Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Stanhope, George
STANHOPE, GEORGE (1660–1728), dean of Canterbury, was son of Thomas Stanhope (rector of Hertishorn or Hartshorn, Derbyshire, vicar of St. Margaret's, Leicester, and chaplain to the Earls of Chesterfield and Clare), by a lady of good family in Derbyshire, named Allestree. His grandfather, George Stanhope (d. 1644), was canon and precentor of York from 1631, and was rector of Wheldrake, Yorkshire, and chaplain to James I and Charles I; he was dispossessed during the Commonwealth (Walker, Sufferings, p. 83).
George was born on 5 March 1660 at Hartshorn, and was successively educated at Uppingham school, Leicester, and Eton. From Eton he was elected on the foundation at King's College, Cambridge, in 1677. Graduating B.A. in 1681 and M.A. in 1685, he entered into holy orders, but remained three years longer at Cambridge. In 1688 he was appointed rector of Tewin, Hertfordshire (Tewin Register), and on 3 Aug. 1689) of Lewisham, Kent, being presented to the latter by Lord Dartmouth, to whose son he was tutor, both then and apparently for five years afterwards (see dedication of Charron's Wisdom to the young earl). He proceeded D.D. in 1697, and about the same time was appointed chaplain to William and Mary. In 1701 he was appointed Boyle lecturer. In the year following he was presented to the vicarage of Deptford, was reappointed royal chaplain by Queen Anne, and on 23 March 1704 was made dean of Canterbury, still retaining Lewisham and Deptford. At this time and until 1708 he also held the Tuesday lectureship at St. Lawrence Jewry, a post which Tillotson and Sharp had made eminent.
His tenure of the Canterbury deanery brought Stanhope into the lower house of convocation at a period of bitter conflict with the upper house under Atterbury's leadership. As a man of peace, in friendship with Robert Nelson [q. v.] on one side, and with Edward Tenison [q. v.] and Burnet on the other (Burnet's son William afterwards married Stanhope's daughter Mary), Stanhope was proposed by the moderate party as prolocutor in 1705, but was defeated by the high churchman, Dr. William Binckes [q. v.]. After Atterbury's elevation to the see of Rochester in 1713 he succeeded him as prolocutor, and was twice afterwards re-elected. The most prominent incident of his presidency was the censure of the Arian doctrine of Dr. Samuel Clarke (1675-1729) [q.v.] in 1714. Early in 1717 the lower house of convocation also censured a sermon by Bishop Benjamin Hoadly [q. v.] which had been preached before the king and published by royal command. To stop the matter from going to the upper house, convocation was hastily prorogued (May 1717). It was thenceforth formally summoned from time to time, only to be instantly prorogued. On the occasion of one of these prorogations Stanhope broke up the meeting (14 Feb. 1718) in order to prevent Tenison from reading a 'protestation' in favour of Hoadly. It was probably in consequence of this action that he lost the royal chaplaincy which he had held in the first year of George I. From this date convocation remained in abeyance until its revival in the province of Canterbury in 1852, and in that of York in 1861.
Stanhope was one of the great preachers of his time, and preached before Queen Anne at St. Paul's in 1706 and 1710 on two of the great services of national thanksgiving for Marlborough's victories. In 1719 he had a friendly correspondence with Atterbury, which dealt partly with the appointment of Thomas Sherlock [q. v.], afterwards bishop of London, to one of his curacies.
He died at Bath on 18 March 1728, and was buried in the church of Lewisham, where a monument with a long inscription was erected to his memory. In his will he left an exhibition of 101. per annum, to be held at Cambridge by a scholar of the King's school, Canterbury. There are two portraits of him in the deanery at Canterbury.
He married, first, Olivia, daughter of Charles Cotton of Beresford, Staffordshire, and had by her a son, who predeceased him, and five daughters, of whom Mary married, in 1712, William, son of Bishop Burnet, and died two years afterwards. After his first wife's death in 1707 the dean married, secondly, Ann Parker, half-sister of Sir Charles Wager [q.v.]; she survived him two years.
Stanhope's literary works were chiefly translations or adaptations. He translated Epictetus (1694; 2nd ed. 1700, 8vo), Charron's 'Books on Wisdom' (1697, 3 vols.), and Marcus Aurelius (1697; 2nd ed. 1699, 4to). He modernised, omitting Romish passages, 'The Christian Directory' of Robert Parsons [q. v.] the Jesuit (1703, 8vo; 4th ed. 1716); dedicated to Princess Anne a volume of 'Pious Meditations' (1701; 2nd ed. 1720, 8vo), drawn from St. Augustine, St. Anselm, and St. Bernard; and he translated the Greek 'Devotions' of Bishop Lancelot Andrewes [q. v.] Hutton, who edited the posthumous edition (1730, 8vo) of his translation of Andrewes, likened Stanhope's character to that of Andrewes. But the style of the translation is absolutely unlike the original. In place of the barbed point and abruptness of the Greek, the English is all smoothed out and expanded. Subsequent editions of the work appeared in 1808, 1811, 1815, 1818, 1826, and 1832. Stanhope followed the same paraphrastic system in a translation of Thomas à Kempis's 'Imitatio Christi,' which appeared in 1698 under the title 'The Christian's Pattern, or a Treatise of the Imitation of Christ,' 2 pts. London, 8vo. A fifth edition appeared in 1706, a twelfth in 1733, and new editions in 1746, 1751, 1793, 1814, and 1865. In 1886 Henry Morley [q. v.j edited it for the collection of a hundred books chosen by Sir John Lubbock. 'The pithy style of the original is lost in flowing sentences that pleased the reader in Queen Anne's reign.'
Stanhope's principal contribution to divinity is 'The Paraphrase and Comment on the Epistles and Gospels' (vols. i. and ii. 1705, vol. iii. 1706, vol. iv. 1708), dedicated originally to Queen Anne, and in a new edition to George I on his accession (1714). It was a favourite book in the eighteenth century. Its defect is the neglect of the organic relation of collect, epistle, and gospel; but it contains much that is solid, sensible, and practical in clear and easy language, quite free from controversial bitterness. In the preface Stanhope says that the work was planned for the use of the little prince George, who died in 1700.
Besides the works mentioned above Stanhope published; 1. 'Fifteen Sermons,' 1700. 2. 'The Boyle Lecture,' 1702. 3. 'Twelve Sermons,' 1726. Stanhope is credited by Todd and Chalmers with the translation of Rochefoucauld's 'Maxims,' which appeared anonymously in 1706; the book seems alien to Stanhope's mind.[Gent. Mag. 1780. p. 463; Todd's Deans of Canterbury; Duncan's Parish Chnrch of St. Mary, Lewisham, and Registers of Lewisham.]