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 Williston One-Name Study

William Wollaston, of Shenton

Male 1659 - 1724  (65 years)

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  • Name William Wollaston 
    Suffix of Shenton 
    Born 26 Mar 1659  Coton Clanford Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 29 Oct 1724  Shenton Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I70  Wollaston
    Last Modified 8 Aug 2016 

    Father William Wollaston, of Coton Clanford,   b. 27 Oct 1634,   d. 10 Mar 1692, Litchfeild Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 57 years) 
    Mother Elizabeth Downes,   b. 1628,   d. 24 Sep 1707  (Age 79 years) 
    Married 1657 
    Family ID F22  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Catherine Charlton 
    +1. Francis Wollaston,   b. 1694,   d. 1774  (Age 80 years)
     2. Charlton Wollaston,   b. 1690,   d. 1729, Finborough Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 39 years)
    +3. William Wollaston, of Finborough,   b. 1693,   d. 1764  (Age 71 years)
    Last Modified 8 Aug 2016 
    Family ID F23  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
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    henry Wollaston arms

  • Notes 
    • 2. WILLIAM WOLLASTON was born at Coton Clanford on 26th March 1659, .
      and was educated at the free school at Shenston. He was a lad of great promise,
      and on the recommendation of his schoolmaster was admitted a pensioner at Sidney
      Sussex College, Cambridge, on 18th June 1674, where his cousin of Shenton contributed
      to his maintenance. He failed in gaining any University preferment, and
      left Cambridge at Michaelmas 1681, after taking his Master's degree. He was
      appointed in 1682 an Usher in the Grammar School of Birmingham, and four years
      afterwards was promoted to be second master, when he entered Holy Orders. This
      place was worth to him 70L a year; and he filled it about two years with so much credit that the head of his family was induced by his reputation to select him as the
      worthiest of his name to represent and continue the male line of the Wollastons.
      He was 29 years of age when he was unexpectedly raised by the Will of William
      Wollaston of Shenton in August 1688 from the humble position of a country schoolmaster
      to be the owner of a noble estate. His subsequent career justified the
      choice, for his fortune and leisure were devoted to intellectual pursuits; and he
      achieved high literary distinction. His chief work, The Religion of Nature Delineated,
      was the production of his old age, and was received with so much favour by his
      contemporaries that ten thousand copies were sold within a very few years. The
      lucid precision of his reasoning and the elegance of his style are beyond all dispute,
      and his book is deservedly reckoned as a classic by that school of theological freethinkers
      who lay more stress on natural than revealed religion. It was fiercely
      assailed for its infidel tendencies by Bishop Warburton, and as warmly vindicated
      by Middleton, who laboured under similar imputations of infidelity. It was so
      much admired by Queen Caroline that she commanded Dr. John Clark, Dean of
      Salisbury, to translate the notes into English for her own use. There is a tradition
      in the family that Wollaston refused the offer of a bishopric; and a dignity so
      unsuited to his habits would not have added to his comfort or fame, for his life had
      been spent in study and seclusion; and for more than thirty years before his death
      he was never absent from his house in Charterhouse-square even for a single night.
      His dislike to society partly arose from his consciousness of being deficient in that
      polished refinement of manner which is confined to those who have been accustomed
      to good society from their youth, and can never be acquired in after life. His
      fortune enabled him to be hospitable to men of learning; and amongst his visitors
      was Joshua Barnes, who addressed a Greek sonnet to his friend, full of compliments to Mrs. Wollaston and their children.

      Wollaston's published writings give an inadequate idea of his literary labours
      for, like most scholars of independent fortune, he was fastidious in correcting what he wrote, and his works were planned upon a scale which life was not long enough
      to complete. Just before his death he destroyed most of his unfinished works, and
      amongst the few which were saved from the flames was the memoir of his family,
      to which I have so often referred. It was not intended for publication, and was
      compiled for the information of his children, who were likely to accept without
      criticism his account of himself and his ancestors. From a literary point of view,
      his narrative is an interesting contribution to the collection of lives of distinguished
      men of letters, written by themselves; but as a genealogical history of the
      Wollastons it is worthless and untrustworthy. It gives an unfavourable impression
      of his candour and zeal for truth :that he did not take more pains to obtain
      accurate information.· He might at least have taken the trouble to read the Wills,
      of which he has so often misrepresented the contents. The picture which he draws
      of his grandfather's descendants is a most unpleasing one; for they are all represented
      as-; being so incapable of industry and self-respect, that they made no effort
      to improve their condition, and idled away their lives in obscurity and dependence
      as pensioners on the bounty of their kinsman at Shenton. It is painful also to
      remark that, instead of being grateful for this assistance, there is a constant ettort
      to misrepresent it as a' tardy and imperfect satisfaction of an imaginary debt. Autobiographical
      sketches are as interesting for what they omit as for what they contain;
      and one of Wollaston's omissions is too curious to be left unnoticed. He
      makes no allusion whatever to the most romantic passage of his earlier life-the
      death of his first love. Soon after his accession of fortune he was engaged to marry
      Alice Coburne, only child of a rich brewer at Stratford-Ie-Bow, in whom (as it
      then seemed to him) every charm of womanly perfection was united. But she was
      attacked by the smallpox,:and died on 9th May 1689, the very day which had been
      fixed for her wedding. Her disconsolate lover raised a monument to her memory
      in Stratford Church, with an inscription which exhausts the pathos of learning and
      rhetoric in the ecstasy of his grief for the loss of 'the half of his soul.' But the
      surviving half was more quickly consoled than he cared afterwards to remember,
      for, at the end of six months, before the sculptor had finished engraving the story
      of his inconsolable grief, he married, on 26th Nov. 1689, Catherine Charlton, the
      co-heir of a London citizen. It is to be hoped that the mother of his children was
      jealous of her predecessor in his affections, for one would rather attribute his silence
      to consideration for the living than to forgetfulness of the dead.
      He died on 29th Oct. 1724, leaving nine children, and is now (1876) worthily
      represented by Major Frederick Wollaston -of Shenton.
    • http://www.rogerco.freeserve.co.uk/wolltree.htm

      William (1660-29.10.1724) Moral philosopher, author of 'Religion of Nature Delineated (1722 & 1724)' he owned Shenton Hall but lived at Charterhouse Sq. London.) m. (in 1689) Catherine Charlton