13 March 2016

Josiah Hort (1674?-1751),
Bishop of Ferns
‘A Rake, a Bully, a Pimp, or Spy’
and ‘Bp Judas’

Josiah Hort (ca 1674–1751) by an unknown artist, oil on canvas, 126.1 x 100.4 cm, a gift from the Revd HJ Carter to Clare College, Cambridge, in 1897 (courtesy Clare College).

Patrick Comerford

Josiah Hort (1674?–1751), began his episcopal career as the Church of Ireland Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin (1722-1727) and ended his days as the Archbishop of Tuam (1742–1751). A superficial survey of his career would seem to present a successful church careerist, arriving in Ireland after a Cambridge education as a chaplain to the Lord Lieutenant, and advancing from rector to dean, to bishop, to archbishop.

However, this was a man who never preached while he was archbishop, and closer examination shows we know little about his background, apart from the name of his father. His date of birth is unknown, the dates for his ordination have been questioned, and he never had the degrees from Cambridge he claimed at the time of his consecration as Bishop of Ferns. His arrival in the Church of Ireland from England and his quick promotion was resented by the Irish-born bishops, three of the four archbishops of the day refused to take part in his consecration, and his contemporaries doubted the depth of his faith.

Most telling of all, while he was Bishop of Ferns, Hort was lampooned in satire and verse by Jonathan Swift, who accused him of being ‘a Rake, a Bully, a Pimp [and] Spy,’ referred to him as ‘B[isho]p Judas.’ and accused him of being a whore-mongering atheist who ought to have been destined to hang from a rope.

A chaplaincy to the Lord Lieutenant was often seen by young ambitious clergy in the Church of England as the first step on the ladder of careerism in the Church of Ireland. However, when Hort was about to be consecrated Bishop of Ferns in 1722, the Archbishop of Dublin, William King, refused to take part because Hort had erroneously described himself in the Letters Patent as holding the degree of DD (Doctor of Divinity). Although the consecration went ahead, and Hort continued to advance in his career, he remained a target of satire and sarcasm.

Archbishop William King … refused to consecrate Josiah Holt as Bishop of Ferns in 1722 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, of a portrait in the RCB Library, Dublin)

King’s refusal may have seemed outrageous, but it raised questions about Hort’s academic and clerical credentials. Indeed, my subsequent research in Cambridge shows that Hort never received any degree at the University of Cambridge and that he spent less than a full academic year there as a student.

We can imagine the impact of these scandals if we consider the consequences of similar language being used today by such a prominent church figure about a bishop, or if the same bishop was isolated by so many members of the bench.

Background and education

We know very little about the early life of Josiah Hort. Even the date of his birth is uncertain, although most authorities agree he was born ca 1674, and that his father was one John Hort of Marshfield in south Gloucestershire, 13 km (eight miles) outside Bath.[1] Leslie and Ryan are alone in saying he was educated at the Grammar School in Bristol.[2]

The words Dissenter and Nonconformist are used for the spiritual heirs of the Puritans and the Cromwellians who refused to conform to the Church of England after the restoration of the monarchy and the episcopacy in the 1660s, including Presbyterians, Independents or Congregationalists, Baptists and Unitarians.

Hort was brought up as a Nonconformist, and was probably more sympathetic to those who eventually became Unitarians rather than the stricter Calvinists among the Presbyterians and Congregationalists.

Authorities differ about where he trained as a dissenting minister. Walter Jeremy indicates that at about the age of 16 Hort went to the academy for dissenting ministers run by Thomas Rowe (1657-1705) at Little Britain, near Aldersgate in London, with a scholarship or exhibition from the Presbyterian Fund.[3] Rowe’s other students included the hymn writer Isaac Watts (1674-1748), who became a lifelong friend and described Hort as ‘the first genius in that seminary.’[4] However, Alexander Gordon says Jeremy is incorrect and that Hort studied under James Forbes (1629?-1712) in Gloucester.[5]

After his studies, Hort is said to have spent some time as the pastor of a dissenting congregation in Newbury, Berkshire. However, the records of the Unitarians and Congregationalists there fail to support this.[6] On the other hand, Murch says he became a chaplain in the household of Cromwell’s cousin, John Hampden; both Gordon and Murch say he spent some time as an assistant minister to the Revd George Sheal in the Dissenting chapel in his home village of Marshfield;[7] and both Gordon and the Cambridge antiquarian William Cole say he was a Presbyterian preacher at Soham in Cambridgeshire.[8]

