Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wrangham, Francis

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WRANGHAM, FRANCIS (1769–1842), classical scholar and miscellaneous writer, born on 11 June 1769, was the only son of George Wrangham (1742–1791), who occupied the farm of Raysthorpe, near Malton in Yorkshire, and rented the moiety of another farm at Titchwell, near Wells, Norfolk. From 1776 to 1780 Francis attended a small school at West Heslerton, kept by Thomas Thirlwall, grandfather of Connop Thirlwall [q. v.], afterwards vicar of Cottingham, near Hull. For two summers he was with the Rev. John Robinson at Pickering, and he passed two years under the instruction of Joseph Milner at Hull (Frost, Address at Hull, 1831, p. 41). In October 1786 Wrangham matriculated from Magdalene College, Cambridge, and next year won Sir William Browne's medal for the best Greek and Latin epigrams. They were printed in July 1787 in a single octavo sheet. At the suggestion of Joseph Jowett [q. v.] he migrated to Trinity Hall on 16 Nov. 1787, and on 5 Dec. was elected ‘scholaris de minori formâ.’ He graduated B.A. in 1790, being third wrangler in the mathematical tripos, second Smith's prizeman, and senior chancellor's medallist. In the last competition he beat his friend and rival John Tweddell [q. v.] Wrangham remained at Cambridge taking pupils, and confidently anticipating that he would be elected to a fellowship at Trinity Hall on the first vacancy. He proceeded M.A. on 22 March 1793; in the following June he obtained from the tutors of Trinity Hall letters testimonial to the archbishop of York of his good and satisfactory conduct, and in July he was ordained. Next month a divinity fellowship became vacant at his college, and he applied for it; but another person, not a member of the hall and disqualified as in possession of preferment of too high value, was elected to it. This graduate afterwards resigned the fellowship, but, having dispossessed himself of his preferment, was at once re-elected. Wrangham petitioned the lord chancellor that, in accordance with the statutes of the hall, he was as a minor scholar entitled to the fellowship, but the tutors claimed the right of rejecting him as not ‘idoneus moribus et ingenio,’ and the lord chancellor upheld their view (F. Vesey, jun., Reports, ii. 609). To injure Wrangham ‘reports were circulated that he was a friend to the French revolution, one who exulted in the murder of the king, and that he was a republican,’ but he was in reality a moderate whig (Gunning, Reminiscences, ii. 14–37). The probable explanation of this rejection lay in the suspicion that he was the author of the well-known epigram on Jowett and his little garden.

Wrangham after this injustice abandoned Trinity Hall and became a member of Trinity College. During 1794 and 1795 he served as curate of the parish of Cobham in Surrey, and in conjunction with Basil Montagu took pupils at 200l. per annum each. Sir James Mackintosh said of their long prospectus: ‘A boy thus educated will be a walking encyclopædia.’ At this period in his life Wrangham was a constant figure in the most intellectual society of London. Towards the close of 1795 he was presented by Humphrey Osbaldeston, with ‘almost unsolicited patronage,’ to the rectory of Hunmanby-with-Muston, near Filey, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and through his recommendation became vicar of the neighbouring parish of Folkton. After the Inclosure Act the living of Hunmanby was ‘something better than 600l. a year’ (Atlantic Monthly, January 1894, p. 66). A print by Bewick of its church and of the vicarage-house, which was much improved by Wrangham, appears on the titles of many of his works, and in John Cole's ‘Antiquarian Trio’ are lines by him on the acacia, his ‘favourite tree at Hunmanby.’ He collected there a remarkable library, which contained in 1825 no fewer than fifteen thousand volumes (Dibdin, Library Companion, p. xxi). It was said that ‘the book-shelves began at the front door and ran up into the garret and down to the cellar’ (Mozley, Reminiscences, i. 42; cf. Pryme, Recollections, pp. 246–8).

