Lord Dartmouth (2): The Evangelical Revival

 ‘A Glorious Infamy’: Dartmouth’s Conversion to Calvinistic Methodism

As part of the introductory material on this topic, it is necessary to narrate the history of Dartmouth’s conversion. This will not only give the reader a sense of Dartmouth’s religious zeal, but it will also establish Dartmouth’s very important connection to Countess Selina of Huntingdon. Huntingdon was a very prominent person in the Evangelical Revival and thus it is notable that Dartmouth is connected to her. Regarding Huntingdon, King George III is said to have stated to Charles Wesley’s son, “It is my judgment, Mr. Wesley, that your uncle and your father and George Whitefield and the Countess of Huntingdon have done more to promote true religion in this country than all their dignified clergy put together, who are so apt to despise their labours.’”[1] The Anglican Bishop, J. C. Ryle, makes much of the same comment when he states that Huntingdon was “the mainspring of the revival.”[2] With her so prominent in the promotion of the Evangelical Revival, it is quite understandable that Dartmouth’s role in the promotion of the Revival would be quickly overshadowed and forgotten.

Lord Dartmouth became close friends with Lady Huntingdon shortly after his marriage to Frances Catherine in 1755.[3] Lady Huntingdon, who was very zealous in “recommending religion to the notice of the great”[4], invited Dartmouth to her house to hear the renowned Calvinistic Methodist, George Whitefield, preach. Faith Cook writes that the “Young, capable and already . . . influential politician . . . was converted and from that time on became another prepared to suffer the ‘glorious infamy’ of being known as a Christian.”[5] Dartmouth makes no mention of his conversion in any of his letters and thus the exact date of his conversion is unknown. However, by 1757, James Hervey was able to say concerning him: “I have not the honour of Lord Dartmouth’s acquaintance; but I hear he is full of grace, and valiant for the truth; a lover of Christ and an ornament of the Gospel.”[6]

‘He who wears a coronet and prays’: Evangelical Patronage

Lord Dartmouth very quickly began supporting the Evangelical Revival after his conversion. A primary way that he did this was through using his position as a peer of the realm to write letters to prominent bishops and thus get them appointed to various parishes. Nor was this uncommon. Bebbington writes that “more than half the patrons of livings who appointed parish clergymen were laypeople. For advancement in a clerical career the patronage of some member of the social elite was essential.”[7] What immediately follows in the next several pages is a discussion of the clergymen that he helped.[8]

Moses Browne [1753]

It is interesting to note that Dartmouth was already active and interested in ecclesiastical affairs prior to his conversion. For example, Dartmouth appointed the evangelically minded Moses Browne to the Olney parish in 1753.[9] However, Browne was unable to remain the curate of the Olney parish due to the financial difficulties of a large family. Thus, he left Olney and was appointed to the chaplaincy of Morden College in 1763.[10]

John Newton [1759 – 1764]

This left the Olney parish open for its most famous curate: John Newton. Newton, the converted slave trader and moderate Calvinist, had been seeking ordination in the Church of England for quite a while when he contacted Dartmouth on May 22, 1759, petitioning his help. Newton was being refused positions in the Church, not due to lack of ability, but first, because “he had accepted a title from Mr. Crook”[11] and second, because he “was willing to resign a post under the Government which was for life, and, as was supposed worth more than 100 li. per annum.[12] The Archbishop of York considered this to be financially irresponsible, as the clerical position would only grant 30 – 40li. per annum.[13]

For the next five years, John Newton worked diligently at seeking ordination, even preaching at an Independent Church for some time.[14] However, in 1764, Lord Dartmouth offered Newton the living at Olney (corresponding with Browne’s departure). The only issue that remained was securing his ordination in the Established Church. Dartmouth rectified this issue by using his aristocratic title. He wrote a letter of introduction to the Bishop of Chester removing the Bishop’s fears regarding Newton. Dartmouth also wrote to the Bishop of Lincoln (in whose diocese Olney was situated) asking him to approve of Newton’s ordination. However, Newton was refused audience with the Archbishop yet again, a step crucial to his ordination. Dartmouth once again wrote a letter on Newton’s behalf, this time securing him an interview with the Archbishop.[15] On June 17, 1764, Newton was finally priested.[16]

Nor was this the only thing that Dartmouth did to help Newton for he also built a new parsonage for him at the Olney Parish in 1767.[17] Newton thanks Dartmouth in numerous letters for his generosity in providing the building. For example, he writes,

  • We have daily new reason to thank your Lordship for our dwelling, as well as for the satisfaction you are pleased to express in our accommodation I shall say no more upon the head of the expense, only that it is more than I deserve.[18]

Dartmouth remained life-long friends with Newton even proof-reading a book he wrote on church history (which will be covered in more depth in Part II). John Newton would also send Dartmouth his (and William Cowper’s) hymns and compositions on a regular basis.[19] Dartmouth even allowed Newton to make use of one of his unoccupied mansions in Olney for the education of children.[20] Newton describes this work as such:

