Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Nares, Edward

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NARES, EDWARD (1762–1841), miscellaneous writer, born in London in 1762, was the third and youngest son of Sir George Nares [q. v.], judge of the court of common pleas, who married on 23 Sept. 1751 Mary (d. 1782), daughter of Sir John Strange, master of the rolls. Edward was admitted at Westminster School on 9 July 1770, but was not upon the foundation, and left in 1779. On 22 March in that year he matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, and graduated B.A. 1783, M.A. 1789. From 2 Aug. 1788 to his marriage in 1797 he held a fellowship at his college, and about 1791 he was living, as librarian, at Blenheim Palace, where he played in private theatricals with the daughters of the Duke of Marlborough, and one of them, with whom he is said to have eloped, subsequently became his wife. In 1792 he was ordained, and was almost immediately appointed to the vicarage of St. Peter-in-the-east, Oxford. On the nomination of the Archbishop of Canterbury he was collated to the rectory of Biddenden, Kent, in 1798, and retained it until his death. Nares was Bampton lecturer in 1805, and select preacher in 1807, 1814, and 1825. From 1813 to 1841 he filled the regius professorship of modern history at Oxford, to which he was appointed by the crown, on the recommendation of Lord Liverpool. G. V. Cox remarks that he took his professorial duties easily, not always attracting an audience, ‘though he was an accomplished scholar, a perfect gentleman, and an amusing writer.’ His range of knowledge was wide, and he is said to have been a friend of J. A. De Luc [q. v.], the geologist. He died at Biddenden on 20 Aug. 1841. Nares married at Henley-on-Thames 16 April 1797 Lady Georgina Charlotte, third daughter of George Churchill Spencer, duke of Marlborough. She died at Bath on 15 Jan. 1802, at the age of thirty-one. His second wife, whom he married in June 1803, was Cordelia, second daughter of Thomas Adams of Osborne Lodge, Cranbrook, Kent. He had issue by both wives. He was nephew, as well as trustee and executor under his will, to John Strange, British resident at Venice, a great collector of books and curiosities.

Nares's best known work was his monumental ‘Memoirs of the Life and Administration of William Cecil, Lord Burghley,’ 1828–31, in three volumes. These enormous tomes were reviewed by Macaulay in the ‘Edinburgh Review’ for April 1832, and were described by him as consisting of about two thousand closely printed quarto pages, occupying fifteen hundred inches cubic measure, and weighing sixty pounds avoirdupois. The author tried to retaliate in ‘A few Observations on the “Edinburgh Review” of Dr. Nares's Memoirs of Lord Burghley.’

His other writings are: 1. ‘Thinks-I-to-myself. A serio-ludicro, tragico-comico tale, written by Thinks-I-to-myself who?’ 1811, 2 vols.; 8th edit. 1812; another edit. 1824. 2. ‘I says, says I. A Novel, by Thinks-I-to-myself,’ 1812, 2 vols.; 2nd edit. 1812. These novels, which contain much censure of fashionable and social life, have been praised for their ‘dry humour and satirical pleasantry.’ 3. ‘Heraldic Anomalies. By it matters not who,’ 1823, 2 vols. 2nd edit. (anon.) 1824. A work of many curious anecdotes. 4. ‘Εἷς Θεός εἷς μεσιτής, or an Attempt to show how far the Notion of the Plurality of Worlds is consistent with the Scriptures,’ 1801. The first impression was issued anonymously in July 1801. 5. ‘View of the Evidences of Christianity at the Close of the Pretended Age of Reason.’ Bampton lectures, 1805. 6. ‘Remarks on the Version of the New Testament lately edited by the Unitarians,’ 1810; 2nd edit. 1814, with letter to the Rev. Francis Stone, originally written and published in 1807 on his support of unitarianism. Some portion of these remarks appeared in the ‘British Critic.’ 7. ‘Discourses on the three Creeds and on the Homage offered to our Saviour,’ 1819. 8. ‘Man as known to us theologically and geologically.’ Nares added in 1822 to Lord Woodhouselee's ‘Elements of General History, Ancient and Modern,’ a third volume, bringing the compilation down to the close of the reign of George III, which was reissued and continued by successive editors in 1840 and 1855. He supplied in 1824 a series of historical prefaces for an issue of the Bible, ‘embellished by the most eminent British Artists,’ 1824, 3 vols. fol., and he contributed a preface to an edition of Burnet's ‘History of the Reformation,’ which came out at Oxford in 1829. He was also the author of many single sermons.

[Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Gent. Mag., 1797, pt. i. p. 349, 1802 pt. i. p. 93, 1803 pt. ii. p. 689, 1841 pt. ii. pp. 435–6; Welch's West. School, p. 405; Barker and Stennings West. School Register, p. 168; Le Neve's Fasti, iii. 530; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit. vii. 614, 634–5; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. ix. 230, 5th ser. ix. 53–4, 275, 8th ser. ii. 91–2; G. V. Cox's Recollections of Oxford, 2nd edit. pp. 9, 152.]

W. P. C.