For some years after leaving the university Wrangham competed for the academical rewards at Cambridge. He won four times the Seaton prize—in 1794 with a poem on the ‘Restoration of the Jews’ (Cambridge, 1795, with a dedication to Basil Montagu, and included in ‘Musæ Seatonianæ,’ 1808); in 1800 with ‘The Holy Land’ (Cambridge, 1800, and also in ‘Musæ Seatonianæ,’ 1808); in 1811 with ‘Sufferings of the Primitive Martyrs’ (Cambridge, 1812); and in 1812 with ‘Joseph made known to his brethren’ (Cambridge, 1812). His poem on the ‘Destruction of Babylon,’ rejected in 1795, was printed at the request of the judges, and included in the ‘Musæ Seatonianæ’ of 1808. That ‘On the Restoration of Learning in the East’ (1805), written for a prize offered by Claudius Buchanan [q. v.], was beaten by a poem of Charles Grant (afterwards Lord Glenelg) [q. v.], but the adjudicators asked for its publication (Nichols, Lit. Anecd. ix. 534–5). He printed in 1805 ‘A Dissertation on the Best Means of civilising the Subjects of the British Empire in India,’ and in 1807 ‘A Sermon on the Translation of the Scriptures into the Oriental Languages,’ which was preached before the university of Cambridge; both works were composed under the system of prizes established by Buchanan. His poem ‘On the Death of Saul and Jonathan’ was published in 1813.

Wrangham was chaplain to three high sheriffs of Yorkshire, and from 1814 to 1834 was examining chaplain to Vernon Harcourt, the archbishop of York, a position which secured for him high preferment. The archbishop (who once remarked to Sydney Smith, ‘I consider Wrangham an ornament to my diocese,’ with the result that for some time his chaplain retained the sobriquet of ‘Ornament Wrangham’) bestowed on him on 28 June 1820 the archdeaconry of Cleveland, and allowed him in the same year to exchange the living of Folkton for that of Thorpe Bassett. This archdeaconry he surrendered on 2 Oct. 1828 on appointment to the archdeaconry of the East Riding, and on 12 Dec. 1823 the archbishop gave him the prebendal stall of Ampleforth in York Cathedral. His next act was to confer on Wrangham on 9 April 1825 his option of the fourth prebend at Chester Cathedral, which carried with it the right of institution to the rectory of Dodleston in Cheshire. Wrangham succeeded to this benefice on 3 Dec. 1827, whereupon he resigned that of Thorpe Bassett in favour of his son. He put up in Dodleston church a monument to Lord-chancellor Ellesmere.

Wrangham printed in 1821, 1822, and 1823, the charges which he had delivered to the clergy of his archdeaconry. They contained some reflections on the unitarians, and produced the publication of ‘A Letter to Ven. Francis Wrangham by Captain Thomas Thrush,’ 1822; ‘Letters addressed to Rev. James Richardson on Archdeacon Wrangham's Charge, by Captain Thrush,’ 1823; ‘Three Letters to Archdeacon Wrangham by Charles Wellbeloved,’ 1823; ‘Three Additional Letters by C. Wellbeloved,’ 1824; and ‘Three Letters to Mr. Wellbeloved by Rev. John Oxlee,’ 1824. Wellbeloved and Wrangham, though theological disputants, used to meet as whigs in social life. Sydney Smith said of this controversy: ‘If I had a cause to gain I would fee Wellbeloved to plead for me, and double-fee Wrangham to plead against me.’ Wrangham was a consistent advocate throughout his life of catholic emancipation, printing on that subject letters to the clergy of his archdeaconry and to individual persons, and a moderate high-churchman, supporting in education the system of Joseph Lancaster (Overton, English Church, 1800–33, pp. 27, 237, 266). ‘A tall slight man of exceedingly gentle and attractive manners’ (Hall, Book of Memories, p. 178), and revelling in society, he longer than any man kept up ‘the elegant tastes of youth and college’ (Spectator, 19 Feb. 1831). For a few years before his death he was slightly paralysed. He died at Chester on 27 Dec. 1842, and a tablet to his memory was placed in the cathedral. An engraving by R. Hicks of his portrait by J. Jackson, R.A., is in Jerdan's ‘National Portrait Gallery’ (vol. i.). There is another print of him, possibly a private plate, without artist's name; and a miniature at Trinity College, Cambridge.