  • I find great pleasure and form many hopes in my new attempts to instruct the children. The number at my first meeting was 89; it is now increased to 162 and will probably amount to near 200, for some new ones are offered to me every day. Some come from most of the parishes next adjoining, but the bulk of them are our own, and amongst these perhaps 20 or more of the Dissenters’ children for I receive all that come with their parents’ knowledge and consent. Many of them are very serious and hopeful; all in general behave well.[21]

Newton’s influence on the Evangelical Revival hardly needs to be argued here, suffice to remind the reader of his mentorship of Wilberforce. John Wolffe writes that Wilberforce, “sought spiritual advice from the leading evangelical clergyman John Newton, whom he had encountered as a boy, and who now strongly counselled him to remain in politics.”[22] It is hard to imagine that Newton would have been able to accomplish all he did, without the aid of Lord Dartmouth.

Henry Venn [1759]

Henry Venn was another extremely influential Calvinistic evangelical, for whom Dartmouth managed to secure appointment in Huddersfield in 1759.[23] Venn, a good friend with Wesley, Whitefield, and Huntingdon, published The Complete Duty of Man in which he argued for a more balanced position on the relationship of good works to faith. While Wesley perhaps muddled the distinction between the two, almost making good works a way in which one earns salvation, Venn “presented a balanced, ethical evangelicalism, avoiding the pitfalls of Wesley’s ‘perfectionist’ sanctification teaching on the one hand, and the dangerous flirtation with antinomianism by some High-Calvinists on the other.”[24] This book gave a solid defense of the relationship between justification and sanctification and thus was very important in establishing, for Evangelicals, a Biblical doctrine of sanctification. Venn’s influence as an evangelical is also notably shown in that Charles Simeon was one of his pupils.[25] Dartmouth had a great respect for Henry Venn referring to him as “my dear friend”[26] in a letter to Rawlings.

Samuel Walker [1761]

Samuel Walker, a moderate Calvinist and Evangelical clergyman of the Church of England, received financial assistance from Lord Dartmouth on at least one occasion.[27] Also when he fell ill near the end of his life, Lord Dartmouth took him into his home at Blackheath.[28] During Walker’s time in Truro three well-known Evangelical leaders came from that parish: Thomas Haweis, Thomas Wills, and George Burnett.[29]

James and Edward Stillingfleet [1771;1757 – 1782]

James Stillingfleet, another Anglican clergyman, also received assistance at the hands of Dartmouth. Dartmouth influenced the Lord Chancellor to appoint Stillingfleet as Rector of Hotham in 1771. Arthur Pollard writes that due to Stillingfleet’s work here, it became the “resort of evangelical clergy” and eventually resulted in the formation of the Hotham Clerical Society.[30]

Dartmouth also assisted Stillingfleet’s elder brother, Edward. From 1757 – 1782, while Edward was the Vicar of West Bromwich, he served as the chaplain to Lord Dartmouth.[31]

Thomas Robinson [1774]

Henry Venn influenced many evangelicals among whom was Thomas Robinson, an Anglican clergyman.[32] In 1774, Dartmouth worked to secure the Leicester Parish for Robinson.[33] Here he became Curate of St. Martin and All Saints. He also served as chaplain to the infirmary, Leicester Volunteer Infantry, and Leicester Gaol.[34]

Pierre Roubaud [1773]

Perhaps the most surprising person that Dartmouth supported was the Canadian Jesuit, military strategist, and political advisor, Pierre Roubaud. Due to some affair (seemingly regarding the siege of Fort William Henry during the Seven Years War) he was removed from the Jesuits. Roubaud writes a letter to Dartmouth 1773 petitioning him for assistance.[35] James Hutson writes that Dartmouth, in response, “periodically sent him small subventions and in 1773 procured him an appointment as secretary to Sir Joseph Yorke, the British ambassador at the Hague.”[36]

Matthew Powley [1777]

Another evangelical by the name of Matthew Powley received assistance from Dartmouth. Matthew Powley, who was influenced by men such as Henry Venn and Thomas Haweis (another man whom Dartmouth had a huge respect for[37]) became the Vicar of Dewsbury in 1777, due to Dartmouth’s patronage.[38]

William Jesse [1790]

William Jesse was converted to evangelicalism through the preaching of Thomas Haweis (connected to Samuel Walker). Upon Dartmouth’s recommendation, Jesse was given the parish of West Bromich in 1790.[39]

Charles Edward de Coetlogon [Unknown]

Charles Edward de Coetlogon was the chaplain of the Lock Hospital Chapel, where he also assisted Martin Madan and Thomas Scott.[40] David Rivers writes that he was patronised by Lord Dartmouth.[41]

William Romaine [Declined]