If these early appointments are difficult to disentangle, it is equally difficult to ascertain when Hort conformed to the Church of England. He was admitted to Clare Hall (now Clare College), Cambridge, on 28 April 1704, as a sizar or student who received tuition, bed and board in return for menial tasks.[9] There his tutor was Richard Laughton (1670?-1723).[10] However, Hort left Clare in 1705 without graduating, and Cambridge University has no record of him ever receiving a degree.[11]

There was a tradition in his family and much-repeated that because Hort was a zealous supporter of the Hanoverian succession in 1714, and because he had scruples about re-ordination in the Church of England, this requirement was dispensed with on royal approval.[12] However, it is generally agreed that he was ordained deacon in 1705 by John Moore, Bishop of Norwich, and some months later was ordained priest by Simon Patrick, Bishop of Ely, on 23 September 1705.[13]

Ryan says that after his ordination in 1705, Hort was appointed Rector of Wicken, Cambridgeshire, in the Diocese of Ely.[14] On 19 July 1706, he became Vicar of Wendover, Buckinghamshire, in the Diocese of Lincoln.[15] In 1707, he printed a Thanksgiving Sermon on ‘the national successes,’ based on Psalm 149: 6-8; a year later, in 1708, he published a sermon preached at the archdeacon’s visitation of Aylesbury.[16]

Hort was still Vicar of Wendover in 1709 when he left England for Ireland as domestic chaplain to Thomas Wharton (1648-1715), 1st Marquess of Wharton and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1708-1710). Wharton was considered a man ‘void of moral or religious principles,’ for which Queen Anne disliked him intensely. He was once silenced in the House of Lords by an accusation that, while drunk, he had broken into the parish church in Great Barrington, Gloucestershire, in 1682 and urinated against the altar and the pulpit. He infected his first wife, Anne Lee, with syphilis, from which she died in 1685. His second wife, Lucy Loftus, was a daughter of Adam Loftus of Rathfarnham Castle, Co Dublin, 1st Viscount Lisburne, and a granddaughter of Sir Arthur Loftus, MP for Co Wexford.[17]

Moving to Ireland as chaplain to a new Lord Lieutenant was a sure first step on the ladder of preferment and promotion in the Church of Ireland for ambitious young English clerics. Hort was in Ireland less than a year when the Crown nominated him in 1709 as Rector of Kilskyre, near Kells, in the Diocese of Meath, a parish vacant with the appointment of Ralph Lambert as Dean of Down. However, the Bishop of Meath, William Moreton, appointed his own son Richard as rector. A long drawn-out legal battle ensued until, after an appeal to the British House of Lords, the case was decided in favour of Hort in 1717.[18] As the case continued, Hort resigned as Vicar of Wendover on 15 October 1715, having been appointed Rector of Haversham on 30 September 1715. It was only when the legal battle over Kilskyre was decided in his favour that Hort resigned from Haversham on 22 July 1717.[19]

On 3 April 1718, he was appointed Dean of Cloyne Cathedral, Co Cork, and Rector and Vicar of Louth in the Diocese of Armagh.[20] Louth was a sinecure to enhance Hort’s income, but the church was in ruins long before 1662, and no church was built in the parish until 1807.[21] On 17 June 1720, he was appointed Dean of Ardagh. Once again, this was a mere sinecure, for Ardagh Cathedral had been in ruins for over two centuries and Ardagh was a tiny village.[22]

Saint Edan’s Cathedral, Ferns ... Josiah Hort was the Church of Ireland Bishop of Ferns from 1722 to 1727 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

He was Dean of Ardagh for little more than a year when, on 17 January 1722, he was nominated Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin in succession to Bartholomew Vigors, who died two weeks earlier. The letters patent were issued by the Lord Lieutenant, the Duke of Grafton, on 10 February 1722.[23] However, the Archbishop of Dublin, William King, refused to take part in Hort’s consecration because Hort was wrongly described in his letters patent as DD.[24]

Castleknock Parish Church, Co Dublin … Josiah Hort was consecrated Bishop of Ferns here on 26 February 1722 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

King had objected the previous year to the appointment of Francis Hutchinson as Bishop of Down. King wrote to the Lord Lieutenant on 16 February 1722:

‘I have perused Dean Hort’s patent for consecration. I am by it commanded to consecrate Josias Hort, Sacrae Theologiae Doctorem, Decanum Ardaghensem : on inquiry, I find that he is so far from being a doctor of divinity, that he never took any degree in any university. So I conceive there is a misnomer here. I can find no so such man as Josiah Hort, doctor of divinity, dean of Ardagh … I am very unwilling to put a falsity under my seal … [T]his gentleman is the first that I ever heard of, that pretended to a bishoprick without any degree at all.’[25]