Wrangham married at Bridlington, on 7 April 1799, Agnes, fifth daughter of Colonel Ralph Creyke of Marton in Yorkshire. She died in childbed on 9 March 1800, aged 21; but her daughter, Agnes Frances Everilda, survived, and on 16 June 1832 married Robert Isaac Wilberforce [q. v.], who succeeded her father as archdeacon of the East Riding. Wrangham married, secondly, at Brompton, near Scarborough, in 1801, Dorothy, second daughter and coheiress of Rev. Digby Cayley of Yorkshire, who brought him ‘a neat 700l. a year.’ She had issue two sons and three daughters. The eldest daughter, Philadelphia Frances Esther, married Edward William Barnard [q. v.] The third, Lucy Charlotte, was the wife of Henry Raikes of Llwynegrin, Flint, and mother of Henry Cecil Raikes [q. v.] The second son, Digby Cayley Wrangham (1805–1863), graduated B.A. with a double first-class from Brasenose College, Oxford, in 1826, and, after leaving Oxford, was for some years private secretary to Lord Aberdeen in the foreign office. Called to the bar from Gray's Inn in 1831, he was created queen's serjeant in 1847, and became father of the parliamentary bar (see Times, 13 and 16 March 1863, and Gent. Mag. 1863, i. 532).