William Romaine was a very prominent Evangelical Calvinist, known especially for his books on Christian spirituality: The Life of FaithThe Walk of Faith, and The Triumph of Faith.[42] He was offered a country living by Lord Dartmouth, however he refused, preferring to remain in London.[43]

William Cowper [Unknown]

            It is difficult to establish whether Dartmouth ever financially helped the poet, hymnist, and mutual friend of John Newton: William Cowper. Yet, it is obvious that Dartmouth was very close friends with him. Newton makes continual reference to the health of Cowper in his letters to Dartmouth, implying that he often inquired about his health.[44] Cowper notably wrote of Dartmouth in a poem saying:

  • We boast some rich ones whom the gospel sways,
  • And one who wears a coronet and prays;
  • Like gleanings of an olive-tree they show
  • Here and there one upon the topmost bough.[45]

Cowper’s vast number of hymns and poems is his contribution to the Evangelical Revival to which Dartmouth played a small part.

An Informal Society of Friends: Evangelical Networks

It is interesting to note that a lot of the men listed above knew each other and were influenced by one another. Lord Dartmouth, as an evangelical, was part of a relatively informal, yet large network of men and women interested in spreading their faith through sharing sermons and tracts, encouraging one another through prayers and letters, and helping each other in whatever capacity they were able. Something of the nature of these networks is illustrated in several letters that Lord Dartmouth writes to William Rawlings, a close friend of Samuel Walker.[46] Dartmouth wrote to him in 1760 regarding the distribution of sermons and tracts: “The sermon and tract you promise will be very acceptable, as all the former have been.”[47] He wrote a month later saying,

  • I sent forward your letter to Mr. Talbot without delay, and the sermon as soon as I had read it, which I did with much satisfaction, and most heartily join in praising the Lord for giving the powerful word, and adding to the company of the preachers of the everlasting gospel in this favoured land.[48]

Dartmouth also sent Rawlings a letter that he received from his “friend and tutor Mr. Merrick”[49] who he in turn had received from a soldier who he was ministering to. It does not seem uncommon for the recipients to copy the letters they received. In fact, Dartmouth asked Rawlings to return the letter he had forwarded for he had not had time to copy it down.[50]

Upon Samuel Walkers’ death, it seems that Dartmouth helped in the publication of three of his sermons on the subjects: Conviction of Sin, The Corruption of the Heart, and The Sacraments. Dartmouth also helped with the distribution of these sermons asking Sir Richard Hill how many of each he would like and promising to send copies to a Mr. Powys.[51]

Dartmouth also distributed the sermons of Henry Venn to Richard Hill upon the request of the latter. Dartmouth wrote to Hill telling him: “I have brought with me two copies of Mr. Venn’s sermons, which you commissioned me to procure for you. I shall be very glad to know by what method I may convey them to you.”[52]

Lest one get the picture that these were just formal business type letters, it should be also be shown that these letters also expressed mutual encouragement and exhortation for one another. Dartmouth writes to Rawlings on May 17, 1760:

  • Many thanks to you for your animating exhortations. I thank God that I cannot look inward, but I see abundant self-abasement; or upwards, but I see mercies, that in a less insensible heart, would excite the warmest returns of gratitude and love. . . . I beg you to pray for one who much needs your prayers, and the most unfaithful of the servants of our common Lord.[53]

A year later Dartmouth (July 17, 1761) writes to Rawlings again, this time comforting him upon the occasion of Walker’s death on July 17, 1761:

  • I trust a lively and grateful sense of the great blessing that has been bestowed upon Truro, will be fixed upon the hearts of those who have been partakers of it, and that the want of their pastor and father, will keep them watchful and humble. He has often thankfully rejoiced in reflecting, that they have been brought on in such a way, as if they continue in it, the devil himself shall never prevail against them.[54]

The Joint Labours of Dartmouth and Huntingdon

Speaking of evangelical networks brings up one of Dartmouth’s closest political and religious connections: Selina Huntingdon. Not surprisingly Huntingdon’s influence upon Dartmouth in his early years as a Christian brought about a life-long friendship between Huntingdon and Dartmouth. They not only fellowshipped with one another, but they both closely worked together in the support of evangelicalism. Indeed, so much so that when Huntingdon fell gravely ill in 1767 Dartmouth was chosen to take up her place as a leader of evangelicals in the event of her death. Dartmouth’s response to this proposal is conveyed second-hand in a letter written by Mr. Talbot to Lady Huntingdon:

  • I [Mr. Talbot] have had a long conference with my Lord Dartmouth, who is ready and willing to do any thing your Ladyship may direct. He feels his inability for a work so great, but humbly hopes the Lord will strengthen his hands, if you should think proper to repose the trust in him. He is delicate of writing, lest he should appear to dictate. Messrs. Madan, Stillingfleet, Romaine, and Downing are of opinion that his Lordship is the fittest person for this great cause. How have we wrestled with God on your behalf! Prayermeetings have been frequently held at his Lordship’s house, and the most importunate supplications have been poured forth before the throne of the Great Shepherd and Head of his Church . . .[55]

This letter indicates several important issues. First, it shows Dartmouth’s personal respect for the immense role and responsibility Huntingdon played in the evangelical patronage. Second, it displays the closeness of their friendship. Third, it demonstrates the great respect other evangelicals (Romaine, Stillingfleet, Madan, and Downing) had for Dartmouth. Finally, it is a good demonstration of the evangelical piety of Lord Dartmouth. The fact that he held prayer meetings at his house on her behalf is very indicative of his religious piety. That all being said, Dartmouth never had to take up Huntingdon’s role, for she regained her health.

