George, William (DNB00)

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GEORGE, WILLIAM, D.D. (d. 1756), dean of Lincoln, born in London, was educated at Eton and admitted to King's College, Cambridge, in 1715. He proceeded to his degree of B.A. 1719, M.A. 1723, and D.D. 1728. On leaving the university he became assistant-master, and eventually principal, of Eton School, a position he maintained during several years with unusual distinction. It was during his residence at Eton that George was married to Miss Bland, daughter of Dr. Bland, his predecessor, and in 1731 he is further mentioned as canon of Windsor and chaplain in ordinary to his majesty. He quitted his scholastic career in 1743, when he was appointed to the vacant provostship of King's College, Cambridge. At his election to this office he engaged in a keen competition with Dr. Chapman, who was also a candidate, but he eventually succeeded in defeating his opponent by a small majority of votes. Within the same year he was also elected vice-chancellor of Cambridge. In 1747, the deanery of Winchester falling vacant, he was nominated for that office; but in order to oblige his friend, Dr. Samuel Pegge, he consented to exchange it for the deanery of Lincoln, where he was installed in 1748. He also resigned in favour of Dr. Pegge his rectory of Whittington, near Chesterfield in Derbyshire. He died on 2 Aug. 1756. George was a popular and eloquent preacher, and several of his sermons have been printed, among which may be mentioned a sermon preached before the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, 1732, and a second delivered before the House of Commons in 1752. He is also described as an accurate Greek scholar and good Latin poet. Some fine specimens of his poetry have been preserved in the ‘Musæ Etonenses’ (1755), edited by J. Prinsep, including among others a series of poems entitled ‘Ecclesiastes’ and some exquisite lines on the death of Prince Frederick. The latter became unusually famous, from the high commendation pronounced upon them by Pope Lambertini, Benedict IV, who gave them the title of ‘cardinal,’ and is said to have observed that if the author had been a catholic he would have made him a cardinal; but since that could not be, he would bestow the honour upon the verses themselves.

[Nichols's Lit. Illustr. and Lit. Anecd.; Le Neve's Fasti; Alumni Etonenses, pp. 49, 295; Cooper's Mem. Cambr.; Oratio habita in funere reverendi et doctissimi viri Guil. George, S.T.P., by W. Barford, M.A.]

W. F. W. S.