Wrangham, who was elected F.R.S. on 15 Nov. 1804, was a member of the Bannatyne and Roxburghe clubs, editing in 1825 for the latter body Henry Goldingham's ‘Garden Plot, an allegorical poem.’ His works comprised, in addition to those already mentioned, and in addition to many single sermons and fugitive pieces: 1. ‘Reform: a farce modernised from Aristophanes. By S. Foote, jun.’ [i.e. Wrangham], 1792. 2. ‘Poems,’ 1795. It contains most of his pieces to date, including ‘Ad Bruntonam e Grantâ exituram, iii. Cal. Oct. mdccxc.’ The English lines (pp. 79–83) are by S. T. Coleridge, and the translation (pp. 106–11) of Wrangham's French stanzas is by Wordsworth. Some copies of this volume seem to have been circulated in 1803; it is noticed in the ‘Monthly Review’ for January 1804 (pp. 82–5). Wordsworth sent him from Racedown in Dorset, in November 1795, certain imitations of Juvenal, and they thought of publishing a joint volume of satirical pieces (Knight, Life of Wordsworth, i. 106). 3. ‘Thirteen Practical Sermons, founded upon Doddridge's “Religion in the Soul,”’ 1800; 2nd edit. 1802. 4. ‘Epigrams.’ Signed ‘X.,’ 1800? s.sh. 8vo. 5. ‘The raising of Jairus's daughter, with short Memoir of Caroline Symmons,’ 1804. 6. ‘A Volunteer Song,’ &c., 1805. Eleven pieces in all, including ‘Trafalgar, a song,’ which was issued separately in that year. 7. ‘Plutarch's Lives,’ translated by John and William Langhorne. Edited by Wrangham, 1808; 4th edit. under his editorship, 1826 (Notes and Queries, 9th ser. iii. 426, 492). 8. ‘A Word for Humanity’ [1810], s. sh. 9. ‘Death of Saul and Jonathan: a Poem,’ 1813. 10. ‘Poems’ [circa 1814]; thirty-six copies only printed. 11. ‘Virgil's Bucolics,’ translated, 1815, fifty copies only. His translation, revised and corrected, is included in Valpy's ‘Family Classical Library’ (1830). Conington says: ‘His lines are elegant, but artificial and involved; they show the man of taste, not the genuine poet’ (Miscell. Writings, i. 166). 12. ‘The British Plutarch,’ new edit. rearranged, 1816, 6 vols.; the set at the British Museum contains many manuscript additions and corrections by Wrangham. 13. ‘Scraps,’ 1816, fifty copies; he was much assisted in this and other works by Charles Symmons [q. v.]; it contained a spirited translation of Milton's ‘Second Defence,’ which was also issued in a separate form. 14. ‘Sermons, Dissertations, and Translations,’ 1816, 3 vols. It contained most of his writings to date, 1816; prefixed is a print of him. 15. ‘A few Sonnets [forty in all] from Petrarch. Italian and English,’ Lee Priory Press, 1817; signed ‘F. W.’ 16. ‘Evidences of Christianity,’ abridged from Doddridge, 1820; fifty copies. 17. ‘Apology for the Bible,’ abridged from Bishop Watson, 1820; fifty copies. 18. ‘Principal parts of Bishop Butler's Analogy,’ abridged, 1820; fifty copies. 19. ‘Internal Evidence of Christianity,’ abridged from Paley and Soame Jenyns, 1820; fifty copies. 20. ‘Inward Witness to Christianity,’ abridged from Watts, 1820; fifty copies. 21. ‘Reasons of the Christian's Hope,’ abridged from Leland, 1820; fifty copies. 22. ‘Short and easy Method with the Deists,’ abridged from Leslie, 1820, fifty copies. This had previously appeared at York in 1802. These seven abridgments were also included in ‘The Pleiad,’ 1820 (only twenty-five perfect copies), and in ‘Constable's Miscellany,’ vol. xxvi. (1828). By 1820 ‘twelve editions of ten thousand copies each’ had been circulated. 23. ‘Specimens of a Version of Horace's first four Books of Odes,’ 1820; fifty copies. It contained the whole of the third book. 24. ‘Lyrics of Horace, being the first four Books of his Odes,’ 1821; 2nd edit. n.d. 25. ‘Works of Rev. Thomas Zouch, with Memoir,’ 1820, 2 vols.; four copies only. Also printed for sale in 1820 in 2 vols. The memoir was issued separately. E. D. Clarke issued in 1820 ‘A Letter to Wrangham [fifty copies only] on Sir George Wheler [q. v.] ’. It is included in Zouch's ‘Works’ and in Otter's ‘Life of Clarke,’ 2nd edit. App. pp. 387–92. 26. ‘Hendecasyllabi’ [anon.] 1821. 27. ‘Scarborough Castle: a Poem,’ 1823. 28. ‘Sertum Cantabrigiense, or the Cambridge Garland,’ 1824. Signed ‘F. W.’ 29. ‘The Savings Bank, in two Dialogues’ [1825?]. 30. ‘Briani Waltoni in biblia polyglotta prolegomena specialia,’ 1827–8, 2 vols. 31. ‘Psychæ, or Songs on Butterflies,’ by T. H. Bayly, attempted in Latin rhyme, 1828. Signed ‘F. W.’ His version of ‘I'd be a butterfly’ was much quoted in 1828, and was included, with other pieces by him, in the first edition of the ‘Arundines Cami’ (Notes and Queries, 1st ser. xi. 304, 435). 32. ‘Lines by Wrangham, sacred to memory of E. W. Barnard,’ turned into Latin by S. G. Fawcett, 1828. Wrangham edited Barnard's ‘Fifty select Poems of Marc-Antonio Flaminio imitated,’ 1829. 33. ‘The Quadrupeds' Feast’ [anon.], Chester [1829?]. 34. ‘Homerics,’ 1834, translation of ‘Odyssey’ v. and ‘Iliad’ iii. 35. ‘Epithalamia tria Mariana,’ 1837; translation of three epithalamia on Mary Queen of Scots. 36. ‘A few Epigrams attempted in Latin Translations,’ 11 Jan. 1842.

