Richard Graves

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Richard Graves
Richard Graves.jpg
Richard Graves by James Northcote, 1799.
Born(1715-05-04)4 May 1715
Died23 November 1804(1804-11-23) (aged 89)

Richard Graves (4 May 1715 – 23 November 1804) was an English cleric, poet, and novelist. He is remembered especially for his picaresque novel The Spiritual Quixote (1773).

Minister (Christianity) religious occupation in Christianity

In Christianity, a minister is a person authorized by a church, or other religious organization, to perform functions such as teaching of beliefs; leading services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community. The term is taken from Latin minister, which itself was derived from minus ("less").

Poet Person who writes and publishes poetry

A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of poetry, or may perform their art to an audience.

A novelist is an author or writer of novels, though often novelists also write in other genres of both fiction and non-fiction. Some novelists are professional novelists, thus make a living writing novels and other fiction, while others aspire to support themselves in this way or write as an avocation. Most novelists struggle to get their debut novel published, but once published they often continue to be published, although very few become literary celebrities, thus gaining prestige or a considerable income from their work.


Early life

Graves was born at Mickleton Manor, Mickleton, Gloucestershire, to Richard Graves (1677–1729), an antiquary, and his Welsh wife Elizabeth, née Morgan. [1] Morgan Graves (died 1770) of the Inner Temple, and the cleric Charles Caspar Graves, were his brothers. [2] [3] [4]

Mickleton, with a population of 1551 (1991), increasing to 1,677 at the 2011 census is the northernmost village in Gloucestershire, England.

Inner Temple one of the four Inns of Court in London, England

The Honorable Society of the Inner Temple, commonly known as the Inner Temple, is one of the four Inns of Court in London. To be called to the Bar and practise as a barrister in England and Wales, a person must belong to one of these Inns. It is located in the wider Temple area of the capital, near the Royal Courts of Justice, and within the City of London.

Graves was educated first at a school run by William Smith, Curate at Mickleton from 1729, and then at John Roysse's Free School in Abingdon (now Abingdon School). [5] Smith's well-read daughter Utrecia later formed part of his life, a relationship he broke off before her death in 1743. [1] [6]

John Roysse English merchant

John Roysse (1500/01–1571) was an English Mercer and benefactor of Abingdon School in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

Free school (England) non-profit, independent, state-funded school in England, which is free to attend

A free school in England is a type of academy established since 2010 under the Government's free school policy initiative. From May 2015, usage of the term was formally extended to include new academies set up via a local authority competition. Like other academies, free schools are non-profit-making, state-funded schools which are free to attend but which are mostly independent of the local authority. Free school is not a generic term for any school that does not charge fees.

Abingdon-on-Thames Market town in Vale of White Horse, Oxfordshire, England

Abingdon-on-Thames, known just as Abingdon between 1974 and 2012, is an historic market town and civil parish in the ceremonial county of Oxfordshire, England. Historically the county town of Berkshire, since 1974 Abingdon has been administered by the Vale of White Horse district within Oxfordshire.

Oxford don

Graves gained a scholarship at Pembroke College, Oxford, matriculating on 7 November 1732. George Whitefield was a servitor of Pembroke College, and they took their BA degree on the same day in July 1736. In the same year he was elected to a fellowship at All Souls College. Close for a time to Holy Club members, he retreated from the nascent Methodism of the group. He went to London to study medicine, attended the lectures of Dr Frank Nicholls on anatomy, but fell ill. [1] [7] His brother Charles Caspar Graves, on the other hand, was for a time close to the Wesleys. [8]

Pembroke College, Oxford constituent college of the University of Oxford

Pembroke College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England, located in Pembroke Square. The college was founded in 1624 by King James I of England, using in part the endowment of merchant Thomas Tesdale, and was named after William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, Lord Chamberlain and then-Chancellor of the University.

George Whitefield English minister and preacher

George Whitefield, also spelled Whitfield, was an English Anglican cleric and evangelist who was one of the founders of Methodism and the evangelical movement.

All Souls College, Oxford college of the University of Oxford

All Souls College is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in England.