King complained bitterly that English clergy, having squandered the resources of their own church for short-term profit, were invading the better-managed Church of Ireland, and that handing the best dioceses to outsiders left the Irish clergy with little incentive. William Nicolson had been Bishop of Carlisle for 16 years, but King vengefully insisted he should take the most junior place on the episcopal bench in the House of Lords.[26]

Despite legal challenges, King persisted in refusing to consecrate Hort, and insisted on making his refusal a condition of accepting his own appointment as a Lord Justice.[27] Connolly suggests that King remained obstinate because of Hort’s dissenting background and rumours that he had never been ordained in the Church of England. The Bishop of Elphin, Henry Downes, said the Archbishops of Armagh, Dublin and Tuam signed a petition asking the king to recall Hort’s nomination.[28]

A commission was issued for Hort’s consecration as Bishop of Ferns, which went ahead on 26 February 1722, not in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, nor in the Chapel of Trinity College Dublin, then the normal venues for episcopal consecrations, but in the parish church in Castleknock, close to the official residence of the Lord Lieutenant in the Phoenix Park. The consecrating bishops were John Evans of Meath, Ralph Lambert of Dromore, who had preceded him in Kilskyre, and Timothy Goodwin of Kilmore and Ardagh, where Hort was the nominal dean.[29] When Archbishop King protested that this ‘gentleman is the first that I ever heard of, that pretended to a bishoprick without any degree at all,’ he was, perhaps, unaware that one of his predecessors, Adam Loftus (ca 1533-1605), had also claimed a degree from Cambridge that he had never earned.

Archbishop Adam Loftus, ancestor of the Loftus family of Loftus Hall, Co Wexford … had no earned degrees from Cambridge University apart from an honorary DD (courtesy, Trinity College Dublin)

Adam Loftus, ancestor of the Loftus family of Loftus Hall, Co Wexford, was Archbishop of Armagh, and then of Dublin for almost forty years. Loftus claimed that as an undergraduate at Trinity College, Cambridge, he had attracted the attention of the future Queen Elizabeth I. However, there is no good reason to believe this meeting ever took place. Venn relies on Cooper for stating that Loftus was at Trinity College, but no Cambridge degree is recorded for Loftus until the weeks before he became Archbishop of Dublin.[30]

Adam C. Green, Assistant Archivist and Manuscript Cataloguer, Trinity College Library, Cambridge, has found no evidence, besides the reference in Cooper, that Loftus was ever at Trinity. He points out that Loftus did not matriculate at Cambridge, nor did he take any degrees there before he was admitted to the degree DD on 25 November 1566, and he does not appear in the printed lists of Trinity members.[31]

There are no college admissions records before the 1630s. So, was Loftus a member of Trinity briefly as an undergraduate? The buttery books, which give a complete list of members of the college in each week and contain references to some junior members of the college not mentioned elsewhere, are almost complete from 1557/1558, but this is after the ordination of Loftus. His name does not occur in the earliest lower commons book, also dating from 1557/1558, nor does his name feature in the upper commons book for the period around 1566-1567, when he took the degree DD.[32]

Swift’s attacks

Soon after Hort’s consecration, rumours about his philandering appeared in an anonymous poem, ‘On the B—ps of Ireland,’ which refers to Hort in the line: E’re I was wed I kiss’d ten thousand bitches.[33] By then, Jonathan Swift, was known to publicly despise Hort. When Hort almost drowned in a storm in Dublin Bay in December 1722, Swift responded to reports of the near-tragedy with contemptuous references to Hort in a satirical poem, ‘Great Storm of Christmas 1722,’ or ‘The Storm: or Minerva’s Petition,’ which was circulated in manuscript form though not yet printed. Swift attacks Hort as a whore-mongering atheist and constructs a fable in which the pagan gods debate Hort’s fate. Although Minerva asks Neptune to drown Hort, Venus defends him and

Pleaded the B[ishop] lov’d a W[hore],
And had enlarg’d her Empire wide,
He own’d no Deity beside.

The shape-shifting god Proteus expresses grudging admiration of the bishop since

[Hort] can assume more Forms than I,
a Rake, a Bully, a Pimp, or Spy.

