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THE LIFE OF
DR. BEILBY Port EUS,
BISHOP OF LONDON.
PON the merits of the venerable Prelate, of whose Writings a new and complete edition is now presented to the world, the public sentiment has long and justly decided: and it is under the impression, that whatever relates to him will be read with interest, that a History of his Life is here prefixed. I could much have wished that the task of preparing it had fallen into abler hands: but thus far I feel justified in saying, that it has been drawn from the most authentic B Sources, sources, and certainly with no intention to raise his character by undue panegyric. The portrait of such a man is best delineated in the simple colouring of truth; and it has been my anxious endeavour so to represent it in the following pages.
Dr. Beilby Porteus, late Bishop of London, was the youngest but one of nineteen children, and was born at York on the 8th of May 1731. His father and mother were natives of Virginia, in North America. They were both descended from good families, and during their residence in that colony, were on a footing with its principal inhabitants, to many of whom they were allied. His father was of no profession; but, being born to what in that country was considered as an independent fortune, lived upon his own estate. It consisted chiefly of plantations of tobacco; and on one
of these, called Newbottle (from a village of that name near Edinburgh, once belonging to his family, but now in the possession of the Marquis of Lothian), he usually resided. The house stood upon a rising ground, with a gradual descent to York river, which was there at least two miles over: and here he enjoyed within himself every comfort and convenience that a man of moderate wishes could desire; living without the burthen of taxes, and possessing, under the powerful protection of this kingdom, peace, plenty, and security. The Bishop had a singular picture, which, though not in the best style of colouring, was yet thought valuable by Sir Joshua Reynolds, as a specimen of the extent which the art of painting had reached at that time in America: and he himself very highly prized it, as exhibiting a faithful and B 2 interesting interesting representation of his father's residence.
His mother's name was Jennings. She was said to be distantly related to Sarah Jennings, the wife of John, Duke of Marlborough: and two of her ancestors, Sir Edmund and Sir Jonathan Jennings, lived at Ripon in Yorkshire, for which place, it appears, they were both representatives in Parliament in the reign of James the Second. Her father, Colonel Jennings, was Sir Edmund's son, and the first of the family who settled in Virginia, where he was Superintendent of Indian affairs for that province; became afterwards one of the Supreme Council; and for some time acted as Deputy Governor of the Colony.
The principal reason which induced the Bishop's father to quit a situation so perfectly independent and comfortable,
as that he had in America, was the desire of procuring for his children better instruction than he could there obtain. His health besides had been much impaired by the climate; and these causes combined, determined him at length to leave the country, and remove to England, which he accordingly did in 1720, and fixed himself in the city of York.
In one respect, however, and that an important one, this change in his situation was attended with considerable inconvenience; for, whilst his expenses every year increased, his revenue diminished almost in the same proportion; and either by the negligence or dishonesty of his agents, he received little more than a fourth part of what ought to have been his real income. But still, even with such contracted means, he accomplished the object nearest to his heart, that of B 3 giving