Controversy between Dartmouth and Huntingdon

While it is certainly true that Dartmouth and Huntingdon had a close friendship, this does not mean that they always agreed with each other, or saw things in the same light. One historian remarks that Huntingdon’s “increasing demands for preachers and their willingness to act ‘irregularly’[56] gradually drove a wedge between them.”[57] This is illustrated in part by several letters between Dartmouth and Huntingdon. In a letter sent to Dartmouth on December 1, 1773, Huntingdon apologises to Dartmouth “for any trouble occasioned by me in this affair [it seems that there was some difficulty in the establishment of a Mr. Russin into the ministry on the part of him not being an honest man].”[58] Huntingdon confesses that she was too compassionate in regard to Mr. Russin, stating, “Compassion is too often blinded, nothing but this was my motive and my ignorance, your Lordship has to forgive.”[59]

In another letter, written to Dartmouth five years earlier on March 1, 1768, she states that she has sent “by the hands of Mr. Whitefield . . . to Mr. Thornton a note for a thousand pounds to pay . . . for the perpetual advowson of Aldwinkle living.” Yet it seems that Dartmouth was more in favour of this than Huntingdon for she continues by stating,

As your Lordship must have known the want of concurrence my heart has ever had in this whole affair so I did think you had a right to the earliest and fullest information of this transaction and also of what appeared to me the one best means to deliver from reproach on this account the Christian cause and help out of prison and debt the miserable sufferers by it, as well as at the same time to make a way for Mr. Madan and Mr. Haweis to stand upon ground that might in the sight of al good and reasonable men, become truly Christian and honourable.[60]

Huntingdon continues by writing that Dartmouth has seen this whole transaction in “light tender, friendly and charitable”[61] manner. Yet reminds him that “this medium [i.e. letters] is not that [through] which all can see in it that exactness requisite to actions that appear of such consequence to the clearing up their fidelity when less known. . .”[62] She closes the letter by stating that:

  • Should not these measures meet with your Lordship’s approbation, my satisfaction will receive that difference only. As far as I know my eye has been single to those three points I have mentioned and that to Him whose I am, and from whose compassion I look for pity to all my ignorance, weakness, or want of farther abilities in this matter as well as for every other purpose to His Glory and under every situation, remain, my Lord, your Lordship’s obliged and faithful humble serv[an]t.[63]

A Hospital, Asylum, and Several Pounds

There is very little evidence regarding Dartmouth’s support of societies (a practice started by the Anglican church back in the 1670s[64]). However, Dartmouth did support one society and he was president of an institution in London. It should be noted that Greyson Carter writes in the Dictionary of Evangelical Biography that Dartmouth was the President of the Society for the Suppression of Vice.[65] Yet, this is not true. It was Dartmouth’s son who was President of the Society for the Suppression of Vice as illustrated by Wilberforce’s May 11, 1803 letter.[66] Instead, Dartmouth was a listed contributor to the Society for the Relief of Poor Pious Clergymen (established in 1788) in 1792 (the first year that there is a surviving list of contributors).[67] In that year, Dartmouth contributed 5 pounds, 5 shillings to the cause.[68]

However, Carter is correct when he states that Dartmouth was the President of Locke Hospital (a venereal disease clinic).[69] While there is no mention of Locke Hospital in any of Dartmouth’s letters collected in the Historical Manuscript Commission volumes, Dartmouth did patronise one of the clergymen at Locke Hospital: Coetlogon (see above). Dartmouth also seems to be quite involved in the Lock Hospital. John Scott, brother to Thomas Scott (another chaplain at the Hospital) remarks that Dartmouth was a “constant attendant on the morning service at the Lock.”[70]

Further, in 1787, the Rev. Thomas Scott (an evangelical pastor and friend of Newton and Charles Simeon)[71] wrote a pamphlet calling for the building of an asylum for women discharged from Lock Hospital. The purpose of the asylum was to give these women further rehabilitation so that they would not return to lives of prostitution.[72] He sent this pamphlet to Lord Dartmouth and Sir Charles Middleton who both encouraged him in the further publication of that pamphlet.[73] This eventually resulted in the construction of such an asylum, though on a smaller scale than Scott had wished.[74] Thus, Dartmouth’s close involvement with the Locke Hospital strongly point to the possibility that he was president of the institution.

