Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hotham, Charles (1615-1672?)

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HOTHAM, CHARLES (1615–1672?), rector of Wigan, third son of Sir John Hotham [q. v.], of Scorborough, near Beverley, Yorkshire, governor of Hull, by his second marriage, was born on 12 May 1615, and was educated at Christ's College, Cambridge. His name is appended to some Latin verses in ‘Carmen Natalitium Principis Elisabethæ,’ published by members of the university in 1635. He graduated B.A. in 1635–6, and M.A. in 1639. He succeeded to the family living of Hollym, near Beverley, on 5 Nov. 1640, and on resigning in 1640 returned to Cambridge, where he was appointed by the Earl of Manchester one of the fellows of Peterhouse who succeeded Beaumont, Crashaw, and others, on their being turned out in June 1644. In 1646 he was university preacher and served the office of proctor. Newcome (Autobiography, p. 9) records that ‘among other of his singularities he made the sophisters say their positions without book.’ He was regarded as ‘a man of very great eminency in learning, strictness in religion, unblamableness in conversation.’ In his younger days he studied astrology, and afterwards had a love for chemistry, and was ‘a searcher into the secrets of nature.’ In March 1646 he delivered in the schools at Cambridge a discourse, which was published two years later, with the title of ‘Ad Philosophiam Teutonicam Manuductio, seu Determinatio de Origine Animæ Humanæ,’ &c. (12mo, pp. xvi, 42). It contains some complimentary verses by his friend Henry More. A translation of this tract was published in 1650 by his brother, Durant Hotham [q. v.] In December 1650 he preached against the ‘Engagement’ and was forbidden to pursue the subject (Cary, Civil War Corresp. ii. 247). On 29 March 1651 he presented a petition to the committee for the reformation of the universities, embodying a complaint against Dr. Lazarus Seaman, master of Peterhouse. Not being satisfied with the result of his petition he published it, along with some bitter observations on the action of the committee; whereupon on 29 May it was resolved that his book was scandalous and against the privilege of parliament, and that he should be deprived of his fellowship. In vindication of himself he then printed a statement of his case, with a strong testimonial in favour of his character, signed by thirty-three leading men in the university. Later in the year he republished these tracts in a small 12mo volume entitled ‘Corporations Vindicated in their Fundamental Liberties,’ &c.

He was appointed rector of Wigan in 1653. In 1654 he translated Boehme's ‘Consolatory Treatise of the Four Complexions’ (London, 12mo); and in 1656 wrote a poetical commendation of thirty-eight lines to the ‘Drunkard's Prospective,’ by Major Joseph Rigbie, a curious little work against intemperance.

At the Restoration in 1660 he was pronounced unorthodox, and his ejection from Wigan in favour of John Burton was attempted (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1660–1, pp. 278, 324). He continued rector, however, until 1662, when, on refusing to conform, he was forced to retire. He subsequently went to the West Indies and became one of the ministers of the Somer Islands (Bermudas). He is so described in his will, dated 15 Feb. 1671 (presumably 1671–2), proved at London on 2 March 1673–4. In it he ordered his astrological books to be burnt, ‘as monuments of lying vanity and remnants of the heathen idolatry.’ In later life he had interested himself in chemistry and astronomy, and was elected F.R.S. in 1667 (Thomson, Hist. Roy. Soc. App. iv.). He married at Wigan, on 15 Sept. 1656, Elizabeth, daughter of Stephen Thompson of Humbleton, Yorkshire. She was buried at Little Driffield, Yorkshire, on 29 April 1685. His eldest son, Charles, who succeeded his cousin John as fourth baronet in 1691, was intended for the ministry, but went into the army, became brigadier-general and colonel of the royal regiment of dragoons, sat for some time as M.P. for Beverley, and was knighted (Wotton, Baronetage, ed. Kimber and Johnson, i. 231–2).

[Calamy's Account, 1713, ii. 413; Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy, pt. i. p. 115; Cat. of Ashmolean MSS. Nos. 240 p. 256 and 243 p. 162; Best's Farming Book (Surtees Soc.), pp. 170, 186; Cooper's Annals of Cambridge, iii. 441, 446; Bridgeman's Rectors of Wigan (Chetham Soc.), iii. 472; Le Neve's Fasti (Hardy), iii. 623; Poulson's Holderness, ii. 399; Foster's Yorkshire Pedigrees, North and East Ridings; Ross's Celebrities of the Yorkshire Wolds, p. 77; Grosart's Crashaw, vol. i. p. xxxiii; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Masson's Life of Milton, i. 215; communications from the Revs. C. B. Norcliffe, J. I. Dredge, and H. Newton.]

C. W. S.