Wrangham superintended the passing through the press of E. D. Clarke's ‘Tour through the South of England’ (1792), and he edited ‘The Soldier's Manual’ of J. F. Neville (1813) and the ‘Carmina Quadragesimalia’ (1820) of Archbishop Markham. He contributed to the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ ‘Blackwood's Magazine,’ ‘Literary Anecdotes’ of John Nichols, vol. ix., to several works of John Cole [q. v.] of Scarborough, and to the ‘Classical Journal.’ Under the signature of ‘Sciolus’ he sent to the ‘York Herald’ about 1810 a series of articles entitled ‘The Smatterer,’ containing poems by himself and others. Pieces by Wrangham are in Muirhead's collection of epigrams on Chantrey's ‘Woodcocks,’ Walton's ‘Complete Angler’ (ed. Nicolas), vol. i. p. cxxxvi, James Bailey's ‘Comicorum Græcorum fragmenta,’ George Pryme's ‘Recollections,’ p. 406, and in the ‘Life of Milton’ by Charles Symmons. His Latin rendering of Brydges's famous sonnet on ‘Echo and Silence’ is in the ‘Anglo-Genevan Critical Journal,’ ii. 230, and in Maclise's ‘Portrait Gallery’ (ed. 1891), pp. 222–3. His rendering of Donne's later epitaphs at St. Paul's is reproduced from Zouch's edition of Izaak Walton's ‘Lives’ in Mr. Edmund Gosse's life of the dean (ii. 282). Many works were dedicated to Wrangham, among them being the ‘Desultoria’ of Brydges, Prickett's ‘Bridlington Priory Church,’ and Poulson's ‘Beverlac.’

Letters from Wrangham are in Leigh Hunt's ‘Correspondence,’ i. 44–5; Miss Mitford's ‘Friendships,’ i. 194–5; Byron's ‘Letters’ (1899), iii. 87–9; and in Parr's ‘Works,’ vii. 377–9. Letters from Wordsworth to him are in Knight's ‘Life of Wordsworth’ (i. 106, ii. 377–82, iii. 245), and in Knight's edition of that poet's works (i. 285–6). Many volumes at the British Museum have notes and additions by him. Part of his library was described by John Cole in ‘A Bibliographical and Descriptive Tour from Scarborough’ (1824), and the whole English collection was catalogued by himself in a volume, of which seventy copies were printed at Malton in 1826 for his friends. It was sold at London in 1843, the sale taking twenty days; but he had given in 1842, shortly before his death, his collection of pamphlets, about ten thousand in number, bound in 996 volumes, to Trinity College, Cambridge. They are of a most miscellaneous character, and there is a manuscript catalogue of their contents.

In 1842 Wrangham founded, with a gift of 100l., a prize at Trinity College, which was augmented in 1849 by an addition of 515l. from the Rev. Peter Leigh. A miniature portrait of Wrangham is in the small combination room, and a large collection of his works, including several sermons not in the British Museum, is in the Trinity College library.

[Gent. Mag. 1799 i. 346, 1801 ii. 763, 1843 i. 430–2; Manuscript Autobiogr. in copy of ‘Sketches of Yorkshire Biography’ (from Zouch's works) at British Museum; Jerdan's National Portrait Gallery, vol. i.; Ross's Celebrities of Wolds, pp. 178–82; Le Neve's Fasti, iii. 144, 149, 170, 273; Hunter's Families (Harl. Soc.), iii. 952; Burke's Commoners, 1835, ii. 311–13; Otter's E. D. Clarke, 1st edit. pp. 87, 648; Yorkshire Genealogist, January 1899 (by George Wrangham Hardy); Gunning's Reminiscences, ii. 14–37; Dibdin's Literary Life, i. 139–42, 392–6; Halkett and Laing's Anon. Lit. ii. 917, iii. 1876–7, 2053; information from W. Aldis Wright, esq., of Trinity College, Cambridge, and C. E. S. Headlam of Trinity Hall, Cambridge.]

W. P. C.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.285
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
65 i 4 f.e. Wrangham, Francis: for Raisthorpe read Raysthorpe
ii 1-3 for Stephen Thirlwell . . . ultimately vicar read Thomas Thirlwall (grandfather of Connop Thirlwall [q. v.]), afterwards vicar