A College, A Native Missionary, and the Moravian Brethren: Dartmouth’s Support of Foreign Missions

Nor did Dartmouth limit his support to those within Great Britain. He was quite ready and willing to contribute his money and time to those in the Americas, especially during his time as Secretary of State to the Colonies (1772 – 1775). Bargar writes,

  • Dartmouth’s piety and his friendship with Evangelical and Methodist leaders drew a large number of letters concerning religious patronage. Individual members of the clergy owed their ordination to his influence [e.g. Mr. Giberne[75]]. Dissenting congregations wrote to him concerning charters of incorporation. The Dutch Reformed Church in New York sent him effusive thanks for obtaining a charter for them, and the Presbyterians in the same city were encouraged to renew their application for a charter, although Anglican governors had often obstructed it in the past. Dartmouth did not confine his support to dissenters. When the Anglicans requested the appointment of an American bishop, Dartmouth heartily concurred and promised to give the measure his full support.[76]

Dartmouth College

There is some confusion over whether Dartmouth College, New Hampshire (currently part of the Ivy League) is the result of the patronage of Dartmouth. It both is and is not. Eleazar Wheelock founded the school in 1755 as an Indian Charity School with the purpose of training natives for missionary work.[77] When it served this function Dartmouth and Huntingdon full-heartedly supported it. Whitefield wrote of Dartmouth’s support of the institution saying, “The truly noble lord Dartmouth espouses the cause most heartily . . . . The King of kings, and Lord of lords, will bless them for it.”[78] Around 1769, Wheelock wanted to have the school incorporated. Dartmouth was particularly against this for he was concerned that the, “clergy of the established church and Anglican officials in New Hampshire would gain too much control over the religious policies of the incorporated institution.”[79] Wheelock ignored these concerns and went ahead with the incorporation anyway, thinking it easier to ask forgiveness later. In 1769, it was incorporated and named Dartmouth College in a feeble attempt on the part of Wheelock to regain the support of his evangelical friends in Britain. However, Dartmouth never approved of this name and he stopped his support of the institution.[80]

Samson Occum

While Wheelock was working to get the school incorporated in the Americas, Samson Occum was in Great Britain working to gather monetary support for the institution. Samson Occum, considered by Henry Bowden to be the “most famous Indian evangelist of the eighteenth century”[81], was there from 1766 – 1768. While he was in Great Britain he met Dartmouth, who contributed 50 pounds to the cause[82] and would continue to support him after his return to America.[83] Occum had no idea that Wheelock was working to incorporate the college and so “he was dismayed to see that Wheelock had moved the charity school north to New Hampshire [and] opened it to whites instead of Indians.”[84]

Moravian Brethren

There is also evidence that Dartmouth supported a Moravian Brethren mission in Labrador. From December 2, 1772 – January 6, 1773, Dartmouth received letters from James Hutton, who Chief of the Moravians in London.[85] The letters that Hutton personally sent to Dartmouth also include copies of letters from the missionaries in Labrador to the Society for the Furtherance of the Gospel among the Heathens.[86]  These letters make mention of missions to the Esquimaux (possibly Eskimos) and the manner in which the Moravian Brethren communicated Christian teachings to the Esquimaux, particularly mentioning an individual named Mikak.[87]

Politics and Religion[88]

There is only one major example of Dartmouth doing parliamentary work to help the church inside England, perhaps validating the somewhat ambiguous claim by Cristopher Brown that Dartmouth did not use his “long and significant career in parliament . . . to . . . promote religious causes.”[89]

Rev. J. Parsons wrote Lord Dartmouth on February 15, 1777 to get his assistance in stopping a bill in the House of Commons from passing. This bill was trying to get a theatre built in the city of Birmingham. Parsons was opposed to the building of a theatre because he viewed it as an institution that was “productive of idleness and dissipation.”[90] Thus Parsons and another 1468 citizens of Birmingham were against the building of a theatre.[91]

Parsons received a response from Dartmouth and he writes on February 24, 1777 thanking Dartmouth for taking up the cause.[92] Dartmouth managed to get the bill defeated and Parsons wrote Dartmouth saying,

  • We, as well as many others, think ourselves under great obligations to your Lordship, for your kind assistance, in effecting the defeat of Mr. Yates’s playhouse bill, which, if it had passed into a law, we have every reason to suppose, would have been productive of much evil to the town of Birmingham.[93]

The significance of this event is found in its solitariness. Why did Dartmouth feel the need to stop the building of a theatre in Birmingham, but remained seemingly quiet on other issues? Well for one, Dartmouth received quite a few letters regarding this issue, including a Dr. John Ash (whom Dartmouth seems to have in some way monetarily supported).[94] He even received a letter from the promoter of the theatre, Matthew Boulton, himself.[95] The fact that he received so many letters and petitions regarding this issue may have prompted him to do something about it (and this may in turn, show something of his reluctance for political activism, especially in needing numerous letters to be sent to him before taking up the issue).