Hort is also characterised as ‘B[isho]p Judas.’[36] Eventually, the Bishop of Ferns is given a reprieve – but only because the philosopher George Berkeley would have drowned too, and because Minerva thought, anyway, Hort was ‘destin’d to a rope.’[37]

When Hort learned about this poem, he complained to Archbishop King, who in turn asked Swift about the poem. King replied to Hort on 23 February 1723:

‘I have not read the scandalous libel, your Lordship mentions, but have heard about it. My neighbour [Swift] complains grievously of one Curll, who printed vile [and] abominable papers in his name. As for this he most solemnly protests, that he has no concern in it and I verily believe him. He says it is true that sometimes he passes a jest or an irony on his friend or any obnoxious person, but for black calumny as this represented to be, he detests it. He discoursed me frankly on this subject, and told me, that perhaps he would not have been forward to give his vote to make you a bishop; but now you are one, he thinks it is a wicked thing and a mischievous office to the church and public to say or do anything may make you less serviceable in your station, and that none but an enemy to the church and religion would be guilty of such a practice.’[38]

Of course, as Hort was a friend of neither King nor Swift, he is being told that he is an ‘obnoxious person,’ and that neither supported him as a bishop. Karian suggests the reference to Curll is a red herring, as neither Curll nor anyone else had published ‘The Storm,’ and he describes Swift’s denial as artful but entirely false.[39]

As Bishop of Ferns, Hort favoured a limited toleration of Roman Catholic priests under the Penal Laws, arguing that either extirpation would fail or, if successful, might lead to retaliation against Protestants abroad.[40]

Hort first lost his voice in 1724, when he was still Bishop of Ferns, while shouting at one of his servants during a visitation of his parishes in Co Wexford.[41]

He was still Bishop of Ferns and was about 50 – and had perhaps ‘kiss’d ten thousand bitches’ – when he married Elizabeth FitzMaurice on 19 February 1725. Although the genealogical tables make it difficult at times to identify her with certainty, she was a daughter of Colonel William FitzMaurice (1670-1710), and a niece of Thomas FitzMaurice (1668-1741), 1st Earl of Kerry. Her sister, Mary FitzMaurice, married their first cousin, John FitzMaurice (1706-1761), who was made 1st Earl of Shelburne in 1753, a title with its origins in Co Wexford, after he succeeded to the vast Petty estates.[42]

While Hort was still Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin, he befriended William Robertson (1705-1783), and persuaded him to consider Anglican ordination. By the time Robertson was ordained a deacon in 1728 and priest in 1729 by John Hoadly, Hort had left Ferns, but through his influence, perhaps, Robertson was appointed Rector of Rathvilly, Co Carlow. However, Roberston eventually resigned his Anglican orders, became a Unitarian preacher, and has been described as ‘the father of Unitarian Nonconformity.’[43]

Hort was appointed Bishop of Kilmore and Ardagh in 1727 and the king’s chaplain, John Hoadly, was nominated as Bishop of Ferns.[44] However, the letters patent were dated before King George I died on 11 June 1727, and new papers had to be issued for both Hort and Hoadly by George II on 4 August. Hoadly was consecrated in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on 3 September by William King and other assisting bishops – a very different experience to Hort’s public humiliation by King five years earlier – and eventually Hoadly succeeded King as Archbishop of Dublin in 1730.[45]

As Bishop of Kilmore, Hort again spoke in favour of relaxing the Penal Laws against Roman Catholic clergy, telling the clergy of his diocese: ‘coercive laws ... may bind men’s hands and tongues, but can never reach their hearts.’[46]

Another attack from Swift

After Hort moved from Ferns, Swift’s satirical poem ‘The Storm’ was circulated once again in manuscript form, along with two other brief poetic attacks that date from 1732: ‘Advice to a Parson: an Epigram,’ and ‘Epigram on Seeing a Worthy Prelate Go Out of Church.’ Although there is no conclusive evidence, both poems have been attributed to Swift. But why did ‘The Storm’ and these two epigrams find popular readership at this time?

In February 1732, the Irish House of Lords passed two Bills, a Bill of Residence and a Bill of Division. This legislation gave the right to a bishop to compel the clergy to build rectories, and allowed bishops to divide large parishes into smaller parishes. Swift believed these measures would impoverish the clergy. The Bills were sent to the Irish Commons, and as the debate continued Swift wrote ‘Considerations Upon Two Bills,’ and with sarcasm proposed that the bishoprics should be divided too. Faulkner published excerpts from Swift’s pamphlet in the Dublin Journal on 26 February 1732, and the bills were defeated in the Commons later that day.