Returning to Oxford, Graves took his master's degree in 1740, and was ordained. He was appointed to the curacy of Tissington in Derbyshire by William Fitzherbert of Tissington Hall, a colleague at the Inner Temple of his elder brother Morgan Graves. For three years Graves was the family chaplain at the Hall, where he rambled through the district later described in his major novel. After resigning this charge, he made a tour in the north, and at Scarborough met a distant relative, Samuel Knight, Archdeacon of Berkshire. Knight obtained for him the curacy of Aldworth, near Reading, Berkshire, where he was in residence in 1744. The parsonage was out of repair, so that he lived in the house of a gentleman farmer, Mr Bartholomew of Dunworth, whose daughter he married. [1] [7]

Tissington village in United Kingdom

Tissington is a village in the Derbyshire Dales district of Derbyshire, England. The appropriate civil parish is called Tissington and Lea Hall. The population of this parish at the 2011 census was 159. It is part of the estate of Tissington Hall, owned by the FitzHerbert family since 1465. It is a popular tourist attraction, particularly during its well dressing week. It also gives its name to the Tissington Trail, a 13-mile (21 km) walk and cycle path which passes nearby. The Limestone Way, another long-distance path and bridleway, passes through the village itself.

Derbyshire ceremonial county in East Midlands, England

Derbyshire is a county in the East Midlands of England. A substantial portion of the Peak District National Park lies within Derbyshire, containing the southern extremity of the Pennine range of hills which extend into the north of the county. The county contains part of the National Forest, and borders on Greater Manchester to the northwest, West Yorkshire to the north, South Yorkshire to the northeast, Nottinghamshire to the east, Leicestershire to the southeast, Staffordshire to the west and southwest and Cheshire also to the west. Kinder Scout, at 636 metres (2,087 ft), is the highest point in the county, whilst Trent Meadows, where the River Trent leaves Derbyshire, is its lowest point at 27 metres (89 ft). The River Derwent is the county's longest river at 66 miles (106 km), and runs roughly north to south through the county. In 2003 the Ordnance Survey placed Church Flatts Farm at Coton in the Elms as the furthest point from the sea in Great Britain.

Tissington Hall house in Tissington and Lea Hall, Derbyshire Dales, Derbyshire, England

Tissington Hall is an early 17th-century Jacobean mansion house in Tissington, near Ashbourne, Derbyshire. It is a Grade II* listed building.

Graves's marriage meant that he automatically ceased to be a Fellow of All Souls in January 1749. [7] [9]

Later life

For a period, Graves was short of money. Through the interest of Sir Edward Harvey of Langley, near Uxbridge, he was presented in 1748 by William Skrine as rector of Claverton, near Bath, Somerset. He was inducted in July 1749, came into residence in 1750, and until his death never left the living for long. [7]

Ralph Allen obtained for Graves in 1763 the adjoining vicarage of Kilmersdon, and also found him an appointment as chaplain to Mary Townshend, Countess Chatham. About 1793 he took the rectory of Croscombe, also in Somerset, but held it temporarily. He purchased the advowson of Claverton from Allen's representatives in 1767, but later resold it to them. The old rectory house had been built in part by Allen in 1760, but it was enlarged by Graves. [7]

Graves for 30 years took pupils, whom he educated with his own children. Until his parsonage house was enlarged he rented from Mrs. Warburton for sixty pounds a year the large house at Claverton, and "the great gallery-library was turned into a dormitory". Through his preferments and teaching he gradually prospered, and among his purchases was the manor of Combe in Combe Monckton, Somerset. He reportedly, at nearly 90, walked almost daily to Bath. He was a Whig in politics, who mixed widely in society, was a frequent guest of Allen or the Warburtons at Prior Park, and "contributed to the vase", taking part in the literary circle at Anna, Lady Miller's house at Batheaston. Shenstone paid him repeated visits at Claverton, between 1744 and 1763. [7]

Graves died on 23 November 1804, and was buried in the parish church on 1 December. A mural tablet was placed there to his memory. [7]


Among Graves's college friends were William Blackstone, Richard Jago, William Hawkins: and William Shenstone, who became a close friend. Graves later wrote Recollections of Shenstone. The fourth elegy by Shenstone is Ophelia's Urn. To Mr. G—— (i.e. Graves), and the eighth elegy is also addressed To Mr. G——, 1745. Letters from Shenstone to Graves are in vol. iii. of the former's Works; a letter addressed to Mr. —— on his marriage, written 21 August 1748, may refer to Graves. In the Works, ii. 322–3, are "To William Shenstone at the Leasowes by Mr. Graves",’ and "To Mr. R. D. on the death of Mr. Shenstone", signed "R. G." [7]

