Bishop of Worcester, English divine and writer
Born 1720 Died 1808
Richard Hurd was born at Congreve, in the parish of Penkridge, Staffordshire, where his father was a farmer, on the 13th of January 1720. He was educated at the grammar school of Brewood and at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He took his B.A. degree in 1739, and in 1742 he proceeded M.A. and became a fellow of his college. In the same year he was ordained deacon, and given charge of the parish of Reymerston, Norfolk, but he returned to Cambridge early in 1743. He was ordained priest in 1744.
In 1748 he published some Remarks on an Enquiry into the Rejection of Christian Miracles by the Heathens (1746), by William Weston, a fellow of St John's College, Cambridge. He prepared editions, which won the praise of Edward Gibbon, (*) of the Ars poetica and Epistola ad Pisones (1749), and the Epistola ad Augustum (1751) of Horace. A compliment in the preface to the edition of 1749 was the starting-point of a lasting friendship with William Warburton, through whose influence he was appointed one of the preachers at Whitehall in 1750. In 1765 he was appointed preacher at Lincoln's Inn, and in 1767 he became archdeacon of Gloucester. In 1768 he proceeded D.D. at Cambridge, and delivered at Lincoln's Inn the first Warburton lectures, which were published later (1772) as An Introduction to the Study of the Prophecies concerning the Christian Church. He became bishop of Lichfield and Coventry in 1774, and two years later was selected to be tutor to the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York. In 1781 he was translated to the see of Worcester. He lived chiefly at Hartlebury Castle, where he built a fine library, to which he transferred Alexander Pope's and Warburton's books, purchased on the latter's death. He was extremely popular at court, and in 1783, on the death of Archbishop Cornwallis, the king pressed him to accept the primacy, but Hurd, who was known, says Madame d'Arblay, as 'The Beauty of Holiness', declined it as a charge not suited to his temper and talents, and much too heavy for him to sustain. He died, unmarried, on the 28th of May 1808.
Hurd's Letters on Chivalry and Romance (1762) retain a certain interest for their importance in the history of the romantic movement, which they did something to stimulate. They were written in continuation of a dialogue on the age of Queen Elizabeth included in his Moral and Political Dialogues (1759) Two later dialogues On the Uses of Foreign Travel were printed in 1763. Hurd wrote two acrimonious defences of Warburton On the Delicacy of Friendship (1755), in answer to Dr J. Jortin and letter (1764) to Dr Thomas Leland, who had criticize Warburton's Doctrine of Grace. He edited the Works of Willian Warburton, the Select Works (1772) of Abraham Cowley, and left materials for an edition (6 vols., 1811) of Addison. His own works appeared in a collected edition in 8 volumes in 1811.
The chief sources for Bishop Hurd's biography are: Dates of some occurrences in the life of the author, written by himself and prefixed to vol. I of his works (1811); Memoirs of Dr Hurd in the Ecclesiastical and University Register (1809), pp, 399-452; John Nichols, Literary anecdotes, vol. vi. (1812), pp. 468-612; Francis Kilvert, Memoirs of Richard Hurd (1860), giving selections from Hurd's commonplace book, some correspondence, and extracts from contemporary accounts of the bishop. A review of this work, entitled Bishop Hurd and his Contemporaries, appeared in the North British Review, vol. xxxiv. (1861), pp. 375-398.
(* Examination of Dr Hurd's Commentary on Horace's Epistles (Misc. Works, ed. John, Lord Sheffield, 1837, pp. 403-427))
Being the entry for HURD, RICHARD in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.