Rev. Zouch and Taxing Liquor

While Dartmouth was petitioned for help on other occasions, he does not seem to take up the call. For example, Rev. Zouch, on February 24, 1778, writes Dartmouth asking him to work to legislate a tax on liquor to restrain an “increasing mischief” and empty the alehouses which were deemed “receptacles of idleness and vice.”[96] Dartmouth’s silent reaction to this proposal may go hand in hand with his attack of the Cyder Bill of 1763 which attempted to put a tax on liquor in Great Britain.[97]


No post on topics pertaining to 18th Century Evangelicalism would be complete without discussing the issue of slavery and abolitionism. From the documents contained in the Historical Manuscripts Commission, it is difficult to determine the exact position of Dartmouth when it comes to slavery. One would readily assume that he would be opposed to the practice, considering how close his friendship was with the ex-slave trader: John Newton. However, Reginald Coupland argues that Dartmouth, in fact, supported slavery in 1774 “solely on the basis of economic expediency.”[98] This sentiment, as Leland Bellot argues, was not uncommon among Evangelicals at time. Indeed, Jonathan Edwards, Huntingdon, and Whitefield also supported the practice.[99] Further, it is perhaps interesting to note that Huntingdon had a bondsman named David, “sent to England to be trained for evangelical missionary work among his fellow slaves.”[100]

Dartmouth himself also had contact with at least one slave who was both a poet and advocate for abolitionism: Phillis Wheatley. Phillis Wheatley was a slave in the American colonies bought by John Wheatley to care for his wife.[101] She apparently knew and greatly admired George Whitefield.[102] She also, like many Americans, greatly rejoiced when Dartmouth became Secretary of State to the Colonies. She even wrote a poem dedicated to Dartmouth in which she states:

  • Should you, my lord, while you peruse my song,
  • Wonder from whence my love of Freedom sprung,
  • Whence flow these wishes for the common good,
  • By feeling hearts alone best understood,
  • I, young in life, by seeming cruel fate
  • Was snatch’d from Afric’s fancy’d happy seat:
  • What pangs excruciating must molest,
  • What sorrows labour in my parent’s breast?
  • Steel’d was that soul and by no misery mov’d
  • That from a father seiz’d his babe belov’d:
  • Such, such my case. And can I then but pray
  • Others may never feel tyrannic sway?
  • For favours past [Repeal of the Stamp Act], great Sir, our thanks are due,
  • And thee we ask thy favours to renew,
  • Since in thy pow’r, as in thy will before,
  • To sooth the griefs, which thou did’st once deplore.
  • May heav’nly grace the sacred sanction give
  • To all thy works, and thou for ever live
  • Not only on the wings of fleeting Fame,
  • Though praise immortal crowns the patriot’s name,
  • But to conduct to heav’ns refulgent fane,
  • May fiery coursers sweep th’ ethereal plain,
  • And bear thee upwards to that blest abode,
  • Where, like the prophet, thou shalt find thy God.[103]


In this poem, there is more than a subtle hint and hope that Dartmouth will do something about the issue of slavery. However, he remains relatively quiet on the issue. Phillis Wheatley did have opportunity to visit Dartmouth when her owners went to visit London in 1773. She apparently was able to talk to Dartmouth for the space of half an hour during which Dartmouth gave her five guineas in order that she could purchase the complete collection of Alexander Pope’s works.[104] Upon her return to America she was freed by John Wheatley.[105]

Though this post does not have time to delve into great depth regarding Dartmouth’s opinions concerning slavery, it would be interesting to examine if he at all changed his attitude over the years. For example, in 1788, he does receive a letter from Henry Botham who argues for abolition based upon the fact that “sugar estates can be worked cheaper by freemen than by slaves.”[106] His response to that letter, if there was even any, is not recorded in the Historical Manuscripts Commission. It should also be remembered that his son, George Legge, had a close connection with Wilberforce (as alluded to above) and this may also be a potential for a change in Dartmouth.


Therefore, in summary, Dartmouth’s involvement in the Evangelical Revival is quite complex and significant. Dartmouth not only offered his financial support to the cause, but also dedicated time and prayer to the cause of Evangelicalism. His support and help of various clergymen would do much to help further the spread of the gospel and evangelicalism throughout Britain and the Americas. His dedication and religious fervour caused Lady Fanny Shirley (another evangelical) to write to Mr. Hervey,

  • Permit me to wish you many edifying and delightful interviews with Lord Dartmouth and his Lady. Of such interviews, I think we may use the words which I have been just speaking upon to my family, ‘It is good for us to be here.’ Oftentimes, while we are talking, grace is administered, and the fire kindles.[107]

Indeed, if there is one thing that this section has shown it is that Dartmouth was a very pious and religious man, with a deep concern for evangelicalism.