Swift’s ‘Epigram on Seeing a Worthy Prelate Go Out of Church’ was first published that year, and printed by James Roberts in The Lady’s Dressing Room. The worldliness of bishops promoting English interests in Ireland is epitomised when Lord Pam – representing Josiah Hort – stops praying when he hears that the Lord Lieutenant, the Duke of Dorset, is in town and promptly leaves the church to wait on him:[47]

Lord Pam in the church (you’d think it) kneel’d down;
When told that the Duke was just come to Town –
His station despising, unawed by the place,
He flies from his God to attend to his Grace.
To the Court it was better to pay his devotion,
Since God had no hand in his Lordship’s promotion

In 1732, Swift also wrote his poem ‘Judas,’ although this was not published until 1735. As Swift had described Hort as ‘Bp Judas’ in ‘The Storm’ in 1723, we can presume that he was referring to Hort in this poem, which predicts an ignominious death for each modern Judas.[48]

However, by 1736, Swift and Hort had become friends and collaborators. On 23 February 1736, Hort sent Swift a small satirical pamphlet, Better Regulation and Improvement of Quadrille, a then-fashionable game of cards. Swift edited the satire and sent it to Faulkner, who published it in a broadsheet. However, a formal complaint was made to the Irish House of Commons, and Faulkner, by then in a bad state of health, was imprisoned in a dungeon for three days.[49]

Josiah and Elizabeth Hort had a townhouse in Dawson Street, Dublin. It was there on 2 May 1737 her sister Mary gave birth to William FitzMaurice (1737-1805), later William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne, 1st Marquess of Lansdowne, and British Prime Minister at the end of the American War of Independence.[50]

While he was still Bishop of Kilmore, Hort’s voice failed once again. This time he claimed he overstrained his voice in the pulpit while he had a cold and was hoarse. Hort would never preach again but issued a warning to ‘all young preachers whose organs of speech are tender,’ saying: ‘Experience shows that a moderate degree of voice, with a proper and distinct articulation, is better understood in all parts of a church than a thunder of lungs that is rarely distinct, and never agreeable to the audience.’[51]

Now Hort began to convey his ideas through pamphlets. Despite the fact that he never preached again, Hort was appointed Archbishop of Tuam on 27 January 1742, and was also allowed to retain the Diocese of Ardagh in commendam. Ardagh was separated from Kilmore, and remained united with Tuam until 1839.[52]

Elizabeth Hort died on 25 January 1745, and was buried in Saint George’s Chapel, Dublin. A marble monument once read:

‘To the memory of Elizabeth Hort,
a daughter of the noble house of Kerry,
and wife of Josiah, Lord Archbishop of Tuam.
With whom she lived in strict union and affection
for the space of 19 years, 11 months, and 4 days;
having in her life exhibited
a pattern of every virtue,
conjugal, parental, social;
and above all
of piety and devotion towards God.
She was received to her reward
on the 25 day of January 1745,
leaving issue two sons and three daughters.
Blessed are the dead, which die in the Lord.’[53]

Later that year, Hort bought the manor of Scullogstown, near Kilcock, Co Kildare, from the Fitzgerald family for £5,373. He changed the name to Hortland and in 1748 built a mansion designed by Richard Castle. However, Hort may have never lived at Hortland, which was leased to a succession of tenants.[54]

The archbishop collapsed on the streets of Dublin and died on 14 December 1751. He was buried with his wife in Saint George’s Chapel, Dublin. In his will, he exhorted his children to carry out his intentions ‘without having recourse to law and the subtility of lawyers,’ and in the case of difficulty to refer questions to ‘the decision of persons of known probity and wisdom, this being not only the most Christian, but the most prudent and cheap and summary way of deciding all differences.’[55]

Family and legacy:

Despite all Hort’s failings and his pillorying by King, Swift and other detractors, the Hort family quickly established a fair claim to be considered Irish.[56] Josiah and Elizabeth Hort had eleven children in all, although only two sons and three daughters survived to adult life: Josiah George Hort (1732-1786), Sir John Hort (1735-1807), Elizabeth (married Sir James Caldwell), Frances (married John Parker, Lord Bodrington) and Maria (married Sir John Cramer Coghill).

Hort’s nephew, Lord Shelburne, who was born in Hort’s Dublin townhouse, showed his loyalty to the Hort family when he secured the post of British Consul General in Lisbon for Sir John Hort in 1767.[57] The present holder of the family title is Sir Andrew Edwin Fenton Hort (born 1954). Hortland House, the mansion designed by Richard Castle for Josiah Hort, had fallen into dilapidation by the beginning of the 20th century, while the Hort monuments in Saint George’s, Hill Street, have disappeared since the chapel was demolished in 1890.

