Samuel Horsley

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Samuel Horsley
Bishop of St Asaph
Samuel Horsley by Mrs Barou.jpg
Church Church of England
Diocese Diocese of St Asaph
Predecessor Lewis Bagot
Successor William Cleaver
Other post(s) Bishop of Rochester
Dean of Westminster
Bishop of St David's
Personal details
Born(1733-09-15)15 September 1733
Died4 October 1806(1806-10-04) (aged 73)
Denomination Anglican
Alma mater Trinity Hall, Cambridge

Samuel Horsley (15 September 1733 – 4 October 1806) was a British churchman, bishop of Rochester from 1793. He was also well versed in physics and mathematics, on which he wrote a number of papers and thus was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1767; and secretary in 1773, but, in consequence of a difference with the president (Sir Joseph Banks) he withdrew in 1784. [1]



He was the son of Rev John Horsley of Newington Butts and his first wife Anne Hamilton, daughter of Rev Prof William Hamilton of Edinburgh and Mary Robertson.

Entering Trinity Hall, Cambridge in 1751, he became LL.B. in 1758 without graduating in arts. [2] In the following year he succeeded his father in the living of Newington Butts in Surrey. In 1768 he attended the son and heir of the 3rd Earl of Aylesford to Oxford as private tutor; and, after receiving through the earl and Bishop of London various minor preferments, which by dispensations he combined with his first living, he was installed in 1781 as archdeacon of St Albans. [1]

Horsley now entered his controversy with Joseph Priestley, who denied that the early Christians held the doctrine of the Trinity. In this fierce debate, Horsley's aim was to lessen the influence which Priestley's name gave to his views, by pointing to (what he claimed were) inaccuracies in his scholarship. Horsley was rewarded by Lord Chancellor Thurlow with a prebendal stall at Gloucester; and in 1788 Thurlow procured his promotion to the see of St David's. [1]

As a bishop, Horsley was active both in his diocese, and in parliament. The effective support which he afforded the government was acknowledged by his successive translations to Rochester in 1793, and to St Asaph in 1802. With the see of Rochester he held the deanery of Westminster. [1]


He married firstly Mary Botham (died 1777), daughter of John Botham, Rector of Albury, Hertfordshire, and secondly Sarah Wright, who died in 1805. Sarah had been a servant of his first wife, but her elegant manners impressed Queen Charlotte when she was presented at Court. By Mary, he had one surviving son, the Rev Heneage Horsley, and a daughter who died young.

He died at Brighton in 1806, and was buried in St Mary's Church, Newington Butts. He died heavily in debt, due largely it was said to his generous and charitable nature.

His granddaughter Harriet Horsley married Robert Jebb QC and had numerous distinguished descendants, including Richard Claverhouse Jebb.


Besides the controversial Tracts, which appeared in 1783–1785, 1786, and were republished in 1789 and 1812, Horsley's more important works are:

After his death there appeared several collections edited by Heneage Horsley:

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Horsley, Samuel". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 740.
  2. "Samuel Horsley (HRSY751S)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
Church of England titles
Preceded by Bishop of St David's
Succeeded by
Preceded by Bishop of Rochester
Succeeded by
Dean of Westminster
Succeeded by
Preceded by Bishop of St Asaph
Succeeded by