Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Moss, Charles

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MOSS, CHARLES (1711–1802), bishop successively of St. David's and of Bath and Wells, son of William Moss and Sarah his wife, was born in 1711, and baptised 3 Jan. of that year. The elder Moss farmed a 'pretty estate,' inherited from his father, at Post- wick, Norfolk (Nichols, Lit. Anecd. iv. 223). Charles's paternal uncle was Dr. Robert Moss [q. v.], dean of Ely, who at his death in 1729 bequeathed to him, as 'a promising youth' (ib.), the bulk of his large property. He had already, in 1727, entered Caius College, Cambridge, as a pensioner, whence he graduated B.A. in 1731, and M.A. in 1735, and in the latter yearwas elected to a fellowship. He was brought under the notice of Bishop Sherlock, then bishop of Salisbury, whose ' favourite chaplain' he became (Newton, Autobiography, p. 178), and was by him placed on the ladder of preferment, which he climbed rapidly. In 1738 he was collated to the prebend of Warminster in Salisbury Cathedral, and in 1740 he exchanged it for that of Hurstbourne and Burbage. On Sherlock's translation to London, in 1748, he accompanied his patron, by whom he was appointed archdeacon of Colchester in 1749. From Sherlock also he received in succession the valuable livings of St. Andrew Undershaft, St. James's, Piccadilly (1750), and St. George's, Hanover Square (1759). In 1744 he defended Sherlock's 'Tryal of the Witnesses' against the strictures of Thomas Chubb [q. v.], in a tract entitled 'The Evidence of the Resurrection cleared from the exceptions of a late Pamphlet,' which was reissued in 1749 under the new title, 'The Sequel of the Trial of the Witnesses,' but without other alteration. He delivered the Boyle lectures for four years in succession, 1759-62. The lectures were not published (Nichols, Lit. Anecd. vi. 455). He was consecrated Bishop of St. David's, in succession to Robert Lowth [q. v.], 30 Nov. 1766, and in 1774 was translated to Bath and Wells, which see he retained until his death in 1802. He was a good average prelate, and, we are told, was 'much esteemed through his diocese for his urbanity and simplicity of manners, and reverenced for his piety and learning.' He warmly supported Hannah More [q. v.] in the promotion of Christian education in the Cheddar Valley, her schools being always 'honoured with his full sanction' (Roberts, Life of H. More, iii. 40, 136). Almost in the last year of his life, when she was threatened with prosecution by the farmers, under an obsolete statute, for her 'unlicensed schoolmasters,' he invited her to dinner at the palace, and 'received her with affectionate cordiality' (ib. p. 102). He died at his house in Grosvenor Square, 13 April 1802, and was buried in Grosvenor Chapel, South Audley Street.

Moss was a fellow of the Royal Society. With the exception of the above-mentioned reply to Chubb, his only printed works consisted of one archidiaconal charge, 1764, and some occasional sermons. There is a portrait of him in the vestry of St. James's Church, Piccadilly.

Out of a fortune of 140,000l., he bequeathed 20,000l. to his only daughter, wife of Dr. King, and the remaining 120,000l. to his only surviving son, Dr. Charles Moss (1763-1811), a graduate of Christ Church, Oxford (B.A. 1783 and D.D. 1797), and chaplain of the House of Commons in 1789, whom his father had appointed archdeacon of Carmarthen, January 1767, and archdeacon of St. David's in the December of the same year. He also gave him the sub-deanery of Wells immediately after his translation in 1774, and the precentorship in 1799, and three prebendal stalls in succession; in 1807 he was made bishop of Oxford, and died on 16 Dec. 1811.

[Cassan's Lives of the Bishops of Bath and Wells, pp. 175-8; Britton's Wells Cathedral, p. 82; Roberts's Life of Hannah More; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. iv. 223, vi. 453.]

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