Other Bishops of Ferns, before and after Hort, had genuine degrees from Cambridge, including his successor, John Hoadly, who had been at Saint Catharine’s College, and had earned the degrees BA (1698), MA (1703) and DD (1717).[58]

Without his academic pretensions, King’s consequent refusal to consecrate him, and Swift’s allegations about his lifestyle, Hort might have been forgotten, for his theology was shallow and vapid, his ecclesiastical promotions were typical of careerists of the day, and his impact on his dioceses was unremarkable. Perhaps the greatest monument to Hort is the work of his great-grandson, the Revd Professor Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828-1892), who was Lady Margaret’s Professor of Divinity in Cambridge and was the Irish-born theologian who did more than most to shape our modern understanding of the Greek New Testament.[59]

The Revd Professor FJA Hort (1828-1892) … the Irish-born Cambridge theologian who did more than most to shape our modern understanding of the Greek New Testament (a portrait by GP Jacomb-Hood in the collection of Trinity College Cambridge).

[1] Venn and Venn, I/II, p. 411; Leslie, Ferns, p. 11; ODNB, p. 209; Bergin is alone in giving a precise date of birth, 2 February 1673.
[2] Leslie, Ferns, p. 11; Leslie and Crooks, Tuam, Killala and Achonry, p. 400; Leslie and Crooks, Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh, p. 549; Ryan, p. 268. Bergin accepts this from Leslie (see Bergin, p.799).
[3] Murch, pp 41-42; Jeremy, p. xi.
[4] Chalmers, p. 195.
[5] Gordon (1917), p 287.
[6] DNB, p. 388; ODNB, p. 209.
[7] Murch, p 42; Gordon, pp 287, 349.
[8] Gordon, p. 287; Cotton, vol 2, p. 339; DNB, p. 388; ODNB, p. 209.
[9] Venn and Venn, I/II, p. 411.
[10] Ryan, p. 268.
[11] See Venn and Venn, I/II, p. 411.
[12] Murch, p. 42; Chalmers, pp 195-196; Mant, vol 2, p 376.
[13] Mant, vol 2, p 376; Venn and Venn, I/II, p. 411; Leslie, Ferns, p. 11; Ryan, p. 268.
[14] Ryan, p. 268; Leslie, Ferns, p. 11.
[15] The Clergy of the Church of England Database (1540-1835), http://www.theclergydatabase.org.uk/jsp/persons/DisplayPerson.jsp?PersonID=16755, last accessed 22 July 2013; Venn and Venn, I/II, p. 411; Ryan, p. 268; Leslie, Ferns, p. 11.
[16] Murch, p. 42; Chalmers, p 195.
[17] Leslie, Ferns, p. 11; ODNB, p. 209; Burke’s Peerage, various eds, s.v. Ely.
[18] Erck (1830), App. p. 275; Ryan, p. 268; ODNB, p. 11; Leslie, Ferns, p. 11.
[19] The Clergy of the Church of England Database (1540-1835), http://www.theclergydatabase.org.uk/jsp/persons/DisplayPerson.jsp?PersonID=16755, last accessed 22 July 2013.
[20] Cotton, vol 1, p. 283; Leslie, Armagh, p. 358; Leslie, Ferns, p 11; ODNB, p. 209.
[21] Galloway, pp 174; Fleming, WEC, Armagh Clergy 1800-2000 (Dundalk: Dundalgan Press, 2001), pp 636-639.
[22] Cotton, vol 3, p. 188 (where he is listed as MA); Leslie, Ferns, p. 11; Galloway, pp 7-9.
[23] Mant, vol 2, pp 375-379; Cotton, vol 2, pp 338-339, where he is listed as MA; Ryan, p. 269; Leslie, Ferns, 11.
[24] Gordon, p. 287; Mant, vol 2, p. 378; ODNB, p. 209; see Cotton, vol 4, p. 17. Leslie is incorrect when he says the degree in question was BD; see Leslie, Armagh, p. 358; Leslie, Ferns, p. 11, Leslie and Crooks, Tuam, Killala and Achonry, p. 400; Leslie and Crooks, Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh, p. 549.
[25] Mant, vol 2, p. 379; p. 231; Charles King (1906), p. 231; Acheson, p. 47; Fauske, p. 63; O’Regan, p. 309.
[26] Connolly, ODNB, p 685.
[27] Mant, vol 2, p. 378; Bergin, p. 799.
[28] Nichols, pp 535-536; DNB, p. 388; Connolly, ODNB, p 685.
[29] Nichols, pp 535-536; Mant 2, p. 378; Cotton, vol 2, p. 339; Ryan, p. 269; Dalton (1883), p. 560; Leslie, Ferns, 11.
[30] Venn and Venn, I/III, p. 100.
[31] Email correspondence between Patrick Comerford and Adam C. Green, Assistant Archivist and Manuscript Cataloguer, Trinity College Library, Cambridge, and Dr Richard Serjeantson, Website Committee Secretary, Trinity College Cambridge; Venn I/III, p. 100.
[32] Email correspondence between Patrick Comerford and Adam C. Green, Assistant Archivist and Manuscript Cataloguer, Trinity College Library, Cambridge, and Dr Richard Serjeantson, Website Committee Secretary, Trinity College Cambridge; Venn I/III, p. 100.
[33] Karian, p. 83.
[34] Poems 1: 302-303.
[35] Poems 1: 303.
[36] Poems 1: 305.
[37] Poems 1: 306.
[38] Karian, pp 83-85.
[39] Karian, pp 83-85.
[40] Bergin, p. 799.
[41] Mant, vol 2, p. 561-562.
[42] Lodge, vol 2, pp 203-204; Burke’s Peerage, 107th ed, 2003, vol 2, pp 1967, 2239.
[43] Stewart, MA, pp 423-425; Ritchey, pp 529-530.
[44] Ryan, p. 269; Cotton, vol 3, p 169, where once again Hort is listed with the degree DD; Leslie, Ferns, p. 11.
[45] Leslie, Dublin, pp 4, 736.
[46] Bergin, p. 799.
[47] De Getango and Stubblefield, p. 96.
[48] DeGategno and Stubblefield, p.213.
[49] Swift and Scott, pp 371-377; Bergin, p. 799.
[50] Geoghegan, PM, p.87; DNB/ONB.
[51] Mant, vol 2, p. 562; AF Hort, p. 2; ONDB, p. 209.
[52] Cotton, vol 4, p. 17, where again Hort is ascribed the degree DD; Leslie, Ferns, p. 11; Galloway, p. 7; ONDB, p. 209.
[53] Lodge, vol 2, pp 204-205.
[54] O’Leary, ‘Hortland,’ pp 56-66.
[55] AF Hort, p. 3; DNB, p 388; Venn and Venn, I/II, p. 411; Leslie, Ferns, p 11; ODNB, p. 209.
[56] AF Hort, vol 1, p. 3.
[57] Ditchfield, p. 84.
[58] Leslie and Wallace, Dublin, p. 736.
[59] AJ Hort, passim.


