William Lort Mansel DD (1811-1820) Back to the Main Historical Society page
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William Lort Mansel DD (1811-1820)

from The Barwicker No.33

Photo. by kind permission of
the Rector and fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge

This splendidly-robed figure is described in the following extract from 'The History of Barwick-in-Elmet' by the Rev. Frederick Selincourt Colman, Rector of Barwick (1899-1910). Dr Mansel appears to have contributed little to the life of the parish and its people.

William Lort Mansel DD (1811-1820), the last of our pluralists, was born in Pembroke, 2 April, 1753; he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, and took his BA 1774, MA 1777, and DD 1798. He was Public Orator from 1788 until 1798, when, on the recommendation of William Pitt or Spencer Perceval, George III made him Master of Trinity, with the hope that his powers of discipline might check the abuses then flourishing in the college.

In 1808 he was made Bishop of Bristol, but, as it is said, never resided in the diocese. Presented at Barwick in 1811, there is no record of his visiting the parish, it is doubtful if he ever took the trouble to be inducted. He died in the Master's Lodge at Trinity, 26 June, 1820, aged 68, and was buried in the college chapel, just below the chancel step.

At Cambridge Bishop Mansel was very popular, in a period when the Heads of Houses led a peculiarly exclusive life he gained a reputation for hospitality and geniality. Envy had it that his possession of three unmarried daughters led him to entertain so freely. He was the chief wit and mimic of academic society, his jests and verses attained great fame and his epigrams and letters have appeared in various publications. The only individual writings of his that are known are two sermons, one on 2 Cor. vii. 24, preached before the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, 1813, 4to., and another on Jer. iv. 10, preached before the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, Jan 30, 1813, being the day of King Charles' martyrdom. A humourous description is given by Lord Byron in "Thoughts suggested by a College examination" in 1806. "Magnus" is Dr Mansel.

High in the midst, surrounded by his peers
Magnus, his ample front sublime appears,
Placed in his chair of state he seems a god
While Sophs and Freshmen tremble at his nod
As all around sit wrapt in speechless gloom
His voice in thunder shakes the sounding dome;
Denouncing dire reproach to luckless fools
Unskilled to plod in Mathematic's rules.

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