John Garnett (bishop)

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John Garnett (1707/08–1782) was an English bishop of Clogher in the Church of Ireland. [1]



Garnett was born at Lambeth in 1707/8. [2] [3] His father, John Garnett, was rector of Sigglesthorne, in the East Riding of Yorkshire. His grandfather had been vicar of Kilham, and his great-grandfather a merchant in Newcastle. Educated at a school in Beverley, Yorkshire, [2] he was admitted to St John's College, Cambridge in 1725, though he migrated to Sidney Sussex College in September 1728. Graduating B.A. in 1728/9 and M.A. in 1732, he became a fellow of Sidney Sussex in 1730, and was Lady Margaret preacher to the university from 1744 to 1752. [4]

In 1751 Garnett went to Ireland as chaplain to the Lord Lieutenant, Lionel Sackville, 1st Duke of Dorset. In 1752 he became Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin; he was translated to Clogher in 1758, and remained bishop of Clogher until his death. In 1765 he was touted as a possible successor to William Carmichael as Archbishop of Dublin, though the Irishman Arthur Smyth was ultimately appointed. [5]

Garnett died on 1 March 1782 at his home in Leinster Street, Dublin. [2] There is a mural tablet to his memory in the chancel of St Lawrence's Church, Sigglesthorne, [6] and a painting of him in St John's College, Cambridge.

Garnett married Dorothea, the youngest daughter of Sir Thomas Molyneux, 1st Baronet. [7] According to the DNB, the John Garnett who was appointed dean of Exeter in February 1810, and died 11 March 1813, in his sixty-fifth year, was the Bishop's son. [8]


Garnett was a patron of the clergyman Philip Skelton: according to Skelton's biographer Samuel Burdy, Skelton "would have continued in a wild part of the country all his days had not Providence placed Dr. Garnett in the see of Clogher, who was remarkable for promoting men distinguished for literary qualifications." Elsewhere Burdy praised Garnett as "a pious, humble, good-natured man, a generous encourager of literature, kind to his domestics, and justly esteemed by all those who had an opportunity of knowing his virtues". [9] Thomas Campbell corroborated this account in his Philosophical Survey of the South of Ireland (1777).


The only work of Garnett, besides some occasional sermons, was his prolix Dissertation on the Book of Job (1749; second edition 1752). On seeing it at the Duke of Newcastle's, to whom it was dedicated, Lord Morton remarked that it was 'a very proper book for the ante-chamber of a prime minister.' Garnett's theory, by which the book of Job is referred to the period of the Babylonian captivity, and Job regarded as the type of the oppressed nation of Israel, was original for an eighteenth-century divine.

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  1. Clogher clergy and parishes : being an account of the clergy of the Church of Ireland in the Diocese of Clogher, from the earliest period, with historical notices of the several parishes, churches, etc" Leslie, J.B. pp19/20: Enniskille; R. H. Ritchie; 1929
  2. 1 2 3 Richard Garnett, rev. Philip Carter. "Garnett, John". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/10391.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. The DNB gives his birth year as 1709. Venn says that he was aged 16 when admitted to St John's College, Cambridge in May 1725.
  4. "Garnett, John (GNT725J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  5. William Henry to Thomas Secker, 12 December 1765. Robert G. Ingram, '"Popish Cut-Throats Against Us": Papists, Protestants and the Problem of Allegiance in Eighteenth-Century Ireland', in Melanie Barber & Stephen Taylor, eds., From the Reformation to the permissive society: a miscellany in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Lambeth Palace Library, Boydell & Brewer, 2010, p.196
  6. Thomas Moule, The English counties delineated, Vol. 2, 1837, p.420
  7. 'Sir Thomas Molyneux, Bart.', Dublin University Magazine , vol. 18 (1841), p.763
  8. Here ODNB follows DNB. According to Venn, however, the Dean of Exeter was the son of a cook from Fetter Lane in London. See also Notes and Queries, Vol. 170 (1936), p.1081
  9. ODNB, citing The complete works of the late Rev. Philip Skelton, to which is prefixed Burdy's life of the author, ed. Robert Lynam, 6 vols. (1824). The DNB attributed Burdy's remarks to Lynam.

Garnett, Richard (1890). "Garnett, John"  . In Stephen, Leslie; Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of National Biography . 21. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

Church of Ireland titles
Preceded by
Robert Downes
Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin
Succeeded by
William Carmichael
Preceded by
Robert Clayton
Bishop of Clogher
Succeeded by
Sir John Hotham, 9th Baronet