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Bergin, John, ‘Hort, Josiah (1673-1751),’ Dictionary of Irish Biography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press for the Royal Irish Academy, 2009, vol 4), pp 798-799.
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‘Great Storm of Christmas 1722,’ or
‘The Storm: or Minerva’s Petition,’ by Jonathan Swift

Pallas, a goddess chaste and wise
Descending lately from the skies,
To Neptune went, and begg’d in form
He’d give his orders for a storm;
A storm, to drown that rascal Hort,
And she would kindly thank him for’t:
A wretch! whom English rogues, to spite her,
Had lately honour’d with a mitre.

The god, who favour’d her request,
Assured her he would do his best:
But Venus had been there before,
Pleaded the bishop loved a whore,
And had enlarged her empire wide;
He own’d no deity beside.

At sea or land, if e’er you found him
Without a mistress, hang or drown him.
Since Burnet’s death, the bishops’ bench,
Till Hort arrived, ne’er kept a wench;
If Hort must sink, she grieves to tell it,
She’ll not have left one single prelate:
For, to say truth, she did intend him,
Elect of Cyprus in commendam.
And, since her birth the ocean gave her,
She could not doubt her uncle’s favour.

Then Proteus urged the same request,
But half in earnest, half in jest;
Said he – ‘Great sovereign of the main,
To drown him all attempts are vain.
Hort can assume more forms than I,
A rake, a bully, pimp, or spy;
Can creep, or run, or fly, or swim;
All motions are alike to him:
Turn him adrift, and you shall find
He knows to sail with every wind;
Or, throw him overboard, he’ll ride
As well against as with the tide.