At Tissington Hall, Graves made the acquaintance of Charles Pratt, Sir Edward Wilmot, Nicholas Hardinge, and other notable persons. He served as private tutor to Prince Hoare and Thomas Malthus. He was a close friend of Anthony Whistler, Ralph Allen, and William Warburton; Ralph Allen Warburton, the bishop's only son, and author Henry Skrine of Warleigh, were other pupils. Shenstone's letter to Graves on the death of Anthony Whistler was among the manuscripts of Alfred Morrison. [7]


Graves was a collector of poems, a translator, essayist and correspondent. [7]

The Spiritual Quixote

Graves's major work is the picaresque novel, The Spiritual Quixote (1773). It a satire on John Wesley, George Whitefield, and Methodism in general, which he saw as a threat to his Anglican congregation. [10]

The book's full title was The Spiritual Quixote, or the Summer's Ramble of Mr. Geoffry Wildgoose, a Comic Romance (anon.), 1772, 1773, 1774 (two editions), 1783, and 1808. It was in Anna Barbauld's collection British Novelists, and in Walker's British Classics. It ridiculed the intrusion of the laity into spiritual functions and the enthusiasm of the Methodists. [7]

The hero has been identified with Sir Harry Trelawny, 5th Baronet (unlikely by chronology), Joseph Townsend and his own brother Charles Caspar Graves. The novel is said to have arisen out of the arrival in the parish of Claverton of a shoemaker from Bradford-on-Avon, who held a meeting in the village. The rambles in the novel brought Wildgoose to Bath, Bristol, the Leasowes of Shenstone, and the Peak District. A key to several of the personages was supplied by Alleyne Fitzherbert to John Wilson Croker. Graves's own love life was portrayed in vol. ii. [7]

Other works

Graves from early life wrote verses for magazines, and some of his poems appeared in the collections of Robert Dodsley (iv. 330–7) and George Pearch (iii. 133–8). He also wrote several plays, while his prose works were popular in his day. He published: [7]

Graves wrote the 30th number, on "grumbling", in Thomas Monro's Olla Podrida In the Gentleman's Magazine , 1815, pt. ii. p. 3, are some Lines written by him under an hour-glass in the grotto at Claverton. [7]


Graves married Lucy Bartholomew (died 1777), a farmer's daughter from Aldworth, after eloping to London with her around the end of 1746, in August 1747; she bore him a son, Richard, shortly. She had been baptised in 1730, and was uneducated; he had sent her to a private school in London before the marriage. [1] His friends did not immediately accept his marriage, but came round to it. [11]

The couple had four sons and a daughter. [1] Their son Richard Charles Head Graves was vicar of Great Malvern. [12] [13] Two other sons were Morgan and Danvers. [14]

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Oakleaf, David. "Graves, Richard (1715–1804)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/11313.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. s:Alumni Oxonienses: the Members of the University of Oxford, 1715-1886/Graves, Morgan (1)
  3. s:Alumni Oxonienses: the Members of the University of Oxford, 1715-1886/Graves, Charles (Gasper)
  4. Persons: Graves, Charles Caspar (1740–1787) in "CCEd, the Clergy of the Church of England database " (Accessed online , 23 April 2017)
  5. "Object 6: Portrait of Thomas Tesdale". Abingdon School.
  6. Persons: Andrewes, Lancelot (1729–1729) in "CCEd, the Clergy of the Church of England database " (Accessed online , 23 April 2017)
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Stephen, Leslie; Lee, Sidney, eds. (1890). "Graves, Richard (1715-1804)"  . Dictionary of National Biography . 22. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  8. "Galland – Gwyther (The University of Manchester Library)" . Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  9. All Souls College, History of the College: Victorian Reform
  10. Quoted in Hill, C.J. (1935) "The Literary Career of Richard Graves, the Author of The Spiritual Quixote." Smith College Studies in Modern Languages XVI.1–3. 18.
  11. Marjorie Williams (1946). Lady Luxborough Goes to Bath. B. Blackwell. p. 42.
  12. in The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21), Volume X. The Age of Johnson. XI. Letter-Writers. §22. Richard Graves and his literary work.
  13. Debrett, John (1822). Scotland and Ireland. G. Woodfall. p. 1238. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  14. s:Alumni Oxonienses: the Members of the University of Oxford, 1715-1886/Graves, Rev. Richard

Further reading


Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Stephen, Leslie; Lee, Sidney, eds. (1890). "Graves, Richard (1715-1804)". Dictionary of National Biography . 22. London: Smith, Elder & Co.