Member of Parliament, concerning the Bishops … now under Suspen sion’ (anon.), 4to, 1689. 18. ‘A Letter to [Dr. Edward Fowler] the Author of a late paper entitled “A Vindication of the Divines of the Church of England”’ (anon.), 4to, n. p. 1689. 19. ‘A Word to the Wavering, in Answer to Dr. G. Burnet's Enquiry into the Present State of Affairs’ (anon.), 4to, 1689. 20. ‘An Apology for the New Separation’ (anon.), 4to, London, 1691. The lady mentioned here as not being convinced by a sermon of Archbishop Sharp, to which the tract is a reply, was Lady Gainsborough, who often contributed money to James II when in exile, and when he was in Ireland sent him 2,000l., as the king himself told Hickes. 21. ‘A Vindication of some among ourselves against the False Principles of Dr. Sherlock’ (anon.), 4to, London, 1692. 22. ‘Some Discourses upon Dr. Burnet and Dr. Tillotson’ (anon.), 4to, London, 1695. 23. ‘The Pretences of the P[rince] of W[ales] Examined and Rejected in a Letter to a Friend in the Country’ (anon.), 4to, dated from King Street, London, 7 Nov. 1701. A satirical tract in ridicule of the arguments against the birth of the prince. 24. ‘Several Letters which passed between Dr. Hickes and a Popish Priest,’ 8vo, London, 1705. The lady on whose account this book was written could not have been Robert Nelson's wife, Lady Theophila Nelson (cf. Secretan, Life of Nelson, 1865, p. 25). 25. A Latin letter to Sir Hans Sloane ‘de varia lectione inscriptionis quæ in statua Tagis exaratur, per quatuor alphabeta Hetrusca,’ printed in the ‘Philosophical Transactions,’ No. 302, 1705. 26. ‘Two Treatises: one of the Christian Priesthood, the other of the Dignity of the Episcopal Order,’ 2nd edit. 1707; 3rd edit., 2 vols., 1711. In answer to Tindal, ‘A Supplement of Additions’ was printed in 1714. 27. ‘A Second Collection of Controversial Letters relating to the Church of England and the Church of Rome, as they passed between Dr. Hickes and an Honourable Lady [Lady Gratiana Carew of Haccombe, Devonshire],’ 8vo, London, 1710. 28. ‘A Seasonable and Modest Apology in behalf of the Rev. Dr. G. Hickes and other Non-jurors, in a Letter to T. Wise, D.D.’ (anon.), 8vo, London, 1710. This is added by another hand in the manuscript list of Hickes's works, but Hearne in a note in a copy which belonged to him ascribes it to Hilkiah Bedford. 29. ‘A Discourse wherein some Account is given of Dr. Grabe and his MSS.,’ prefixed to Dr. Grabe's ‘Instances of Mr. Whiston's defects,’ &c., 8vo, London, 1712. 30. ‘Some Queries proposed to Civil, Canon, and Common Lawyers’ (anon.), in a folio half-sheet, 1712; reprinted in 8vo in 1714 with the title, ‘Seasonable Queries relating to the Birth and Birth-right of a certain Person.’ 31. ‘Sermons on Several Subjects,’ 2 vols. 8vo, London, 1713, with a preface by Nathaniel Spinckes. 32. ‘The Celebrated Story of the Thebæan Legion’ (anon.), 8vo, London, 1714. 33. ‘The Constitution of the Catholick Church and the Nature and Consequences of Schism,’ 8vo, n.p., 1716 and, abridged, 1719. Published by Thomas Deacon. 34. ‘Records of the New Consecrations.’ Narrative by Hickes of the proceedings beforehand, with the official records of the consecrations in 1694 and 1713, with facsimiles of signatures and seals, in eight pages, folio; probably printed after Hickes's death. 35. ‘A Sure Guide to the Holy Sacrament,’ 12mo, London, 1718 (British Museum Catalogue). 36. A volume of posthumous discourses, published [with a preface] by Nathaniel Spinckes, 8vo, London, 1726. 37. ‘Three Short Treatises never before printed’ [two by Hickes, the third by Kettlewell], 8vo, 1732. 38. ‘Thirteen Sermons,’ published by Nathaniel Spinckes, 8vo, London, 1741. 39. ‘A Declaration made by G. Hickes concerning the Faith and Religion in which he lived and intended to die,’ 8vo, London, 1743. To some twenty volumes he prefixed recommendatory prefaces, amongst which the best known are Susannah Hopton's reformed ‘Devotions [of John Austin] in the Ancient Way of Offices,’ a book which has gone through many editions, and ‘The Gentleman Instructed.’ F. Lee's ‘Life of Kettlewell’ is based upon papers derived from Hickes and Nelson. His editions of Thomas à Kempis and Fénelon's ‘Instructions for the Education of a Daughter’ are also well known.[Unfinished MS. Life to 1689, followed by a complete list of his works, in Bodl. MS. Engl. Misc. e. 4; Wood's Athenæ Oxoniensis; Life in General Dict. Historical and Critical (founded on Bayle's Dict.), fol., London, 1738, vi. 153–62; from this the subsequent memoirs are abridged, and most of the notes appended to it appear to be derived from the manuscript above. (There is also a memoir among White Kennett's biographical collections in Lansdowne MS., Brit. Mus., 987, p. 184.) Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. 1860 ix. 128, 6th ser. 1885 xii. 401–3; English Historical Review, October 1887, pp. 752–4.]