But, Pallas, you’ve applied too late;
For, ’tis decreed by Jove and Fate,
That Ireland must be soon destroy’d,
And who but Hort can be employ’d?
You need not then have been so pert,
In sending Bolton to Clonfert.
I found you did it, by your grinning;
Your business is to mind your spinning.
But how you came to interpose
In making bishops, no one knows;
Or who regarded your report;
For never were you seen at court.

And if you must have your petition,
There’s Berkeley in the same condition;
Look, there he stands, and ’tis but just,
If one must drown, the other must;
But, if you’ll leave us Bishop Judas,
We’ll give you Berkeley for Bermudas.
Now, if ’twill gratify your spight,
To put him in a plaguy fright,
Although ’tis hardly worth the cost,
You soon shall see him soundly tost.
You’ll find him swear, blaspheme, and damn
(And every moment take a dram)
His ghastly visage with an air
Of reprobation and despair;
Or else some hiding-hole he seeks,
For fear the rest should say he squeaks;
Or, as Fitzpatrick did before,
Resolve to perish with his whore;
Or else he raves, and roars, and swears,
And, but for shame, would say his prayers.
Or, would you see his spirits sink?
Relaxing downwards in a stink?
If such a sight as this can please ye,
Good madam Pallas, pray be easy.
To Neptune speak, and he’ll consent;
But he’ll come back the knave he went.’

The goddess, who conceived a hope
That Hort was destined to a rope,
Believed it best to condescend
To spare a foe, to save a friend;
But, fearing Berkeley might be scared,
She left him virtue for a guard.

Patrick Comerford: The Revd Canon Professor Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism, Liturgy and Church History, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, an Adjunct Assistant Professor, Trinity College Dublin, and a canon of Christ Church Cathedral Dublin. He has contributed to this Journal on many occasions in the past. A former journalist, he once worked for the Wexford People.

This paper was first published in the Journal of the Wexford Historical Society, No 24, 2012-2013 (ed Celestine Murphy), ISSN 0790-1828.

A journey through Lent 2016
with Samuel Johnson (33)

A window ledge in the Chapel in Dr Milley’s Hospital, Beacon Street, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During Lent this year, I am taking time each morning to reflect on words from Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), the Lichfield lexicographer and writer who compiled the first authoritative English-language dictionary.

This is the Fifth Sunday in Lent [13 March 2016], which is known as Pasion Sunday and marks the beginning of Passiontide.

On 14 April 1770, Johnson wrote:

This week is Passion week.

I have for some weeks past been much afflicted with the Lumbago, or Rheumatism in the Loins, which often passes to the muscles of the belly, where it causes equal, if not greater pain. In the day the sunshine mitigates it, and in cold or cloudy weather such as has for some time past remarkably prevailed the heat of a strong fire suspends it. In the night it is so troublesome, as not very easily to be borne. I lye wrapped in Flannel with a very great fire near my bed, but whether it be that a recumbent posture encreases the pain, or that expansion by moderate warmth excites what a great heat dissipates, I can seldom remain in bed two hours at a time without the necessity of rising to heat the parts affected at the fire.

One night, between the pain and the spasms in my stomach I was insupportably distressed. On the next night, I think, I laid a blister to my back, and took opium; my night was tolerable, and from that time the spasms in my stomach which disturbed me for many years, and for two past harassed me almost to distraction, have nearly ceased; I suppose the breast is relaxed by the opium.

Having passed Thursday in Passion Week at Mr Thrale’s, I came home on Fryday morning, that I might pass the day unobserved. I had nothing but water once in the morning and once at bed-time. I refused tea after some deliberation in the afternoon. They did not press it. I came home late, and was unwilling to carry my Rheumatism to the cold church in the morning, unless that were rather an excuse made to myself. In the afternoon I went to Church but came late, I think at the Creed. I read Clarke’s Sermon on the Death of Christ, and the Second Epistle to Timothy in Greek, but rather hastily. I then went to Thrale’s, and had a very tedious and painful night. But the Spasms in my Throat are gone and if either the pain or the opiate which the pain enforced has stopped them the relief is very cheaply purchased. The pain harasses me much, yet many have the disease perhaps in a much higher degree with want of food, fire, and covering, which I find thus grievous with all the succours that riches and kindness can buy and give.

On Saturday I was not hungry and did not eat much breakfast. There was a dinner and company at which I was persuaded. or tempted to stay. At night I came home sat up, and composed the prayer, and having ordered the maid to make the fire in my chamber at eight went to rest, and had a tolerable night.

Continued tomorrow.

Yesterday’s reflection.