[1] Quoted in Faith Cook, Selina Countess of Huntingdon, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2001), xiv

[2] Quoted in ibid

[3] Peter Marshall, “Legge, William (1731 – 1801)” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (http://www.oxforddnb.com.ezproxy.aekc.talonline.ca/view/article/16360?docPos=3) Accessed December 1, 2016

[4] Seymour, The Life and Times of Selina Vol. II, 33

[5] Cook, Selina, 125

[6] Quoted in Seymour, The Life and Times of Selina: Volume II, 33

[7] Bebbington, Evangelicalism, 17

[8] To help establish a timeline of Dartmouth’s labours in supporting the evangelical clergy, the dates that they received assistance have been placed next to their name. Also, this is by no means a complete list of the clergy he helped. Among numerous others that will not be discussed here, there is evidence that he helped a Mr. Coughlan, who was a missionary in Labrador. Historical Manuscripts Commission: Earl of Dartmouth Vol. II, Report XI, Appendix Pt. V. (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1887), 581

[9] J. H. Y. Briggs, “Browne, Moses”, in Dictionary of Evangelical Biography: 1730 – 1860: Volume II (DEB). Edited by Donald Lewis. (Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004), 154

[10] Ibid

[11] There seems to be a personality conflict between Mr. Crook and the Archbishop of York. Newton writes Dartmouth: “Mr. Crook . . . appeared to his Grace to be so obnoxious a person that he was determined never to ordain anyone whom he should recommend.” In Bruce Hindmarsh, John Newton and the English Evangelical Tradition: Between the Conversions of Wesley and Wilberforce. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001), 90

[12] Ibid, 91

[13] Ibid

[14] Ibid, 93

[15] Ibid, 105

[16] Ibid

[17] Ibid, 200

[18] Quoted in Historical Manuscripts Commission, Earl of Dartmouth Vol. III, Report 15, Appendix Pt. I. (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1896), 185


[19] Ibid, 248

[20] Thomas Wright, The Life of William Cowper, (New York: Haskell House Publishers Ltd., 1892), 174

[21] Quoted in HMC Vol. III, 176

[22] John Wolffe, “Wilberforce, William” in ODNB (http://www.oxforddnb.com.ezproxy.aekc.talonline.ca/view/article/29386?docPos=10) Accessed March 28, 2017

[23] Grayson Carter. “Dartmouth, (second) Earl of [Legge, William]” in Dictionary of Evangelical Biography: 1730 – 1860: Volume II (DEB). Edited by Donald Lewis. (Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004), 292 – 293

[24] W. J. Clyde Ervine, “Venn, Henry” in DEB Vol. I, 1138

[25] Ibid

[26] Quoted in Edwin Sidney, The Life and Ministry of the Rev. Samuel Walker, B.A. Formerly of Truro, Cornwall. (R.B. London: Seeley and W. Burnside, 1838), 551 – 552 on Google Books (https://books.google.ca/books/reader?id=hD06AAAAcAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&pg=GBS.PP1) Accessed December 1, 2016,

[27] J.S. Reynolds, “Walker, Samuel” in ODNB. (http://www.oxforddnb.com.ezproxy.aekc.talonline.ca/view/article/28510?docPos=1) Accessed March 22, 2017

[28] Ibid

[29] Ibid

[30] Arthur Pollard, “Stillingfleet, James” in DEB: Volume II, 1056

[31] Ibid, 1057

[32] Arthur Pollard, “Robinson, Thomas” in DEB: Volume II, 948

[33] Carter, “Dartmouth, (second) Earl of [Legge, William]”, in DEB: Volume I, 292 – 293

[34] Arthur Pollard, “Robinson, Thomas” in DEB: Volume II, 948

[35] HMC Vol. II, 559

[36] James Hutson, “The Partition Treaty and the Declaration of American Independence” in The Journal of American History, Vol. 58, No. 4 (March, 1972), 879

[37] Sidney, The Life and Ministry of Thomas Scott, 552

[38] Arthur Pollard, “Powley, Matthew” in DEB: Vol. II, 899

[39] A. Skevington Wood, “Jesse, William” in DEB: Vol. I, 608 – 609

[40] Edwin Welch, “Coetlogon, Charles Edward de” in DEB: Vol. 1, 238

[41] David Rivers, Literary Memoirs of Living Authors: Vol. I. (London: R. Faulder, 1798), 150

[42] Grayson Carter, “Romaine, William” in ODNB (http://www.oxforddnb.com.ezproxy.aekc.talonline.ca/view/article/24036?docPos=1) Accessed March 28, 2017

[43] Ibid

[44] HMC Vol. III, 200, 208

[45] Quoted in Wright, The Life of William Cowper, 227

[46] A. Skevington Wood, “Rawlings, William” in DEB: Vol. II, 918,

[47] Quoted in Edwin Sidney, The Life and Ministry of the Rev. Samuel Walker, B.A. Formerly of Truro, Cornwall. (London: R.B. Seeley and W. Burnside, 1838) Google Books https://books.google.ca/books/reader?id=hD06AAAAcAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&pg=GBS.PP1 (Accessed December 1, 2016), 510

[48] Quoted in ibid, 510

[49] Quoted in ibid, 512

[50] Ibid

[51] Ibid, 556

[52] Quoted in Edwin Sidney, The Life of Sir Richard Hill, Bart. M.P. for the Country of Shropshire. (London: R.B. Seeley and W. Burnside, 1839 Archive.org https://archive.org/stream/lifesirrichardh00sidngoog#page/n8/mode/2up (Accessed December 1, 2016), 81

[53] Quoted in Sidney, The Life and Ministry of the Rev. Samuel Walker, 509

[54] Quoted in ibid, 553

[55] Quoted in Seymour, Life of Countess Huntingdon: Vol. II, 12 – 13

[56] By “irregular” is meant that when men were refused ordination because of their association with evangelicalism and Huntingdon, Huntingdon would encourage them to work and preach outside the Established Church without being ordained. This definition is taken from Edward Stillingfleet’s letter to Dartmouth on June 21, 1773, speaking of a Mr. Glazebrook. John Tyson and Boyd Schlenther. In the Midst of Early Methodism: Lady Huntingdon and Her Correspondence. (Maryland: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2006), 137 – 138

[57] Ibid, 155

[58] Quoted in ibid, 140

[59] Quoted in ibid

[60] Quoted in ibid, 249

[61] Quoted in ibid

[62] Quoted in ibid, 249 – 250

[63] Quoted in ibid, 250

[64] Noll, The Rise of Evangelicalism, 67

[65] Greyson Carter, “Dartmouth, Legge, William”, 293

[66] HMC Vol. III, 288

[67] Ford Brown, Fathers of the Victorians: The Age of Wilberforce. (Cambridge: University Press, 1961), 9

[68] Plan of a Society for the Relief of Poor, Pious Clergymen in the Established Church, Residing in the Country. (London: Richard Noble, 1801), 25

[69] Greyson Carter, “Dartmouth, Legge, William”, 293

[70] Quoted in John Scott, Letters and Papers of the Late Rev. Thomas Scott, D.D. (New York: Samuel T. Armstrong, and Crocker and Brewster, 1825) Archive.org https://archive.org/stream/lettersandpaper00scotgoog#page/n10/mode/2up (Accessed December 1, 2016), 229 – 230

[71] Arthur Polland, “Scott, Thomas” in DEB Vol. II, 990

[72] Scott, Letters and Papers, 231

[73] Ibid, 232

[74] Ibid, 232

[75] HMC Vol. II, 232

[76] B.D. Bargar, “Lord Dartmouth’s Patronage (1772 – 1775)” in The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 15, No. 2 (April, 1958), 198 – 199

[77] B.D Bargar, Lord Dartmouth and the American Revolution. (Columbia: The University of South Carolina Press, 1965), 13

[78] Quoted in Aaron Seymour, Memoirs of the Life and Character of the Rev. George Whitefield. (Lexington: Thomas P. Skillman, 1823), 198

[79] Bargar, Lord Dartmouth, 14

[80] Ibid, 14

[81] Henry Bowden, “Occum, Samson” in DEB Vol. II, 840

[82] Bargar, Lord Dartmouth, 13

[83] Bernd Peyer, “The Betrayal of Samson Occom” on OneidaCountyGenWeb (http://oneida.nygenweb.net/indian/occom.html) Accessed March 27, 2017

[84] Bowden, “Occum, Samson”, 840

[85] Stevens, HMC, Vol. II, xviii

[86] Ibid, 574

[87] Ibid, 575

[88] This subject will be briefly touched on in this section, especially how his work directly pertained to ecclesiastical affairs. While Dartmouth only politically helped the Established Church seemingly once regarding legislation, his contribution is more complicated than that. However, more will be said of Dartmouth’s contribution to politics in Part II.

[89] Christopher Brown, “Evangelicals and the origins of anti-slavery in England”

[90] Quoted in HMC Vol. III, 232

[91] Ibid, 232

[92] Ibid, 233

[93] Quoted in ibid, 237

[94] Ibid, 235

[95] Ibid, 234

[96] Quoted in ibid, 239

[97] HMC Vol. II, xiv – xv

[98] Reginald Coupland, The British Anti-Slavery Movement (London: Frank Cass, 1964), 40

[99] Leland Bellot, “Evangelicals and the Defense of Slavery in Britain’s Old Colonial Empire” in The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Feb., 1971), 20, 21, 25

[100] Ibid, 25

[101] Phillis Wheatley, The Poems of Phillis Wheatley, edited by Julian Mason, (North Carolina: The University of North Carolina Press, 1989), 3

[102] Ibid

[103] Ibid, 83

[104] Ibid, 196 – 197

[105] Ibid, 197

[106] HMC Vol. II, 544

[107] Cook, Selina, 32 – 34

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